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Brandon Smith: The face of FIFA esports commentary

From Bognor Regis to Bucharest, FIFA commentator Brandon Smith has had an almighty rise to the top

Just three years ago, Brandon Smith, 21, from Bognor Regis in West Sussex, found himself doing all he could to get involved in the broadcast industry. After leaving college and realising that his childhood dream of being a professional footballer wasn’t going to happen, Brandon turned to commentary as his way to stay involved with the game.

He started a voluntary commentary role at his local football club, Bognor Regis Town FC, who play in the lower depths of English football. In addition to that, Brandon took on work experience at nearby professional club, Brighton and Hove Albion – the club he supports. Talking about his experience at Brighton, Brandon said:

“I used to go down on a Saturday with my dictaphone and record myself and do a lot of practice there.”

Manchester move and meeting Richard

A key part of Brandon’s journey was when he moved to Manchester in September 2016, to start his course at the University Campus of Football and Business (UCFB). During his first year, he was asked to commentate on a FIFA Twitch Pro League – an opportunity that he jumped at.

Halfway through the season, Brandon realised that he could do with a co-commentator – and that marked the beginning of the highly successful Esports commentary duo of Brandon Smith and Richard Buckley.

Richard was on the same course as Brandon in Manchester and decided that he wanted to get involved with commentating on the Pro League. Even though the numbers were relatively low at the time, the pair sparked an instant connection and it provided them with some invaluable industry experience.

The breakthrough

It was not long after Richard got involved with the Pro League, that their biggest opportunity of all came along. EA Sports announced that they would be staging a competition called the Commentators Cup, in which they were looking for the next two FIFA commentators. Brandon looks back on that experience with great pleasure:

“Me and Richard saw it (the Commentators Cup) and we thought, you know what, ‘let’s go for it’. We submitted our application in the last few hours, of the final day. Two weeks later, we then got a call saying that we had made the finals – we went down to London and, luckily, somehow won that one – against three other duos.”

On the back of that success, Brandon and Richard were asked to get involved with the FUT Championship Final 2017 in Berlin, where they got to commentate on one of the games. That is the biggest FIFA event to date that EA sports has held, with the prize money sitting at a whopping $160,000 for the winner.

After making a positive impression in Berlin, their stock began to rapidly rise – and the opportunities to commentate started to rack up. Last year proved to be a huge success for the pair, as they took part in 19 events, across eight countries – receiving three esports award nominations in the process.

You can see their year in action in this clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzzfyvi1Uk0&t=5s

Exciting year ahead

Although we are only into the third month of 2019, the dynamic duo have already had a busy start to the year. They have commentated on tournaments in Bucharest, Romania and, most recently, travelled to Singapore. It really is quite the life.

With the upcoming ePremier League on the horizon, Brandon and Richard have also been travelling around the country for a number of the Premier League clubs’ playoff matches. They will be commentating on the finals of the competition later this month – which will be broadcast live on Sky Sports – and is something Brandon is really excited about:

“It’s a huge opportunity for us and a massive honour, to commentate on the first ever ePremier League. It really is just going to get bigger and I really can’t wait to see where this goes.”

Playing FIFA remains important

It is quite easy to imagine that when you have reached such a level of commentating on esports titles, that you either don’t get time to play the game itself any more or that you don’t feel the need to. However, that is not the case for Brandon, as he reveals why he believes it’s so important to continue playing FIFA:

“I think, if I didn’t play FIFA, I don’t think I could honestly say that I was a commentator in a fair aspect. You need to play – to learn the games, see the players and the new updates. I’m trying to play the best I can every weekend on FUT Champions. I’m not doing very well at it – but I’m at least giving it a go and I think Richard is exactly the same. It helps with the commentary and you can really relate to the viewers.”

After going on an incredible journey over the last couple of years and with the continued growth of FIFA esports, the charismatic commentary duo look set to stick around for a long time in the industry. Coming to a TV near you very soon, Brandon Smith and Richard Buckley.

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