Medic on how he went from being a doctor to becoming a caster: “I loved the science side of being a doctor, but the emotional side took a real toll on me.”

Photograph taken by: Michal Konkol / Riot Games

After Week 10 in the EU LCS, we had the opportunity to speak to Medic, who had just spent his first split as an EU LCS caster after upgrading from EU Challenger Series. We talked about his experience so far, how he handles criticism and why he changed from being a doctor to becoming an esports caster. Enjoy!

Congratulations on your first split as an official EU LCS caster. How does it feel to make the big jump from Challenger to the big stage of EU LCS?

I don’t think it’s real yet. Every time I get onto the stage or the caster desk and I see a crowd there while I talk about the Unicorns of Love or Fnatic, it’s just… I still don’t think it kicked in. I’m sure that over the break, when I won’t get to cast, I’ll be really hungry for it. It’s an honour and I’m really happy that people enjoy my casting enough to want me back.

Do you look up a lot of the comments that are posted online, such as on reddit or Twitter?

Yeah (laughs). I know a lot of the casters try and avoid that kind of stuff but I’m still new to everything and people seem to like me so most of the comments are nice! It’s a lot easier to read but I do think I have relatively thick skin anyway. I try to look through all the reddit threads and I appreciate everything. When I see a comment that I disagree with or I would like more info on, I go “Thank you for noticing that, let me ask you more about this”.

So you’re open to criticism?

Yes, 100%!

Dear reddit flamers… (laughs)

(laughs)

What have been the big differences between Challenger and EU LCS?

I think the biggest difference is the level of production. On Challenger you have only one camera you have to care about, one producer, all the teams have to be in the in-game lobby at the correct time and I was very lucky to not have many pauses when I was doing Challenger as well. Whereas now, you’re standing up and interacting with the crowd, you have ten different camera shots, so there’s a lot of stuff going on. But the actual meat and potatoes, the actual casting is very similar. I love mentioning statistics, because I’m a big stats guy myself, so it’s amazing getting something whispered in your ear like “This is the first Cloud Drake they got in 57 minutes of gameplay” I’m like YES, get that stat in!

So yeah, the actual casting isn’t that different. I try to deliver the same level of casting no matter where I cast.

Have you enjoyed casting with one of the legends of the EU LCS? Like Deficio or…

You mean like myself, right? (laughs) Obviously, it has been an honour to cast with Deficio but I think the best partnership I’ve made, and some might be surprised by this, is with Vedius! We seem to have this natural synergy and I think it’s the fact that… Secretly I love his jokes! (laughs) I really like the jokes he makes and to laugh at them a bit and I hope that makes people appreciate that he’s actually a really funny guy.

You got to interact with a lot of players and got to talk to Nukeduck today as an example. That must be quite different to your experience from Challenger, do you like this element of your job?

It was a bit of a woe for me because I have never interviewed people before. But I was trained as a doctor and we were taught personal skills quite a lot. So I was used to asking people to get open answers but also to ask the correct questions if I wanted to know a specific thing.

This is going to be a little bit technical, but there’s this idea in medicine that if someone comes in with a problem, you ask them an open question and you give them a minute to answer with whatever they want to answer. So when I interview people, the first question I ask is one I try to keep very open. Say Nukeduck wanted to talk about Vanders play in that series, you give him the opportunity to do that and then you know that he’s either interested in talking about that or not.

What did you do before becoming a caster? You just mentioned you trained to become a doctor? As in doing a Ph.D. or…?

So, it’s not like doing a Ph.D., it’s called an MBBS, which is a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, which is what you need in the UK to work as a practicing doctor. I took a gap year after High School, then applied for Medical School, got in and did that for five years and I worked as a doctor for a year in the UK. Then in August last year, I quit my job to become a full-time caster.

I was working for a company called Super Evil Megacorp who are working on a game you might know: Vainglory. I then applied for the Challenger scene and got an offer a few months later. Since then it’s been League of Legends, which I love. It was always the game I wanted to get back to since I was a part-time caster during Med School. I always wanted to get back to League of Legends, but never had the opportunity to do it on a full-time basis, and now I have the opportunity to make my living off it. I love it.

“Dear Mom and Dad: I know I’m a doctor. I know that I have a degree and a job as well. But I want to quit being a doctor to work for a company called “Super Evil Megacorp” to cast video games”. How did that work out?

My Dad was always very supportive of me. I think he’s always known that although I love the science side of being a doctor, the emotional side took a real toll on me. Dealing with people getting sick and their families… It was just a lot of emotional investment. I think that shows in my casting as well, I’m very genuine, very honest when I cast.

So when I was struggling that much and I got the opportunity to cast full-time, I told my Dad that I really wanted to do this and he has supported me since. He even watches my streams even though he knows nothing about League of Legends. (laughs) He goes like “Well, you were saying some words and it sounded like you were having fun so it must’ve been a great cast”. Yes Dad, it was, thank you very much (laughs).

An example of Medic having lots of fun during the cast:

That’s so cute! So that’s how you got your casting name because you’re literally a Medic that is casting.

Yes, exactly. I was originally called “Crackfox” which is a reference to The Mighty Boosh, which is a British TV Show and I highly recommend watching it to everyone above the age of 16! I then changed my name to Sona because I really couldn’t call myself Crackfox. Imagine that one “Hey, my name’s Aaron “Crackfox” Chamberlain, how are you doin’?”, doesn’t really work.

When I joined Riot, they didn’t make me change my name, I want to stress that. They said to me that I could either be called “Sona the Caster” or make up a new name. I didn’t want to keep the name and “Medic” seemed very suitable, so that’s how I got my name.

Would’ve been hilarious though if you would’ve kept your name and on your first day at EU LCS come around in a Sona cosplay!

Yeah, like DJ Sona? (laughs)

You should definitely take that into consideration! So it looks like you’ve been very happy with your career so far, are there any more goals for you, such as casting Worlds or EU LCS Finals?

Casting EU LCS Finals and Worlds are always goals I’ve had, but they’re also opportunities I expect to come around in five, ten years down the line if I do keep on casting a lot. I’m lucky enough that I’m doing a Quarterfinal this Split and I’m very happy that I’m able to cast one. But in all honesty, my goal is just to keep casting. If you’d say to me “You have to cast only UK games for the rest of your career but you’re able to make a living off it” I’d be very happy because it’s just what I want to do.

Do you have any tips for up-and-coming casters?

The biggest thing to being a good caster is being willing to put in the work. And I know this sounds really odd, but let me explain: I always was a good speaker. I’m able to hold conversations, I can make jokes. But actually getting better at casting has only really happened for me since August. That’s when I went like “Okay, I’m going to review my own VODs, I’m going to ask people what they like, what they didn’t like”. I’ve got such a great team here with Quickshot, Drakos and Pira who will be hypercritical of my casts.

You have to accept that in order to get better, you have to change things about the way you cast. And it can be the smallest things. We all have crutch-phrases, I used to say “turn and burn” every time a team used to win a fight. But now I only use it once per cast because in my head I go “No, you can’t overuse this”.

So putting in a lot of work is really important, but it’s also about dedicated practice. Every time you do a cast, every time you review a VOD, you have to know what you’re looking to improve, what you want to change and in which way.

Is there anything you’d like to say to the EU LCS fans or your own fans even?

(laughs) I doubt that I have that many personal fans. But thank you, obviously, to everyone who watches us. It’s an honour to get on stage and it’s just an incredible experience. I’m very happy that you all seem to enjoy my casting and I’m very happy that I’m able to keep doing it.

Thank you very much for your time!