Jorby, “There is nothing in my life I’ve experienced like that”

We spoke with Joey "Jorby" Ahrens about casting the World's Grand final, what he expects from NA in season 8, and working his way up the casting ladder.


Photo Credit: (DreamHack)

RLCS Worlds Season 7 Finals saw a lot of craziness, but none of it would have mattered without the amazing talent Psyonix put together to cast it. We spoke with longtime Rocket League caster Jorby about the event and what he sees happening in the future. 

Hello Jorby! Congrats on an amazing Grand final cast! What was it like casting a grand final, especially with all the amazing storylines we had going into day three? 

Jorby: Straight up surreal. Did I really cast the grand finals? Insane. When you have the headset on, you can still hear the crowd, but it hits you like a powerful rumble. There is nothing in my life I’ve experienced like that. I had to deliver on the grandeur of this series, the grandeur of the RLCS.  The crowd’s energy was infectious. The narrative wrote itself. G2, the perennial LAN disappointment, march their way to the grand final as a raging offensive tsunami despite kicking a legend in Kronovi for an upstart rising star in Chicago.  

Vitality – the Dream Team – with the guy who owns a house in the grand finals (Kaydop), another proclaimed to one day win titles YEARS before he’d ever be able to play in the RLCS (Scrub), and Fairy Peak! who has faced the most criticism on this roster for their hard times. G2 had crushed in games that day. Vitality not only took down NRG, but then the defending champions Cloud9. They went through the gauntlet and one giant obstacle remained. It had a lot of what you want in a grand final matchup. A lot of history, tons of expectation, and one where fans sit on the edge of their seat.

When the story is that easy, it makes my job that easy. Especially when you get games like Game one, the game delivers the hype on its own.

Despite sending three teams to the semifinals, North America were unable to prevail on home soil. Do you feel NA missed out on a big opportunity or were VItality just that strong this season?

Jorby:  Vitality are just that strong. All of them can make plays out of nothing and consistently catch you off guard with their mix-ups. They can pass from anywhere on the pitch and demonstrate incredible game sense in their best games. In the bad games, they tend to give too much space when they should close the gap, double commit and tangle each other up. When all three members of Vitality are clicking, nobody can beat them. Period.

North America stepped up this World Championship, even if G2 didn’t take home the trophy. Sending three teams to the semi-finals and winning every group is a remarkable result. I think *G2* missed a big opportunity. Simply making the grand finals against the field is hard enough now. For all we know, that might end up being their only appearance. That’s how tough the RLCS is right now. G2 (and their fans, for that matter) have been hungry for a long time. High expectations never met. They performed the best they ever had leading up to that grand final, and it still ended in sadness. I still think it leaves them with high hopes for next season. 

Your first prominent role as a RL caster came during the RLRS season one. You went from casting up and coming bubble players from a studio to casting in large arenas in the biggest LAN RL has every year. What has that journey been like for yourself and how much has that had an impact on you? 

Jorby: “This is my life?” LOL.  It’s been a combination of a lot of things. I started out casting small community tournaments and loved it so much that I was casting community tournaments 5+ days a week in my free time after work. Because of that involvement, I found family in the Rocket League community. That’s the first, and biggest, impact it had on my life. During that time period, I went to my first RLCS LAN in Season 3. 

At the end of that event, I was determined and motivated to grind my ass off until I was in the RLCS. I remember a conversation I had with a good friend there, and I told him “I want to do that. I want to cast the Grand Finals of the RLCS one day, and I’m gonna grind like hell to make it happen.”

I got noticed enough to get picked up for the very first season of Rival Series. They were flying me to Los Angeles to talk about flying cars hitting a ball. (Still crazy no matter how many times I think about it) At that point, it’s nothing but riding high, right? Turns out, the journey isn’t all roses and sweet chocolate treats. 

It’s no secret that I’m loud, that I’m hype. It’s what people love or hate about me. It’s what people talk about the most. My excitable & boisterous casting is an extension of who I am. Achieves likes to say I am a “man of many passions”. So when people don’t like that kind of casting and respond negatively to that, it affects you. Back then, I saw those comments as an attack on me as a person. Fans rejecting my casting was like rejecting me outright. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I’ll never forget the first NARLI for this reason. That day’s broadcast was a day where anything bad that could happen to production, happened. It was the first time I ever had to stall for 30+ minutes. Long story short, it didn’t go well,  After I got back to my hotel room, I remember reading comments on Reddit blasting me for how garbage I was. I watched the VOD & Twitch chat had personalities and regular fans alike laughing at my failure and how they should be on the broadcast instead. These were the people who I wanted to charm and to entertain.

I went to bed that night – almost in tears – giving hard, legitimate thought to quitting casting after the event was over. It was the lowest point in my casting career. I had a wonderful support system that helped pick me back up after that. Instead of quitting, I found more motivation than I ever had before to prove to everybody that they were wrong about me. This part of my journey, the criticism will never go away. 

There will always be people who don’t like me, people who want to see me fail, people who always have another thing I do that they dislike. That tune has really changed in recent months and I see more love than I do hate. I see more than a couple of people who comment that they used to dislike me, but that I’ve become one of their favorite commentators. I think I’m on the right track of changing hearts. (Always save the positive comments, they are a light in dark times.) Those experiences taught me how to handle criticism, not just in Rocket League. In my life and my relationships too. A guy tweeted out tagging both Unthink and I after we casted together in Rival Series that we needed to stop “gassing up all the plays.” So me and my wonderful friends in RL turned it on its head. And now I “BRING THE GAS”. That’s me. 

Then I quit my job to pursue this full time and moved to LA all at the same time. Now let me tell you about scary. There had been nothing scarier in my life than quitting a career I developed in IT, an extremely stable industry, for 7 years to move to an expensive city, get close to the action, and go commentate a video game. Quitting my job was a complete gamble. I was still in Rival Series but I knew commentary was what I wanted to do with my life. I promised myself back in Season 3 I was going to make it happen. I had to take the risk. I couldn’t expect a casting career to come to me. I had to make it happen.

Then I started doing CRL, and after another season of Rival Series I got called to the RLCS. This season it didn’t exactly click that it happened, and really it still hasn’t clicked. On Saturday night, on the eve of Season 7’s Championship Sunday, I was told I would be casting the grand finals of the RLCS. The dream I set in Season 3 was going to be a reality. I casted the Grand Finals of the RLCS. And you know what? I still can’t believe it happened. This is the best job on Earth.

While you went from RLRS to RLCS, some of the players you casted have made the exact same leap. What players do you feel have truly made the next step in becoming RLCS pros and which one would you bet on to be a World Champion? 

Jorby: Oh man, that’s such a tough question. Jstn has already made that next step and is still the best player to have come from Rival Series, IMO. Chicago has truly made that next step as well with not only the world championship appearance but a grand finalist as well. Watch out for Alpha54 next season. I think he’s only going to get better, despite already winning EU MVP, he’s one of my top players to watch heading into the off-season. He’s made big waves on Barcelona already.

Maybe it won’t be on Rogue, but I think that Ayyjayy is going to win a title one day. That kid has way too much talent to not at least end up in the grand final at some point in his career. 

I could keep going, but all of Triple Trouble have made that step by making the World Championship together as a team with no previous RLCS experience, promoting from the Rival Series. Would I bet on them being World Champions? I wouldn’t place bets in such a competitive European region. I think they are capable, but the EU flux is real.

While you cast professional RL you also cast in the Collegiate Rocket League series. To those who don’t watch the CRL how would you describe the level of play in the CRL and the value the CRL provides to both the community and the CRL players? 

Jorby: The level of play in CRL is extremely variable, but slowly starting to clump to where almost all our conference teams rock a full squad of Grand Champions. It is just below Rival Series in quality of play. One of the coolest aspects of CRL is watching a team develop over the season. With the RLCS, improvements are typically in the abstract, or very small mechanical improvements that help give a player a slight edge on the other guy. 

In CRL, there is much more room to grow, faster. You watch players who once performed much worse than their conference peers and then end up beating those same peers in a big game later in the season. They look totally different than from the start. It’s a great development ground for players with aspirations of professional play. It’s a wonderful, open and loving community — players AND fans. I love all those guys and they’re part of what makes that broadcast so incredibly fun!

As we wrap this interview up we want to say thanks so much and would you like to say anything to the community or fans of yours? 

Jorby: To MinecraftingDad at old Ghostboosters who gave me my very first cast, to kerrytaz who brought me over to Nexus Gaming. To Wray for all of your support in the beginning at Ghostboosters. To Cloudfuel for not only getting me involved in RLC, but gave me a chance at my first ever LAN gig at PAX East 2017. To Psyonix for believing in me, developing me, and believing in what I bring to the table. To all of the people I’ve casted with, had long conversations past 4 AM with, there are so many of you that helped me and guided me, even if you weren’t aware. 

To the community:

You all are amazing. To those that showed up to LAN, broke a world record, however small, it’s just a testament to how together this community is. Thank you for being so open and welcoming to newcomers. You make people feel welcome. There are not a lot of other esports that can say the same. You are something truly special in esports. Let’s hold that, let’s keep that fire alight, and let’s never lose sight of our roots. Season 7 was a showcase of how fantastic of a community you all are. 

To fans of mine:

THANK YOU FOR BELIEVING IN ME. Your love for what I do is part of what pushes me forward, part of what drives me to improve. So many of you walked up to me at this World Championship and told me that *I* was your favorite caster. The impact that had on me is humbling & otherwise completely indescribable. I’ll never forget it. I read your positive comments. I save them. They are my pick-me-up when I need it, and a reminder that YOU are the ones I do this for. You can bet next time you see me on broadcast, I’m gonna bring the gas.

May the hype never die,

~ JorbyPls

Are you as HYPED as the hype king himself for the future of RL? Comment below!

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Ezekiel Carsella

My name is Ezekiel Carsella and I am the Senior Rocket League Writer here at RealSport who is heavily invested in esports and traditional sports. I am a big fan of my National Champion Clemson Tigers, 27 time World Series winning New York Yankees, PSG, and two time Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens.

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