Can eSports Players Hear the Commentators?

The commentators often have one-sided conversations with the players when watching intense eSports competitions. They analyze player’s every move, praise good decisions, and criticize mistakes. This begs the question – can eSports players hear the commentators during a match? With loud crowds cheering them on and headphones feeding them game audio, it might seem impossible for players to hear the commentators. 

However, the answer could be more complex. I will answer this question in detail: Can eSports Players Hear the Commentators? While protocols differ between leagues, most allow direct communication between commentators and players in some capacity. However, what players can hear depends on specific soundproof headset models and noise-cancelling technologies. The potential for players to hear commentators raises fairness concerns and influences production decisions. By the end, you’ll understand the nuances around if and when eSports players can hear their critics.

Understanding Sound Isolation

Can eSports Players Hear the Commentators?

Headsets Explained

Over-ear noise-canceling headsets completely cover the player’s ears. They use padding and active noise cancellation technology to block out external sounds. Small microphones on the headphones detect ambient noise like commentators and crowds

The headphones then generate an opposite sound wave to cancel it out before reaching the player’s ears. High-end gaming headsets can filter over 80-90% of outside noise.

In-ear monitors are inner-ear headphones that feed game audio and team communication directly into players’ ears. They help isolate key sounds while blocking ambient noise. The in-ear design provides physical noise blocking and over-ear headset isolation.

Isolation Effectiveness

Noise-canceling over-ear headsets and in-ear monitors effectively block outside sounds. However, some weaknesses may allow commentary to leak through at certain volumes or proximities to player booths.

Open-back headset designs allow some ambient sound through for awareness. Closed-back is fully isolated. Commentary mic and speaker volumes that are too loud could overpower headset cancellation technologies if the booths are close by. Some tournaments have booths right beside the commentators with thin dividers. 

Booths and Additional Isolation

Many major tournaments utilize player booths – full enclosures of thick materials like acrylic glass. Booths block out crowds, visual distractions, and further muting commentary noise. 

However, booths can feel restrictive and trigger claustrophobia issues for some players. They also add cost and can face fire safety regulations around occupancy limits. Careful monitoring is necessary to balance isolation effectiveness with other factors.

Modern headsets and booth combinations provide impressive sound isolation if orchestrated properly. However, the risk of interference persists in certain situations. Tournament organizers strive to give players controlled settings, but limitations exist.

Hearing the Commentators – Scenario Breakdown

Can eSports Players Hear the Commentators?

Live Events with Booths

In an ideal setup with high-quality soundproof booths, players should not be able to hear the commentators at all. Materials like thick acrylic glass and sound-dampening foam panels block out ambient noise. 

Doors seal tightly, and ventilation uses special mufflers. Multi-layer booths form effective acoustic cocoons when properly constructed based on isolation principles.

Open-air Events or No Booths

Open-air tournament setups have a much higher risk of commentary reaching player’s ears. Even large venues can allow some sound wave transmission, especially if speaker systems are too loud. 

Poorly designed booths with thin walls, ceilings, and filler materials also perform worse. Excited casters raising their voice intensity when big plays happen could leak through isolation barriers.

Crowd Noise as Unintentional Information

Crowd reaction noises can provide useful gameplay information even if players can’t directly hear commentators. Screams, clapping, or sudden silence from crowds signify crucial moments like surprise attacks or base raids. This unintentional info leakage can influence high-level professional gamers who analyze all available in-game signals.

Historical examples include a DOTA 2 tournament where crowd noise gave away Roshan’s attempts. League of Legends professionals also reported that sudden uproars or silences revealed enemy positions and steals, affecting their automatic responses. This demonstrates the challenges of total information isolation.

The Impact of Hearing Commentators

The Impact of Hearing Commentators

Unfair Advantage

If players can hear commentators, this opens the door to crucial information advantages. Casters may reveal enemy positions, compositions, vision coverage, or ultimate ability timing estimates before the data appears on a player’s screen. Accessing this strategic intel earlier, even by milliseconds, provides an unfair edge, compromising competitive integrity.

Hearing analysis between team fight breakdowns or build order suggestions could influence in-game decisions in real-time. The ethical and moral implications of such imbalanced information make leakage a serious concern.

Increased Pressure and Distraction

Furthermore, the real advantage is that hearing commentators can negatively impact performance through pressure and distraction. Players have cited crowd noise as a significant disruption that breaks concentration when tracking complex gameplay elements.

Having analysts critique every minor move or hearing excitement before big plays adds mental strain. It could cause some players to second-guess intentions or make uncharacteristic blunders. Maintaining competitive professional focus is difficult enough without external distractions seeping into acoustically isolated game zones.

Tournament Organization Concerns

Allowing potential information leakage through poor soundproofing undermines tournaments’ competitive integrity mandates. Organizers implement strict rules around fairness and take isolation considerations very seriously. 

Consequences for negligence could include fines, public backlash, or even lawsuit threats from teams over compromised competitive play environments. Maintaining pristine conditions is essential.

The impacts of audible commentary range from unfair tactical advantages to broken concentration. Preventing information bleeding protects equality, focus, and organizer responsibilities.

Real-life Examples and Cases

The Impact of Hearing Commentators in esports

Historical Instances

During an intense League of Legends match in the 2012 World Championships, pro player Dyrus glanced at the venue’s large screens after an eruption of crowd cheers. As he later admitted in interviews, this revealed enemy positions and influenced his team’s response. 

Other League professionals like sOAZ also described how booth isolation failures allowed them to leverage crowd reactions for advantageous timing tells. In a prominent DOTA 2 incident, caster shouting gave away team Roshan’s attempts before spectators could view the minimap location. This early information would have provided an unfair heads-up. DOTA mods later specifically requested casters avoid tipping players off with vocal explosions.

Community Perspectives

In interviews with players, organizers, and fans, opinions vary around the commentary audibility issue. Most professionals feel high-quality booths provide adequate isolation but emphasize that soundproofing failures break concentration even if the advantage is minimal. They endorse more enclosed tournament setups.

Fans argue open floor plans with natural crowd responses create the best live atmosphere and truly isolated booths distance viewers from stars. They believe soundproofing innovations can progress further to prevent leaks while retaining openness. Talk of player advantages seems overblown relative to rarity.

Organizers admit information bleeding poses challenges but stress it minimally impacts outcomes, and the community largely trusts their integrity efforts. Some support better guidelines around casting verbal reactions to eliminate question marks further. Overall, perspectives indicate strong soundproofing allows for the best of both worlds.


Can eSports players hear commentators? Advanced noise-cancellation headsets and soundproof booths should fully isolate game audio when executed properly. But the reality involves flaws allowing commentary leakage, especially in open tournaments, that raise fairness questions. Players say occasional crowd reaction advantages minimally help; their competitive edge relies on concentration. 

Yet total isolation diminishes the viewer’s atmosphere. Ultimately, standardized acoustic rules, caster training, transparent guidelines, and better sound engineering can uphold integrity while retaining engagement. Shared acknowledgment of challenges around information bleeding will enable eSports’ future as a respected competition built on purity and entertainment.

Asmran Ahmad
Asmran Ahmad

Asmran Ahmad is founder of A passionate sports and esports enthusiast with a deep love for sharing knowledge. With years of experience in the industry, Asmran A. recognized the need for a comprehensive platform that caters to both sports and esports fans, offering them a one-stop destination for the latest information, analysis, and engaging content.

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