If there were star esports casters, there were also star esports commentators.
The star commentators start with a duo. Um Ki Young and Kim “Carry” Tae Hyung were the first official commentators in the Korean professional esports scene.
Um Ki Young is the eldest commentator as well as the eldest person in the Korean esports scene. Before becoming a commentator he used to be a cartoonist (a cartoon story writer, to be precise). Becoming a esports commentator was completely by chance through his alumni connection — the producer who single-handedly created the one and only esports cable channel “OnGameNet” was the same alumni and when Mr. Um visited the broadcasting channel (previously “tooniverse”) for completely different cartoon-related matter, they had a chat about this new game channel and as Mr. Um was very good at commenting, he got the offer at the spot. And indeed, he was good at it. In my memory Mr. Um had a calm tone of speaking, more suitable for a pleasant bedtime lullaby, but like other commentators he gets pretty agitated soon as the match progresses, and using his story-telling talent as a cartoonist he was very good at telling a narrative during the match that no other commentators would be able to. Many of the star players have nicknames that were given by Mr. Um and the fans now call them by their nicknames rather than their real name or digital name. With his words, what would have been a regular match between two speechless game fanatic boys turned into a hand-gripping gaming story build ups by unforgettable characters that have so much background stories to share and the reason why they need to win. With his words, Mr. Um truly opened up the esports era — The era for the “viewers” who found watching PC games entertaining, sharing shoulders with watching spectacular sports match.
Recent years, he had some health issue so I believe he is no longer active, but many of us still remembers (and still watches via Youtube) his commentator days.
Almost every match (at least in the early days) where Mr. Um is, on the other side of the seat there always was Mr. Kim “Carry” Tae Hyung, another legendary commentator. Before joining the esports scene, Mr. Kim was a licensed golf instructor. Due to the IMF financial crisis that shook the South Korean economy in 1997, he had to find a new job and ended up working at a PC bang where he picked up on Starcraft. Soon he became an avid player, winning many online battles, quickly reaching the top in the online world. Of course, he also joined as a commentator completely by chance and since then he continued, paving new roads to an unprecedented career path called esports commentator.
Overall, his style of speech is on the calm and quite side. He would comment only when it is necessary and say harsh, but realistic, words when he needs to. He would be the cold guy among the three caster-commentator group on air, maintaining Poker face most of the time while Mr. Um and the caster would not mind openly laughing their arse off about some matter at hand. There is this one moment, however, that even the Mr. Poker face cannot maintain his straight face and it is when his beloved Protoss athlete (I’m sure he has a Protoss fever) decided to produce the most expensive battle unit “Carrier”, an airborne battleship that deploys a swarm of little ships to attack — it looks very cool. Now just to give you a little bit of context, this did not happen very often as Carriers being a costly unit it involves quite of a risk to the athlete. But when it happens, he couldn’t help himself breaking his usual Poker face, then yelling out loud “Carrier has arrived!!”, thus there goes his nickname Kim Carry.
Mr. Kim had an interesting career, to put it mildly, after his involvement with Star league for many years. I will write more about the 2010 fixed game scandal and Mr. Kim’s career later as they are worth mentioning.
These two were the first legends, but of course there were more. Lee Seung Won, probably the most accurate commentator of all time; Former pro athletes turned commentators : Kim Jung Min, Lim Sung Chun, Kim Dong Jun, were the notable ones in my memory and hopefully I can get back to them later.