LCS host, LeTigress about her career, her approach to casting and the excitement of being in a big stadium full of fans.

One of the familiar faces today on the LCS broadcast is Gabriella “LeTigress” Devia-Allen. She joined the LCS in 2020 but this was the first season she’s been seen mostly as a caster on the LCS stream. Esports.gg’s Piratechnics spoke to her last week at the LCS studios about her journey in esports and transitioning to a caster for the first time.

Pira: That was your first playoffs series as a caster for the LCS. How does it feel stepping off the stage after that series?

LeTigress: In general these playoffs have been well [for me], because it was the first time with fans ever. So even doing the stage stuff last week and then this was a whole different thing because as far as LCS casting, it’s my first season doing it. So you know, I feel that adrenaline pumping and then trying to get all zen for it and that immediate release after I (sighs) did the first series.. Yay!

Pira: Absolutely, you can call it warmups because you’ve been casting a lot more series over the course of this split! Is this the push that you’ve been wanting to do for a while or is it more recent that you’ve been wanting to do casting vs interviews/hosting?

LeTigress: So prior to the LCS, I actually was primarily a play-by-play caster and desk host with doing interviews kind of like (as) my third. I would flex between those roles, but it was primarily the first two. And then coming to LCS is when I ended up focusing more on interviewing.

So I think from the start of joining the team, it was always a goal. I was doing academy and things, I still wanted to be able to do play-by-play ideally on the LCS stage since it’s where my passion lies and where I’m focusing. This year getting the opportunity to cast LCS has been great and I’ve been using a lot of my week schedule prep times in just trying to continually improve. Now I finally get to be here doing this, I just want to get incrementally a little better each time.

LeTigress and Azael
LeTigress and Isaac “Azael” Cummings-Bentley in the LCS studios.

Pira: I’ve been pretty impressed personally and I think a lot of people have seen how you’ve been knocking it out of the park. Talk to me a little bit about your journey not just with Riot but previously as a shoutcaster and getting to this stage

LeTigress: I’ve always been into the world of entertainment for as long as I can remember. I wanted to entertain in some capacity whether it’s in front of the camera, behind the camera. I was looking for what I wanted to do in the next step after undergrad where I was studying film. 

I was introduced to esports and I thought ‘Ah! This is the coolest shit ever. I want to do this so bad’. It was when I was watching NA LCS and EU LCS. That was the first thing I watched. So I focused on League of Legends and went down that road, primarily wanting to do desk hosting. Started doing that for amateur sides. 

Throughout my graduate degree, I was focusing on that. In that process, expanded into other games cause I think also in the current landscape it does help to do multiple titles. It can be very difficult if you focus on a singular game. And found opportunities in an indie game of Duelyst which I started casting. It was a bit more color-style (casting) because it’s a card game. And then from there through a reality show called The caster, I received the opportunity to be full-time at Hi-Rez studios. 

LeTigress: That’s why I taught myself play-by-play to begin with. It was because someone sent the link and said ‘There’s a casting show’ and I thought ‘Oh! I should know how to do that then if I want to be on the show.’ I think I like play-by-play more and had to teach myself the titles and how to do play-by-play in two weeks’ time while finishing up my grad degree. 

So did that, won the show, got the opportunity. That’s when I started doing play-by-play more with Hi-Rez, for a year in which I covered Paladins mostly. But then some Smite and Hand of the Gods. 

I went freelance after that with CSA. That’s where I got to do a bunch of titles. In that process I went back to collegiate League and a lot of those kind of tournaments. So when I went back into League, when I was finally freelance again, and I was play-by-playing a collegiate event that’s when Riot connected and found me and then I hosted the Collegiate Championship and from there was given the opportunity to do LCS work. 

Pira: That is a heck of a journey. And it does feel like everybody that gets into shoutcasting has a slightly different story but it always involves a lot of progression, bouncing around, finding your footing and finding what you really love about it. 

So you have been doing League of Legends for a few years now, but this has been the first split we’ve really seen you mainly on the caster desk. Talk to me a little bit about how your preparation on a given week has changed since you are now doing a lot more work with somebody sitting next to you on the desk?

LeTigress: When it comes to prepping for interviews and hosting, it’s a lot more isolated work in terms of my regular processes of the content review and things like that. 

And then for casting it’s a bit more of that in-game prep, I like to try and prepare a color-caster to help me for my play-by-play. And then also utilizing the awesome people that are around me. 

I talked to Clayton “CaptainFlowers” Raines a lot, got his advice on things as somebody who is very tenured and very respected and has been doing this for sometime. Doing VOD review sessions with others as well, I’ve sat down with Barento “Raz” Mohammed and done things like that. 

It’s just kind of a closer look at casting and the individual things I want to work on week by week. I feel like I’m still finding the stride, in the best way to prep for a weekend of casting and iterating on that each week. So it’s definitely changed a lot.

Pira: Do you have somebody (Riot or elsewhere) that you consider as a mentor as far as the play by play casting goes, somebody that you really try to learn as much as you can?

LeTigress: For my overall mentor, I’ve been blessed with a few that I’ve got to work with. I’d say since the start of my freelance career I’ve worked a lot with Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez who does variety in hosting and play-by-play casting. 

And then honestly, while on the LCS, I look towards the other play-by-plays that are on the broadcast. Because I think they’re some of the greatest that there are. So I look towards them, what they’re doing, ask them about their practices, things that work well for them.

So I’d say CaptainFlowers, David “Phreak” Turley and I’ve talked to Julian “Pastrytime” Carr a lot as well about different things. I think that is a great resource. Being on a team of people you trust and you trust in their ability where you can constantly learn from one another is always a great thing to be able to do. 

“I thought a lot of his [Quickshot’s] style and the way that he approaches execution in the play-by-play style is something that I emulated early”: LeTigress

LeTigress

Pira: When you have that support it’s excellent. Do you have a favorite play-by-play out of the ones you just mentioned in the LCS?

LeTigress: No. I don’t think I have a favorite. I think over time, historically, when I’ve looked from a fan-perspective, when I first started watching League of Legends, Trevor “Quickshot” Henry, for instance, was one of the first that stood out. Because I thought a lot of his style and the way that he approaches execution in the play-by-play style is something that I emulated early. 

Now I feel like it’s more of looking at all the play-by-plays and what they do well. Finding what I like from that, what I can bring into my own style, less so than trying to emulate one particular person or have a declared favorite. I think everyone’s done a great job of constructing their own identity that’s very unique to them and you can always reflect and iterate upon that. 

Pira: It’s interesting you mention developing your own style. Because when I listen to you, it sounds to me like you have a very traditional sports kind of style. I almost want to say ESPN-esque in my head, do you draw inspiration from traditional sports commentators as well?

LeTigress: I do watch a lot of traditional sports, particularly NBA, it’s something that I track regularly. It also comes from my competitive speaking background, what I did for my high school and college. 

So a lot of that form, or that very specific broadcast technique in my undergrad degree was broadcasting TV film production so I think a lot of that comes from that side. If anything, what I’ve worked on over the years is always loosening up and not leaning too much into that structured style. Because I think it is a balance.


“I’ve had the pleasure of attending an LCS finals when it was in Oakland as a third-party reporter for a brief time. And then Worlds, when it was here, semifinals in MSG, I drove 15 hours to go and attend as a fan” :LeTigress

Pira: You got to have fun with it – It is playing video games at the end of the day! As I mentioned you just have this big playoff series. It was your first time on the stage for the LCS. Now that we’re only a couple of weeks away from Houston, how excited are you to be in a big stadium full of fans doing the job you’ve been doing for the last couple of years? 

LeTigress: I cannot describe how excited I am. Even when fans were coming to this studio, which is even an off-site one, I could feel those happy-tears-coming-to-eyes sort of {feeling].

I joined the LCS in 2020, was here for a few weeks, everything shut down. It’s been shut down since then. I’ve had the pleasure of attending an LCS finals when it was in Oakland as a third-party reporter for a brief time. And then Worlds, when it was here, semifinals in MSG, I drove 15 hours to go and attend as a fan. 

Pira: No Way! Okay, THAT’s dedication.

LeTigress: All the tickets sold out in Chicago, which was only a couple hours from where I was from. And then I went to the semifinals, got in a car, snuck in my camera so  I could get some B-roll images for my docu-thesis that no one could get me in trouble because it was only for educational purposes. Those are the only times that I’ve got to consume League of Legends with fans and it was usually as a fan, so I am so stoked to see what it’s like being on the other side of it for the very first time. I’m really really looking forward to it.

Stay tuned to esports.gg for the latest League of Legends news and updates.

piratechnics - LoL Commentator

piratechnics

LoL Commentator | Twitter: @PiraTechnics

Devin "PiraTechnics" Younge is a League of Legends PBP caster who rose to prominence during his time on the EU LCS from 2015 to 2017. Since then he has also branched out into other esports titles. He is currently a caster for Riot Games' PCS 2022 Spring Split.