PimpmuckL On The Art Of Dota 2 Observing

May 15, 2017

Jonathan Liebig talks about being the mind behind the camera

Being a professional Dota 2 observer may seem like an easy job but the gap between a mediocre one and a great one is immediately apparent to any viewer. There is already a lot going on in a serious game of Dota 2 and the observer has the crucial task of making sure the camera is always where the action is hottest. That this involves a lot of in-game knowledge and an instinct for how to visually match any game's tempo makes the dedicated observer more like a director in his own right rather than simply a cameraman.

Of course, for the Manila Masters, we got one of the best in the business: Jonathan "PimpmuckL" Liebig.

Jonathan is a core part of moonduck.tv's production team, where he casts, codes, and takes on the obs role regularly. He's been an observer for the Frankfurt Major, ESL One Manila, Frankfurt, and Genting, the Northern Arena BEAT Invitational, and in a few weeks' time, he'll also be behind the in-game camera for the Manila Masters. Jonathan gave us some of his insights into what makes a good observer:

"The observer needs to grasp the game at a high level to anticipate where important events happen to be ready to show them before they happen. Pair that with keeping track of the different heroes' movement patterns and roaming, keeping track of each team's varying objectives, and following kills and obsing becomes quite the task. It requires one's full attention and understanding of the current games' situation. And of course, you can't get too tired to miss what the casters are talking about as well."


Video Courtesy of ESL and NVIDIA

Obsing, especially during huge events with international live broadcasts, the margin for error is very small and Jonathan has trained himself to be on point at every point in the game. There's also a sort of an unspoken cooperation between caster and observer as they play off each other to create the flow of a good show.

"It helps a lot to know how the caster duo works when observing for them. My favorites to work with, Capitalist and either Merlini or Purge are not only fantastic casting duos but for me, it also just feels very natural when observing. The banter and excellent high-level analysis is not only great for the viewer but also for the observer who has to pay close attention to their topics. that's a plus. Not to mention that Cap is very good at using the observer camera most to center the topics around the relevant specifics on the screen while still using his camera to skim for information, creating a very streamlined viewer experience."

As for how preparation for an event goes, Jonathan also does his homework. Just like the casters, analysts, hosts, and writers behind any big production, he also has to be on top of any statistics narratives and team playstyles that might come into play during the course of a match. There is a combination of preparation, instinct, and storytelling talent involved.

"I usually do stats prep for around 2 hours per team. I analyze important lane matchups which are significantly relevant to the teams' success and certain mid-game movements some players do to better tell the story of the game. So if we take a team like OG focusing on the early game roaming of JerAx and Fly will be very important because OG is very centered around their supports creating space and protecting the hard carries N0tail usually plays. On the other hand, for a team such as NP it's crucial that EternaLEnVy wins his matchup and can keep an upper hand over his lane opponent because he usually makes or breaks the team's success. This knowledge can really help to tell the best story of the game possible to the viewer."

As for his return to Manila, Jonathan is more than ready for the ear-splitting crowd, and is excited to get this show going.

"I was here for ESL One Manila and it absolutely blew my mind. The folks here are the most passionate and amazing fans I've ever seen in my life and it's an honor to work in Manila again for the Masters. Just... spare me with the Balut please."