In the ever-changing landscape of League of Legends and live streaming, few have navigated the ebb and flow as deftly as Emiru, a high-profile member of the organization, OTK (One True King). A veteran of the scene, Emiru's career trajectory has been marked by a successful transition from a dedicated League streamer during the game's earlier days, to a much-beloved variety streamer.
In this candid and enlightening interview, she offers her unique perspective on the evolution of the League content scene, the challenges and joys of variety streaming, and her thoughts on future content creation. Diving deep into Emiru's journey provides a fascinating window into the world of streaming, from the pressures of maintaining high viewership to the importance of authenticity and community.
Thanks for interviewing, Emiru! You've successfully transitioned from being a dedicated League of Legends streamer to a variety streamer, which is fairly unique. Could you shed some light on the challenges or main differences you've experienced in this shift, especially now that you're involved with more activities like events with OTK?
When I was a League streamer, it was because I didn't want to do anything else [laughs]. I was addicted to League. I always thought I wouldn't branch into variety gaming or Just Chatting. However, hanging out with other streamers who produced that kind of content made me realize its fun aspect and how it paid off really well. Hence, I tried it.
Both methods have pros and cons. As a one-game or competitive gaming streamer, you don't really need to plan your activities every day. But what I've seen with myself and other streamers that I've observed, is that it's tough on days when you're not performing well. On days that you're not doing well, you just feel like sh*t [laughs]. With variety, your performance isn't as critical, but you need to plan your content and ensure your audience likes it. But, it offers more freedom to express yourself and have fun.
Considering League of Legends has a specific audience, have you noticed any difference in the audience's expectations or in your approach to content creation?
Definitely. For League, it's mostly about skill first, and personality second. On the other hand, variety streaming values personality first, and skill second. Variety viewers tend to want a better sense of who you are. With League, that's not as important; people aren't as concerned about it.
You've obviously been involved in the League content scene for a long time, and have seen so many changes. Going back to when you first began streaming, can you recall the initial piece of League content that made you realize you could pursue this?
The first content I remember watching was Trick2G on YouTube. His D Gates and Sub Wars - those type of things. I also watched LCS (though I'm unsure if that counts), and then I started following streamers like Imaqtpie, Dyrus, and all those people. But, Trick2G was definitely the first for me.
How do you perceive the change in League streaming from the era of personalities like Imaqtpie and Dyrus to today's players like Tyler1 and YamatosDeath?
I feel like in the past it was more fun, with more freedom of expression. Many of the big creators, like Dunkey, UberDanger, and Keyori, weren't necessarily high elo players, but people having fun with their friends. You don't see as many like that now. Even Trick2G wasn't always playing in Master or Challenger, but people loved his take on things.
Currently, it's people like Tyler1, Dantes, and Thebausffs, who are all funny, but also grind for 8 to 16 hours a day. You don't really see that more fun, lighthearted side of League anymore, and I feel like you don't really see that for gaming content in general. Now, that vibe seems more common among Just Chatting streamers.
In terms of your transition from League of Legends, would you attribute it more to changes in the game itself or changes in yourself?
It's a combination of both. I definitely wanted to change the type of content I create; I've always loved cosplay, collaborating with others, and I also enjoy just talking on Twitch. However, I also feel that the vibe of the game has changed. I feel like the sense of community isn't there as much as it used to be. I'm not exactly sure where that comes from. I think it's from a lot of creators moving on to other things.
Could there be any circumstances that might compel you to revert to exclusively streaming League of Legends?
If the game was doing well, I might consider it. Numbers aren't everything, but I feel I need to focus more on aspects like sponsors and doing stuff with other people because of my affiliation with an organization, which somewhat restricts my freedom to do what I feel like. I still enjoy playing League for hours without conversation, but I also enjoy interacting with chat or playing less competitive games.
Go a bit more into that. At this point in your career, how much do analytics factor into your decision-making process? Is it something you worry about a lot?
As a streamer of my size, I might worry about it less than others, but it's still something I monitor. My numbers don't just influence my salary but also my manager's and agent's. And it affects what I can do to help OTK. So it does matter. However, as long as I'm streaming and having fun, that's what truly counts. It's all about finding a balance.
How do you keep your content fresh to avoid burnout?
It's the same with finding a balance between high viewership and doing what you enjoy. Many viewers value consistency—they want to know they'll see you playing a game and hanging out. But they also appreciate novelty. Around 80% of my streams maintain a regular pattern, where I just watch videos and play some game. Every once in a while, I'll do a collaborative or IRL stream. There are ways to keep it fresh, but going overboard with new ideas can also be detrimental. I believe viewers can experience burnout too.
Which type of streaming do you feel leads to more burnout—specifically streaming League or variety content?
League is more taxing in terms of burnout. When you're fed up with League, your options seem limited. I have friends who, when tired of League, tried streaming an MMO and ended up losing 80% of their viewership. On the other hand, if I feel burnout, I can switch to something else or collaborate with others. I can do something chill. So, it's harder for competitive game streamers, but variety streaming can be overwhelming.
How do you think you compare to other streamers when it comes to handling burnout?
I'd say I'm probably better at it. I don't push myself to the point of exhaustion as I see other streamers do. I know when to take breaks.
In terms of content creation, how do you envision your future? Do you anticipate a point where you'd want to pursue other interests, or do you see yourself streaming for as long as possible?
I'll probably always be involved in creating gaming content. However, I foresee that in about five years, I might want to semi-retire, similar to streamers like Pokimane. I wouldn't plan my streams as meticulously and would do whatever I feel like. But for the foreseeable future, I want to continue being the streamer I am now.
You've been streaming for quite some time, even longer than most people realize. When you look at streamers from a similar era, like Dyrus, Imaqtpie, or TheOddOne, their viewership isn't as substantial anymore. What do you think has helped you not just sustain, but grow your influence?
I believe those creators have more of a retired mindset—they've made it and can do as they please without worrying. For me, I put a lot of thought into my streams, even the seemingly simple ones. I aim to maintain a certain level of quality; I don't just go live, play a game, and log off.
These streamers were primarily gamers who happened to be naturally entertaining. In your view, what do you offer to your viewers? Do they come for entertainment, your skills, or something else? What does Emiru bring to the table?
It's a combination of things. Of course, part of it is my personality. My friend group also plays a role—viewers enjoy OTK and the content it produces. It's an combination of different things.
Let's discuss OTK a bit. Why OTK? I know it's something people joke about, but it is interesting you've ended up with an org made up mostly of WoW creators when there are orgs like OTV that derive a lot more from League of Legends.
It's funny, because when OTV was a concept, Scarra asked if I'd like to be involved. At the time, I didn't want to live in a house with a bunch of other creators. But looking back, I don't really regret it. Because I really like the people in OTV, I don't think I'd fit in there as well. OTK is a bunch of...I don't want to say weirdos, but a bunch of personalities that I really mesh with really well. Other organizations feel more like a paycheck—you don't always have a voice in things. But at OTK, it's run mainly by creators, which makes for a really nice environment.
How do you feel about the direction OTK has taken from when you first joined to where it is now? Can you highlight some of the main differences you've noticed?
It's been amazing to see OTK start and run many successful businesses like StarForge, Mythic, and Mad Mushroom. This is something that can be sustained long-term, even after we're all done with streaming. It's exciting to be able to bring in different people from various parts of the industry, like PC builders and game developers, and help them succeed.
OTK seems unique in that it still feels small and everyone appears to genuinely be close friends. But, as a business, it has grown, bringing in more creators and so on. As an owner, do you ever foresee a point where you'll decide to slow down and stick to your roots, instead of becoming a large entity like 100 Thieves or Cloud9?
I don't think we'll ever reach that point. When we select creators, we consider how well we mesh with them and how we can help them grow. We don't sign people based purely on their numbers or other statistics. So, I don't think we'll ever reach a point where it doesn't feel authentic.
You mentioned that you're not sure when you'll retire. But when that time comes, how would you like people to remember Emiru? What would you want to be defined as?
Someone who made the most of their success.
What do you mean by that?
I've been given opportunities that many creators haven't been as lucky to have, and I've always done my best to capitalize on them. When I joined OTK, I immediately wanted to run tournaments and events. I make a point to communicate with my community and collaborate with other people in OTK. I never want to feel like I got lucky and then didn't make the most of it.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.