14.12.2016
The Man with the Microphone – An interview with Sudhen “Bleh” Wahengbam
Sudhen ‘Bleh’ Wahengbam was born to wield the mic. Just one look at him and...

Sudhen ‘Bleh’ Wahengbam was born to wield the mic. Just one look at him and you’ll realize why. Perennially rocking a black t-shirt and his classic metalhead long hair look, Bleh stands out in an esports event.  His taste in music, coupled with his look would easily lead anyone to believe that this guy just got lost on his way to a Slayer concert, but once he sits down on the shoutcaster PC and his microphone comes to life, you realize just why Sudhen is one of the best shoutcasters for CS:GO in Asia.

A very popular figure in the Indian Counter Strike community, Bleh is regarded as number one caster for CS:GO in our country and no esports event can be complete without his voice narrating out the plays as the games are played out. Bleh and his partner in crime, Prashant “Aequitas” Prabhakar were the two voices you heard on the stream or at the venue, if you were following the games at this massive LAN event in Delhi. We had a chance to speak with him and this is his take on the ESL India Premiership Masters.

Hi Bleh, how are you doing? How was the event and Delhi in general?
I’m doing good! Was a very busy year with a lot of events, and it’s kind of a relief to finally wrap up what has been a long season of Asian & Indian CS:GO events.

How was the casting experience like at the ESL India Premiership Masters?
I think the Masters was very well handled production wise at least for the live crowd. It’s nice to know that the production crew learnt from the previous events over the year to fix most of the mistakes and make this the best produced show so far in India.

The setup was larger than life, the audio especially was stellar, and things generally went off without a hitch.

One complaint I would make would be that the online side of things could have been handled much better, and the production flow could have been worked on to make the entire show much tighter. Also with the way eSports production has improved worldwide we need to have more ‘production value’ for that ‘WOW’ factor.

This is the last time Aequitas will be casting at an event? Will you miss casting with him? What is the one dynamic that you had with him that will be tough to bring about with someone else?
Well, as he is the CEO of SoStronk, you can imagine how much is on his plate at the moment. SoStronk has grown from just being a CS:GO app, to being the go to partner for anything CS:GO related in Asia, working with the likes of ESL, DreamHack and PGL in hosting some of the most prestigious CS:GO events in Asia. With so much work for SoStronk, he took the decision to step down from actively casting alongside me.

And of course I will miss casting with him. Being, in my opinion, the finest mind in CS in the country, he brought a lot of insight to our casts (I mean his weekend team knocked out Entity Gold from the ESL Masters lol).

Since I’m mostly a play by play caster, Aequitas added so much with his analysis and made my life much easier. My job was to bring out the best in him, and his unapologetic and at times acerbic commentary on what teams were doing wrong was something that made casting with him so much fun.
It’s going to be very tough to replace him, but hopefully we get to see him in some analysis desks in the future.

Obviously Risky took a very straightforward victory at the LAN as was expected by most. Which Indian teams impressed you the most and what are the things that you think they need to work on to reach their level?
The only team that impressed me was Dare2Dream, the ex-MxB lineup that knocked Risky down to the Lower Brackets. HellrangeR, playing with 2 stand-ins, managing to take a map off Risky, the only map they lost, is something worth noticing. There was only another player who impressed me, not a team, and that has to be Simar ‘Psy’ Sethi.

It was only the young players who impressed: HellrangeR, Psy, Antidote, Excali and also the tMg lineup (Marzil, Moon, etc), although Ameterasu would be an exception. It’s kind of obvious what the next step is. Get the young players in a lineup and stop distributing the young talent into multiple mediocre teams.
It’s not that Risky are unbeatable, it’s just that the individual skill level of their players were way higher than most of ours. The only way to beat them would have been by playing as a ‘team’ and that was sorely non-existent. A salary and a logo do not maketh a team. But we saw how HellrangeR managed to read them on the Cobblestone game they won, and how Psy was the only player in the first map of the Finals who could go toe to toe with them pure skill wise.

Did you get a chance to take in a bit of the Delhi comic-con experience as well? If so how was it?
Not many people know I’m a huge comic fan as well. And I was disappointed with how how utterly mainstream the Indian Comic Cons are. I couldn’t even find one single Transmetropolitan or Berserk poster :(

Did you get a chance to interact with any fans and well wishers?
I did chat a bit with many of the players, including some of the Dota2 players as well, but didn’t meet many fans to be honest, but got a lot of love on social media.

This was a pretty big year for Indian esports. Do you think we are on the right track?
Event wise, yes we are on the right track. With multiple events which enable lesser known teams and players to show what they have. And we’ve seen many individuals who have shown that they can hang with the best in the country.

But, as a scene, at least in CS:GO, we’re still where we were last year. Nothing has really changed. And it is tragic that so many new talents are not being groomed well, and have the same bad habits being passed down by some of our ‘veterans’.

SoStronk recently announced that they are on the lookout for a new caster? How was the response? Do you think people realize that there is a whole new set of jobs/professions/skill sets that are associated with esports and it’s not just about being a pro player?
The response has been underwhelming to be honest. But the applications we have received do have a few who have good potential.

I think most people are just unaware of what eSports really consist of and the amount of opportunities present outside of just playing the game. Or they are aware and are just not confident as to how to go about it.

What are your thoughts on ex-pros becoming casters/analysts? This is really common in Dota 2 but not so much in CS:GO. What do you think are the reasons?
I feel it’s because the old veterans from the days before CS:GO have moved on with careers which have nothing to do in eSports. And in CS:GO we have players who can be very good analysts but are still playing in teams and winning events as well. So for them, there is not much impetus to retire anytime soon. We already have ex-pros like Vendetta, Natu & YNK who are analysts and do a great job at it. And this might sound a little biased, but I feel the current CS:GO talent we have internationally is the best in eSports with the amount of banter and sheer fun they bring to every big event.

I do look forward to seeing some of our older pros sitting on the analyst desk in the near futire though. Nothing beats an ex-pro giving his insights on a game.

Well, it’s been great talking to you, thanks for taking out the time. Do you have any shoutouts to give?
Always a pleasure talking with you guys. Shoutout to all those who have supported me throughout the year and of course to SoStronk for allowing me to ramble about CS and get paid for it.
Twitter Handle : @OfficialBleh
Facebook page: BlehTV