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3/20/2016 - Congrats to Saint (thoughts on Tekken commentary)

posted Mar 20, 2016, 10:21 PM by Tyler Bustinza
Congratulations to Saint for winning Tekken 7 at Final Round in Atlanta. Now normally I wouldn't make a post about this... and that's correct, I'm not. Instead I want to talk about somethings that troubled while watching the TTT2 and T7 streams from any major (not just Final Round):

1) Character unfamiliarity and misinformation
In the case of TTT2, for the most part it's understandable. When there's 50+ characters in a game, each with 100+ moves, each with 60+ unique options, the complexity increases really fast. So fast that it's understandable to not know everything. With that being said, it's safe to say on average there's about 20 attacks that are "key moves" and of those ~10 would be considered "top moves", so the complexity is cut down 85% for things that you should arguably 100% know.

So let's do a quick exercise. I'll list a move and you match the frame data, number to letter:

(1) Dragunov b+4,2,1
(2) Heihachi d/f+1,2
(3) Kazuya pEWGF
(4) Lars f+1+2

  Frames Block NH CH
A i13 +5 Launch Launch
B i15 +4 +8 +8
C i15 -14 Launch Launch
D i13 -14 KND KND

v v v Answer Key below v v v

Answer Key:
1 -> B, 2 -> D, 3-> A, and 4 -> C

If you got 0 right, you need to study more
If you got 1-3 right, you're on the right path
If you got 4 right, your training is almost complete

Now if you noticed that the frame data on (D), Heihachi TP is incorrect, then you succeeded in the test. I purposely gave you incorrect information to hopefully show you not to trust someone just because you're listening to them and you're inclined to believe them.

I try my best to research everything I post on this website and YouTube before I push it to the public. That's actually the main reason I still haven't released the Tekken 7 Rage Attack video. What I had and was speaking about was based on bad, namely incomplete information. In the last week I've gone of over 20 hours of FR footage, looking for evidence of Leo and Feng's new rage attacks and their properties on block. My first inclination was that rage attacks are effectively the same attacks with added properties and the rage attacks that Namco has shown in the trailer with additional properties are the only ones to do so. So for instance with Law Dragon Tail RA, I thought the same as everyone else but I've found that to not be the case and I will not release my video until I can draw a more conclusive view of the game.

Commentators are in a similar boat as I but with a much smaller timeline, namely they need to act more with a stream of conscious than deep analysis simply because there isn't enough time. So it's great when they're right but grating when wrong, especially when there's a string of wrong information in a row. The problem is that two commentators act as the liaison to the audience, they are the vocal majority and provide insight and tidbits to the viewer. What they say is taken as gospel and to the uninformed then go onto take everything at face. So when a commentator says something isn't punishable a certain way and they're wrong, the uninformed will subconsciously remember that as fact and be worse off than they were just a few seconds prior.

2) It's okay to say you're not sure
Seriously, if you're not sure, just let the audience know. Unless you're 100% sure, it's better to differ than state something as fact.

It's okay to say things like:
"I think he could have gotten a better punish there"
"Looks like he was a little late with his punish"
"I'm pretty sure that's unsafe" or "I'm pretty sure he could have launched there"
"Not sure why that missed"

One of my biggest pet peeves is when a commentator at a tournament says "good punish" when it's clearly not a good punish, for instance they'll jab punish a -14 when they have an i14 launcher. The same is true on the flip-side, a commentator will complain about the lack of punish when it simply wasn't available or even worse, when an attack is completely safe. Context means a lot and when the average player cannot thoroughly grasp context, namely taking multiple variables/situations into consideration, it's up to the commentator's experience to pull through and properly explain it for the audience. This is particularly confusing in generic situations universal to the cast, where the only variable is the character's options to punish. These are situations where the commentating about frames and punishment accuracy should be near 100%, no real reason they can't be.

Lastly it's weird we still haven't reached the point of correcting our mistakes. If you make a mistake while commentating, go ahead and correct yourself to the audience when the time is right. This can happen immediately after or after the match but if you have a brain fart and catch it, it's the commentators' responsibility to do so.

3) Analysis of the neutral and verbally repeating what's on screen
I have no problem with this at all, actually if anything this should be the default way to commentating since it's hard to be wrong when you're analyzing what everyone can see without delving into specifics. The difference is that you, as a commentator, should be able to see what the average viewer cannot. You've been playing the game for 5+ years and you know more than frame data, so why devolve your commentary to that?

I want to know what's going through the opponent's head. I want to know the history between two players. I want to be told when a player is getting corraled. I want to know what moves a player will be using as an adjust versus a certain character. I want to be told a player's bad habits and tendencies, then immediately see you were correct.

I want you to tell me something before it happens, what's going to happen next, and why it was sick after it happened.

Yipes commentary in a nutshell but with more "ooh", "aah", and "goddamn"

In the same vein, there's absolutely nothing wrong with color commentary and similar to overall match analysis, it's much harder to be incorrect which overall strengthens it as an option. So bring the hype, there's already a stigma against Tekken as being boring and overly complex, boring commentary doesn't help anyone out. Follow the sport commentating strategy, color commentary to take care of the lulls in gameplay and an analyst who paints a picture of the overall match.

4) Tailor your commentary to the audience
This is a huge deal and might make the difference between a game succeeding and failing. If you're commentating a Tekken exclusive tournament, you go into great detail about theory and high level strategy, yomi, or meta. If you're commentating a tournament where Tekken isn't even close to being top-tier, commentating the match as a whole without delving into details is probably the best approach. For the most part, it's safe to say that commentators should take the latter approach than the former. Make mentions of high level strategy without explaining everything, skim just past the low/mid level strategy surface and that will (by definition) sate over 50-90% of your audience. Going back to point #2, if you're not comfortable with doing this, then don't try and fake it. Play to your strengths and don't fall into the trap of saying things just to fill the time.

Be confident, try your best to be correct and if you can't be, at least be hype.