SEOUL, South Korea -- At the League of Legends World Championship play-ins, a middle-aged woman stood out in the crowd of much younger fans in the LCK Arena. Wearing an Edward Gaming jersey and a headband that spelled "SCOUT" in fluorescent lights, she proudly displayed a banner that illustrated Lee "Scout" Ye-Chan, the South Korean mid laner for China-based Edward Gaming.
She's not just a fan, she's Scout's mother, Lee Kyung-Mi.
ESPN Esports caught up with the proud mom after her son and the rest of Edward Gaming finished the the first week of the play-in group stage 3-1. The interview was conducted in Korean.
ESPN Esports: How did you come to terms with your son becoming a professional gamer?
Kyung-Mi: All parents will be the same. His father was especially against it, as he wanted Scout to concentrate on studies. However, I wanted to know how good Scout is in this "game" thing before deciding. I asked our oldest son for advice. Scout's brother told me, "If you'd compare his game level to a university, he's at Harvard level." From then, I began to help him become a professional gamer. I convinced his father. I talked to his school so they may let him study for only half-days.
ESPN Esports: And that worked out well, as he eventually joined Edward Gaming, where he continues to play today. Scout moving to China would have been a difficult decision for your family.
Kyung-Mi: It was Scout's own decision. He had already made up his mind. He told me that he has to go to China, that he didn't see his future in SK Telecom T1. So
ESPN Esports: What is it like for you now, watching him play once again in his home country of South Korea? He may have to go against a South Korean team at some point.
Kyung-Mi: Yes, it has been strange. When China won the Asian Games, I felt bittersweet. On one hand I was sad for South Korea. On the other hand I was happy that China had won, because that's where Scout's team belongs. I can't seem to be able to support either country. [laughing] This time, because Scout is here, I'll support Scout.
ESPN Esports: How much League of Legends have you learned now that your son is a professional?
Kyung-Mi: My hands are slow so I cannot play the game myself, but I know the champions, the skins, the ults. I understand enough to tell whether he is winning or losing, whether Scout is doing well or has made a mistake. I often watch the games with Scout's aunts and support him.
ESPN Esports: Your son is back at home, playing for a world championship. There are international fans around the world supporting your son. You must feel very proud for your son. Could you tell us about that?
Kyung-Mi: I am a mother, and as a mother I always believe that my son is good. [laughing]
I know more than anyone else just how hard Scout works. I know that he seems reserved and doesn't show his emotions often. He's a country boy from Gyeongsang Province [a rural region in South Korea, where people are thought to be blunt and reserved]. However, he's a softy inside. He has a warm heart. He's the youngest child in the family, after all. People might judge him based on his outward actions. However, please know that he is a kind boy who works his absolute hardest. Please continue watching him and loving him.
ESPN Esports: Do you call him by Scout or by his real name?
Kyung-Mi: I call him by his nickname, actually. I call him "Ye-Kong" [Ye-bin is Scout's first name, and Kong means "bean" in Korean]. A bean is full of potential. It's tiny but grows into such a huge plant. So I've been calling him "Ye-Kong" ever since he was a little boy.
ESPN Esports: That's adorable! Perhaps we'll refer to Scout as Ye-Kong the next time we interview him and see his reaction.
Kyung-Mi: He will know that you've got the name from me. Scout doesn't like me doing interviews for the press. He always tells me -- Mum, why did you say all of that! So please write a good article out of this. [laughing]