While DreamHack Atlanta served as host for notable events like ESL Challenger and Starcraft II Masters, it also set the stage for other fledgling titles in the space, like Call of Duty Mobile; which launched in 2019 and has since built a competitive scene and a prestigious World Championship tournament.
Among the broadcast talent that covered this year’s edition was Lauren "GlitterXplosion" Laracuente, who — on top of making her first appearance in an offline LAN for CoD Mobile — was also the host for the occasion. With a career that spans nearly a decade, Glitter has covered a variety of games under different roles besides CoD Mobile like Apex Legends, Brawl Stars, PUBG Mobile and much more. Such dedication to her craft eventually led to her appearing in those titles’ centerpiece events like the ALGS Championship, the PUBG Mobile World Championship and the CoD Mobile World Championship, two of which happened in 2023 alone.
Following the end of the CoD Mobile World Championship, BLIX caught up with GlitterXplosion for an interview about her work in the event, how she covers other esports titles, how she looks back at 2023, her plans for the future and more.
Covering the CoD Mobile World Championship
Pedro Romero, BLIX: With the CoD Mobile World Championship all wrapped up, how did you take in this experience of working the event?
Lauren "GlitterXplosion" Laracuente: This is actually the first chance that I've gotten to do a Call of Duty Mobile LAN. Everything else that I've done so far has been remote or online, so for me, this was my first CoD Mobile experience, and talk about a good first experience for it to be the World Championship! It was incredible! The teams played out of their minds and the players were finally great to meet in person because I've been talking to them remotely through video cameras all year long so it was just the perfect way to close out the 2023 competitive season.
BLIX: Did you feel any nerves with this being your first LAN for you specifically in CoD Mobile?
GlitterXplosion: No nerves because when we do the Challenge seasons online and they go on for several weeks, even if they're virtual, you still get to know the players, build up that rapport and understand the scene better so that the only difference is the fact that you have the massive stage and the live audience. And since I'm not the one competing, I don't have to worry about that part so it's totally fine.
BLIX: In working through this event, what were some of the challenges, if any, for you here in Atlanta?
GlitterXplosion: As a host, it's not that I'm experiencing any challenges. It's that I'm trying to make sure there aren't any issues, right? A lot of the responsibilities, at least on that front end where people are seeing in front of the camera, has fallen on to me. I'm directing that show flow from the forward-facing standpoint so I just need to make sure that we're communicating well with the viewers and the audience, we're putting on an entertaining show and hopefully make everyone happy with the end product, right? Whether that's the players or whether that's the publisher, a lot of that flexes on how myself and my co-talent are doing from our side of things.
So that's probably the only concern, but as far as enjoying the event goes, Championship Sunday is always the best day. That's the most fun day. Even if it is technically the most stressful, it doesn't feel that way because you are following the best teams. It's their final moment where they're going to take the title and it's more about enjoying those massive celebrations and really relay all of that back to the viewers.
Being a “jack of all trades”
BLIX: Looking at your career, of course it's not just CoD Mobile that you've been working on. You've worked in various other esports titles like PUBG and Apex Legends. How much of a difference has it been in trying to juggle all of those games including the ones I haven't mentioned?
GlitterXplosion: What it comes down to is I've tried my best to become a bit of a jack of all trades and know as much as my brain can possibly retain about every title that I work on. And it's not about doing it all at once. It's not about cramming that information in and then the next week I know everything. I always try to learn a little bit from every single show that I do whether it's a remote broadcast or a LAN and the learning can happen through game information or chatting with players, getting to know them on a personal level and then I can improve my interviews, learn things that I might not know about specific games from the players, talking to coaches or talking to team managers.
I try to absorb a little bit of something new every single time I do something so that it kind of just snowballs. So I don't even realize I'm absorbing all this information and then we get a year into it and then I'm like 'I actually feel knowledgeable now.' And that's just been the method that has worked for me. Outside of that, it's about really working on active listening, being present at the moment and trying to make as much as I can.
BLIX: Amidst trying to learn various games, what do you feel you've learned the most in this year?
GlitterXplosion: For this year, what I've learned the most from all the events that I've worked, on the work side of things, it's probably how to be a really efficient traveler. I've been to so many countries this year and the events, I feel like, are getting longer especially when you're looking at global finals events. I've become a better packer. I've become an airport expert, okay? From a professional side of things, and I think this is something I've learned over the years of doing and this takes a long time for a lot of people which is it's just being okay with making mistakes. Nobody's perfect. You're going to have a flub here and there and it does not break the show. It's about learning from the mistakes, recovering from them and just being able to laugh at yourself now and then.
BLIX: When you talk about learning from mistakes, it also speaks to how many times you've been able to do that and get to the level of working on these major events for 2023 like this tournament and the ALGS Championship. What does that say about how far you've been able to go to get to this position?
GlitterXplosion: I've been doing this for six years and let me tell you those first two-ish were rough. If you're going to be doing this, it's always a grind but you could say the same thing about anything that you want to do passionately. It's not easy being a pro player in esports, it's not easy being a massive streamer if that's what you want to do and it's not easy to be a caster or a host. All of it takes a lot of time, dedication and patience. It's about taking every opportunity that you can take and then trying your best.
The biggest thing I've learned over the years of doing this is that I have said yes to every opportunity even if it was something I was unfamiliar with and had never done before and I just tried my best whether that's through prep or learning what I need to do. And that's because you never know who you're going to meet at the next event through networking or you never know what opportunity you can land just by bringing whatever you can bring to the table because people will see the effort and they will appreciate it.
And it doesn't matter how long you've been doing this but there's always more to learn. You can always still improve even if you are in a top-tier title working for a top-tier publisher or whatever. There are still ways to improve and that, in my opinion, is the mark of someone who's going to be in the industry for a long time.
Looking back at 2023 and ahead to the future
BLIX: Would it be fair to say that 2023 was the most satisfying year for you? And if not, which other year do you view as such?
GlitterXplosion: I'd be hard-pressed to choose between this year and last year. It would probably be a really close tie. And honestly, it kind of feels like both years blended in one massive year. I feel I've been on the go a lot. I've done a lot more international travel though. I've gotten to see a lot more new places—not for CoD Mobile specifically, but for the Snapdragon Pro Series, I've been able to go to Tokyo, Japan for the first time for Brawl Stars. That was another international event for SPS and that was probably one of my most favorite travel esports experiences of my life and I don't know what can top it at this point so that alone might've made 2023 one of my best years, yep.
BLIX: With that perspective in mind, we now head to 2024. As you continue your career and take a step further, what do you feel is the biggest thing you need to address?
GlitterXplosion: Maybe time management is what I need to address for 2024. I already know what work I have to do from January to March. It will require more international travel so I'll get that under my belt. I already know a couple of games that I will be doing some pro leagues for so just time management in that sense. I know that this was the curse of a lot of freelancers, but because you work for yourself, we tend to burn ourselves out a lot and that can catch up with you over time. I think I need to do a little bit of a better job of balancing my time off so that when I do come back for a job, I have much more energy as opposed to going nonstop.
I did a couple of times this year where I was on a 14-week long travel trip where I would come home and I had a 24-hour turnaround so it was really just enough time to drop my bag off, empty it out, repack and go to the next trip. If I'm doing that, then I need to have a plan in place for when I stop during those 14 weeks and think about what I'm doing to take care of myself. This is something that streamers suffer from in addition to freelance on-camera talent and anybody who has to work for themselves who are worried about saying no or taking a bit of time to and that's definitely something I should work on.
BLIX: Then I guess, by that metric, you weren't able to do that at all, right?
GlitterXplosion: I didn't get that much time, no. [laughs] That's why I'm looking forward to the holidays. I'm looking forward to having a couple weeks off and enjoying time with my family and friends. That is my shining beacon right now. [laughs]
"I was on a 14-week long travel trip where I would come home and I had a 24-hour turnaround so it was really just enough time to drop my bag off, empty it out, repack and go to the next trip."
BLIX: But it's only a few weeks, right? This kind of work necessitates a longer rest, right?
GlitterXplosion: It definitely does. As long as I make it through the first couple of months this year, I think I'll be able to get a longer break than these couple of weeks and be able to squeeze in there time for myself when I have remote broadcasts. Honestly, the remote broadcasts feel so much more manageable because you're still doing the same length of a show and it's still that much work as a full-on broadcast, but it just removes the packing your bags and getting on an airplane and traveling for 19 hours and that, I have found, is more exhausting than anything. It's not that I don't like the travel — because once I am in a new location, I love being there — it's just the getting there that's the worst part.
BLIX: One more question: if there's one word you can use to describe how you worked, fared and struggled this year, what would it be and why?
GlitterXplosion: I don't know if I can pick one specific word to describe my entire year. I think the overarching theme, though, was "adaptation" and I don't think that that's as a negative or a positive thing at all. It's kind of what this industry really needs. Whether you're doing this as a host, a commentator or a player, there are so many situations where sometimes you need to be able to adapt and work with whatever you are given. Sometimes the server dies, right, and you have to be able to be ready to fill [time] with your co-casters while waiting for it to come back up. Sometimes you forget what you're talking about. That is a normal thing!
People's brains just space out and you have to learn to recover and give yourself a little bit of grace because no one's perfect all the time. In my case, like you were mentioning before, I worked six different titles at any given time so it's really about adaptation. Knowing the tone, the style of show, the different production houses and what game publishers want to put on depending on what they need, I have to be able to adapt to that and fit into those roles. I said I wouldn't be able to pick a word, but now that I'm talking about it and fleshing it out, "adaptation" actually might be the best one!