"My mum was always asking what my Plan B was - I was like: 'I ain’t got time for Plan B'": Joe "Munchables" Fenny ESL spotlight

This week, I spoke to ESL caster Joe “Munchables” Fenny about the upcoming League of Legends events.

“I never really understood sports,” says Joe. “I never really got why people cared at all.” Until he discovered the world of esports: “Then I got it.” While his college chums frolicked on the football field, Joe was cosied up watching an omnibus of StarCraft matches online. “I used to go on YouTube and watch all the old tournaments as well, and then I just really got into it - I inadvertently learnt a lot about casting,” says Joe. “From that point on, I knew I wanted to be involved in esports - at least in some capacity.”

And now he is! Joe became a resident caster for ESL UK last summer and has since been an integral part of many ESL events. But access to events wasn’t always easy - on the whole, Joe did more YouTube browsing than tournament touring. “When I first started watching StarCraft, I never went to any events - because it was all in America and Korea and stuff,” says Joe. The old student loan also didn’t quite cover the airfare. “When I got into League of Legends, there were a few events in the UK or nearby,” Joe says. “I went to a couple, just as a spectator - to enjoy the atmosphere. And then, obviously, Comic Con - basically anything that was within reach I went to.”

So, how did Joe come to work for ESL? “I’d already been doing freelance casting for two and a half years, and I’d done quite a bit of stuff in the past for ESL UK as a freelancer. So I already knew most of the people here.” Foot safely in the door - nice one, Joe. A job came up, Joe applied, “And here we are!” he says. But how does one make the decision to be an esports caster? It’s a profession still in its infancy, or so it seems to me. “For that two and a half years, I thought - I’ll just get a really crappy job for the time being and spend all my free time dedicated to casting and esports more generally. I just waited for esports to pay off,”  Joe says. Luckily, it did pay off. “I’m not a very realistic person, so I was just like ‘yeah - this is going to work and I’m going to make it.’ My mum was always asking what my Plan B was - I was like: ‘I ain’t got time for Plan B.’” Well, Plan A seems to be going well so far!

As well as casting, Joe has dabbled in the competition, having played Halo and World of Warcraft to a moderately high level. He never took competing all the way: “I’m not amazingly good at video games, unfortunately,” Joe says. I’m sure he’s being modest. “I never ended up competing at LAN events - in fact, my first LAN experience was as a caster,” Joe recalls. “I wanted to become a League of Legends pro... but then I realised I’m terrible at League of Legends.” Oh Joe - reality always rears its ugly head in sooner or later. “I decided to just talk about it instead.”

Joe speaks of League of Legends very fondly as the game he loves casting the most, but he casts three games on a regular basis in total: League of Legends and Counter-Strike UK Premierships as well as the Guild Wars 2 Pro League. “Luckily for me, I don’t have to be the genius who knows absolutely everything about the game.” Joe informed me there are two styles of commentary: first, the play-by-play, which is what Joe does. “I just get excited and talk about all of the action,” says Joe. Second, there’s the colour commentator, and his job is to know all of the super duper in-depth stuff. “I’ve just got to know it well enough to fill any awkward silences - or at least know what questions to ask the co-caster.” But awkward moments are very rare for Joe: having been a League of Legends fan since he was young, he knows the game very well indeed.

"Munchables" - I had to ask. “My first World of Warcraft character was called 'Munchkinator' because that was the name that sprung to mind at the time,” says Joe. I can kind of see why his mum kept asking about a Plan B. “And, over the course of however many years, that just developed! I don’t even remember.” I asked him if it had anything to do with Dairylea Lunchables - the definitive school snack of the early 2000s. He said: “I have been asked if that was the reason before, but no.”

So, let’s talk upcoming League of Legends events. Joe will be casting matches throughout the whole season leading up to the ESL UK Premiership finals. “It’s a very exciting season for us because we’ve got a challenger slot, which basically means our tournament now qualifies the winner to play in Riot’s professional tournament. So it’s kind of stepped up a whole level - instead of being an anonymous region, we’re now in that third tier of esports, the gap between amateur stuff and semi-professional. So very, very excited - we’ve got some very high-level talent,” says Joe.

Joe is clearly in his element working for ESL. “They’re by far the leading organization when it comes to esports. Every major international tournament is typically run by ESL. I definitely think that’s a good thing too because, in my experience, everyone that I’ve met and worked with here is very passionate about what they do - it’s very much about making it the best it can be,” says Joe. “Esports is in good hands.”

Don’t forget to follow Joe and the ESL League of Legends UK Premiership!


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