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Q&A: Sky Williams talks League of Legends streaming and his YouTube hiatus

Sky Williams is one of the industry’s most popular streamers and YouTube personalities, and Slingshot’s Amanda “SageGnosis” Stevens had the chance to catch up with him to talk about his background, community outrage and his at times polarizing nature.

Amanda Stevens: Sky, you’ve told the story of how you got into comedy and Smash. But what lead you to start playing League of Legends?

Sky Williams: It’s kind of a sad story. I played Smash a lot and then my best friend at the time, who hated League of Legends, died of bacterial meningitis. It happened so fast; he died in like five days. And so after that, I couldn’t play Smash. I couldn’t look at the game. It made me sick. I started playing League because it was the one game that didn’t remind me of him. I spent hours playing League. It didn’t matter if I enjoyed it because it was just a distraction. After a while, I started getting pretty good.

AS: As everyone knows, your YouTube career launched off the “5 Reasons Why Your Jungler Hates You.” At the time you were watching yourself make the front page of Reddit, did you immediately go “I’ve got this formula down” or did it take a few more videos?

SW: I mean even to this day I don’t even know why people on Reddit liked the video. It’s just that during that video I was being authentic. I was just being me. It wasn’t scripted or anything. I don’t really have a formula. I just talk. That’s why I get so anxious when I release because I just hope that people like this one.

AS: How did you get to know Nightblu3?

SW: I used to raid Nightblu3’s stream a few times. I think Nightblu3 gives me and Gross Gore too much credit for the growth of his stream. I used to just send people to his stream because he was doing Jungle Jinx at the time and I really liked his innovation. That’s how we started talking.

AS: Was there a transition period from being a YouTuber to being a streamer?

SW: Within the first three videos everybody was asking me to stream. I had no idea what streaming was. The first night I went on, I had like 16,000 viewers and got DDoS’d after two hours. I had no idea what was going on.  

AS: You’ve glossed over this, but what happened when you went on your first hiatus? You were streaming almost every night, your YouTube videos were on point, and then you just vanished.

SW: I remember being frustrated with my content because I wasn’t doing everything that I wanted to do. I definitely wanted to be a lot better than I was and I didn’t like the content that I was putting out. I got a little discouraged and so I stopped for a bit. I regret it a lot. But in my mind I knew that when I returned I would have the same audience and, lo and behold, that’s what happened.

AS: Then what made you come back?

SW: I don’t know. I just felt like I was going to come back. Like this was my fate, this was my destiny and I wasn’t going to let it fall by the wayside. I just decided that I need to come back. You have this idea what your dreams are going to be. And you see yourself skinnier, maybe you see yourself more muscular, more tall, or see yourself with a specific person, maybe you see yourself at a certain place, right?  But when you arrive at a destination and you don’t see those things verbatim of how you have them in your head; sometimes it gets kind of hard to convince yourself that this may not be where I want to be. But, I’m here. So, I realized that though YouTube is not my be all and end all that I realized that I want to share this space with the people who like me.

AS: I know at PAX East a few years back Riot had you shout cast some collegiate games and you recently shout casted some Smash events. Is that something you want to continue doing?

SW: No, I do not really want to shoutcast. Shoutcasting is something I could do but, especially with League, it’s something I would be average at at best.

AS: With esports getting bigger with NA LCS spots being bought for $1million and major names like ESPN and Yahoo throwing their hats in the ring, what would you like to see happen during this growth period in esports?

SW: I think these big companies are short changing these talented gamers and not giving them what they’re worth. So, if anything, I’d like to see the players get paid and treated better.

AS: You at one point said you were going to create a show that sounded a lot like what PTL is. You didn’t end up creating that show, but what do you think of PTL? Do you ever think you’d make that show you were hinting at to fans?

SW: Nothing happened to it. What ended up happening was that a bunch of companies approached me and they were going to settle for a couple million; they wanted to buy the show. I had a deck ready and everything. But what happened was I decided that I didn’t feel comfortable with how I’d look on camera. I think the issue with PTL is that because it is produced by Riot, they can’t say or do things that I think the fans want to hear and see. You’re not going to hear them rag on patches or anything like that.  

AS: You recently caught a little flack lately for two videos you’ve done; “Youtube is Not in the Wrong; but I know who is. Response to #MakeYoutubeGreatAgain” and “League of Legends Youtubers: We CAN and HAVE to be Better.” Starting with the first video, what made you feel the need to speak on the subject?

SW: It was just the fact that people were just wrong. I learned a valuable lesson. Probably the most valuable lesson in the world. What I learned is that people don’t value what is right and what is wrong; they value what is easiest. I felt that I had a voice and following that would allow to convince people that YouTube wasn’t in the wrong, but people didn’t want to hear it. I think what went wrong was my execution wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

AS: What about your video to the other League YouTubers? Because, while it has a lot of likes and views, there were definitely some YouTubers who were not too pleased with the video.

SW: Yeah, I got lynched by Foxdrop and Gaming Curios the same day. But at the same time, nothing I was saying was wrong. We don’t have a lot of unity. And I’m more guilty than anyone when it comes to that shit. That’s why I made the video. Because I felt it was something that needed to be said.

AS: I know one of your passions is Smash, but your channel is pretty much relegated to League of Legends content. Where do you see your channel going from here? Will you branch out to your other passions.

SW: Really, my true passion is making people laugh. What I would love to do is play games and make skits about it. That’s what I want to do. Have fun, play games, make skits, and making people laugh.