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A staple of Shonen series where active conflict between characters plays a major role, the combat commentator is the character who's seen most of the moves before and is kind enough to provide a running commentary for the less-seasoned characters (and, by extension, the audience) as to who has just done what, and why they've done it. Sometimes the character takes the role of an actual commentator or sports announcer, complete with microphone.
Obviously, this works best in a martial arts-based series, where the commentator may well know not only the names and effects of a move, but the history of them as well. However, it can just as easily appear in any other type of series with a competitive bent.
Who commentates may well change over the course of the series, such as in Initial D, where the commentators tend to be replaced by more skilled counterparts as the level of Takumi (and later Project D) continue increasing.
Near-obligatory for a Tournament Arc. Often make use of Talking Is a Free Action, allowing commentators to provide a thorough, detailed explanation of the effects, drawbacks, and origins of a move within the two or so seconds it takes to execute.
Anime and Manga
- Common in Jo Jos Bizarre Adventure, along with Exposition Diagrams to help the readers understand the complex strategies employed by the heroes.
- Initial D went through several commentators -- Nakazato Takeshi covered most of season one and two, along with Takahashi Ryousuke. Ryousuke continues commentary through Fourth Stage, though Ninomiya Daisuke and "Smiley" Sakai are added to the commentator roster after their defeat by Project D.
- Dragon Ball
- This role first fell to Yamucha, who was stalking the heroes so that he could steal the Dragonballs, and had heard of just about everyone they ran into. It's later picked up Roshi, then Kami, then Piccolo or Vegeta, who explain to their unknowing peers (and the audience) how amazing it is that Goku can manipulate his energy in whatever way it does. In the very last parts of the Buu arc and GT, it's the old Kaioshin doing this.
- There is also the Tenkaichi Budoukai announcer, who is friends with most of main characters. He's just a normal guy, but is knowledgeable enough to know that Mr. Satan is just a fraud.
- Several characters offer commentary on Go matches in Hikaru no Go.
- Kage Houshi often commentates for fights in Flame of Recca, to the point where, during the arena arc, she is invited to be a guest commentator at the play-by-play table. This is particularly egarious because Recca's team was missing a member and they had to recruit a former villain for the role. Since Kage Houshi is Recca's mother, quite skilled in ninjutsu and literally unkillable, it boggles the mind why she didn't just step in that role instead. Granted having your Mom win your battles for you may be emasculating for the average shonen hero...
- Ranma One Half
- Nabiki Tendo occasionally offers play-by-play and color commentary on Ranma's fights.
- Pretty much every bystander, named or not, performs this role during battles, especially when the combatants are out of reach. Even Ranma himself stood back and delivered commentary during the first half of the Asura/Pantyhose Tarou aerial battle.
- In a serious duel between Ranma and Genma, Soun took up the role --up to and including commenting through a microphone and interviewing the rest of the audience (his daughters) with it about their opinions.
- Used from time to time in One Piece, for everything from executions to cooking competitions.
- Real Bout High School actually has a small camera crew that chases down the various K-fights on the campus of Daimon High, led by Tamaki Nakamura, a girl who seems to have a microphone permanently welded to her hand. Tamaki and the high school's principal Takao Todo then provide co-commentary on every fight.
- Mobile Fighter G Gundam specializes in utilizing the Combat Commentator to a ridiculous degree. Not only is every fight narrated by every character involved, several spectators, and news reporters, but sometimes the circumstances leading up to a fight are explained as well. In one instance, mentor Master Asia spends nearly 20 minutes explaining what is happening, who is involved, where the big showdown will take place, how he will trounce the hero, when the hero will fall for the trap, and why he is doing so. This is all supplemented by a short primer on Sun Tzu's The Art of War and how it applies to the finer points of giant robot camouflage.
- Meta Knight of Kirby of the Stars/Kirby Right Back At Ya. Seems like every time Kirby absorbs a new enemy, the masked Knight is contractually bound to come and explain it to somebody. Yes, even when he was literally nowhere in sight five seconds ago. This seems to lead to the creepy implication that Meta Knight is constantly stalking Kirby, just waiting for the opportunity to explain the newest ability.
Meta Knight: "It is (insert random ability here) Kirby!"
- Media coverage for Yu Yu Hakusho's Dark Tournament was provided first by a fox girl named Koto, then by a mermaid-like demoness named Juri. Both carried microphones, and provided peppy commentary over the bloodbath ensuing before them.
- When it comes to actually explaining the logic and history behind certain tactics, Yusuke usually turns to Genkai or Kurama. Hiei, Koenma and either Kuwabara sibling can fill in a pinch for other characters. The current Big Bad also tends to know his stuff, since he's supposed to be a foil and contrast to Yusuke.
- On occasion, the show itself will stop and explain a tactic; as an example the first time Hiei used Dragon of the Darkness Flame, the screen paused with the dragon forming around his arm, printed "Dragon of the Darkness Flame" across the bottom, and a narrator explained how dangerous it was and how hard it was to control it.
- Eyeshield 21 has characters on the sidelines recognizing maneuvers used by the players, from running and passing patterns to special "attacks" such as Shin's Spear Tackle. There are, of course, actual commentators, Riko Kumabukuro and "Machine Gun" Sanada, but players from nonparticipating teams are usually present and have things to say. A running gag eventually developed around one of them, Onihei, always being wrong in his analysis.
- In Inuyasha, Kagome and Shippo - as the weakest combatants of the Five-Man Band - are almost always relegated to this role. Less justifiably, Miroku and Sango also fall into the role of commentator more and more as the series progresses, thanks to Inuyasha's penchant for insisting on doing everything himself and the ease with which Miroku's strongest weapon can be turned against him by Naraku's poisonous insects.
- For Pokémon, the role of battle commentator usually falls to Brock, due to his experience as a Gym Leader. Occasionally he is substituted by Professor Oak, who draws upon his expertise in Pokémon research instead. Tournament battles or other matches with an audience will have real commentators in addition to the main characters commenting. This carried over to the Pokémon Stadium games and Spiritual Successor Pokémon Battle Revolution.
- The extremely irritating commentators. "TAKEN DOWN IN ONE HIT!!!!!!"
- Max takes over the role in Advanced Generation, being too young to own his own Pokemon but very knowledgeable about their abilities.
- Cilan takes up this role come Best Wishes, as the knowledgable guy of the group and a gym leader as well.
- Whichever characters aren't dueling in both Yu-Gi-Oh! series become de facto commentators. This has the odd effect, in the original series, of making some of the nonduelists look like they know more about the game than some of the duelists. (In GX, everyone is a duelist, so it's not as big of a problem.)
- In 5D's, there's a twist. Godwin, Jeager, and Mikage, who literally have the entire city bugged, will pull up duels on a giant screen in order to do this.
- There's also an official announcer in 5D's in the Duel Arena.
- In 5D's, there's a twist. Godwin, Jeager, and Mikage, who literally have the entire city bugged, will pull up duels on a giant screen in order to do this.
- Renge in the Honey-and-Chika fight episode of Ouran High School Host Club. As with most things she does, she takes it to excess, rising up from below the floor with a sign saying 'Commentator', a microphone, and a movie screen for playback of the fight's climax.
- Many characters in Yakitate!! Japan, usually the Manager and Kuroyan. Their explanations are usually triggered by Kawachi, the series' Kansai idiot, saying that he doesn't understand what's going on.
- Akagi's commentaries tend to take up more of an episode than the actual dealing, drawing, and calling of tiles. Onlookers analyze the dealing of any single tile to an extreme degree, sometimes even throwing in some extreme metaphors for the players' in-game actions for good measure.
- Likewise in the author's other work Kaiji.
- Early chapters used this a whole lot, especially during the Chunin Exams. At times it hilariously appeared as if either time was distorted in mid-attack or the fighters suddenly decided to stop doing anything long enough for one of the commentators to explain the technique.
- In later arcs, this role falls to Zetsu, who, due to his ability to merge with anything, will often poke his head out of walls to watch battles and explain things to us.
- His role is parodied hilariously in this comic.
- Parodied in the anime version of the "fight" of the Leaf Village ninja against Tobi, where Tobi acts a Combat Commentator despite it being a battle he himself is fighting in, loudly announcing the strategy he easily figured out his opponents are using against him, and still acting like it's catching him off-guard.
- Tobi plays this role in the Sasuke v Danzo fight. This is lampshaded by Danzo:
"It seems Tobi isn't going to join the battle. I will fight him later."
- The trope is taken Up to Eleven during the Naruto v Pain battle. That battle is covered not by a single Combat Commentator, but by a combat commentary team.
- Subverted in the first Patlabor movie, with an overflying helicopter running a blow-by-blow commentary on two mecha wrestling.
- Used in Rockman EXE's N1 tournament, where one commentator was a hyperactive TV reporter and the other a Chip merchant. Played for humor when a villain disguised himself as the store owner and his co-host chose that episode to constantly ask him for his opinion on combat choices or moves.
- All of the main supporting characters share commentator duties in Rurouni Kenshin, discussing with each other Kenshin's special moves and strategy during the fight. Occasionally subverted when Kenshin reveals a previously-unused special move which the commentators know nothing about -- of course, their very surprise increases the awesomeness of the move.
- Everyone in Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer, from Dei to Those Two Guys to the company officials, seems to find the time to comment on Misaki's matches with depth, insight, and a disproportionate amount of vested interest.
- The commentators of Ultimate Muscle are actually part of the action, and provide a great deal of the comedy.
- Minor characters Chie and Aoi do this in the second volume of the Mai-HiME manga when Haruka and Yukino challenge Mai and Natsuki (who, at this point, are visibly mad at each other, since both require Yuuichi's help to be effective in battle and neither wants to share) to an impromptu tag-team duel. The girls narrate the action with an air of cluelessness and an obvious bias toward Mai's team.
- A mysterious bat in Rosario to Vampire delivers brief commentary on Moka's (short) battles, and doubles as a Censor Box outside of the battles.
- What would The Prince of Tennis be without them? The main culprits are the journalist Mamoru Inoue and the photographer Saori Shiiba; since she's a rookie in tennis fields, Inoue has often to explain techniques and situations to either her or the Seigaku first years.
- Actually, the whole point of the Seigaku first years is for there to be someone to explain things to. They really have no purpose other than picking up the tennis balls after each practice session.
- Shinigami have a habit of doing their own combat commentary, explaining exactly how their sword works either before or after demonstrating it. Soi Fon gets into a little trouble with this for explaining her two hit kill power before even landing the first hit. Her opponent dodges and berates her for explaining the attack when she could have just done the attack and be over with it.
- Sometimes while demonstrating it.
- Most fights also have at least one or more witnesses that will comment upon the fight.
- Deconstructed by Mayuri who shows an encyclopedic knowledge of Quincy gained by performing hideous experiments on the souls of deceased Quincy including Uryuu's grandfather.
- Non-shinigami will often do this MORE than shinigami will. Count the number of times Ishida explains that Quincy attack using arrows formed from spirit particles - it's bound to be more than most captains explain how their swords work. Arrancar explain every named attack they use right after using it. And Bount yammer on about their dolls so much you'd expect them to be starting a tea party.
- During the fight between Starrk and Kyoraku, neither are keen to explain their abilities and repeatedly attack without the usual preamble. They make far more observations of one another, however, and the lack of understanding leads to some bad mistakes from both men - in part because they are actively deceiving each other.. Lampshaded (?) by Ukitake when, asked by Starrk how he appeared to fire a cero, he tells the Espada to work it out for himself by firing at him some more. Starrk does figure it out a bit later.
- Kyoraku later plays it straight after releasing and using his Shikai - it forces combatants to fight using rules of children's games and he explains them.
- The worst example may be Shinji. He fights Aizen, knows Aizen's powers, knows that he has one shot to take out Aizen, Aizen doesn't know Shinji's powers, and has every advantage. So, out of the blue, Shinji spends a good five minutes explaining his sword's powers, and throwing away every single advantage that he has in the fight.
- In Episode 13 of the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, Hughes acts as a combat commentator when Roy and Ed fight. Roy himself also sort of explains what's going on, something he does in the manga during his fight with Lust as well. For the most part FMA is noticeably lacking in combat commentators.
- One of the reasons FMA is one of the better shonen anime out there. More action than there is talk.
- Not sure Hughes really counts for the Roy and Ed fight. He announces the fight and introduces them, then gets the hell out of there. And in the manga it shows that he completely left the area so he wouldn't get caught in the cross-fire or stuck helping with the clean up. Or both.
- Mahou Sensei Negima subverts this, for the most part. The Tournament Arc does indeed have a commentator, but she's a non-combatant, and her explanations never go further than "Character A just blew up a huge chunk of the arena!"
- However, she's assisted by two people who are a little more competent: Chachamaru and some male fighter.
- Most of the actual exposition is done in training beforehand, although characters will occasionally explain the strategies during the battles, but not to the extent that it becomes truly annoying.
- Asakura comments quite a bit, but rarely lets logic get in the way of entertaining the crowd.
Asakura: What's this? Is it a love confession in the middle of the match?
- Chaka does this more than once at the Super-Hero School Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe . Since she can see Ki as it flows, she's able to tell things that no one else can possibly know. "Sensei's starting to use his Ki now..."
- Peeper and Greasy yes, those are their real codenames are the broadcast commentators for the Combat Finals at the end of term.
- Katekyo Hitman Reborn
- Played straight in the Vongola Ring Arc. For any given battle, most of the characters are spectating, and so clearly someone needs to tell them what's going on.
- Despite being the title character, poor Reborn almost always gets stuck with either this job, or that of Mr. Exposition. This is because there is always some plot device which prevents him from actually fighting (which is just as well, since it's hinted that he's actually powerful enough to crush any other character effortlessly) and he's got years and years of experience doing this sort of thing anyway.
- Bontenmaru commentates battles for Yuya in Samurai Deeper Kyo.
- The climax fight against Odin in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple has multiple Combat Commentators, each offering their perspective on the fight. The Shinpaku alliance observes it on ground level, with Nijima making comments on the "power level" of the combatants. Miu and the Ryouzanpaku masters also observe the battle through a telescope. Kensei-sama, aka Isshinsai Ogata, Odin's master also observes the battle. Notably, Kensei becomes more and more impressed by Kenichi's prowess, to the point where he attempts to stop the battle so he can take Odin and Kenichi as his disciples. Fortunately the Ryouzanpaku masters stop him.
- This is the fated role of almost any noncombatant in Fist of the North Star.
- Fujita "Pro" of Saki. Amusingly, she would sometimes go to strange non-sequiturs while the other commentator with her tries to make things exciting.
Other commentator: (After Kana roared) They say that in sports, you can get adrenaline to flow by giving out a large shout.
- Usually not present in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha... but since the StrikerS manga Special featured a Armed Forces sponsored televised match between Nanoha and Signum, this was practically required, with Hayate stepping up to plate for the role together with someone named Serena Aruz from Armed Forces Publicity.
- In Vi Vid, the mock battle is overseen by Megane Alpine and Sein, who comment on some of the tactics at play, especially Nanoha's.
- In Virtua Fighter the narrator provides explanation of the finishing move in the major fight of each episode, complete with slow-motion replay in wireframe.
- In the English dub, it's even more ridiculous, with the announcer always going "This move is un-(adjective)-able!"
- Spoofed in Beelzebub along with Calling Your Attacks. The protagonist calls a normal punch and kick by impressive names made up on the spot, and his Non-Action Guy sidekick immediately comes up with some bullshit to "explain" to the people standing near him.
- Later spoofed again in a What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome? game of extreme volleyball, in which one of the two commentators is wearing a cat costume, and is supposed to only say "meow". He occasionally gives genuine comments, but is promptly chastised for such by his partner.
- In Yattodetaman, one of the Time Bokan series, every episode culminates in a battle between the good guys' mecha and the baddies' weird giant robots, and every battle is followed by the same reporter and his camera operator (a man so tall, his face is always off screen). This is strange because, while good and bad guys can travel through time and space, the two guys are never shown to do so, and just appear there(they must have their own time machine). Oh, by the way, those two guys are based on members of the production crew.
- In Yaiba usually Musashi (Yes, that one) will end up doing this. Justified since as a 400 years old swordmaster he knows a lot of techniques and fighting styles that Sayaka or Gerozaemon may not know.
- In Future GPX Cyber Formula, Checker Sugimoto provides commentary throughout ZERO along with Jun Nakazawa (in Double-One and ZERO), and Dave Lombard provides it from SAGA onwards.
- Spoofed in a side story for Durarara, where Erika decided to play Combat Commentator to one of Shizuo and Izaya's fights. The catch is that Erika is a Yaoi Fangirl with Shipping Goggles permanently affixed to her eyes, so the resulting commentary of the fight ends up completely indistinguishable from slash fanfic (complete with Mills and Boon Prose, no less).
- Hajime no Ippo, being a series about boxing, has everyone playing Combat Commentator, from the coaches, to the spectators, to the announcers, to even the boxers themselves (though that's to the audience, not anyone else).
- Captain Tsubasa, Inazuma Eleven, actually, any football anime possible.
- Dog Days has 3 Combat Commentator for wars
- Justified in All Rounder Meguru, since most of the fights are Shooto matches with trainers and spectators onlooking.
- Weirdly enough, Death Note has a grip of this; it's averted during actual action sequences, but a lot of the show is the major characters carefully outlining their insanely elaborate plans for various bystanders. One of the functions that Ryuk serves during the 80% of the plot when he's just hanging out not doing anything is that he provides someone for Light to monologue to at length about why he's doing what he's doing.
- A variation is seen in The Princess Bride, with the two fencers discussing the moves as they Flynn.
- Edmund and, to a lesser extent, Caspian and Doctor Cornelius serve as Combat Commentators during Peter's duel with Miraz in Prince Caspian.
- For a while, it seems like Rene Mathis' entire purpose in Casino Royale is to explain to Vesper what James Bond is doing for the benefit of audience members who don't know how to play Texas Hold 'Em.
- Howard Cosell gives play-by-play for a political assassination in exactly the same style as his sports analysis at the beginning of Woody Allen's first film, Bananas. (And at the end, he does the same for Fielding Mellish's wedding night.)
- The Chronicles of Narnia: Peter's duel with Miraz in Prince Caspian, as described in the film section above, plus the battle between Prince Rabadash's and the Archenlander/Narnian armies in The Horse and His Boy is narrated for Aravis and Hwin by the hermit.
- Also, the battle against Nihel's minions in Nuklear Age is narrated by the leader, Variel, to the next most powerful, Safriel.
Live Action TV
- Parodied in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide- professional-looking sports commentators appear and discuss the action when Ned and Cookie fight in a classroom. After the "fight" ends with no punches thrown, they say it was "more like a tough pose contest" and leave.
- Bae the commentary fly is present at every Humongous Mecha battle in Juken Sentai Gekiranger, due to him living in the stomach of chameleon-themed villainess Mele. On the rare occasions Bae was not able to give commentary, other People in Rubber Suits have filled in for him.
- This has been brought over to Power Rangers Jungle Fury where Flit the Fly performs the same function, though less often then Bae did. This has not been well received.
- Shinichiro Ohta, Kenji Fukui, and Dr. Yukio Hattori (plus the celebrity guests) on Iron Chef. Alton "Good Eats" Brown and Kevin "The Thirsty Traveler" Brauch provide a less hyperbolic version on Iron Chef America.
- In Burn Notice, the main protagonist, Michael provides the audience with a commentary, aided by the subtitles. One example would be in the pilot, when he explains how he disabled a drug dealer safely by shooting him in the knee, with a pistol, duct tape and various home-improvement tools.
Narration: ...Guns make you stupid, duct tape makes you smart.
- In one Beetle Bailey strip, Beetle and Sarge are fighting to a background of commentary that makes it seem like an official match of some sort. It turns out it's just Rocky narrating it on the phone to his presumably interested mother.
- Pro wrestling announcing teams typically consist of a play-by-play announcer (Gordon Sollie, Jim Ross, Joey Styles, Mike Tenay, etc.) who focuses on what's going on, and a color commentator (Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, Tazz, Don West, etc.) who focuses on why: the wrestlers' backstories, why they're prone to certain styles of wrestling, and the physical toll of specific moves. The color commentator is usually an ex-wrestler, or has some other special knowledge of the physical side of wrestling.
- Subverted in the Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries video game, on the Solaris levels. As your character is fighting in a sports arena to entertain a crowd, there's supposed to be a commentator -- and the game obligingly supplies you with a sports color commentator's voice-over, reacting to your victories and/or defeats, during the arena matches.
- The Ratchet and Clank games have this in the gladiatorial arenas. The fourth game, Ratchet: Deadlocked, employs it in every level, as the game is essentially one giant arena tournament.
- In Persona 3, the character pulling Mission Control duties will politely inform you that you, or a teammate, have just defeated an enemy or discovered said enemy's weakness. In addition, your party members will often react with surprise and encouragement when someone hits that weakness successfully.
- MadWorld features two color commentators calling the battle as though it's a Professional Wrestling match. One, Howard, is a professional commentator with a sports-announcer voice and depraved tastes; the other, Kreese, is a former Deathwatch player who opens every boss battle by reciting the injuries that boss inflicted on him when they fought.
'Howard: (On female boss Rinrin) Didn't you two have a thing going?
- Why yes, just about every line they make Crosses the Line Twice or more.
- The computer game of Blood Bowl has two commentators taken from the tabletop game's rulebook; the vampire Jim Johnson and the ogre and former Blood Bowl star, Bob Bifford. The two make comments throughout the match, either remarking about famous events for the sport (all of which are paraphrased from the rulebook) or about what just happened on the pitch.
Jim: "That blow knocked his teeth down his throat!"
- Sadly; the commentary gets repetitive quickly and we can only hope that the developers'll add new dialogue for them in future content.
- Both Virtua Fighter 5 and Street Fighter IV have color commentary when the game is played in versus mode. Thankfully, it can be turned off.
- The two Robot Wars games on the PC have a large assortment of recorded commentation from Jonathan Pierce (the commentator for the TV Show). Surprisingly, the commentation isn't as annoying as you'd expect and has enough variation to stay fresh for a while.
- Unreal Tournament's announcer. Especially in Unreal Tournament 2004.
- NBA Jam is famous for some of the things the announcer calls out. "Is it the shoes?" "BOOMSHAKALAKA!"
- Any game to feature Gladiator Games will probably have this.
- Certain Pokémon games have this, mainly ones in the type of Pokémon Stadium.
- Dragon Quest Monsters Battle Road Victory. It can be annoying when the announcer decides to go "Ooohhhhhhhh!"
- Jikkyou Oshaberi Parodius has the "Oshaberi" ("chatting") feature, which causes a Japanese guy to provide a facetious running commentary on the action of the game.
- Ash's races in Misfile all have some form of commentary on them, usually provided by another racer currently watching as a spectator, but sometimes provided by the racers themselves.
- Played straight, then deconstructed and averted in Circumstances of the Revenant Braves when Sol starts to combat commentate before Fio tells him to put a sock in it.
- Legion of Super Heroes, episode "Champions". A battle takes place at the "Interplanetary Games"; the game commentators happily continue their job.
- In the Justice League episode Wild Cards the Justice League had to defuse several bombs and fight the Royal Flush Gang... all this while the Joker watched them on television, providing his unique brand of commentary.
- Justified Trope in The Legend of Korra, at pro-bending matches, Supernatural Martial Arts-turned-spectator sport, announced not only to the stands, but broadcast over radio.
- The robot combat show, Battlebots. Color commentary was provided by Bill Dwyer, Sean Salisbury and and Tim Green, who got just as excited at the spectacle of two glorified RC cars tearing each other to pieces as they ever did at a football game. Also, Robot Wars.
- Two of the most famous commentators in boxing are HBO's Larry Merchant and Showtime's Al Bernstein. If it's a three-man crew (typically on HBO), the third man will usually be a trainer or boxer, sometimes retired, sometimes active. This has run the gamut from So Cool He's Awesome (Roy Jones Jr.), So Okay It's Average (Emmanuel Steward and Max Kellerman), So Bad He's Good (George Foreman), to So Bad He's Horrible (Lennox Lewis). Surprisingly, real life Cloudcuckoolander Mike Tyson is actually very knowledgeable and surprisingly competent.
- Mixed Martial Arts has the duo of Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg for the UFC, and Michael Shiavello aka The Voice and Guy Mezger representing HD Net's coverage of fight sports. The famous Bas Rutten often plays the role of color commentator for smaller orgs.
- Sport fencing.
- Nowadays even e-sports have comentators, some of them are even well-known in the comunity (Tasteless for Starcraft and Tobi Wan for Defense of the Ancients).