On Paradigm Shift 2019

Z2G - August 5, 2019

This article will reflect on my experiences as commentary manager for Paradigm Shift 2019. It is comprised of my involvement once asked to manage the event and includes screenshots of communication between myself, CSS | Kief and Choken, Chase Dewitt and Chase Neukam. My final thoughts are at the end of the article. 

This saga began on July 1st. The tournament was held beginning July 20th.

Joining The Team

I was first contacted in text to join Paradigm Shift on July 1st 2019 as commentary manager. This was not only management for Ultimate, but Melee, P+, and all of FGC at the event.. I said that I could be there and manage it and immediately asked what compensation would be available for both me and commentators I managed to find for the event

Kief then confirmed with me that commentators would be paid 10 dollars an hour (20 per 2 hour block). I was also told they don’t have a full schedule planned yet. I was then also told that a Chase^2 (Chase Dewitt + Chase Neukam) forgot to budget for me despite it being on the finances sheet. Kief told me I would technically work under Cross Slash Studios, which is fine, almost preferred. I can trust Kief and Cross Slash Studios. At this time, I also ensured with Kief that commentators were budgeted for and which games would have streams.

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I created a commentary form based off my previous experience filling out commentary forms. We set a due date for a commentary schedule on July 17th, I would end applications on July 15th, and the event would begin on July 19th. This all occurred between July 1st and July 3rd. On July 13th, I was informed that Chase^2 already booked commentators outside Rod, Censored and Toph. He gave me a spreadsheet.

This is the first moment of panic I had in regards to the commentary schedule and selecting commentators. I had some good applicants. Now I was being informed of a previous application that went out that I had no knowledge of. This application also did not include twitter @s, any clips or footage of the commentators, or any further questions that would help me make decisions about what slots they should have. I also now had to work with eight commentators (not including Rod/Censored/Sturm/Toph) who were ensured spots in commentary.

Luckily, Dewitt informed me that there were not specific deals about which slots these commentators would get. I sent an email to all the commentators on Dewitt’s spreadsheet to fill out my application so I can see footage. At this point, it was too late for most of them to see it. 

Sunday night (7/14), I was about ready to choose who else would be commentating at the event. At this point, I asked Kief what the schedule for the event was, especially pools.

It was a work in progress one week before the event. I was to schedule as I please and they’ll work around it. 

The Final Week

 I made my first schedule on the night of the 15th, even before I emailed the commentators who were in it. I reconfirmed what the tentative schedule was with Kief, and tried to make the best schedule possible. 


The unfortunate issue was that P+ had so few applicants. Pac Diesel had put interest in commentating Ultimate, P+ and Melee, so I had him mostly doing P+ to make up for the lack of applicants. Kief got Swanner (whom I didn’t know was working at the event) to help find some commentators. 

Once I made my 2nd schedule draft to Kief, I had only one person total who applied for MK11 commentary, and I needed another person for P+

FGC and P+ were personally difficult for me. I’m not part of those communities. I didn’t know where to look or post my application. I can say, this is my fault for my limited interaction with both communities. However, I was informed later that it is unusual for a person mainly in a single scene to be doing the applications for every game at an event. This doesn’t surprise me, but it doesn’t excuse me for not working harder to try to find applicants for these games.  At this time, the schedule was as follows.

When I emailed all the applicants who received a commentary slot, I told them about their planned compensation. It was 20 dollars per block of commentary, as I was told earlier.I was also asked by Nuclear ‘who authorized the payment of 20 dollars per block’. 

In my head, all I could think of is if I’m going to have to tell my commentators they aren’t being paid. Zetts, the melee top 8 commentator along with Toph was planning to fly out to the event. I had contacted and asked about who else could commentate the event from MN. I encouraged Wisconsin to come to the event. The worst thing for me would have to tell them that they were now not being payed. At this point, it is Tuesday the 16th. Kief promises that he’ll give me a definite answer and to figure all of this out. 

Kief has screenshots of them saying that they would pay commentators 10 an hour. These are his chats with Chase^2.

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Neukam's reply to me upon seeing these screenshots was thus

But there is no evidence of a meeting discussing not paying commentators from Chase^2. In my position, I just want to know if we can pay my commentators. I’ve already re-arranged the schedule for commentators who declined going. Tuesday evening, I have another revised schedule ready. I’m waiting on knowing more before I send a final version to with updates to commentary pay; because I don’t know what commentary compensation will be at this point. 

According to Kief, Dewitt stopped talking to him. Wednesday morning (July 17th, the day of my deadline), Dewitt still had not answered anything from Kief in regards to paying commentators. Dewitt was trying to change the schedule with me instead, asking to give commentators on his application better slots.

Meanwhile, Nuclear was messaging me about dealing with ‘commentary issues.’ At this point, I am livid. If there were preferential slots for commentators, I needed to know them before. I needed to know what ‘issues’ were going on to do my job effectively. The information I was getting from Dewitt was more about him making deals to commentators before I was officially on board as commentary manager. None of this I knew until Wednesday, two days before the event. I'd asked him for this information in the previous week. 

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At this point, I’m fed up. I form a messenger group between Kief and Chase^2 because it was not my job to deal with 3 ppl talking about 3 things and I needed one source of information. This was also meant to be a threat: figure it out, or I leave because I cannot do my job right now with how you are communicating. 

I work full time. I can’t constantly be getting updates from 3 ppl and responding to all 3. I gave them a time limit of 9:00p.m. to get it figured out. That gave them 5 hours.

They figured it out. 

I also posted my replies on how the schedule should look and the talent I chose for where. After clarifying what they mean by venue reimbursement, Dewitt simply said that sturm/peanuts should be mainstream top 32 with amethyst/apollo on the side. I went to clarify what my schedule is with what they want because that would move me to not commentating. 

So I state that I have no knowledge of amethyst’s commentary or why he should be at that high of a spot. This is not to insult amethyst’s commentary, but to say how I have no information regarding amethyst. Dewitt re-commits to wanting amethyst and apollo for top 96 despite my reasoning. Nuclear chimes in to say that Dewitt does have final decision as the head organizer despite what I say would be better for commentary. 

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In my head, Dewitt has not given a good reason, nor provided clips or anything other than this is what he wants. I then give a specialized ranking of the people in contention for these spots

Kief says they can split the top 96 into two streams for one block and one stream for another, to which I agree. 3 hour slots are difficult. 

All agree to a split stream. I reschedule again and get confirmation from Kief and Dewitt that it looks fine. I send out the final schedule and an update on payment to commentators. They would be compensated their full venue fee

At this point, Whang Chang drops from the event despite being one of the announced featured commentators. I inform Kief and Chase^2 that people are wondering about commentating and being in pools at the same time. Dewitt informs me that ‘we can just make people’s pools work around commentary.’ I shoot back wondering how that will be the case for the events with only one pools block. Dewitt reassures me they’ll deal with it. 

At this point, I received an email from Pac Diesel about a deal he had with Dewitt regarding his commentary slots. I informed Chase^2 of this in which case they say they did have a conversation about it and the specific slots he was promised. I make adjustments for it and Nuclear calls it petty but understandable

 At this point, I would like to give my full and utter thanks to every person who commentated FGC. The streamers, commentators and everyone involved were amazing despite being forced into a hell-like schedule by me and management. 

Pools went live, they double checked for schedule conflicts and seemingly everything before the event is settled. 

The rest of the pre-event is dealing with drops, readjusting some pools, and working through a third version of a final schedule all on the 19th. The following image is the full schedule I created for the event Mid-day on the July 19th.

Day 0

Once at the event on the night of the 19th, I’m thanked by Nuclear and Kief for dealing with the commentary schedule. 

I’d been staying up until 2:00a.m. dming them, fixing the schedule and still working 40 hours. I was tired. It was written all over my face. Kief showed me where to direct commentators for tomorrow and I informed any commentators to find me so I could show them where to go. Kief also told me a production meeting would occur after the pre-bracket ends. This meeting occurred during the pre-bracket, and I was not informed of any of that meeting’s contents. I go into Saturday, ready to run around and make the best of what I was given. 

Day 1

On the 20th, the day of pools, I meet all of the stream runners for PM and FGC. I was also informed there was supposed to be a Street Fighter stream. I had no idea there was supposed to be a stream with commentators for street fighter. It’s early morning and I’m already flustered. 

I meet with more of my commentators and direct them to where they need to be. I inform all the commentators I can through twitter DMs where they should go and when (I still didn’t have everyone’s twitter @s due to the two applications). They all have the final schedule through email, but I kept up with most of the commentators through twitter. I make sure the first block is running well before I sit down to play my doubles sets.

After my first set, I report in and Dewitt asks me if I’m on the Zello. My response word for word “What the fuck is a Zello.”

Apparently, there was a full discord for workers and volunteers at the event. There was also a live chat through Zello for the event that I was not told about before the event. I didn’t plan on bringing my headphones cause I lost one earbud, but I had  accidentally brought my headphones with a single earbud, got Zello and got on there. 

From there, the main hiccups were about commentators for FGC and PM being scheduled to commentate and play their pools. I’d thought Chase^2 had found a way around this, but apparently not. I had to tell both FGC and PM that the players are to play their matches then commentate. Matches>Commentary every single time. 

Afterwards, except for 1 melee commentator not showing up despite being called, the day went swimmingly. We had no replacement for the commentator and Pac Diesel told me he was 100% ok with solo-commentary for the melee pools slot. I called out to the melee players for one person to commentate, but knowing that Pac was okay with this setup, I was fine with Pac commentating this slot. Dewitt found one person mid-block to join him after he looked at Pac alone on stream. 

At some point between wave 2 and 3, Dewitt took a 4 hour nap. I was getting questions regarding dinner vouchers. I didn’t know dinner vouchers existed and I needed to find him, but could not. Nuclear did not have them. I had to leave Rod and Censored without food vouchers until Dewitt was available again after the final ultimate wave. Then, I was able to give vouchers to the contracted commentators. 

Before the final wave, however, FGC, P+ and Melee had issues. Each event wave/block was originally scheduled to be two hours. The event in actuallity was no where near those times. Because of these scheduling issues, P+ ran over into Melee top 48. Wisely was my commentator for Melee top 48 along with UserN8DaGr8. N8DaGr8 was P+ top 32 and Wisely was P+ top 8. It wasn’t going to happen. So both did melee, leaving one person to solo commentate P+ for too long. Luckily, P+ players/commentators in the area stepped up, bless their soles, to fill in so one person was not solo commentating top 32 for a long time. Still, not all of these commentators were the ones I scheduled. I was simply happy they got it together while I was working my commentary slot and finding something to eat outside the venue.

In FGC, the main issues were players in pools while also commentating, the same issue I was told would be handled by Chase^2. At some point, I went up to DBFZ players, shouted that I needed commentators, and got the people I needed. I love them for it. FGC crowd, you’re the best and wonderful to work with. 

After that, Wave C and Wave D were finished. I had nothing else to do until day 2. I told my morning commentators where to be and enjoyed me time with people at the event.

Day 2

In the morning, I decided to use my voucher at 11:00a.m. I had to wait for the breakfast to lunch switch, but damn, that lunch was great. Around 11:30, I hear from CSS | Choken that Dewitt wants all the commentators to gather to discuss the schedule. Why I heard from Choken and not Dewitt directly to get the commentators organized, I do not know. I am still eating at this point. The images speak for themselves.

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So a last minute change happened for unknown reasons that messes up the schedule for day 2. Dewitt tries to remove Jackie and I from top 96, but somewhere in there, someone proposed a solution that got all of us slots. I'm still at my dining table, but I'm fuming. 

After all of this is settled, I think that it's over and that the day would be fine. However, before the start of the second block of commentary, Squiggs approaches me saying that he's the replacement for Lemmay's block. I am naturally very confused. Squiggs explains Lemmay needs to head home and can't do his block so Dewitt got him to run it. I immediately head to Dewitt after directing Squiggs to the stream. I ask him for the update and he tells me the same story. I ask for any other schedule changes now so I can prepare for them, and he also says that Ultimate top 16 will be at 4:00p.m. no matter what. These are two very important updates to the schedule that I had not been informed of and needed to ask him about while at the event. I ask him to please let me know of changes cause I need to let the rest of the commentators know about it. He ignores me, puts his headphone back in his ear and turns away. 

This is when I cracked. I had my commentary slot to do though, so I needed to sit away from everything and chill out before I was on camera. Jackie and I have a great time commentating again. Afterwards, top 8 is all set to get started and I book it out of the venue to go home as I had work on Monday again. 

Post Event

I wish it ended there, but I needed to ensure that Chase^2 had all the information they needed to reimburse the commentators. 

And so I wait. I took a break the following weekend. I needed the break and it seemed Chase^2 were ok with waiting longer for P+ add-ins. P+ stream did not have nameplates for the commentators, so I would need to go through and watch the entire stream and hope they stated their names. I would need to sit down for basically an entire workday because of how much P+ schedule was ruined by the overall poor event scheduling.

Two weeks pass and I ask for an update on commentator reimbursements as they have a list of everyone that was scheduled and the FGC add-ins.

This is another instance of two different things being said again. From here, we argued. I wanted a reason to put myself through those extra hours of work. They want it for next year and because the Casino wants this information. It does not have to do with reimbursing the commentators...but they said they were waiting for it to reimburse those they know are getting it.

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Do not take my word for any of this. I have a Folder containing the full chats with Chase^2 and the group chat with them and Kief.

My Take

This was my first experience doing commentary management. It was utterly the worst experience I've ever had working at an event. The lack of communication by management on their expectations and my role was unnacceptable. With the information I was given, I made a complete schedule, and it was their tournament structure that failed even though I warned them about specific issues with it in regards to commentary. My final communications on the matter with Chase^2 was the following:

I find this hilarious considering I had to form a group chat with them all because they were not talking with Kief, but I digress.

Moving forward, I will not be going to or working at Greater River Valley events. I will also not work at any event that is wholly managed by either Dewitt or Neukam. My experience prior with Dewitt in particular is extremely poor as I have worked closely with him for the past year in regards to the Greater River Valley region. 

While I have come to this decision, it's still a sad one. When the idea of the Greater River Valley region formed, I was a supporter. I'd believed a lot in the vision Dewitt had for the region. I have many friends across the whole area. It's unfortunate that my experience at Paradigm Shift and with Dewitt has marred what used to be progress for this 'in-between' area of the Midwest.

To the commentators of Paradigm Shift 2019, I'm sorry you're being caught in all of this. To everyone who made it to the bottom of this, thank you. 

- Z2G

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