LCK Commentator CloudTemplar: "I want to invest everything I have into League. I want to be a part of it until the very end."

Truthful but entertaining, caster 'Lee "CloudTemplar" Hyunwoo' is a careful but honest person, and he speaks without any pretension. That's why I wanted to write this article in the best way that I could - decorating it with a fancy introduction and body. 

My thoughts changed, however, when CloudTemplar asked me, "I'd be very thankful if you would write this interview in a fun and non-serious manner." I thought I was sharing a rather serious conversation with this man for more than an hour, but I wasn't able to read his intentions or thoughts.

CloudTemplar was that kind of a man - honest and truthful. But he finds humor and entertainment just as important. We did our best to share his words without any alteration, the best way that we can. 

It's the preseason. How are you?

I was planning to take some time to 'recharge', but things didn't go as planned. Including this interview, I ran into a lot of good opportunities for myself. I've also spent a lot of time on streaming. My viewers know, but I streamed until 6 AM today. I was sincerely asking my viewers to let me go because I had an INVEN interview. (Laughs)

We're now at the end of the year, do you have any special plans for yourself?

To go on a vacation, no matter what.

I wasn't able to go this entire year, and if I don't go on a vacation this year - again - I'll most likely be scolded by my wife. Tomorrow is her birthday, so I'm going to make sure to take her somewhere nice no matter what it takes.

Are you planning to go on an overseas trip?

That'll be hard because of the kids. We'll just have a simple vacation here in Korea.

We're also curious about your kids. We heard that you have two kids.

The kids are growing fast. My second child was born in July of last year, and he's growing rapidly. It's all thanks to my hard-working wife.

Any plans for a 3rd?

We were initially planning to have 3 kids, but after the 2nd, we had a change of heart... (Laughs) Although it might be fun to have a 3rd child, there are pros and cons for both marriage and having kids. At the moment for us, having a 3rd child will do us more harm than good. 

My wife went through a lot of trouble. After marriage, she spent all her time and effort taking care of the kids. We've been together for about 3 or 4 years, and for the entire duration, my wife couldn't catch a break because she had to take care of the kids. She can only catch a break once the kids grow up to a certain point, and that's why we're still considering the idea of having a 3rd.

You said "considering"... does that mean it'll happen?

Maybe after 5 years? Then, maybe, we can get the 1st or 2nd child to help their mom in taking care of the new-born. But then again, they're both boys, so it may not work out.

Let's change the subject - let's take a look back at the past year. 

I always look back at myself once in a while. I plan my year out at the beginning and look back at the end of it. 2017 was definitely a difficult year. There were a lot of disappointing and lacking things, so I'll have to find ways to fill those in. 

I've also shared this on my SNS before, but I started rewatching the TV show, 'Mi-Saeng'. I enjoy rewatching old TV shows and movies from time to time, but from Mi-Saeng, there is a scene that stuck with me. A character says this line, "Couldn't have been better, yes." 

I'm trying to live like that - that I have been doing the best that I can. Maybe, just maybe, I could've done better. But I'm satisfied with the results that I've made.

You talked about having "disappointing and lacking things" this year. Also, there was an incident regarding your stream not too far back.

It's been a long time since I started streaming. I felt comfortable on my stream and talked openly, and that is probably why the incident occurred.

I had a goal for 2017, and it was to both cast and stream as much as I can. I was being very greedy. As I started growing tired from the busy schedule, I started making mistakes here and there. I was definitely lacking the required qualities needed to do both successfully. I've also started streaming more responsibly after the incident. It was a turning point for me.

In the League of Legends scene, there is no one that caused more trouble than I have. I constantly brought on incidents. But even amidst all of that, I always received love from the fans, love that I didn't deserve. I'm living a life that I'm thankful for having.

When talking to my wife or co-workers, I tell them that I live a life that is similar to LeBlanc's. LeBlanc has great burst damage and carry-potential, but one mistake can bring her down. I think I'm a LeBlanc with about 5 deaths, and only came this far thanks to my teammates. 

My mind is always filled with thoughts. I'm always trying to stay aware of my mistakes and trying to learn from it. The safety mechanism that I had in my stream was to never cuss or use slang. It's simple yet difficult to actually pull off. It might also make my stream less entertaining that way. Whether it be streaming or casting, I'm trying to make it all better by myself, instead of receiving feedback from others. I'm constantly trying to improve.

What caused you to change the style of your stream?

There wasn't a specific event that caused it. My viewers know, but I had a lot of difficulties both physically and mentally this year. But I had set my goal too high, so I couldn't just give up. I was being greedy. I streamed at the cost of sleep, and due to it, I grew sensitive and grumpy. 

I had to change, so now, I'm doing my best to secure some free time. I started taking breaks from streaming when I really felt tired. I have also cleared out some plans from my busy schedule. I'm doing my best to make everything fun for myself and those who are around me.

It feels like you’ve gained knowledge about life as you’re collecting career experience.

“The ground hardens after a rainfall.” Leblanc had many dangerous moments, but thanks to her teammates, she still lives, right? Every freelancer shares this problem, and they’re always on the knife’s edge. Including me, any of them could either go down or explode in popularity in an instant. That’s why it’s important for people like me to find the correct balance in work.

Since you brought up 'freelancing', it got me curious. Starting next year, Riot will directly host the LCK in their new stadium. The system will be nearly identical to the other leagues from around the world, as Riot has been employing their own and official broadcast team to host the leagues. Since working as a freelancer is unreliable in terms of stability, have you ever considered the idea of working for a single company? 

I'm not too sure. I haven't even had a detailed conversation with Riot yet. Until the change is fully implemented, I still have a lot of time to think things through. Also, things are always susceptible to change - there are a lot of different possibilities. 

The esports market is constantly seeing change. In the past, Overwatch competed against League of Legends for popularity, and now, PUBG. Are you nervous in any way?

People have always been asking the question, "for how much longer do you think League of Legends will remain popular for?" In addition, they always ask me if I will ever cast for another game. 

For every person, I believe 'first love' is the most important. For me, of course, my wife was my first love. (Laughs) But for CloudTemplar, the game that gave him the title of "caster" is League of Legends. So unless the game abandons me or the scene makes its fall, I don't want to leave it. I want to invest everything that I have in the game, and I want to be a part of it until the end. I played the game since Season 1, so not only as a caster but as a player, I want to be a part of the game until the very end. 

And to be honest, even if I did want to invest in another game, I would be lacking the time and the confidence necessary to do so. I've already invested so much time onto League of Legends, and to have that time extracted and put into another game... I wouldn't be able to endure it. 

I also think about the worst things that can happen to me. I want to start a 'PC Bang' business... but I don't have the money. (Laughs) It's a joke...

Just when esports began gaining popularity, freelancers like me shared similar concerns. "What will happen to me if this game goes downhill?" Along with the players, many workers within the esports scene have unstable careers. We can blame the infrastructure that hasn't had the time to fully develop yet and the fact that the demand in the market is constantly changing. 

Then I remember some advice I received from those around me. "Just do what you do best and do it well," and "If you do your best on any given field, new opportunities will come knocking at your door." These words may not seem convincing enough, but I think they were telling me the truth.

Being honest here, I'm not even a big figure in the League of Legends esports scene, and moreover, not even a perfect caster. I'm thankful merely for the fact that I was given the opportunity to cast.

Let's change the subject. I've heard that you're allergic to fried chicken... but you're okay with seasoned chicken...

Things go bad for me when I eat fried chicken. My physical and mental condition just drops, along with my skin breaking out. 

Then how are you fine with seasoned chicken?

I don't know. I'm fine with seasoned chicken nuggets too. 

My wife really likes fried chicken, but she's forced to eat seasoned chicken because of me. (Laughs) And I'm actually more of a pizza guy than a chicken guy. I only eat chicken because of my wife. Also, many people come to me for advice on how to enjoy a good pizza: order a potato pizza with cheese crusts and dip it in garlic dipping sauce - it's the cleanest way to eat pizza. 

You perform many entertaining acts on camera while on or off the stage. Do you volunteer yourself or are you pressured into doing it?

I'm not forced to do it, but at the same time, I don't necessarily enjoy it. A lot of people think that I enjoy receiving attention, but I actually have a bit of stage fright. My wife didn't believe me at first, but I have all sorts of problems. Although it's not too serious, I have panic disorder, sociophobia, and I also carry some trauma. And when I was really young, I stammered a lot, which caused me to develop a bit of an inferiority complex and a victim's mentality. 

It's almost nonsense to say that I have an easy time having others laugh. There are many people who are skeptical of my words during games, so casting alone is a difficult task. When I'm with my wife, I avoid going to crowded areas. Even before marriage, when we were just dating, we only went to the amusement park in the morning on a weekday. One time, I had to stay at a mall for a long period of time, and I almost collapsed from vertigo. I don't last too long in a crowded area.

I still enjoy entertaining the fans. It's fun. Especially because there are many people that enjoy the content, and when I see that, I feel its worthwhile. Now, it feels weird to do plain and standard things on camera. When they ask me to do something ordinary, I ask the team, "are you sure this act doesn't need to be funny?"

How's the pay for doing the "entertaining" things?

This might be considered as exposing company secrets, but... (Laughs)

To be honest, we don't do this kind of business for money. The pay isn't big.

Funny videos and reality shows - all they do is decorate esports with a nice ribbon, like a form of seasoning on the main dish. All those who create content for esports share one goal: to bring attention to esports through diverse content in an entertaining way. Making money off of this isn't my main goal - I'll be making that with casting. (Laughs) A lot of people asked me, "just how much do you get paid to do such things on camera?" But it's nothing like that. And in truth, if the pay was too big, I would've felt burdened by it - because of the responsibility that would come with the big paycheck. But because that's not the case, I'm able to comfortably make content, burden-free.

You're a very witty and entertaining speaker. Do you get this from your family? Did you receive help and/or education from someone else? Do you get it from a book?

Trying to understand and take in internet culture plays a big role. Funny memes or comments picked up from the internet are often times not suitable to be used during broadcasting. However, we can still use them as a source and sculpt it into something that we can use. If 'A' is a trending topic on the internet, the broadcast team often adds or subtracts from it to make it more suitable for broadcasting such as either using 'A-' or 'A+' on stage. 

Plus, life experience is really helpful. When I used to stammer while talking, my efforts in trying to overcome it didn't go to waste. Like you've mentioned, I read a lot of books, and on top of it, I also watched a lot of movies. I tried enveloping my life in a culturally-rich environment. I also watched a lot of debate-related TV programs [such as presidential debates].

Since I rarely meet new people, whenever I do, I try to talk as much as I can. As a result, whether I'm streaming or onstage during a broadcast, I often find myself going off-track. I'm a person that talks too much.

There are people that sincerely ask me, "I also stammer while talking, how do you fix this problem?" It's difficult for me to answer every individual question, so I'll use this opportunity to talk about it.

First off, the most important thing is to constantly talk. One example would be to constantly read street signs whenever you see one. You'll have to get yourself to talk, even if it's just by yourself. I don't do this anymore, but even just a few years back, I did. When I was doing my military service, I practiced rapping, and it was a great method to practice talking while also having fun. Watching debate-related TV shows also greatly helped me. Instead of focusing on the political things, take note of how the politicians are talking and catching the others by surprise. Not only does this help you with your stammering, but this increases the level of your speech in other areas as well.

Back when my problem used to be severe, I couldn't even say a single sentence properly. I couldn't connect my words. To try and fix this, you have to be more proactive. You have to experience and learn from as many things as possible, no matter what it takes.  

"You're so good with the way you speak," or "how do you make this sound so interesting?" Even today, when I hear these compliments, I feel out of place. I often talk about this with my wife, but I never considered myself a good speaker. I'm just doing what I need to do. Also, I'm always nervous, but I do it... If there's anyone out there who is having problems with speech, take a good look at me and understand that anyone is capable of overcoming them. 

This is off-topic, but I started getting the urge to leave comments for those who offer service for those who are in need - the people that stream for those who are deaf by typing out the entire broadcast. I'm very thankful for what they're doing. It's truly amazing. I really wanted to say this today so that they might read this interview and see just how much esports employees such as me appreciate them. And the person that had to type out the things that I say probably had a hard time since I talk a lot. (Laughs) It can't be easy to type out an entire broadcast into subtitles... and I'd more than love it for you to continue your work...

Recently, Shy retired from the scene. And realistically, CJ Entus basically withdrew from the League of Legends esports team. What have you felt from this?

I'm in no way trying to insult or belittle anyone, but with Shy or Madlife, whenever we talk, we joke about CJ Entus. "I still can't believe it. How did CJ get relegated?" (Laughs) But it's an old story now. Shy had gone to Rox Tigers and Madlife went to NA. Things have changed since then. And following the two's departure, CJ Entus recruited new players and competed in the qualifiers multiple times... and I still mock them from time to time, "how did CJ get relegated with you guys?" (Laughs)

I think I'm still living in the past. I have been denying the fact that CJ is out of the LCK for the longest time. "How did CJ get relegated?" I mean, it's kind of insane, isn't it? It was a really big deal for me. Rather than the fact that CJ is now disbanding, I'm still more shocked about the team getting relegated. Maybe it's because I have some emotional connection with that team.

You were the leader of CJ Entus. You were the key to their operations. Because of this, there are a lot of people who wonder if CloudTemplar can also be a coach.

I think they think of me very kindly. I do not have any verification, and I would be a complete rookie if I started as a coach. Please tell this to not only the fans but also to the officials. To be honest, it would be a lie if I said I didn’t have the opportunity to be a coach overseas or here locally. I like to think I am eternally grateful for it.

To be frank, I did want to be a coach at one point. It was something I never tried, so I wanted to. However, the requirements never met me. I only have 2 requirements. I want to coach a bottom-tier team with the highest quality staff and treatment (laughs). There seemed to be no teams that matched my requirements. It doesn’t matter if it is abroad or local... it is hard to match these requirements (laughs). Instead of me trying to go to a team to get paid a lot, you can think of it this way.

To be honest, I’m just joking...(laughs) Who would believe what I just said? I’m just screwing around. I’m just saying if I had to drop everything right now and coach, I would need at least those requirements. I was partially joking about the high quality and treatment, but I was serious about the bottom-tier team. I don’t want to go to a good team. I really want to change a team and improve them to be better. If I go to a good team, it is my job to maintain their performance. People may or may not give me recognition for maintaining a team, but it becomes hard to recognize your own ability as a coach. The wonder of ‘How far can I take a bottom-tier team?’. I am really curious about this if I ever become a coach. This is the bitter speech all coaches tell themselves.

You used to be the leader of one of the top teams. Don’t you think it is too early to assume?

Everyone is confident in themselves before the actual coaching. I was confident in myself as well. However, I think this is a misleading confidence. Because you have not been able to show anything, you can talk about being confident to no end.

You have said that your requirements will be difficult to fulfill locally. Don’t you think the newly-made NBA teams that came from NA have that possibility?

No way. There are too many good coaches out there. There are so many good coaches out there that they have no need to hire me and give me good treatment. I only have interest in coaching when the opportunity arises. That’s it.

Let’s go back to talking about casting. Since there are a lot of patches, the meta keeps changing. How do you keep up with it? I would assume you don’t have enough time to play and test the meta.

When I stream and play the game, I play for fun. I would like to say I am trying to learn the culture of the game. The way you look at the trend of the game is by going to the forums and chat rooms. Streaming helps with this. You can also get to know the memes that people are using nowadays. Because of this, I am able to understand what makes people angry and what people love to use/play. I try to connect and sympathize with the comments.

However, I still need to study the meta. There is no real shortcut. I have listened to Rookie’s opinions on this, and it seems like everyone’s methods are different. I believe it is best to study with your own individual pattern and method. There is no secret. I gather my sources from pro players and coaches going about their streams, live games, and scrims. I keep repeating this process. Although there are moments when I may get information wrong or get mislead, I think I’m doing okay.

This year, you were competing against SPOTV. What advantages do you think OGN has?

Honestly, it is hard to answer. The first thing I want to say is, I am with OGN so I can only talk subjectively. I think above all else, OGN is entertaining and comfortable. I won’t be the one casting, and it will still be the same. The crew, the production team, and just all of them. Of course, there are some points I feel unfortunate about (laughs). Still, everyone works their hardest.

Competing with SPOTV is hard on both sides. It could get more heated than necessary. Even though a caster will not directly say anything offensive, claims and attacks will eventually occur. This is why there might be some hurt feelings. However, I think everyone is thinking in a very positive way. The fans, SPOTV, and even us.

To be honest, it isn’t like we aren’t close to SPOTV either. We all try to get along. We are all trying to represent different colors and perform up to par. If you look at it this way, I like to think it would be a lot easier to go on as helpful companions and not competitors. To be honest, I think whatever I say really has no impact (laughs). Although I'm not so big an influence that I can shape the situation... I am just thinking as a companion. Instead of a relationship of attacking one another, I like to believe we have a relationship of ‘this might be better’ or ‘try this’.

It was not the first time, I was impressed by your casting. You are faster at reading the map compared to the observers. You are even commentating whilst seeing all this. How do you manage to do it all?

This, uhm... This might sound like I am flaming my own faction (laughs). First of all, I just want to say that the observers are trying their very best. Hmm... I’m not trying to boast, but I always read the minimap really well. Even as a player, I had always looked at the map well. After commentating, my ability to read the map developed further. Amongst players, there are no players that will deny my map reading capabilities.

I usually portray myself as an entertaining figure. Because of this, sometimes when I talk, people get confused if what I am saying is a joke, the truth, or if I'm being sarcastic. I’ll start talking genuinely as CloudTemplar the player. I was confident in myself when I was a player, and I got recognition for exactly 2 things: the ability to find the right angle of engagement, and the ability to read the map. I foresaw the future with my map reading abilities. My orders came from my gathered map information. As you may know, my mechanics or champion pool were not my strengths. Although I did have a lot of flaws, my map reading abilities were as sharp as could be. Working as a caster, my map reading became even sharper.

The reason my map reading became even more developed was thanks to my casting preparations. Many people ask me “How do you commentate on all that information throughout the game?”. They ask because there are so many games spread out with the LCK, LPL, LCS, and Wildcard regions. It is true that I don’t physically have enough time. While doing caster work if you put all the games together, 24 hours is not enough time.

This goes for the other casters as well, but there is some know-how to compiling these games. For me personally, I skip some parts and focus on the important moments. Some people ask if I only look at highlights... but that is a sharp claim. I watch my own created highlights. Picks/bans, the early fights, important moments, and big teamfights are all highlights to me. In order to skip some parts and create your own highlights, you must constantly keep surveillance on the minimap. This is how you train yourself.

Regarding all this, I don’t want you to misunderstand what I am saying as 'His map reading is better than every other observer'. I just look at the map excessively. I look at things people don’t usually look at. I just look at the map a lot. Even the slightest drop in a health bar bothers me. I constantly check the ultimate timer as well. There is no specific secret. I just constantly look at the entire screen and minimap.

Some people ask me this fun question. ‘How come you are so good at reading the map but get ganked all the time?’. A very sharp question as well. Take this with a grain of salt, but I play solo queue to have fun. If I try my best in solo queue, I feel bad for the people in the same tier as me. I am currently high Diamond right now. I would feel a little bit sorry and embarrassed to play such a bloody/intense game here (laughs).

People also ask, ‘Why do you go top if you’re a jungler?’. I feel bad playing a jungle role in this elo. I really insist that what I just said is to be taken with a reasonable level of humor (laughs).

If you grind your hardest in solo queue, how far do you think you can climb?

I think you can take my answer with a bit of leeway. To be honest, I was good back in the day. It is slightly embarrassing to start talking about my solo queue rankings (laughs). I hate to say this. In some ways, I could just show you right... I really want to just hit Masters or Challenger and be like “Is this enough for you?” Sadly, I cannot do that anymore.

I really don’t have time anymore. I might be able to if I gave up everything and played League. It might be possible if I played League as much as I did in the past. However, I've already been talking for so long trying to explain myself. I am sure there are going to be people who read this and say “Oh here we go again” and keep scrolling. Putting all the excuses together, I think I could reach Masters within 2 months. If I played for another 1-2 years, I could hit challenger.

I think it is a very difficult task. Since I am in a spot where I cannot provide proof, I respect people who doubt me. It makes me feel really awkward talking about this. Talking about solo queue like this really makes me uncomfortable (laughs).

I really want to be able to say 'I have never been a low rank in solo queue' or 'I have always ranked high'. However, I did not pay much attention to the Master rank. I was always on the top. Then again, you can say that the game then [compared to] now was completely different. However, the game was not much different from now either. I believe the mechanisms are the same and the process of winning a game is the same.

I really like this saying. If you climb a mountain once, you know exactly how to do it again. Even when time passes and the mountain's paths and form change, the mountain itself stays the same. I have tested this out once. It seems that me talking like this sounds a lot like self-defense (laughs). Please take this with a grain of salt. I won’t force you.

Speaking of the player life, did you ever regret retiring from being a professional player after you made the decision? You might get that thought by looking at Ambition.

Instead of regret, I feel more proud of it. I was lacking in a lot of areas, and I didn’t have the ability to become the best. Thinking otherwise, in my opinion, would be very foolish. If I was thinking I could have won the World Championship if I stayed as a player, I would agree I would feel a sense of regret. However, I was limited as a player. It was a line of work I was unable to fulfill to my fullest.

Ambition was a person that could overcome his slump and rise to the top. He even continued his professional career after getting married. I think he is a very good example of a lot of pro players. He is a role model. In many ways, he is an outstanding player. Ambition is great and highly competitive. He knows what he does wrong and admits his mistakes. Ambition is a player to respect. Although he is younger than me, I can respect him.

We have talked for an hour straight. We should start wrapping up this interview. What are your goals for next year?

My goals are to at least work hard like I have been doing. As I always have been doing, keeping the basics. 6 years have already passed. It has been longer than I expected it would be. I didn’t recognize it sooner because I am the youngest out of the casters... there are a lot of older casters around me. I can’t say to the others ‘I have already been casting for 6 years’, but I do have a lot of experience now. So, it seems crucial to keep the essentials in check. I will try my best to continually show this throughout my work. I want to become even better at casting.

You have received a lot of criticisms for your commentating. Which criticisms are you not so fond of?

I believe receiving compliments for commentating is extremely helpful. Self-evaluation can only get you so far. I don’t like my own criticisms. This is why I used SPOTV when I monitor games (laughs). Although I am half serious and half joking around, I do watch SPOTV. I’m planning to look into the criticisms.

In detail, what aspects do you think you are lacking?

I can’t talk that well, and I sometimes murmur, which stops the flow of the conversation. There are often times when I wish I explained something a bit more as well. Above everything else, I want to keep trying my best. I think this is something only the individual can evaluate; the exact point when I am satisfied with my performance. At this point, I am still not satisfied with my performance. I need to keep trying I guess. I am constantly trying whatever I can to improve my casting abilities. You guys will see in the next year. Of course, it might not go as planned. If everything does go as planned, you guys will think 'so this is what he meant’.

People want to be remembered by others. What kind of caster do you want to be remembered as? Also, what kind of person do you want to be remembered as?

Lastly? Before I say anything else, I want to thank my wife for always taking care of a nowhere near perfect husband like me.

If I had to answer the question again, I used to look at old interviews and articles to see what it felt like when I made my debut as a commentator/caster. I talked about it this way. I wanted to become a caster who was both fun and professional at what he does. This was my first thought. Although I lacked a lot, that lack gave me the ambition and passion to work harder. I know it is greedy, but I wanted to be both fun and professional. I didn’t want to lose either one. Both are very important to me. Even now, I haven’t stopped working on becoming that kind of caster.

I have a good grasp on what people think of me. 'The fun local neighbor'. This doesn’t mean anything, and I don’t like it. I feel very burdened. I am not an extraordinary person nor a so and so person. My favorite things to hear are "I smile a little when I see CloudTemplar", "I was sad but listening to CloudTemplar made me laugh", and "I was bored, but now I am very entertained". Personally, these are my favorite compliments to receive.

If people started to say “CloudTemplar was the best caster in the world and League would not run without him”, I think I would feel extremely burdened. I don’t even think I am a great and outstanding person. I like the spot where I am of “The fun local neighbor”. A fun person who comes to mind every now and then and a very comfortable person. In truth, I actually like it.

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