As the popularity of esports grows each day, more people are getting interested in having a career in the industry. However, it can be very difficult to actually find a job in esports because many get lost in where they need to start and how they need to prepare. The need for people with various talents increases as the industry continues to grow, but it’s really hard to actually hear how to get into the industry.
For those planning to have a future career in esports, we at Inven prepared a series of interviews with people in the scene, essentially showcasing the various jobs in esports. From how they found their jobs to what they needed to prepare to get these jobs to details about their jobs, we had a chance to hear their stories of their past and the present. We hope that this series of interviews will help those that are looking for a potential career in esports.
Meet Ji-hee Han, our third interviewee of ‘Meet the esports insiders’. She works as the Public Relations Associate for the LCK, who also has a side job(?) as a cosplayer! Her main responsibility is to make sure everything on the media side of LoL Esports, and we at Inven Global had a chance to speak to her about her journey in the LCK.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello, my name is Ji-hee Han, and I’m the PR Associate at Prain Global Sportizen, the company in charge of LCK and Riot Games Esports' Public Relations.
When did you first get interested in esports? Can you also tell us what your journey’s been like up to how you got this job?
Truth be told, it hasn’t been long since I got interested in esports. It was purely a coincidence on how I first learned about esports actually. In 2019, my friends and I were on vacation, and they wanted to watch the series of a team that they really liked. That was the SKT T1 vs. G2 Esports series at Worlds 2019, where SKT unfortunately lost. Although I started playing League of Legends in 2015, that series was the first time I l watched LoL esports.
Obviously, I knew about Faker because he’s really famous. But after that series, I got really interested in SKT, so I started watching the LCK in 2020. 2019 was also around the time when I graduated from college and was contemplating career paths. I was actually planning to become a reporter, but I thought to myself, 'Hey, I like League of Legends, and I’m liking esports more and more, so maybe there’s something for me in esports.'
At the time, I didn’t know just how much variety there was in the field of esports, so I started as a game reporter. I started in July 2020, and after three months of interning at a publication, I thought that this wasn’t the job for me. I wanted to work exclusively with League of Legends, but as a game reporter, I had to be knowledgeable about games over a wide spectrum. Even now, I feel that I lack that knowledge, and since my interest was solely on LoL, writing about other games was tough and uninteresting.
When I was quitting that job at that publication, my boss told me to look for a job exclusively in LoL because they felt it would suit me better and ultimately work out in the end. So I looked more into LoL Esports, and that’s when I realized that working in esports rather than games would be a better fit for me.
So that’s when I applied to a whole bunch of places, even for teams like T1. Early 2021 was when I found a job posting from Sportizen, a company that was listed as the ‘LCK Master Agency’, so I felt that I could work in the LCK with them, and I’ve been working with them ever since.
What are your responsibilities as the PR Associate for the LCK?
On a general scheme of things, we work with all the reporters that cover Riot Games esports titles, which is League of Legends, Valorant, Wild Rift, and at times, Teamfight Tactics. My main responsibility includes drafting up press releases for various publications, and arranging interviews for the reporters. When it comes to international tournaments like the upcoming MSI, my team is the Korean PR contact.
Speaking from my experience last year, the reporters covered the events online due to COVID, but there were still offline events. My team was in charge of events such as the media day before such events, which included everything that needed to be done on the floor to create press kits for all the reporters that came.
What does your day look like during the season and the off-season?
My biggest responsibility during the season is to be on the floor and aid the coverage. During the LCK splits, my team is also sitting in the press room in order to oversee if everything is going smoothly for the reporters. We’re also in charge of the press releases that always go out and any important announcements that need to be made. It involves working together with other divisions of the company, such as our social, events, and marketing team. For example, we sync with the social team for the visuals that we’re going to use in our press releases.
Truth be told, there really isn’t an offseason for me. For our social team, because they’re strictly in charge of the LCK, they do have an off-season, but for us, because we’re also in charge of Valorant and Wild Rift esports, other leagues start when LCK enters its off-season. After LCK Spring finals in 2021, the Valorant Challengers circuit started, then MSI, then straight went into Valorant Champions + Masters. In between all that, there was [Wild Rift Champions Korea].
As long as there are reporters who cover those leagues, the work continues. There really isn’t an offseason for me.
I actually first got to know you through your Twitter, which is more for your cosplays. Tell me a bit about how you got into cosplaying, and what kind of influence cosplaying had in your journey in esports as well.
[Laughter] I started cosplaying because of my sister. As I said before, I started playing League of Legends in 2015, and the first time I started cosplaying was in 2018. My sister came up to me and said, 'Hey, I’m entering my senior year in high school, so I want to do something fun and cosplay at a comic convention!' My sister was always into that subculture, and while I wasn’t against it, I wasn’t really interested in it at first.
However, I had so much fun cosplaying that day at that convention. I got to know a lot of cool cosplayers that day as well, so I continued cosplaying as a hobby, while my sister stopped [laughter]. After a break from cosplaying due to my studies, I started cosplaying again in 2019.
Since I cosplay a lot of champions from League of Legends, I naturally built relationships with gamers. That’s how I became a cosplay model for the “LoL Invade Art” exhibition to celebrate the game’s 10th anniversary, and was also a part of a documentary at the LoL Orchestra as a cosplay model as well.
Interacting with the people I got to know through cosplaying, whether that’s watching LCK and/or playing together made me realize just how much I’m a fan of League of Legends and LoL Esports, so it definitely influenced me in choosing a career path.
From the wide array of cosplays you’ve done over the years, what’s your favorite? Are there any that you’ve wanted to do, but couldn’t just yet?
My favorite has to be the Ahri cosplay I did to celebrate the champion’s 10th anniversary in LoL. I cosplayed 11 skins and made a poster with every single one of them in it, so next time, I want to cosplay every single one of her skins [16 skins if you include her prestige K/DA skin]. It’s a dream of mine; I don’t know if I can realistically do it though.
There were a lot of cosplayers at the LCK Spring Finals as well. I know you were part of the on-site staff, so did you feel bummed out not being able to cosplay?
This Spring Finals was the first offline event since COVID started. I always wanted to cosplay at an LCK finals, but I never dreamed that my first finals back would be as a staff. I mean I was also a little bummed out, but I thought to myself, 'So that’s how it feels like to watch cosplayers work their craft.' I also thought every single one of them were really cool, and their presence really elevated the event.
Again, with the LCK Spring Finals being the first offline event since COVID started, what was your impression of the event?
It was my first event with the fans back as well, so watching all the fans there, watching the finals opening live, and just being absorbed into the live atmosphere of the event really made my heart thump a lot and be proud that I’m part of the LCK. I obviously wasn’t part of the full 10 year history of the LCK, but just being there motivated me to work with the LCK for the next 10 years and beyond.
Are those the moments where you feel the most fulfilled in your work? When else do you feel fulfilled in your work?
This may seem very trivial, but I feel the most fulfilled when the reporters that I work with tell me, 'Good job today. Thank you for your hard work.' When we prepare for media days, we prepare two weeks to a month in advance for those events. There are reporters that thank me as they walk in and out of the venue, and even those that message me to say thank you. That’s when I feel very fulfilled.
On the flip side, when does the job feel the toughest?
Being a part of LCK’s PR team means that every action I take defines LCK’s public image. Every action that I take, whether that’s in the press room at LoL Park or at events like media day or finals, is all under the microscope, and that can sometimes be a burden. I always have to be careful in every word I speak and type, and as someone that stepped into the real world only a year ago, things can sometimes get difficult.
What kind of advice would you want to give to those that are looking to work in esports?
I’d say that luck is definitely needed, because a lot of times, you need to be in the right space at the right time. However, the most important thing is how passionate you are about esports.
I have a friend who also wants to pursue a career in esports, so I said to prepare a portfolio that reflects passion. No matter how small or big the scale of it may be, it’ll definitely help in your next destination in esports.
No matter how knowledgeable you may think you are, there will be areas of the unknown that you’ve yet to learn about. Don’t be afraid to dive head first into it and face it head on, because that’s how you’ll learn. Other than that, having good physical stamina is important in esports, as you’re going to work a lot of irregular hours.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports