A Consummate Host: Eri Neeman on Philippine eSports and Hosting the Malaysian Cyber Games
If I had to list down everything Eri Neeman has done; his writing credits, gigs and comedy tours here and beyond, we’d be here all night (or day, depending on when you read it).
Praised by foreign eSports correspondents, personalities and organizations for his uncanny ability to hype a crowd without resorting to humiliating audiences, Eri Neeman spent a better part of 2015 in front of thousands of eSports fans in various venues in the Philippines.
His wit and quick-triggered comedic timings have entertained gaming crowds from Dota 2 and Hearthstone, to popular casual mobile gaming events for Clash of Clans.
But who is Eri Neeman? The Filipino host and stand-up comedian has dipped his toes in many different areas before hosting eSports events such as the Gigabyte-Mineski Progaming League Southeast Asian Finals (GMPGL), the Hearthstone World Championships Southeast Asian Qualifiers, ES-GS, Pinoy Gaming Festival and the Smart Philippine Clash tournament.
His successes inside the Philippines have brought his name to the attention of Dota 2 and Hearthstone fans abroad through the popular videogame streaming platform Twitch.
We caught up with Eri Neeman to talk about hosting, his life as a host, comedian and gamer, and his thoughts on the Philippine eSports and gaming industry. Here’s what the co-founder of Comedy Manila had to say about gamers and the growing eSports scene in the Philippines.
eSports INQ: Tell us a little bit about yourself? Who is Eri Neeman? Is he a gamer?
Eri: I’m a gamer who doesn’t get to play games as much anymore. I’m a host, comedian, dedicated boyfriend, and dad to 7 shih tzus. 🙂
eSports INQ: What kind of games do you enjoy?
Eri: Fighting games, Role-playing games (RPGs) and First-person shooters (FPS) for sure. My favorites include Street Fighter 4, Tekken, Rival Schools, Guilty Gear, Call of Duty, Counterstrike, Unreal Tournament and Marvel Versus Capcom 3.
I’m also a fan of some of the best RPGS games of all time: Final Fantasy 7 and 8, and Shadow of the Colossus.
I’m even considering getting a Playstation 4 for Final Fantasy XV. It’s looking amazing.
eSports INQ: How did you start out as a professional host? Can you describe for our readers what you like so much about it?
Eri: I started (hosting) ever since I was 18. I hosted a bar tour and then that lead to more things. I wanted to be an MTV VJ. I succeeded…after 6 years of auditioning. Haha. 🙂
I love hosting because I enjoy being onstage and performing. I like making things fun. I like entertaining audiences. Hosting is a great way to do that. It’s fun to help events be successful and make the people who attended the event happy that they did.
Every event is different and it’s always a challenge to make it entertaining. Give me the most boring event and my goal is to make it entertaining for everyone.
eSports INQ: Switching over to gaming: How did you start hosting gaming events? What did you like about that type of event? What didn’t you like?
Eri: I love gamers. I get along with gamers. They’re the most fun to host for because they’re always game. They’re playful. They get all kinds of humor. They’re not stiff, they love sarcasm and they’re very intelligent. It’s a good amount of crazy.
What really got me started on wanting to host for eSports was when I used to watch Quake Tournaments hosted by this guy named Steve and some of StarCraft tournaments that used be aired late at night on ARIRANG. We had that on cable before. I didn’t play StarCraft at all and I understood nothing, but to see gaming on TV was so cool for me.
Now, eSports is as big as it is and it’s so awesome to get to be a part of it. There’s nothing I don’t like about hosting gaming events.
I do wish fighting games were bigger here though. Like even half as big as Dota tournaments. That’d be awesome.
eSports INQ: What’s your most memorable experience while hosting a gaming event? Can you share with us a funny or amazing story from behind the scenes?
Eri: The GMPGL man. Mineski gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted so I did and it was so much fun. Out of the blue, I asked Winter, Godz and Kimo to pose for a “Macho Man” look. That was all spontaneous and man, that was just so much fun. That was definitely a highlight.
Eri: Man…honestly I’m a little nervous to see how Malaysians will react to me but I’m looking forward to showing them a good time.
The Malaysian Cyber Games will be held at the Stadium Negara. I’ve never hosted a gaming event at a Stadium before, so that’s going to be something special.
I’m so thankful for Mineski for giving me all of these opportunities. I appreciate Kenchi Yap and his team for putting their trust in me to do this.
eSports INQ: You mentioned that Stadium Negara is the first time you’ll host an event in a stadium. Here at home, is there a stadium where you’d love to host an eSports event? What did you think about the TNC Pro Gaming finals held at the Cuneta Astrodome?
Eri: The Arena man and I guarantee that it’ll happen: that a gaming event of that size will happen. Whether I host it or not, that I can’t say. The TNC Pro Gaming League is an example of what’s to come.
In a few years I’m sure we can have our own version of The International. If Aldub fans can fill up the Philippine Arena. Then gamers can definitely do the same. Hands down.
eSports INQ: Are you planning on tackling more events? Perhaps stream your own gameplay with your brand of humor for your fans someday?
Eri: I have this idea for a show where I hype any gamer playing any game. Like any game. Like even if you die, I’ll hype it. I’ll make sure you dying looks good. Haha. If Twitch likes the idea then maybe something could happen.
But that’s just an idea. For the most of it, I’m all about hosting. eSports will only get bigger and capping this year off with the Malaysian Cyber Games is just so awesome. I’m just excited and thankful to be a part of everything.
eSports INQ: Alright, fun stuff time: If you could play a game as an eSports pro, which game would it be?
Eri: Oh dude Street Fighter 4 all the way! I’m a big fan of Daigo and I also main Ryu. I love the way he plays!
eSports INQ: With eSports moving forward in the country at such a rapid pace, can you tell us what your thoughts are about the eSports industry? We’d love for a little insight from the perspective of someone who’s involved in the production and event side of things.
Eri: eSports will only get bigger. You have people like Ronald Robins and Marlon “Lon” Marcelo of Mineski pushing the industry. You have Joebert Yu of Gariath Concepts and Tryke Gutierrez of Philippine eSports Organization. These are the people who are making big moves for eSports.
With people like Senator Bam Aquino and TV5 getting behind eSports as well, you can expect bigger things. That is huge support. The kind of support we need.
I personally hope more opportunities come through for people who love gaming and want to have careers in it. In front or behind the screen.
These are very exciting times for eSports and gamers and I’m very grateful to be a part of it. 🙂
Let’s face it: eSports is a spectator sport industry.
What that means is often overlooked by fans and even outsiders. To have a successful and vibrant spectator experience, a high-profile tournament needs more than big-name teams and astronomical cash prizes. It needs just that: a spectator experience.
And in the world of providing quality spectator experience in eSports, Eri Neeman is quickly but quietly making a name for himself as a host and showman that electrifies crowds when the action of competition takes a break.
Eri will be hosting the Malaysian Cyber Games on December 12-13, 2015.
Banner photo by: Yummie Dingding
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