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Spotlight Extras: Chobra on how he, MonteCristo and DoA bridged the gap between KR and the West for OGN

Chobra talks about how he got his start as a LoL commentator and his efforts to bring Western fandom closer to Korea for OGN.
By Mark Register
Mar 10th, 2017
37
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Spotlight Extras: Chobra on how he, MonteCristo and DoA bridged the gap between KR and the West for OGN

Chobra talks about how he got his start as a LoL commentator and his efforts to bring Western fandom closer to Korea for OGN.
By Mark Register
Mar 10th, 2017
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You've become one of the best people to do translations, to do interviews, but you've moved on to other things, and I'd like to rewind a little bit and talk about your progression from drinking Dr. Pepper to ggChronicle to MLG, OGN, Machinima, and now ESL and progressing through that. Take us through that journey and your progression.

Where to start. I mean, so yeah, Dr. Pepper, Well, back then--so it wasn't until that day... so people who don't know Dr. Pepper, we're referring to the Dr. Pepper Ultimate Fan contests that MLG used to have, and they carried it on in different forms after that year. But that was year 2012 and that's kind of where my career kicked off, so to speak. But until that day, I actually had no idea that I would be translating and interpreting. That was never part of my goal. It was never an option that I had considered, and I was practicing to become a commentator. So I was doing amateur casts. I'd go on Reddit, and every time someone's like, "We want to do a community tournament," I'm like, "I'll do it! I'll volunteer, I can stream. You don't have to pay; I'll just do it for practice," and that's how I would try to build up my resume.

The Dr Pepper event, I happened to go to find the MLG headquarters during the Summer Arena. And for those who were watching League of Legends back then, that was the first time that we got to see Korean teams play against American teams, and even some NA/EU competition back then was still a little scarce. So Azubu Blaze (back then called Azubu Blaze; now they went into CJ Entus, eventually), they came. They swept the tournament. But I wanted--one, I just thought it'd be a cool thing to do and I lived in Jersey at the time, so I was like, why not make this video and see where it goes and try to enter that contest. And two, I wanted the Korean teams to know that they had people in America watching, and not just me, because I would be watching with other people. And back then, I remember I would go into like IRC chat on Team Liquid and we would all watch it together. And it surprised me that people in America were watching this at 5:00am, and we're all like, "What are you having for breakfast?" and then we're like, "Let's watch some OGN." And it carried over from the Starcraft days, so I wanted them to know it's still global. It's a newer game, but people here still care. And they have no idea who you are, and they still care, so I want you to know that.

I succeeded in that message, and it was that day when Slasher actually saw me speaking in Korean to the team and he asked, "Oh, are you bilingual? Are you fluent?" And that's when it hit me. I was like, "Oh, I am." I never really thought about that, because I always only used Korean at home, you know. It was always separated. And I just said, "Yeah. Yeah, I could translate. I mean, I do it all the time for my family." So then the connections were made and that sparked me--the conversation with the team, too, help me realize I wanted to help bridge that gap of, "Hey, Korean--" I want Korean players to know that people here care, and I want people in the West to care more. I want them to have a better reason to care, other than "you're taking all the prize money," you know? I want something more, for there to be an emotional investment. Whether you see them as a villain or not, there's always a bigger story. So that's how the translation portion started.

And then, when I went to Korea to OGN--well, before that--so with ggChronicle, I met Monte-Cristo during that same event, and I started writing for him. And it came about, again, because I could get that insight into the Korean scene of reading their articles and their community posts and figuring out what they thought of League of Legends at the time. It was still so young. So we built that relationship starting then. I started writing for ggChronicle, and it was really fun because I never done any official capacity of writing--I mean, other than for school. So it was a fun experiment for me to see how well I could do it on paper versus by speech. Because I'd always done it by speech, whether it's in school, whether it's at church or other communities. But writing was always my sister's thing. It was not my thing; it was always hers. So, you know, learned a lot there too in terms of that specific skill and also, how do I portray that, you know, this message of "Hey, the Korean scene is also very diverse, it's very energetic."

Fast forward a couple months, I get the opportunity to go to OGN in Korea. And back then, I had already commentated a little bit for MLG on the side, while also interpreting at some of their events. And going to OGN, that's when it really opened up because OGN had just booted up their global initiative about a year and a half before I joined. And they were still really, really green from the global perspective. Obviously, infrastructure--Korean broadcast TV, you know, cable television, everything--all set. But they had no idea what was going on. They didn't really know how Twitch worked. They didn't really get Twitch. They didn't really understand why people were watching. And they were just curious because they were like, “We've been watching for 10 years, but why is Europe and America watching now? What changed? How did that change?” And that's what I think all three of us at that time--Monte, DoA and myself--were there to help them understand was, “here, let us show you why they care,” because we just came from being those fans into those commentators or other roles that we played.

So I became a jack of all trades for two years, you know, I was a standby commentator for whenever Monte or DoA, you know, might be sick or if they really needed a vacation or something like that, and then still interpreting for all the interviews. And that was the kicker, right, because OGN just didn't have a solid translator that they could rely on, and that was the biggest thing to now connect outside of commentary. Because Monte and DoA had the commentary pat down. But as soon as you went to the interview, you didn't know what to do.

So helped to bridge that gap and then trying to figure out, how do you just better connect with the community overall, and introducing things like--Twitter was not that big in Korea at the time. They were still very Facebook-centric. Now it's changed to, I think, a more even balance, even in Korea. But Twitter at the time was just taking off and, you know, the biggest stars would use it, but they didn't quite use it as much as people in the West did. So helping them understand, like, you got to build this opportunity, and how do you do that? You've got to be consistent. It's about knowing what they say. It's about reading, you know, the community posts, whether it's Reddit or other forums. Get the memes, get the jokes, you know. Be in on that, so that when you have that spark, you can connect immediately with “Oh yeah, like, this connects with that joke or that previous match or that match that happened in America that has nothing to do with the Korean team, but maybe it's the same team comp.” You got to be in tune with that. And so I spent, yeah, that year and a half, two years focusing a lot on that.

About a year through, I felt that I really wanted to focus on one avenue a little bit more, no matter which it became. After some discussion with the people at OGN, we decided “okay, commentary it is”--commentary and, you know, interviewing and translating. So onstage work. And that became the path just because, I think, it was the most practical on all fronts. So we stayed with that, and that's when I made the decision to stay in the scene and not go back to school, because I'd been on leave from school.

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