William "Chobra" Cho, OGN Creative Director and Global Relations Advisor, is the star of the 63rd episode of my 'Grilled' interview series.
As someone who has lived in both Korea and the USA for a number of years, and is fluent in both Korean and English, Chobra discusses with me a number of the subtleties of Korean gaming culture, as he provides context for Westerners. This interview spans the heydey of BW through to the modern day of LoL's rising success.
Time line of topics:
01:40 The context of esports within Korean culture.
04:48 Is gaming accepted in Korea in terms of families?
10:52 The stigma of going all-in on esports in Korea and its effect on dedication.
13:51 The penetration of BW, as a game, in Korean culture. When was its peak of popularity and how big was it?
17:28 Separating the people playing BW and watching BW.
21:14 Comparing LoL in Korea now to where BW got to.
27:15 Fan culture in Korean esports. How bad is it in terms of criticism?
32:16 The effect of negative public attention on Korea progamers, using KT Rolster B in the last OGN season as an example.
39:51 Korean team houses being run similar to companies, in terms of hierarchy.
46:23 Korean management scouting and moulding talent.
51:33 Teams removing players, even stars, for not living up to expectations, in terms of results.
55:56 How strict the practice schedule is in team houses.
1:01:35 What could be replicated from the Korean system in the West?
1:07:38 Ball park figures of what OGN LoL players make.
1:12:33 Frost choosing not to attend international tournaments during S2, despite being a potential favourite.
1:17:50 Long term planning in terms of getting the most out of your best strategies.
1:24:18 The importance of having strong fundamentals.
1:31:06 LoL organisations having second teams as the answer to the BW system of having a B team of players and practice partners, to allow focused practice. Was a team like Blaze actually the B team of MiG/Azubu?
1:36:15 Can Koreans all learn the style of showmanship Western fans enjoy?
1:40:48 The best Koreans being seemingly unwavering and the phenomenon of Korea producing 15 or 16 year old championship level players.
1:44:39 Any stories or trends he can think of that would seem strange to Westerners.
1:49:47 The story of Chobra camping out in front of the MLG offices and his entry into esports work.
2:01:09 Chobra's theory on interpreting.
2:10:06 Reading body language and other techniques of interviewing.
2:15:54 Hypothetical: Aliens come to Earth and decide Korea is the superior culture on the planet. Chobra must pick the Western players who could live under a Korean esports style system in the West.