Starting this Summer split, two new announcers, Lee Jung-hyun, and Yoon Su-bin, joined the LCK. And with their fresh appeal and smooth ability to host the show, the community gave them a warm welcome.
Today’s interview is with one of the newest LCK hostesses, Lee Jung-hyun. She always exerts her bright energy on the LCK analyst desk, and her wink at the end of the analysis segment became a signature move that captured the hearts of the many fans around the world.
With the regular season of the 2020 LCK Summer split coming to a close, Inven was able to sit down with Lee Jung-hyun for a conversation. She had a stack of notes that she was writing down on for the show, and greeted the journalists with her signature warm smile.
It’s very nice to meet you. Can you please introduce yourself to our readers at home?
Hello. My name is Lee Jung-hyun, and I’m the newest announcer that joined the LCK starting this Summer split. I didn’t think I’d be interviewed this fast, but nevertheless, I’m glad that I’m here!
The regular season of the 2020 LCK Summer split is already nearing its end. Did you expect such a positive response on how smoothly you ran things?
I really did not. My birthday was on the week after the split started, and I was worried that I would receive negative feedback. Thankfully, there were more people congratulating me, so I felt relieved.
I think the reason why I received such positive feedback was because of the help I received from Riot. The producers always helped me when I actually played the game myself, and the analysts, as well as the writers, are always helping me. I also worked hard to improve, so that’s why the fans saw me in a positive light.
What kind of work did you do before you joined the LCK? Can you also tell us about the process of joining the LCK?
Before this, I was involved in traditional sports as an announcer. I went to a lot of baseball, basketball, and football (soccer) events and interviewed the players after the matches. In terms of baseball, I also hosted the live highlights show after the matches ended.
I believe esports is just like traditional sports, so I've always wanted to work in the field. However, back then, I thought I was heavily under-qualified because I didn’t know much about games, and lacked professional knowledge. However, I received an offer to audition for the LCK announcer position, and I must’ve done well, so I passed [laughter].
When was the first time you became interested in esports?
I had a friend working in esports. Her name is Choi Si-eun, and she’s an announcer that’s working for the pro "Kartrider" league. So I looked up a lot of esports content that popped up on my social media feed and looked up a lot of Youtube videos as well. While we normally don’t talk about work-related things when we hang out, I could tell that she was very proud of her work and she thoroughly enjoyed it. I think that aspect of things was my biggest influence.
Is there a special reason behind your career choice as an announcer?
One day, when I was a freshman in university, I was walking on campus, while thinking about joining a club. Coincidentally, I saw a recruitment poster from a broadcasting station. Since I didn’t know how to edit or shoot anything, I applied for an announcer position, and I was accepted. As time passed, this line of work felt very enjoyable, so I decided to become a sports announcer. That’s how my professional journey started.
What are some of the biggest differences between sports and esports?
In traditional sports, there are many instances where a match is canceled by rain, but that doesn't happen in esports. Even when I traveled far for a match, there were times where I just came back home because of the rain. In esports, the matches aren’t affected by weather, so there’s more stability in my schedule.
Also, the players are very young, yet they've achieved so much. Even so, they’re very humble, and at times, are very innocent and shy. When I look at them, they seem so great, but kinda feel bad for them at times. I have a lot of affection for them, in a sense where I want to take care of them like little brothers.
On another note, because I’m in an environment with so many young players, I am especially more careful with my words and actions. I don’t know how my influence can affect those players, so I always think twice about everything I do and say.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you were unable to interview the players face to face, so you were only on the analyst desk. While you’re now able to interview them through the screen, there must still be some disappointment.
Interviews are always best conducted when it’s face to face, so it is disappointing to not be able to do so. However, I have no choice at the moment. Also, there are a lot of unforeseen circumstances that pop up during an interview, and the support I get from the other analysts definitely help. Someone said that I’m still on my training wheels [laughter], and the current situation properly reflects it. After this phase, I want to improve to better myself in interviews.
Can you tell us about the most memorable interview that you've conducted so far?
My first interview with the players was with Spirit and Ben from Afreeca Freecs. At the time, Spirit was trying so hard to hold in his laughter but failed. Since I wasn’t actually next to him, I didn’t know if he was laughing or crying. That’s when I asked, “You’re laughing right now, right”? It was a moment where things would’ve been very awkward if he was crying, but I was glad that he was laughing.
After the matches end, I read a lot of the post-match interviews conducted by journalists. I remember reading an interview with DAMWON Gaming’s support player, BeryL, and he shared how he reflected heavily upon him missing a key hook as Thresh, and how he thinks he’s the best player during practice, but he’s the worst player in an actual match. To see such a young player so dedicated to the game made him look great and mature, because I wasn’t like that at his age.
What’s the best and the hardest thing about being an LCK announcer?
The biggest hurdle has to be with my stamina. The broadcast itself is very long, yet I still have to make time to play the game. To stay up all night playing the game and to prepare for the next day’s broadcast is the hardest thing to deal with. On top of that, I have other things I’m working on, so to efficiently divide the time and to take care of my health is not easy. Also, I want to be better, but I’m nowhere near satisfied, so mentally, it’s a bit taxing. As I get to know new things, I realize that there’s still so much that I don’t know.
Apart from that, everything else is great. The physical/mental obstacles that I come across are easily overcome with my love for this work. I want to be with the LCK fans for a very long time.
Actually, despite your hectic schedule, it really does seem like you play the game a lot.
I really spend all my free time playing the game. I started playing it to just learn the game at first, but it’s so fun that I usually stay up all night playing. Sometimes, I even play until 7 am before a workday [laughter]. The game is very fun, and whenever I lie down, images of the game just flash through my head.
Which role do you main in the game?
I am an ADC main. My favorite champion is Kai’sa. I actually was an Ashe main, but I recently fell in love with Kai’sa. With Ashe, it’s really hard to make flashy plays unless you kite like crazy. However, with Kai’sa, her Q, Icathian Rain is flashy, to begin with, and her combos are very fun to pull off. Also, to fly past the enemy lines with her ult, Killer Instinct, and kill the enemy… Actually, people say to save her ult as a form of survival, but I always loved using that ability to mirror its name.
Have any fans recognized you in-game?
So far, not yet. I’m glad that’s the case, because if they play with me, people are definitely going to get frustrated [laughter].
Have you ever thought about challenging yourself in ranked games?
I was going to as soon as I hit level 30, but people told me that if I start right away, there’s a chance I’ll be placed in a very low tier, so it’ll be very hard to climb. So I promised myself to play ranked games when I can get 20 kills in a normal game. Also, since I was young, I’ve always been the type to master the fundamentals before solving any problems. When I’m more satisfied with my plays, I’ll challenge myself with ranked games.
League of Legends is a 10+-year-old game, so it’s very hard for new players. Apart from you playing the game yourself, are there other ways that you study the game?
While it felt like it was too much at first, the game gets more fun as I learn more about it. I’m always fascinated by the lore, so I read up on all the LoL lore. It’s hard to memorize the champion skills by themselves, but reading up on a champion’s back story and how the lore connects to their abilities was very entertaining.
As I get to understand more of the champions’ skills and their mechanisms, learning and understanding why the pro players play a champion in a certain way and what they’re looking out for is very fascinating as well. I find the players so smart and I am just left in awe over their understanding of the game.
Can you tell us your favorite match up to this point?
It’d definitely have to be Hanwha Life Esports’ first match victory of the split. I actually watched the players cry last year after a match. I’m the type of person that empathizes a lot, so just thinking about it makes me fill up emotions. Everyone wants to be good at what they do, but things don’t just work out sometimes. I empathize with their frustration and their struggles, so I really hoped that they’d pick up their first match victory of the split. They finally did, and seeing them happy really filled me up with emotions and was just very proud of them. They never gave up and were finally able to pull it off. I hope they continue to get more wins under their belt.
Not only do you seem full of energy during this interview, you always seem this way on camera.
Up until last year, I struggled with a lot of personal problems. However, I realized that I only have one life, so I made up my mind to be more positive, and focused on honing my own skillset. I’m just showing what I’ve worked on this year. Actually, the producers once told me to bring down the energy level just a tad bit [laughter].
Fans also remember you for these ‘performances’ that you mix in during your segment, and they’re eagerly waiting for them. Do you prepare such a variety of content beforehand?
Sometimes. I did prepare the "picking up the phone" bit during the "Telecom Derby" (the classic T1 vs KT match up) and the rhyme I made with the words "Afreeca" beforehand. However, there are times where I thought of things on the spot.
However, just like Kai'sa's ultimate ability, certain conditions need to be met. I tend to do these things when I am satisfied with my own self on the broadcast. Some of those things include saying everything I want to say, not stutter, etc. Whenever I do some of those performances, now you know that I’m very content with myself on that day.
Do you like the nickname, ‘Ne-Ne Noona’? [The nickname translates to ‘Yes-Yes Noona’, for her habit of always saying the word ‘Yes’ in Korean — Ed.]
“Ne, ne” [Yes, yes] [laughter]. I probably used that word a lot during this interview as well. I love nicknames. After my first appearance on the LCK, my friends contacted me and said that I used that word a lot. I was worried because of it, but the fans actually gave me that nickname, so I felt relieved. Furthermore, with that nickname, I felt like I really became a part of the LCK on-air talent, so I was incredibly grateful.
We’re already nearing the end of our interview. Can you tell us your personal goal of the year?
My original goal was to climb to gold in solo queue. However, there’s not a lot of time left before Season 10 ends, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to do so, but once the Summer split ends, I’ll be playing a lot to get gold.
Work-wise, I want to be more impactful with my words on camera. I feel that I’m still not situationally flexible with what I want to say. Even on the analyst desk, I can still only understand 80% of what the others are saying, while I just quickly move on with the other 20%. I’m eager to be able to lead the analyst desk by understanding 100% of what the analysts are saying. Actually, as I was preparing for the LCK, I read every single one of Inven’s articles. That’s why I think that the journalists at Inven might recognize some of the expressions I use on the show. I’ll work harder to be as good as I want to be.
Lastly, we’ll conclude this interview with a word to the fans.
Despite having so much to learn still, I’m incredibly lucky to have the fans realize my efforts and accept me. Thank you so much for your continued support. Next season, I’ll make sure to become the "Gold tier" announcers with a lot more knowledge about League. Thank you!
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports