Credit: BLAST Premier

The Dynamic Duo of Counter-Strike: The Story of Scrawny and Launders

In an interview with Pley, launders tells the story about how the successful caster duo was formed, why they work so well together, nepotism in the talent scene, and the prospects of casting a CS:GO Major Final.

Conner "Scrawny" Girvan and Mohan "launders" Govindasamy has become household names in professional Counter-Strike, with the talented caster duo having commentated at several top-tier tournaments in the last couple of years, and must be seen as one of the frontrunners to cast the grand final at Paris Major next month.

But how did it happen that these two fellow Canadians found each other and formed their super-successful partnership?

That’s something we asked launders about when we got the chance to chat with the tallest member of the duo. And it all started back home in Canada in 2016, where they commentated their first event together, launders explains.

- It was at an event called Northern Arena Montreal, which was one of two kinds of bigger Counter-Strike events that happened here [the other one was Northern Arena Toronto], and he was casting there because he's from Montreal - actually, he grew up as a farm boy just outside the city. Pretty sure he had a goat as a pet. We had a very different upbringings with me being from downtown city, whatever, launders notes before continuing the story on how the popular duo came together:

- But in terms of Counter-Strike, I actually saw him casting online. It was like a small ESEA Premier game a long time ago, where he was casting by himself and he had like 20 viewers. And I remember listening to the cast and thinking this guy is trying so hard. He didn't knew I was in the chat, and he didn't knew who was there but he was going hard, and that's the best possible sort of vouch that you could give someone. I feel like to say that hr didn't knew you were watching and he was still trying his hardest.

- I think that that spoke volumes about his character and I think that when I looked at that cast, I was like well, either I'm going to cast with him or someone else good is going to do it. Then we met at the Northern Arena event in Montreal and then I actually asked him to try cast the grand finals with us, with me and Vansilli [Alex "Vansilli" Nguyen], and then we started casting a lot more from there.

Question: What makes this partnership of yours work so well?

- In my opinion, it's because we have these really rigid, traditional roles as commentators, where he’s the play-by-play and I'm the colour commentator. Because you never want to hear me do play-by-play, and you never want to hear Conor do analysis- even though he's pretty good at fantasy and doing some analysis himself.

- I think we really do a good job of letting the other person have their place, leaning into their strength, and we know exactly when to talk and when not to talk. Whereas if we look at the biggest duos in the history of the game, almost all of them have a hybrid relationship where they are doing both roles. Even the most infamous and called upon play-by-play commentator Sadokist, when henryG was commentating with him towards the end, Henry was doing way more play-by-play.  That's something we've never done before and so I never really want to do ever, honestly. Connor has right now the best trophy lifts in the history of the game and his play-by-play is extremely solid.

Scrawny and launders in action at last year's BLAST Premier World Final grand final between Liquid and G2:

The interz of casting?

When talking about his own role when casting, launders emphasizes that he’s not in it for the fame and personal recognition, and how he’s more of a supportive element much like the former Gambit and Cloud9 rifler Timofey "interz" Yakushin.

- I have no interest in being in highlight clips or compilations on YouTube, and I have no interest in being in aftermovies for events. My only interest is being a support player, who adds a little bit of extra colour to the broadcast. But the most important part of the broadcasting is the play-by-play commentator, where my job is to make sure that people feel satisfied watching, and for the people who know a bit more about the game, the job is to point out things that they would point out themselves, but then also to teach people who want to learn more and have that sort of edge as well.

- I think it's a huge benefit that I don't have any interest in the things that you would naturally want to be a commentator for, launders says.

Casting a Major Grand Final

To see Scrawny and launders cast the Major grand final in Paris next month is not at all an unrealistic outcome, given their current status and track record with BLAST.

For launders, it will be the “biggest achievement”, he explains.

- Casting a Major final is like the biggest achievement that any commentator can have. In a world where you know there's a lot of nepotism, there's no clear... there are no stats for us, to tell who is the s1mple of casting that year. It's really just about like who is flavor of the month? Who's doing a good job overall? Who's getting better? Who's in the top three duos? That kind of thing. Being able to cast a major final is more of an honour than it is earned. I think that what I've earned is the ability to be considered to be able to cast a grand final. That's good enough for me. Being able to cast the grand final would be a wonderful thing to happen.

- […] But it wouldn't change my perception of myself as a commentator because, in my opinion, you can earn getting to where I am now, but you can't really earn much more than that.

Is nepotism a thing in the talent scene of CS:GO?

- So, there is nepotism. I think that it's just that, like you know, we get accolades as broadcast talents for doing a job that other people are working just as hard in their roles and might be just as unique in their fields. But we're the only ones, who get awarded for it. I mean it's sort of a weird thing, but yeah, it exists. I don't think it's that bad. I think it's actually something that people shouldn't turn a blind eye to and instead just be smart about in their life. You can get mad about the fact that someone can get a promotion or a better job than you when they're not as qualified or talented as you are, or you can just improve your skills when it comes to networking, talking to people, being easier to be around, you know, and then you'll reap the benefits and be able to move up more, and even farther because of your talent.

In the coming weeks, you can expect two articles more from our interview with launders focussing on aspects like launders' own journey in Counter-Strike, the gap between tier-1 and tier-2, and Counter-Strike 2.

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