[LCK Journal] From spectator-less matches to indefinite hiatus... What did the LCK look like?

 

As the Managing Editor of Inven Global, the recent issues surrounding the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak made me very sensitive. Not only did it affect the team’s production of the team’s content, it was clear as day that it would affect the LCK in a bigger picture.

 

A lot of my friends in and outside of Korea contacted me, asking me things like, “How’s your health? Is your district okay? What’s going to happen to the LCK?’ To these answers, if I add what my teammates have to say, ‘We’re physically fine, but a bit pent up because we’ve been told to continue our work from work, it’s not enough to label all regions as safe, and we don’t know what’ll happen to the LCK.' There isn’t much more to say than this.

 

Currently, the Western news outlets and social media paints a very superficial portrait of South Korea. I hope to bring a glimpse of how LCK journalists’ life is amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, and through a diary-like look into how daily life was affected by the virus, I hope to have hope in getting through these hard times.

 


 

Feb. 5th - Feb. 9th


Truth be told, Riot Korea’s decision to hold the LCK without spectators was nothing to be surprised about. The start of the LCK was already delayed, so Riot Korea was catching two birds with one stone by not only ensuring the safety of everyone, it was also a way to run the league without any problems. However, seeing the stadium at LoL Park empty was very bleak, so I learned to appreciate the importance of the fans. Although being stuck in the Press Room meant that there are hardly any interaction with the fans, the casters trying their hardest to bring the hype that the fans bring were insufficient to say the least.

 

Entering the Press Room became very tedious. I felt very bad for the journalists that went out for smoke breaks. When the journalists leave the building even for a little bit, they have to get screened for temperature upon re-entry, always wear masks, and were forced to use hand sanitizers before entering the Press Room. By the smell of alcohol from the hand sanitizer, I began to feel drunk even if I did not drink alcohol.

 

Having to wear masks in the Press Room was more difficult than I thought. Riot Korea gave everyone high-functioning masks, so it made it especially more difficult to breathe. There were only around 10 people in the Press Room, and when I saw the eyes of many journalists losing focus, I thought to myself, ‘Do they really have to be so meticulous?’ Even so, apart from when people are eating dinner, everyone was wearing masks. At this point, I ask myself how long everyone’s patience is going to last.

Me and Quest. You may not see it, but we’re all mouthing curse words behind the masks.



Feb. 12th

 

Interviewing players with masks on felt very weird. Although we obviously had to wear them to ensure the safety of the players and myself, yet I couldn’t shake off that feeling of dissimilarity. The players seemed more lethargic than usual as well. Perhaps it was because there were no fans and their cheers. Or perhaps it’s because they’re repeatedly asked the same question of “How does it feel to play without any spectators?” The fear of the virus spreading during the short interview (the players interviews are conducted in small interview rooms) and the potential for the players’ immune system becoming weak due to fatigue made the player interviews that much harder. It’s kind of hard to pretend everything’s okay when the whole country’s in such a depressing mood.

 

Yet, I should be grateful for opportunities like this. If things get worse, even interview opportunities like this might disappear.



Feb. 16th

 

The number of confirmed patients are rising in Korea. There are about 30 confirmed cases, and the age group and the districts of these confirmed cases are spread out, so people are getting nervous. If 50% of the people on the streets were wearing masks in the beginning of Februrary, that number has now increased to about 80%. In order to not worry my parents, I send them a selfie of myself every day to show that I’m staying healthy.

 

There are people still walking around the streets, but the volume of them differs by area. Myeongdong and Gangnam, areas which were full of Chinese people, seemed especially emptier. Independent shop/restaurateurs had to stay open to survive, so they seemed to be bleeding themselves out with the lack of customers. At this point, I got used to the spectator-less arena at LoL Park and the annoying procedures preceding entry to the Press Room. It also felt natural to breathe under the mask that everyone had to keep on.



Feb. 18th

 

My worries are ever-growing. Although we’re not doing so bad work wise, the amount of content is becoming smaller, so I’m definitely worried. Even when everything’s alright, journalists can get burnt out during the season, so I can only imagine how things are in a situation like this. It’s always hard to keep my team motivated, and I’m on plan B and C to keep the morale up.

 

Even the atmosphere in the Press Room is pretty frigid. Everyone seemed to be on edge, even over the smallest things. If you think about it, the LCK journalists are the last ones to deliver news on the LCK and to make the voices of the players be heard to the public, so I hope that everyone, just as my team and I are, give it their all and stay energized.



Feb. 23rd

 

I heard that LCK’s hostess, Kim Min-ah, was sent to the hospital for high fever. She has a busy schedule that involves meeting many people in many different parts of the city, so I was already worried about her to begin with. They say that her results come back tomorrow morning. Please let it be a false alarm...

 

Riot Korea acted quickly upon the situation. Whether it was in the arena or the hallways outside the Press Room, there were many journalists that were in close proximity from her, so Riot requests all journalists to be self quarantined. If she tested positive for Corona, I don’t even want to imagine the atmosphere at LoL Park.



Feb. 24th

 

I had a meeting with my team. Although Kim Min-ah tested negative, she was not going to be on broadcast for a week, and naturally, we were unable to news the on-air player interviews that she usually conducted. The amount of content was diminishing, so we made many different plans to keep up the traffic on our site.

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, in order to ensure the safety of the players, the staff, and the journalists, we decided to not be on-site for the week. It wasn’t worth it to risk the health and safety of everyone just to secure a few interviews. I was ready to sacrifice everything to ensure the safety of the LCK and all the teams in the league. Thankfully, some of the journalists from our partners, EsportsFocus, were still going to be at the Press Room, and we were promised some of their content.

 

Everyone at Inven was ordered to work from home as well. We were barred from coming into the office, and was told to avoid going outside and meet people. I didn’t think it would be much of a problem, as things were similar to how already things were while covering the LCK.

 

 

Feb. 25th - 26th

 

Damn it. The Press Room has officially been closed down indefinitely. It was only yesterday that Inven Global decided to not cover the LCK on-site for the week, but now, we have no choice. This meant that all the LCK journalists were not allowed to cover the LCK, and with no on-air interviews as well… there were absolutely no more opportunities for the players’ voices to be heard.

 

Cooperation from the teams became desperate. In such a situation, all journalists can hope that  teams had to open content towards the journalists, and hoped that the management would interview their own players. Such feelings were reached out to the teams, so I was able to request short interviews with the coaches and the players. Although the quality of it was far from how a one on one interview would be, I was glad that I was able to deliver stories to the readers this way. I want to thank them again for their cooperation, and I’ll continue to bug them for interviews =).

 

 

Feb. 27th

 

In Daegu, a lot of confirmed Coronavirus cases emerged because of a Korean cult called Shincheonji. The virus was spreading at a very fast rate. Although the city is very far away from Seoul, it’s very hard to track down how the virus can travel, so the fear stemmed from it kept the streets still empty.

 

Because of the virus, there are now religious and political issues that stemmed from it, so there are a lot of people that are at each other’s necks. Many organizations are ordering people to wear masks and stay away from people. It feels like this virus is really separating and breaking our society.

 

 

Mar. 2nd

 

The telecommuting has been extended for longer than I thought. I’m starting to forget how it was like to work from the office.

 

I had a meeting with my team (over Discord) and finally heard their voices after so long. The first thing I hear is their cries of fatigue. Even if they’re gamers at heart, it must be exhausting to be stuck at home. They all said that they’ve gained weight and their skins became whiter. Their backs are probably not doing so well either.

 

Currently, in Korea, some people criticize going out to hang out or even going for a meal in a crowded district. Because we’re all being forced to stay home, it must be very hard for my teammates that are active in today’s society. I tried to keep high energy levels in our meeting, and I’m grateful for the team providing a lot of different content ideas.

 

On the other hand, I thought to myself, even though we’re all stuck at home like this, when everything becomes alright again, would there be days where I’d miss working from home and not having to go into the office? If not, then it’s whatever. 



Mar. 4th - 5th

 

I went to LoL Park to get the camera I left at my locker. I took extra measures to stay safe, and met with the PR personnel. It’s always hard to take care of all the journalists, but in the current situation, it seemed like she missed even that. Feeling a tad bit of pity for her, I wished that she’d quickly go home as well.

 

On the 5th, I heard that the LCK will be going on an indefinite hiatus. It seemed like a far-fetched measure, so the news came as a shock. All of my team’s plans had to be changed. We were barely reporting on the match recap and the few player interviews we got from the teams, but even that was taken away from us. Everyone was recommended to not have physical contact, so I couldn’t even request interviews, just like how I did during the off season. We newsed issues that popped up daily, told the team to brainstorm ideas for new content, and tried to clear my head over the weekend. As I watched a random couple sharing a kiss with their masks on, I had a lot to think about.



Mar. 9th

LCK was still silent, yet our neighbors, the LPL, resumed their matches by holding them online. Although there may be many reasons why, I hope to find out why the LCK isn’t being held online as well.

 

Currently, the immediate plans for the LCK is unknown. There aren’t even any rumors about it. Some say that the LCK will continue to be on hiatus even after the 20th. I presume that no decision has been made by Riot Korea internally, so nothing’s set in stone. I just hope that everything returns to normal so that I can feel what it’s like to have the LoL Park full of people.

 

Unfortunately, many news outlets portray the situation in Korea in a very negative light. While some part of me wholeheartedly agrees, I want to stay hopeful. It’s definitely a serious situation, because the unfortunate truth is, the number of confirmed cases is still growing. I’m grateful that so many friends overseas are worried about me. To ensure the safety of my team, the whole LCK, and myself, I continue to take all precautionary measures.

However, the number of confirmed cases in Korea is definitely becoming smaller. Although it’s still growing, there’s less people confirmed daily. Although it’s late, a lot of people are taking measures against this outbreak, and I believe that the day that everyone’s efforts will soon be realized. 

 

Korea doesn’t seem like ‘The Land of the Dead’. Most of the people are now fully aware of how to prevent the virus, and even those that seemed careless about all this are taking safety measures. Everyone’s giving it their all in their own right. In the end, I hope that the situation about Korea and the LCK will soon turn out to be hopeful news to everyone at home.

 

LCK returns after X days! The first matchup of Round 2 is DWG vs HLE!’. How wonderful does this title look?!

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