Interview with Luke "Xilv" Davis, Valorant POV Observer
Yoann: Hello, everyone! Today, I'm interviewing Xilv, Valorant POV Observer! How would you introduce yourself?
Xilv: Hey! My name's Luke I’m 33 years old, I am married, and I have a daughter. I got into esports very late compared to most people. I started when I was 30.
Before then, I had worked a career job in a different industry for 14 years with the same company. I decided to start working in esports in my spare time and managed to turn it into something I do full time, which I'm really happy about!
Yoann: That's great! What was your first esports job?
Xilv: It was with EpicLan in the UK. A lot of UK talent has origins in epicLan and I’m really grateful that they gave me that initial chance. I observed CSGO, I think my first map was Vertigo, which I hadn't played since 1.6 15 years before.
It was very long esports days, like 14 hour days of just constant observing, it was a baptism of fire for me. Though the observing was terrible, I really enjoyed it so told myself I was going to keep doing it and get better and better!
Yoann: That’s cool! How would you define the job of a POV observer?
Xilv: Most people think it's just to show the kills, but it is a lot more than that.
It's like a game of chess where you don't want to just see the pieces being taken. You want to see the setup to the pieces being taken as well, and how this comes together for the strategy of the entire match. With Valorant especially, it's really hard to catch every kill as its so chaotic sometimes, so I really value showing the utility trades where I can.
Yoann: You're working on the VCT EMEA broadcast, how did you end up there?
Xilv: I think a lot of hard work and some good luck.
When I started observing Valorant, I was doing any event I could find, even if they were free and low tier events, just as many as possible to gain experience and improve.
I started getting noticed when people were running bigger events, they were seeing that I'd done a lot of events before successfully and hired me for those.
I think an important one for me was in late 2020, Blast did their first VALORANT event, and I filled in for Prius who was double booked. I really enjoyed working on that.
Yoann: That’s great! You talked about your co-observer, you have been working with Mel this year. How does dual observing work?
Xilv: I am a POV observer, which means I view the ten players, while Mel is using a controller to fly around the map.
And she also has foot pedals to switch between whichever player I am viewing and her camera flying around. We have good synergy because we've worked together a lot before.
Communication is really important, and when we’re both calling everything out is when our observing is at its best. The best observer duos help each other out a lot.
We have some set plays because obviously, you observe so many rounds and things repeat themselves, and you recognize them and you start to get ready for them before they even happen.
Yoann: She told me about the "Pikachu” call out.
Xilv: Oh yeah!
Yoann: Let's now move on to the quick questions. I'll ask you ten quick questions and you'll have to answer as fast as possible. Are you ready?
Yoann: Phantom or Vandal?
Yoann: What's your favorite map?
Yoann: Who's your favorite agent?
Xilv:: I fill most games when playing ranked - but my favorite to play is Gekko!
Yoann: Nice! Do you prefer getting a clutch or an ace?
Xilv: A clutch, I don't get too many aces.
Yoann: What's your favorite skin collection?
Xilv: I’ve always liked the Tigris Operator skin even though nobody else seems to! I’ve never seen it in a pro game, but during VCTEMEA this year I saw qw1 using it when playing for FUT and It made me very happy!
Yoann: What’s your favorite Valorant team today?
Xilv: I don't really have one, I stay pretty neutral. Because the original Team Liquid and Fnatic lineups were UK based, I have a soft spot for those guys, but I just enjoy watching VALORANT!
Yoann: Great! Can you name the seven teams that won an international event?
Xilv: Fnatic, Loud, FPX, Acend, Optic... who else?
Yoann: The last two were at the very start of the VCT!
Xilv: Oh, Sentinels. I don’t remember the last one.
Yoann: It was Gambit! Six is enough, most people usually forget two or three.
What gear do you need to observe a Valorant match?
Xilv: For my role on POV Observer, I just need a keyboard and a mouse, nothing more!
Yoann: Can you quote a voice line from Gekko?
Xilv: I can’t remember any. I think he says ‘Nice little homie!’
Yoann: What's the best clutch or play you ever witnessed in a tournament?
Xilv: There have been so many over the years, but the one I remember most recently has to be Sayf’s ace on Ascent!
Yoann: Oh yeah! This ace was amazing!
Let's get back to the standard questions.
What's your preparation routine before an official broadcast in Berlin?
Xilv: In Berlin, it's been a bit different because I'm on site. Generally, I was going to the arena early. I was playing ranked for a few games just to get warmed up and get into the Valorant brain.
Yoann: How often are you playing Valorant in your free time?
Xilv: A lot less than I used to be, because I need to look after my daughter. But when my wife is on baby watch, I can play a couple of games a night. I ranked up to Immortal yesterday, actually. It took me almost a year of being Ascendant 3 to finally get that!
Yoann: Oh, great job!
What are your hobbies or passions aside from gaming?
Xilv: I don't have time for too much besides VALORANT and gaming. I look after my daughter when I’m not working, and we go for walks and to the local wildlife parks to see the animals. She loves being outside!
Yoann: Sounds good! What would you change to Valorant if you were a developer?
Xilv: I’m absolutely not qualified to suggest much here! My only suggestion would be that when you're observing on somebody who gets Gekko flashed by Dizzy, the whole screen still goes blue, and it feels really bad for the viewer. I’d change that to be less severe somehow!
Yoann: I remember watching Valorant when the game came out, without the flashed eye icon, and it was a nightmare to watch, flashes everywhere!
Xilv: I remember it well and observed a lot of games during that era. Do you remember when Breach had three flashes? There's a clip from Zyppan getting flashed 6 times haha! That was peak Valorant!
Yoann: Oh yeah I remember that!
What advice would you give to someone trying to become a professional observer?
Xilv: I think in general if you want to do something or make a change to your life, you should go for it and do everything you can to make it a reality. It’s never too late!
For observing specifically - find groups of friends who play 10-mans that you can observe and message low tier tournament organisers asking if they need an observer. It also helps if you can offer more than just that, for example, you could run an entire stream for a Tournament that didn’t have one at all.
You will probably not make any money from it to begin with, but your experience and reputation is what is important early on.
Yoann: Yeah that’s right! What are your short and long-term ambitions on Valorant?
Xilv: Obviously I'm in a really good position right now, doing VCT EMEA, that's amazing and every day I feel honoured and grateful that Riot has trusted me with this position.
But, I'm quite ambitious. I'm always looking to push myself to the next level. So observing a major event would be my goal, either a Masters or Champions event. The observers who work on those events currently are great at what they do and so I just have to keep working hard and waiting to see if the opportunity comes up!
Yoann: Awesome! Thank you for your time, I wish you the best!
Xilv: Thank you for the interview!