Kailey Shepardson, known to the streaming community as K4iley, is a League of Legends streamer who already has well over a year of streaming experience at the young age of 17. As a player who hovers around Gold in ranked, her stream is focused more on entertainment and interaction with her community instead of intense Master or Challenger level play. She was noticed earlier in the League of Legends Championship Series season and as a result, a partnership with Renegades from the North American LCS quickly followed.
Slingshot’s Christian Shepherd had a chance to meet up with Kailey and ask her some questions about her journey as a streamer, the partnership between Renegades, and some of the challenges that she has faced along the way.
Christian Shepherd: Can you talk to us a bit about how you started your streaming career and what prompted you to get into League of Legends and the streaming environment?
Kailey Shepardson: I started playing League mainly out of boredom. I had tried other extra curricular activities like sports and nothing really stuck with me. So after hearing my friends talk about (League), I decided to pick it up. Once I got involved in League, I discovered Twitch and came across one of the streamers at the time, OMGitsfirefoxx. She didn’t even have a subscriber button yet, so she was fairly small, but she was really friendly and welcoming. I knew from watching her stream that this was something I would like to try out. I was using a not-so-good, pretty old laptop, so I obviously couldn’t stream off of that, but on my 16th birthday and (after) many months of obnoxious begging, I got a new PC, which was just a basic Walmart pre-built desktop that I somehow managed to stream off of. I started streaming two days before my 16th birthday and I’ve been enjoying it since.
I never really had the experience of having a group of people, other than my family, who were genuinely interested in me as a person and supportive of my interests and hobbies. The idea of having a community, no matter how large or how small, that was kind, open, and supportive was really intriguing. Of course after streaming for over a year and a half or so, I’ve learned that not everybody or everything is flowers, roses, and sugar and spice, but the generosity I’ve experienced definitely overrules any negativity.
CS: Was your family supportive of your decision? What was their initial reaction?
KS: My dad was all about it before my mom was, but now they’re used to it and really really supportive. My dad actually went with me to PAX East last year, and my mom is going to buy one of my t-shirts haha.
CS: What rank are you currently?
KS: After season reset and doing placements, I prefer not to mention it…(laughs)
CS: What’s the highest rank you ever held?
KS: I peaked at Gold 4 before Season 5 ended!
CS: What is your favorite memory of your streaming career?
KS: A couple of my favorite memories from streaming was when DiscoHeat raided me back when I had 400 followers. It was the first time I had over 10 or 15 viewers. Another was pretty recently when FoxDrop raided me. I ended up meeting a lot of awesome people through that raid.
CS: What would you say the community that supports you likes about your stream? What kind of sets you apart from other streamers?
KS: I don’t think I’m special or significantly different than any other streamer. People do their own things for their own stream and if people like it, then they do, and if they don’t, then they don’t. I’d like to think people enjoy the laid back feel of the stream and how interactive everybody is with each other, but I guess I can’t speak for them. (laughs)
CS: What is it about streaming, or the League of Legends community, that you enjoy the most?
KS: I think it’s like I said earlier, I never had the experience of having a close group of people who supported me. Having a small-ish community of people who enjoy me as a person and get excited to see or talk to me every day is still mind blowing. I hope it continues to be like that.
CS: Is there anything that you don’t enjoy or something that you wish you could help work to change?
KS: Unfortunately, there are always going to be toxic or rude people in any community, whether it be gaming, or something else. I guess if I could change that, I probably would, but I don’t think the community would really be the same without laughing at toxic people in solo queue. (laughs)
CS: As a female streamer, I am sure there are unique obstacles that you had to overcome. Can you share your experience as a woman in the streaming industry and how you think it might compare to your male counterparts?
KS: Ah, I knew I’d get hit with this question. I don’t compare myself with anybody. Yeah, I obviously get weirdos on my social media or in my Twitch chat, but this is what I do and what I enjoy doing. I think if I stay interactive with people involved in my stream, provide good quality content, and listen to constructive criticism from others and learn from it, then my stream will grow. In the end, most people don’t really care about your gender; they just care if you’re a good person or not.
CS: You are currently streaming for the Renegades organization. Could you tell us the story about how that business partnership came to be? Did they reach out to you? How long did it take to iron out the details of the contract?
KS: I’ve been pretty close with a lot of people in management for quite a while now. I was having a conversation with Rob (“Leonyx” Lee, the team’s general manager) one night about streaming and what I was up to, and it kind of just came up in the conversation and it went from there. Honestly, I think he was more excited about it than I was at first. (laughs) We talked some small details out and continued to talk about it for a couple of weeks until we had planned the announcement out and set a general date for it. It didn’t take too long between the conversation and the announcement, maybe about a month or so at max.
CS: What kind of responsibilities does being a Renegades streamer entail? Are you required to do a certain amount of hours or anything like that?
KS: It’s a pretty laid back thing. I was told to try and stream 40 hours a month, which was already done, because I stream about 90+ a month anyway, and to just advertise AlphaDraft and be involved in the organization.
CS: How has streaming under the Renegades brand affected your career?
KS: I’d like to think that people maybe take me more seriously now, which is pretty nice. It’s definitely helped me grow as a personality in the community.
CS: Were the players on Renegades players you were familiar with?
KS: I followed the team actively before even discussing joining. I was actually pretty close with one of the players beforehand as well.
CS: There was a lot of discussion about (Maria “Remi” Creveling) being the first female LCS player. What do you think about the discussions that were being had and how the community reacted to her?
KS: Well, lets be real here, the majority of the League of Legends community are man-children (laughs). A lot of the discussions being had were completely bias. I definitely respect her and support her a lot, not just because she’s a female, but because she’s a really cool person and I think she’s a really talented support. But as stated before, there are always going to be toxic people in every community, not much you can do about it but ignore it and move on.
CS: Are you a fan of competitive League of Legends? Who are your top three favorite teams?
KS: I was a hardcore TSM fan my first season I played, yes yes I can hear the groans now. I kind of stopped watching last season, but started again this season due to Renegades competing in NA LCS. I’ll half-watch other teams, but i don’t think I have another two teams that I’m a big fan of, yet.
CS: Do you think any of them have a shot at Worlds this year?
KS: I think Renegades could qualify for worlds this year. They’re a hard working team and they learn from their mistakes and move on, rather than sulking about them. They’ve improved a lot and I think the roster changes have been for the better.
CS: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of your streaming career?
KS: I’m actually pretty socially awkward, believe it or not. I think this is a pretty common thing among streamers, Youtubers, content creators, etc., but I still don’t think many people expect it because it’s so easy to talk to a camera. Other than that, I’m pretty quiet unless I’m comfortable around someone and I kind of just keep to myself.
CS: How long have you been gaming for? How were you first exposed to video games?
KS: Unfortunately, I never got the chance to play all the good classic games growing up like Pokemon, which I plan on making up in the near future. But I did start playing The Sims series around the age of 7 if that counts.
CS: What things do you do outside of video games?
KS: I actually occasionally sing and sometimes sing on stream. I’m not going to say if I think I’m good or not because everybody has a different opinion. (laughs)
CS: Is League of Legends the only game you are playing?
KS: Consistently? As of right now, yes. I do play games like H1Z1 once in awhile though.
CS: Are you involved with school or anything like that?
KS: I’ve been homeschooled for the majority of my life, excluding this one time I went to public school for like 60 percent of third grade.
CS: Can you tell me a little bit about being home schooled? Do you think that foregoing a traditional school career played a factor in how much you currently value a supportive community?
KS: My experience with my peers would’ve been the same, if not worse had I attended a proper school. But I’m not sure if I would’ve ended up streaming had I attended a regular school.
CS: Is there anything you would like to say to the community that follows you or your organizations?
KS: Thanks to the people who have been supporting me, it means more than you probably think. Also, I hope the people who may just now be finding out who I am check out my stream, and enjoy it! I stream everyday at 8 pm EST. Also, AlphaDraft is really cool.