Esports in the Philippines has become a thriving industry with many opportunities for a long-term career as a player, coach, or even on-screen talent. Before all of this, many of its pioneers had to face a litany of challenges and setbacks—be it personally or professionally—in order to pursue their passions.
As one of the most recognized voices of the scene, Mark Adrian “Butters” Jison stands as a testament to both the tribulations, as well as the success that can be had in esports.
We took a trip down memory lane with him to reminisce about the challenges, triumphs, and experiences that made him what he is today.
Started from the bottom
Like most millennials, Butters grew up an avid gamer. With a huge passion for MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games, Butters secured his first shoutcasting gig way back in 2016 for a local broadcast of The Internationals while studying for an IT degree. But, as most millennials would tell you, he too was well aware of the stigma that still plagues video games to this day.
“Old ways will always be the foundation of things but keep in mind that change is inevitable. Esports is not the same as it was conceived many years ago.”Mark Adrian “Butters” Jison reflects on the evolution of esports from its infancy
Despite this, Butters’ passion would not be deterred. When asked what lessons he was able to apply from his degree to his work today, he pointed towards the skill of problem-solving and being analytical, sharing: “Naalala ko ‘nun sa programming classes namin, [kapag di ko] mahanap yung error yamot talaga buong araw. So kailangan habang hinahanap mo kalmado ka lang. ‘Di ka pwedeng bara bara. Same with casting, there are times na kailangan mo tignan kahit yung mga external factors para ma-pinpoint mo yung mga problema ng gameplay o ng isang team.”
Apart from juggling shoutcasting with pursuing a degree, Butters also cited the incredibly low pay he received during his early days as a caster.
“Yung bayad lang per series was $3 (150 pesos) and madaling araw ka na uuwi so wala kang choice kung di mag-angkas. Bawas talaga kita pero tinuloy-tuloy lang hangga’t malagyan ng malagyan yung portfolio.”Butters remembers the difficulties of budgeting his pay after a casting gig
Becoming one with the MLBB
In 2018, Butters came across a mobile game that was gaining huge traction in the local MOBA scene. With a portfolio already loaded from his DOTA 2 experience, the chance for stabler ground was within Butters’ grasp.
Butters formed the MPL-PH’s inaugural shoutcast desk with veteran MOBA casters Manjean “Manjean” Faldas, Caisam “Wolf” Nopueto, and Karl “Rockhart” To. Applying his problem-solving mindset, Butters worked with his co-panelists in cementing the foundations of shoutcasting for MLBB esports.
Luckily enough, the MPL-PH would continue to rise with Butters both in popularity as well as in competitive edge. So much so that Butters would be able to lend his voice on a global scale, as he shoutcasted for the M2 World Championships and the 2019 MLBB SEA Games Gold Medal match.
These two feats were what he considers as one of the first true marks of his success, lamenting: “Those are the times na masasabi ko na kahit papaano may bilang na ako sa esports scene.”
The sky is the limit
“For me ang ibig sabihin ng popularity is kapag pinag-uusapan ka na sa mga kanto kanto in a casual conversation.”Butters contemplates on the meaning of popularity for him
After 10 seasons with MPL-PH, it seems that Butters is as energized as ever in continuing to grow with esports. When asked if his fame has ever affected his daily life, the shoutcaster was quick to express gratitude and explained he had a different metric for fame, adding: “Wala pang setback dahil doon pero flattering para saken pag may nakakakilala saken sa daan.”
Looking forward, Butters also lent his support to the many young would-be casters looking up to him, encouraging them to dream high and to look inwards for improvement, explaining: “Never stop dreaming and even if there are things that give you a disadvantage, use it and turn it to your strength. Kung hindi kayang gawing strength, acknowledge it and accept it para hindi na nila magamit ito laban sayo.”
Banner images courtesy of Tammy David.