Tekken 7 is a game that brings together characters from different backgrounds and disciplines into one roof to compete for the right to be crowned the King of the Iron Fist Tournament. It would seem as if life imitates art as The Nationals has drawn all sorts of talented individuals from from all over to Philippines to take part in the first-ever franchise-based esports league in the country. One such individual is Tekken caster Pocholo Estrada or Poch Spice as he’s know in the Tekken commentary circles.
Poch is an Account Manager during the day but he’s also the Ring Announcer and Co-General Manager for the local pro wrestling promotion, Philippine Wrestling Revolution (PWR). As such, in his own words, Poch is no stranger to hype. In the past year, he’s taken an interest in casting Tekken and he’s been doing so all under the tutelage of fellow The Nationals caster, Ron Muyot, who first got him into the casting game. Poch says that his work with the local pro wrestling scene is what drew the two together.
“To be honest I’ve only been casting Tekken since a year ago. So yeah, I’m still just learning so I call myself a student of the game and a filthy casual (laughs).”
“I messaged Ron, He’s a big fan of PWR and I saw that he casts a lot of Tekken. I’ve been getting into Tekken just watching online, I really haven’t seen the community yet. So he got me into casting, he just told me to drop by FGC Fridays at Playbook and he started teaching me from there.”
You can tell by Poch’s turn at the mic during the ongoing Tekken leg of The Nationals that he’s very passionate about what he’s doing. He has a firm grasp on the action on screen and is very expressive whenever big moments pop up. Poch also likes to incorporate a little bit of each of the player’s backstory whenever possible to create that extra layer of storytelling that makes the fight that much more interesting.
“I’m a huge fan of MMA , so I like to bring that type of color commentary to it.
Aside from the technical aspect of what the players are doing, I also like talking about what they’ve gone through to get to that opportunity. I like telling that story and selling the fight to the fans, especially in a way that anyone, as a casual viewer, can understand what’s happening on screen. “
During my time with Poch, I can tell that he puts a lot of thought in what the audience’s experience will be like when watching a particular match. He incorporates story into the fight to keep viewers engrossed as well as relaying the action effectively enough so that viewers of all skill levels can follow the action. To do this, Poch says that first hand experience with the game is invaluable.
“It’s book smarts versus street smarts and I always believe that street smarts trumps book smarts because it’s all about the experience that you bring to the table.”
“When you talk about a certain move or a certain strategy experience with that counts for a lot. There’s also a certain first hand experience when you know this person [uses the same character] as you. So when you have that connection to the player, you can really establish a really good storytelling device.”
He adds that proficiency with the game helps him do his job as a caster better.
“Being good with the game is important but not necessarily to the point of winning tournaments, because that’s what the pro players are there for, to impart knowledge to the audience.”
To prepare for a big match, Poch has a few pre-game rituals which interestingly enough include singing with another fellow The Nationals Tekken Caster, Pica Lozano among other things.
“Me and Pica, sing a lot, it’s unorthodox but yeah (chuckles).”
“I also watch UFC videos, I try to really put myself into the fight. I do a lot of research and a lot of prep. But in Tekken you can always counter pick right, so you always have to keep watching.”
“Even when it’s off season I try my best to watch some videos, talk to the players trying to understand what they are going through and also play. “
As a pro-wrestling fan myself, I couldn’t resist to ask Poch how the intersect has been in managing his obligations with the PWR and casting for The Nationals. He had this to say:
“It synergizes pretty well actually because a lot of the guys at PWR actually play Tekken. So it’s really fun.”
“I guess the communities can really overlap. I’m actually working on something that’s going to be like a Team Versus match. It’s a little like E-league, where it’s 4 v 4 Wrestlers with one coach per team and they fight. So I’m trying to make that happen.”
“It’s all about trying to make your passions work with each other. “
With the Tekken Leg of The Nationals well underway, Poch describes the historic league as a win-win-win situation for pro players, interested businesses and the state of esports in the country in general.
“It’s a great opportunity for the pro players, especially since they’re dedicating their lives to this. It’s also a great opportunity for people to get into the game. And also makes the businesses happy, so it’s a win-win-win situation if you think about it.”
“I think it’s about time that the Philippines takes notice of esports and takes it more seriously. Gone are the days that we used to play in basements, you have pro players that play on elite levels.”
I think it’s about time and this is the perfect opportunity to get into gaming.”
Catch Poch and the rest of the Tekken 7 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 Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. You can also watch the livestream via the 5Plus website, and on OneSports via CignalTV for paid TV.