SK Telecom T1’s support Lee “Wolf” Jae-wan has long been one of the most adored League of Legends players in South Korea. Unsurprisingly, it appears his likability is nothing new, to the point that one of his school teachers would let him take naps in class.
In a lengthy, in-depth interview with Inven’s Kim Byung-ho, Wolf talked about a bevy of topics regarding his upbringing, personal life and career. One hilarious anecdote included a time when he was in middle school and convinced teachers to let him sleep during their class because he had League of Legends practice at night.
“In middle school, as my solo queue points went up, I often ran into a lot of professionals,” he said. “I naturally wanted to become a pro gamer from then. There was a time in school where I have to make a PowerPoint presentation about my dream job as a class project. I chose to do mine on pro gamers. I used (Kim “Mokuza” Dae-woong) as my role model and presented that given my high ranking, I could realistically become a pro gamer. Then I went to the 10 teachers of my class and asked if I could sleep during their classes since I had to practice at night.
“Maybe it was because I was honest, but six of the 10 allowed me to do so. My English teacher is the most memorable. When they would come to teach, they would say, ‘Hey pro gamer! Go to sleep!’ Of course there were also teachers that didn’t allow me to do this so I accumulated a lot of penalty points. There ended up being a meeting between the teachers and my parents because of that. I was very sorry.”
The rest of the interview is filled with similar stories that reveal the depth of Wolf’s character and jovial, well-meaning nature (which is often cited as to why he’s so overwhelmingly popular — aside from being a two-time world champion).
Wolf’s personality to the fans is one of a jovial spirit. He laughs often, cracks jokes during interviews, and even interacts with fans as much as he can on social media. In actuality, Wolf has a much more realistic view of life, and shared an introspective take on both himself and his career.
“I feel that I’m wearing a mask at times,” he told Inven. “I want to be Lee Jae-wan, but I feel like I live life with a mask called ‘Wolf.’ I don’t think a gamer suits me. I want to try out different things when I quit professional gaming. If I can, I’d like to try casting games. I want to have a job going around talking to players like a reporter too. If not esports, maybe a psychological therapist, or my original dream of becoming a teacher. But I guess I’ll need to fold on a couple of those dreams if I can’t cut it.”
Professional gaming is still considered to be a taboo career choice in South Korea because the short careers and young age of the players. Wolf’s mother was one such concerned parent who wished he would go down a more traditional route, and it took some convincing for him to receive their blessing.
“Even though I wasn’t good at studying, she wanted me to study and get a traditional job,” Wolf said. “She cried a lot as well. On the other hand, my father was very open minded, so I made a promise with him. I would try it for a year. (Head coach Park Jeong-seok) also came to my house personally to convince my parents. He told them about my skills, how much the winnings for the world championship was, what the team was like, stuff like that. It’s thanks to him that I got my start.”
Wolf also divulged more into his family life and his special relationship with his mother. Wolf wishes to be a dutiful son, and his mother still seems awkward to receive the help of her still very young son.
“I even gave her my credit card,” he said. “My mother’s health isn’t great. Because she has a heart condition, I want her to eat good food and pay for her hospital bills, but she rarely uses it. It hurts my heart a bit. There are a lot of good restaurants around the house. I hope she would eat well and take care of herself, but I think she feels sorry. When she said how she could use her son’s hard earned money, I smiled and told her that her son makes money easily, that all he does is sit down and move his fingers.”
And though Wolf is perhaps the most celebrated support player in the world, he told Inven that he didn’t even like the position, starting from when he began playing League of Legends.
“I barely played any support in solo queue,’ he said. “In whatever game I play, I want to be the dealer. Honestly I don’t really like support. I always want to stand out.”
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games