The Nationals, the Philippines’ biggest esports tournament, has allowed quite a variety of talents to show the nation what they do best. From the different players to the VJs, correspondents, and casters, each has shown their passion and love for esports and their respective craft.
One of these talents is the Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) caster, Gian Franco “Ilustrado” Bernardino. Prior to casting MLBB, Ilustrado went through casting League of Legends (LOL), Dota 2, and CounterStrike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
While he has experience in casting the three more classic esports titles, it was CSGO that he casted more. It was because of this experience that he learned to appreciate both Dota 2 and LOL differently.
“I was able to see things in the other games from the eyes of an FPS caster. FPS casting is very unique, it’s very different from MOBA games. In casting FPS games, it’s fast, it’s intense. You have to analyze and at the same time be play-by-play. In FPS, there’s a main play-by-play caster and color caster but they have to be able to do the other job just as well.”
As fate would have it, MLBB came and Ilustrado rode the hype train as he picked up the game while playing with friends. It was here that the transition into casting MLBB began.
“Mobile Legends came. It started to become a phenomenon. I started playing with friends. By the time I got into Mobile Legends, I was already a caster. It was naturally the next step for me to start casting Mobile Legends.
Ultimately from casting the game, I found out how great the game was.”
Being a relatively new game in the esports scene, the opportunity to create storylines and narratives for MLBB was what made Ilustrado fall in love with the game. That love only deepened with the support and passion shown by the MLBB community.
“At the moment, we’re in a position to talk about the plays, create the legends and the mythologies about the players and the teams. It’s this unique stage that I love about casting Mobile Legends.”
When it comes down to casts and events and preparing for them, it’s more than just looking for storylines for Ilustrado. While he still goes through the research by watching previous games and looking at how a team performed or how two teams matched up previously, he goes through his own unique ritual.
“I have a ritual before a cast or an event. I shine my shoes. No kidding. I play music while I’m shining my shoes. During this time, I think about what I’m going to say and just mentally go through the gameplan in my head.
I also put together what I’m going to wear. Maybe clean my glasses. Then take a long shower, all while still listening to music, of course. Haha! All of that is physical preparation that helps me drown the nerves or fatigue or anything I’m carrying over from the previous day. I do repetitive boring things to get me in the zone.”
Despite the ritual, he doesn’t skimp on actually playing the game for himself. This goes back to his CSGO casting days where he recalled putting in around 10,000 hours into the game to better understand the game.
“That’s how I learn to be able to give good insight and good analysis.”
As far as The Nationals goes, Ilustrado believes that it is the beginning of a broader appreciation for esports and gaming, in general. Stability wasn’t exactly what professional esports athletes could bank on especially since they were dependent on winning big tournaments. But with the structure of The Nationals, it helps with stability and a longer career for not only the players but also the talents involved in it.
“The Nationals is THE best thing to happen to gaming in many, many years. Gaming has been viewed as an unhealthy hobby/vice to many people. But with The Nationals, you’re talking about giving people careers and jobs. Whereas people only do this as a hobby. Now, people can now pursue a dream that has always been there.
Talking about how players give up everything to be the best in the best. When you do that and join a few tournaments, that’s not a life that you can live off. A big tournament, for most players, happens only once, twice or thrice a year. Even with a large paycheck, that’s not enough. The Nationals gives players and other talents that stability for longevity.”
Catch Ilustrado and the rest of the Mobile Legends casters and courtside reporters at The Nationals, the biggest esports tournament in the Philippines.
Catch the action on 5 Plus, the home of esports on free TV every Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. You can also watch the livestream via the 5Plus website, and on OneSports via CignalTV for paid TV.