If you’ve followed the LEC for some time, Drakos is a name you’ll be very familiar with. For most, he’s known for two of his most iconic moments: either his F-bomb or the “mediocre” rap battles. That said, Drakos has been a core member of the LEC talent, playing a huge part in growing the LEC.
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But who is Drakos?
Daniel “Drakos” Drakos originally had casting as his side job, being a full-time barista before he turned full-time caster. Despite the two jobs, Drakos continued to grind his career in esports, and eventually got opportunities to cast in much bigger leagues. According to an old video from Froskurinn, Drakos, then known as “Tsepha”, had casted for multiple events, including IEM San Jose, the KeSPA cup, and the LMS English Playoff Coverage.
In 2016, Drakos finally joined the LEC, then known as the EU LCS. Since joining the LEC, Drakos has only grown more not only as a caster, but as a talent.
He has shown his ability as a host in both EUphoria, and the analyst desk. Aside from that, Drakos has also become a key member when it comes to producing content for the LEC. LECtronic, League’s Edgiest Casters, and of course, the Mediocre Rap Battles, Drakos was an essential in all of them.
After Ready Check on the LEC Broadcast on July 17, 2021, we had the lovely opportunity to interview Daniel Drakos. During the interview, we asked him about his growth as a caster, and a behind-the-scenes look into LEC content.
In bold font are the questions from Gamezo, while in standard font are Drakos’ answers.
I want to start with your career as a caster, because you’ve been casting LEC for quite a while now. How would you describe your growth as a caster?
I mean, I think it’s been interesting. It’s been an a bit of an up and down process. I’m very very different to where I started. I was quite bad when I started, and kinda just showed up and talked. It’s not a bad place to start. Doing it is important, but I’d say over the years, I definitely feel like I’m one of the top casters of League of Legends on play-by-plays. I’m really confident where I’m at now, but I’d say getting there is an up and down process.
There have been years where I feel like I’ve progressed immensely, and I’ve grown a ton, and I’ve learned a lot. And there have been years where I feel like I’ve stagnated, and either gone back a little bit, or had to struggle to learn some key concepts and key things. To say the least, it’s been a process, it’s been complicated.
Is there a specific game or series you casted that’s the most memorable to you?
Yeah there’s a few. I mean the most stand-out was 2019 semi-finals, G2 making finals, casting that, being there for that moment, really feeling like I was on the same page as Vedius. Really pulling that together, that felt fantastic. Even more recently with Caedrel and Ender, casting the Spring finals was honestly an incredible experience, casting the first “Not G2 or FNATIC” victory in a long time was a pleasure. And it was also a series where, and maybe people don’t hear it as much, we got much better as the series went on. It started off, and we felt okay about it, but then by the time Game 3 came around, and we started to see the reverse-sweep, it really felt like the 3 of us figured out how to work together, and really deliver what I felt was a fantastic product.
As I said earlier, during your career you managed to earn the title Rap God. You even managed to put out 4 “Mediocre Rap Battles”, which most would agree aren’t even mediocre after the G2-Origen one. Even if it’s been almost a year since the last one, there was also quite a gap between the Rap Rivals with NA, and the 2020 Summer Playoffs. Is there a possibility of another one coming this year?
There’s certainly a possibility. I would say the gaps are not, we don’t wanna do it, we don’t wanna oversell any singular product. And when the time is right, we’ll do it. They’re not over, they’re not done. I think we would tell people if we were gonna do the last one. We wouldn’t just let them fade silently, so there’s more coming. I won’t say when, but there are more coming, there’s more in the pipeline. There’s more that are being worked on. It’s an exciting product, and I wouldn’t wanna stop doing it for anything else honestly.
I’m excited for it! Bringing up the rap battles, I wanted to ask a few things outside of casting. One thing is about what the LEC is known for : its content outside of the games as mentioned. And you’re one of the many talented people behind it. Could we get an inside look with how the LEC comes up with its ideas?
A lot of ideas come from either old ideas transformed into new esports concepts, or people in our team who are just really about esports, and just have crazy ideas that they’re willing to put out there. There’s no science to it. Before COVID, it was often just people sitting in a room, throwing random things at the wall, just to see what would sound good, what would work, what could come together.
I think the core for us at the LEC is just we’re not afraid to take risks. We’re not afraid to try things that haven’t been tried before. I think all of us would rather risk making something that was bad, and just awful. We’d rather risk making trash content, than boring content. And I think that’s a philosophy that has gone a really long way for us. So there’s no exact science to it. I’d say we just always try to do something a little bit crazy, a little bit out of the comfort zone to figure out what works. And as long as we keep pushing ourselves like that, I feel like we’re hopefully gonna keep making good content, but we’ll see.
In terms of content, one thing that has been consistent it EUphoria, which remains a top-tier podcast. How do you build that synergy with your co-hosts, as well as your guests? Or is it something that just clicks for you all?
I think it depends on the person honestly. The nice thing about the podcast basis is it’s just more casual. There’s so much less pressure, you have so much more time, and because it’s pre-recorded, people have the room to mess up, which has helped. Not every pro has come on the podcast, and has instantly had the cleanest, clearest idea of what they want to say. We don’t edit a lot of stuff out, but I think having that freedom has made a lot of pros more comfortable. They can say what they think completely unfiltered, and if they decide they don’t want it to go out, we can always take it back.
We really try to make an environment where our guest can feel comfortable. We’re not here to get a super clickbait-y headline. Unless they’re down, unless they wanna do it with us, unless they wanna go for some bold, controversial takes. We just wanna make anybody who comes onto the show as comfortable as possible, and let them be themselves to the fullest extent.
Because I think it’s really easy when you’re a professional player especially to get very comfortable. You know, putting on a smile, and doing your nice post-game interview, where you say I respect everyone. And that’s fine. That’s a fine way to approach it, I’m not gonna judge that. But I always wanna see more. I wanna see the person behind the pro player. Not just the face, but the personality, because we have so many crazy, and good personalities in the LEC honestly. And it would be a shame to just end up with something just standard and generic.
On the side of hosts, it’s just a process. We’re people who fundamentally hang out together. Me and Deficio, me and Caedrel, me and Froskurinn, me and Yamato, these are all people I just love spending time with. And I think as much as it is a work thing, I don’t think EUphoria would be as successful if it wasn’t for a lot of strong personal relationships behind the scenes. These are people who I enjoy spending time with, and I hope that just shows through on the podcast.
Coming back to your casting career, recently Vedius had a lot of praise for you and Caedrel for your Rogue versus MAD match. In his tweet, he stated that it was “an excellent framework to work towards.” How does it feel knowing that some of your colleagues look up to you as a standard for casting matches?
Casting is a thing where I think unless you’re doing it, unless you really have been doing it for a long time, it’s hard to know what to take from people’s feedbacks. So when a fellow caster, someone who is as established as Vedius, someone who is as top-tier as Vedius really praises your work, it’s always a pleasure. But I think that when he takes the extra step to go out there and put it out publicly, it’s really kind of him. Cause we’re always talking, we’re always reviewing each other behind the scenes, that’s just the process of getting better, no matter what esport you’re in, no matter what game you cast.
But people don’t always go out of their way to praise other people, because I think it can come off as patting yourself on the back, or patting your own team on the back too much, you know what I mean? So we try not to do it too much. But when someone does, when Vedius takes the time to talk specifically why he really liked the cast, it’s super flattering. It’s totally an honor. Me and Caedrel, I don’t remember when that tweet happened, but we were actually sitting next to each other. We were like “this is the nicest tweet ever.” It was really cool, it was really great from Vedi.
Finally, I wanted to ask you something to help other people. Just like Vedius mentioned again in his tweet, the standard that you and Caedrel set for casters is one aspiring casters should try to achieve. In the past, various casters gave their own takes on how to become a caster, but if there was one tip you could give to aspiring shoutcasters, what would it be?
It’s hard, because it’s a question we get a lot. Before I give a tip, something I want to say is that before you even start, you have to start. Even if you have no idea what you’re doing, even if you think it’s gonna suck, you have to get out there and start getting the practice and the reps in. Because at the end of the day, no matter how much you study shoutcasting, no matter how much you watch, no matter how many theories you have in your head about how shoutcasting works, ultimately you’re never going to know, until you do it.
When the pressure is on, and you’re in front of the camera, whether it’s for 3 people, or just a VOD that you show to a friend later, you’re never going to know unless you try. Getting started is the most important thing, then after that, finding people who share your passion to help you grow. Ultimately, when you’re getting started, having people around to motivate you, having a duo partner that you can work with, someone who is unafraid to be honest in a healthy way, in an honest way. Someone who can say “that wasn’t good” or “that was good”. “I liked this”, or “I didn’t like this”.
They’re not always gonna give you perfect feedback, because like you, they’re gonna be new, they’re gonna be coming into it. Even forcing yourself to self-evaluate in a critical way is always going to be positive for your growth. I think so many people are excited, and interested in the idea of shoutcasting, until you actually start doing it, until you’re actually in the cycle of getting torn down, and built back up in this process of growth which can be so, so brutal. It’s really hard to know if it’s for you.
So for anyone who wants to get out there, who wants to do it, you just gotta get started. Find a tournament, there are tournaments out there. It might not be flashy, it might not be as crazy and big as the LEC or the LCK or the LCS, but you just gotta start doing it.