The King of Contenders expands his empire and takes his theatrical casting performance to a bigger stage: the Overwatch League.

The perpetuating persona of one Harry “LEGDAY” Pollitt is one that many in the Overwatch community has come to embrace. Anime villain. The guy with the hair (he has been consistent and insistent that his signature style is done simply by the use of a common hair dryer and little else). The quick-witted British caster with the sardonic wit. The King of Overwatch Contenders. And after five years of patience and development of his craft, a caster for the 5th season of the Overwatch League.

“I’ll throw on the OWL hoodie so PR don’t veto you using video if you want to,” he says, dressed in a limited edition sweatshirt that proudly displays all of the Overwatch League’s team logos. It’s clear that he lives and breathes Overwatch in a way little others do; the game having been a big part of his life for the better part of a decade. He doesn’t just work for them, he is also a fan. A gamer just like everyone else.

Harry “LEGDAY” Pollitt.

“If I wasn’t casting, I’d probably be streaming,” he says when asked. “Initially, my long term goal was to go and teach English in Scandinavia or somewhere. Because when I was getting my education, Britain was kind of turning into a racist ethnostate. It’s like, ‘I’m kind of ready to dip man.'”

“Yet I always really enjoyed being a broadcaster. So the idea of casting really appealed to me. I thought, ‘How do I get better at this game? I’m gonna go watch the best players in the world and see what they’re doing.’ And I found the GosuGamer weeklies and they would be casted by Mr. Zed Ped, ZP himself, and Hex, and I thought the commentary they were doing was super engrossing.”

I ask him that to introduce himself to people, as if meeting them for the first time. For as well-known in the community as he is, when you grace a bigger stage, you have to make sure the people in the back can hear you.

“Right,” he says, as he takes a sip from his trademark energy drink. “So I’m LEGDAY. I have a surname that’s incredibly hard to spell. And I used to be pretty good at Overwatch. I actually started gaming as an MMO player, a melee tank player, which is why I managed to make the jump over to Overwatch. It was Reinhardt, who is a hero I looked at and went, ‘I know how to do that. I can do that one.’ And it made for quite a good leaping on point, because in season one you could farm all the FPS players who didn’t know what a tank did. They’re like, ‘Oh, what why is there this guy in my face? No, I’m not killing with an AK headshot, smacking me with a hammer. This isn’t CS!'” he says with a laugh.

Reinhardt reminding Mei that this isn’t CS:GO and shooting him in the face isn’t going to work here.

“Before that, the only FPS I ever really played with any real vigor was Halo, and most of that time I spent in Forge in Halo 3 and Halo Reach building Mongoose racing tracks so I’m not sure if that really mechanically prepared me.”

Preparation is Key

“Lemon and I have a very similar style in that we’re quite funny and meme-y; Lemon’s got a lot of good witty one-liners and sometimes I kind of play the deadpan to her excitement”

Legday

While not so much mechanically prepped for Overwatch (despite his streams sometimes telling a different story depending on how much he decides to int), he along with his co-caster Jennifer “LemonKiwi” Pichette are now on the big stage, having spent years in the Contenders scene.

Debuting on May 6th and well aware of the pressure they were under, the days and hours before were nothing but a miasma of nerves for the pair.

But now that they’re over the hump?

“I feel a lot better after it than I did before it, I know that much!” he says with his signature laugh. “One of the things that made me the most nervous coming into this weekend is that I didn’t want Lemon and I to end up being seen as replacements for Bren and Sideshow. Their leaving obviously is a big loss for the Overwatch esports community, although thankfully they still do interact with Overwatch esports in a less official capacity. Lemon and I have a very similar style in that we’re quite funny and meme-y; Lemon’s got a lot of good witty one-liners and sometimes I kind of play the deadpan to her excitement.”

“And I think overall the cast this weekend went really well,” he continues. “The teams gifted us with some fantastic games. When your first cast is a five-mapper, that’s a really good opportunity to show off how good you guys are. Vancouver versus Boston is one of those games that I would describe as “for the fans,” because Vancouver and Boston are two teams that in the grand scheme of things, as we understand them in terms of franchise power at the moment, they aren’t hugely championship or contender teams. That meant that we had almost a lower stakes beginning, but also a really good match to cast for Lemon and I.”

Yet it always helps to prepare, even more so when you’ve already got what amounts to a spec script before the season even starts. Overwatch League is currently stacked 54 deep with Contenders players, alluding to the fact this may have provided an edge for for him. But LEGDAY disagrees, believing that instead of an advantage, it provides a new chapter of the league’s story.

“I’d say that it shifts our locus of storytelling,” he points out. “Our focus as casters is you have the more senior casters like Mr. X and Mitch UberShouts, who have been with the league for five years. They can focus heavily on the star power, the history of these franchises, etc.”

“When it comes to Lemon and I, our focus is always on these players that we care pretty deeply about. The Tier 2 players are basically our hypothetical children. We love to see them succeed and we’re always rooting for them.”

“As far as I can remember in North American and EU Contenders, we haven’t seen a full lineup from a team get picked up to Overwatch League until American Tornado. From Korea we’ve seen like RunAway get picked up as a team, Element Mystic get picked up as a team, everyone from Talon Esports get picked up.

People pick up whole rosters from Korean Contenders because they say, ‘This roster’s fantastic!’ And before American Tornado, people looked at NA Contenders teams, and they say, ‘Yeah, they want NA Contenders. We’ll take one. Yep, we’ll grab that guy.’ Not this time.”

To Play or To Cast, That is the Question

Before Contenders, LEGDAY had aspirations to be a professional Overwatch player, even captaining a team called the Wu Tank Clan, a revelation that instinctively caused me to roll my eyes, something he notices immediately.

“Thank you,” he says sheepishly, full self-awareness on display. “Very poggers name, I know.”

But he knew eventually he had to make a decision. Overwhelmed by not only esports existing, but that casting was also on the table, he decided to use his 12+hour a day gaming grind with friend and first co-caster Karzan “Karra” Schippers to help him figure out what his path would be.

“I burned the candle at both ends for a while. I was playing in the Overwatch University League. What would happen is that I’d be playing on my team and Karra would be playing on his team, and we were on the top two teams in EU in that league. After we were done playing our matches, we’d get in a Discord call, stay up, wait for the North American portion to start, and then cast over that. So we were kind of double dipping on the tournament production. And that’s how I met a lot of awesome people in the Overwatch casting scene, like MooshuBeef who started up Broadcast.gg and TormentedByGnomes back when he was doing commentary, then replays for the Overwatch League, and eventually Casters and Castles.”

“And I thought, ‘You know what, at the moment, I’m doing both of these, and I’m not dead. So I’m just gonna keep going with both of these until one of them succeeds.’ And turns out, I was a better caster than I was a player.”

The Art of Storytelling

There is an overarching theme for LEGDAY’s casting: storytelling. Anyone who has watched him for even a few minutes observes that his casting is more an experience rather than the perfunctory tell-you-what’s-happening-on-the screen modus operandi that most people want to believe. In fact, he states that casting isn’t that much different than being on stage, performing improv comedy.

All the world’s a stage and he’s gonna CAST IT.

“I really try and move into storytelling as like more of the mythological or kind of dramatic concept. I like to be a lot more active in trying to lead the emotional response of a viewer with different tonalities and cadences,” : LEGDAY

“I’m someone who, who sees casting a lot like a stage performance,” LEGDAY elaborates. “I love to do practice casts similar to how you would rehearse for a player or production. I like to do silly voices and take dramatic pauses. And I really try and move into storytelling as like more of the mythological or kind of dramatic concept. I like to be a lot more active in trying to lead the emotional response of a viewer with different tonalities and cadences.”

It also helps when the stories write themselves. For example, as excited as he is to cast the Atlanta Reign, comparing the Contenders recruits Ultraviolet, Ojee, and Speedily to pieces of Exodia, there is one team whose storyline he wishes were more interesting.

“The one team that didn’t get my gusset aflame for is probably Shanghai Dragons,” he confesses. “They haven’t really made many changes. So the first match of Shanghai is going to be one that I really want to watch, because I want to know how do they transfer to Overwatch 2. But being a five-year Contenders guy, I’m thinking, ‘You ain’t got no Contenders players, bro? What are you doing? Are you like bad or something?”


“Shanghai is also kind of arched out. To go from 0-40 to the to the Overwatch League Champions? That’s a fucking story. But to go from Overwatch League Champions to maybe win it again, is less invigorating. And it doesn’t really bring up the great response. It’s like if in the American sports movie, the team that got the most funding and the most practice wins.”

But if there’s a will, there’s a way. And if the storylines aren’t interesting, LEGDAY already has a way to go beyond the Overwatch League stage into other creative pursuits to tell some of his own, even if his motivations may not always be pure.

“I’m a little bit mean,” he admits. “But my gamer past has led me to be a bit of a mean flamer guy, so I tried to channel that productively and make something that I called Overwatch League Lowlights. And my focus with Overwatch League Lowlights as a series was to take the best teams in the league and show bronze and gold players, that these guys can fuck up monumentally as well.”

“Also in my spare time, I’m aspiring to be a voice actor. And I kept getting told I sounded as if I was narrating a documentary. So I made some nature documentaries out of OWL footage, and I think they were fairly funny and quite cool. I called them OWL Planet.”

Yet given the pride in his work, you can’t help but see the satire in the parody – a commentary on the infallibility of professional players. But in that, LEGDAY does recognize the empathy level involved that instills the importance of laughing at one’s self as well as sating his own nitpicking nature.

“I do think it’s a mixture of both,” he says. “I think that we could all be a touch more humble. But also, I am a nitpicking fucker.”

To bring the point home, he says with the voice of an 1940’s radio announcer and a laugh: “If you just get consistency and improvement, you too could fuck up like an Overwatch League pro.”

The Best Medicine

It hardly needs to be said, but if there is one thing LEGDAY is known for, it’s his laugh. And it’s more often due to the misfortune of players in the Overwatch League.

“Yeah, the Junkrat laugh is when I find something funny, I really find it funny. One of the reasons why I made Lowlights is because Overwatch League players fucking up was unbelievably hilarious to me. And it’s not even just fuckups as well.

Even awesome plays are funny; there was a clip circulating on Reddit this week of Twilight getting a really cheeky sleep on a D’Va and just me losing my mind in the back of the cast cackling–admittedly, it was actually the work of our observers that made it so funny. They got a really good wide shot of it. And I just started cackling. I like to think that shows a level of humanity beyond the broadcast to people. I can’t plan the cackles you know?”

Laughing at oneself is indeed key, however there is a level of criticism that is equally as important that LEGDAY is sure to level at the pros, if not for the very real fact that it is necessary. And even when he often says that he is practically “cyberbullying” at some points.

“If I think someone is shit, I will say, ‘This guy is playing like poo.’ Obviously, I can’t swear on the broadcast. I’m still a professional. But I saw a team do a Dragonblade and a Primal Rage at the same time. Well, obviously that really messes with the Genji when they’re trying to be close to people and the Winston goes, ‘Oh, no, you fucking don’t’ and just yeets them into the next dimension. And I got to call that poo. That was fun.”

“I suppose this is a good time to drop my theory for quantitative easing of compliments. Which is that if I say everything is good, nothing is good.”

LEGDAY’s Influence

But his desire to be humorous, to be that comedian, boils down to his influences in the field. To keep the audience intrigued. He is inspired by a casting duo in particular in order to achieve this.

“I think that Tasteless and Artosis are just the epitome of what being a charismatic pair of people can bring to a show,” he explains. “They could cast anything, and it’d be funny and entertaining. And I think they could jump into any show and be an asset to it.

I don’t want to be a caster who’s just good because he knows about Overwatch. I want to be a caster who’s good because when I’m on a show, that show is more entertaining. I thought that even though I’m a color caster, I’ve always considered myself an entertainer first and analyst like…72nd.”


It’s going to be incredibly hard for new color casters if they want to play analysts to build up that kind of trust if they aren’t doing like a supremely popular content series on the site or something

legday

“I know about Overwatch, but I don’t want to be an analyst. That’s not my jam. Because if I tried to be an analyst, it’s kind of pointless. We’re getting into the era now where Overwatch has veteran players who will inevitably transfer into being casting talent. And if you’re trying to be an analyst now, as someone who wasn’t a former pro player, you are always going to be at a disadvantage when you are espousing yourself to the audience–unless you’ve had the kind of time that people like AVRL, Mr. X, and Sideshow have had to build audience trust in your opinion. You are always going to be a step behind because a pro player has a leg to stand on to begin with, right?”

“It’s going to be incredibly hard for new color casters if they want to play analysts to build up that kind of trust if they aren’t doing like a supremely popular content series on the site or something. So I think that being entertaining as a caster is priority number one and when it comes to being entertaining, that duo is universally so.”

Looking Ahead

As we get into the middle of Week 2 of the season, no one knows how this year will end up. Already the excitement is there; despite it being run on a beta, Overwatch League has seemingly been invigorated. For LEGDAY, he’s finally reached his dream. So what does he want to accomplish this year?

“It’s an interesting question for someone who’s kind of been taking it a week at a time,” he admits. “I think when it comes to my overall goals this season, it’s to have a significant part in the overall storytelling of the tumult of Overwatch to Overwatch 2. I think that we are in a very interesting epoch right now in the overall lifespan of the franchise. And I really want to have an impact in how this era gets bought across.”

Even when he’s finally reached the end of his own “path to pro” in Overwatch, he never forgets where he started. The roots run deep for LEGDAY and not even weeks into his first year of OWL casting, he’s already thinking about how he wants to open the door for so many others desiring to reach the same heights he has.

“After five years, Contenders has been a real big part of my life. And I think the program is super important. So I’m hoping that I get to be involved in one way or another. Hell, that’s something I would have liked to do if I ever stopped casting. I’d love to be involved in like Path to Pro stuff, whether in Overwatch or Overwatch 3. I could be a good talent manager there because I could give some fairly astute feedback to casters.”

And the show, as they say, will go on.

Stay tuned to esports.gg for the latest Overwatch news and updates.


Brittany

Brittany "briggsycakes" Gonzalez

| Twitter: @Briggsycakes

Brittany Angelica Gonzalez, a.k.a "Briggsycakes" is a lifelong gamer and history addict who enjoys using her knowledge of socioeconomic issues to provide a necessary insight as to what needs to be done to make gaming a safe space for all. Having been a published writer and journalist for over seven years, she enjoys cooking, pole dancing, a nice glass of red wine, and getting involved in all sorts of good trouble to hopefully inspire other people to stand up and fight.