I remember being the only person among my friends who even cared about the League of Legends World Championship. My first one was Season 2, and my friend (who was also an Andrew Kim) was my only partner in watching the Taipei Assassins defy all odds to take down Azubu Frost and be awarded with the first ever team themed championship skins. I didn’t even play Orianna or Nunu, but I bought the whole set because it wasn’t about whether or not you played the same champions as the pros did. It was about being excited. It was about supporting a game that you loved to play and follow.
Season 3, I had some more company. This was when Riot also stepped up to the plate and made some hype videos, like that kick ass animated feature that showed a lot of the fan favorites as their signature champions. The hype of SK Telecom back then was immense, and although it was small compared to what a dynasty they would build, I still remember the feeling of pride when I saw my country men hold up the cup after brushing away all opposition. The SKT skins that came from — that are now panned as one of the worst — were not popular even then. But I still got them.
Season 4, now that was very exciting. I was part of a large group of friends who not only played, but also followed the pro scene. I remember going against my better judgement to watch the streams of the Korean league leading up to worlds and being utterly destroyed by SKT’s lackluster performance. But Samsung White and Blue stepped up to the plate in proving that they weren’t a team to be taken lightly, and they sure left a strong mark. An even stronger mark was left when the entire roster and coaching staff left in the mass exodus to China after they won the world championships in decisive fashion. I remember the live performance of the Imagine Dragons and being excited, since I was a big fan of their song Radioactive. I was talking over Skype with my friends and we all shared in the memes, the jokes, and the triumph. I bought Samsung’s skins even though I hated Rengar.
Season 5 was when life got interesting for me. I was supposed to pick up the pace, look up for jobs, play catch up and get internships, while trying to maintain my grades up in the last year of my college career. Somehow the one thing that was a constant was League of Legends. I still followed the world championships, and still lost sleep over my exams or international games. The rush of emotion that ran over me when I saw SKT hoist the Summoner’s Cup in the air is something that I won’t ever be able to forget. I wasn’t a big fan of SKT back then, but there was an undeniable something that moved me to such an extent that I couldn’t help but become elated. The SKT skins now look amazing with custom recalls, so of course I had to snag all.
And now season 6. If you would have told me in my dingy apartment or in the overpriced dorm room before that, that Andrew Kim would be part of an esports news organization and would be flown out to cover the world championships, I would have laughed you out of the building. If you then told me that I would shake hands with respected players, share contacts with other journalists, and host interviews, I would have then just been frightened that you were still talking to me about the future.
But now I am in San Francisco. I had great interviews with two of the best junglers in the world, and worked alongside storied journalists that I have been following even before I made a twitter profile.
This experience is invaluable, not because it will add to my career as a journalist or just an esports industry insider, but because I have been “me” my entire life. I have followed League for a long time, and to be able to work closely with an industry I saw be born in 2000 as a child in South Korea, watching my first game of competitive Starcraft, is mind blowing.
But this isn’t my final destination.