Editor’s note: The following is a Q&A between The Daily Californian’s esports reporter, Julia Shen, and Ovilee May, interviewer and hostess for the North American League of Legends Championship Series. May speaks about how she got her start in collegiate esports, going to Worlds, and not being a grown-up. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
If you’re a North American League of Legends fan, Ovilee May has become a familiar face to you over the past season. Or maybe you saw her for the first time at the World Championship in Korea, catching up with professional players at the most-viewed esports event in history. However you may know her, Ovilee is an absorbing personality. You’d never guess that she’s been interviewing onstage for less than two years, and her past work spans far beyond what’s been captured on camera. The Daily Californian had the chance to sit down and chat about Ovilee’s journey and where she is now.
The Daily Californian: What you do at Riot Games as a hostess and interviewer, for people who might not know?
Ovilee May: What I usually tell people is I act as the proxy between the community and our professional players. Whatever our audience is curious about, it’s my job to get that information out of the players.
DC: Where did you go to school and when did you graduate?
OM: I just graduated from Chapman University in May. So I just finished.
DC: What kind of esports work did you do in high school and college?
OM: In high school I did a little streaming as well as small hosting gigs for a local tournament organizer. When I moved to college I began doing event planning and production as well as social media management for a few League of Legends teams. My collegiate coverage on the Tespa Overwatch Series was what actually got me noticed by Travis (Gafford) for Yahoo Esports. Riot ended up liking my work at Yahoo which is how I ended up on the LCS broadcast.
DC: You’ve been in the scene for a really long time then.
OM: I mean, I just loved esports. Esports is the one community that I’ve always really connected and clicked with. You find so many people who are absolutely hyped about the same things that you are. It’s just the friendly competition, or… I wouldn’t always say it’s “friendly” competition. I’ve never really been into sports sports, so I think this was my avenue of getting into that environment.
DC: Less than two years ago you were just starting out with on-camera work, and last month, you finished your first time covering the World Championship. How does it feel to look back on where you started from where you are now?
OM: I don’t know what happened, man. I blinked and then all of a sudden I opened my eyes and I was in Korea. I — it still kind of doesn’t make sense to me. I mean, I’ve put in a lot of hard work since high school. But — dear God, it’s been an incredibly lucky string of events that have given me the opportunities to prove myself.
DC: You’ve talked about wanting to “be like (Eefje) ‘Sjokz’ (Depoortere)” or other women in esports when you “grow up.” What do you think of the fact that there are now girls or students in general out there who want to be like you when they grow up?
OM: I don’t even know how to respond to that, because I’m not grown-up. I still eat Nutella for breakfast. I can’t even roll out of bed until noon. Like, I’m not a grown-up. I have a lot of stuff to figure out before I feel like I can be a role model for any student or young girl who’s looking up to me. I’m like — go look at Sjokz! I’m still looking at Sjokz! Go look at her. I’m incredibly flattered, but I still feel like I need to figure out my own life stuff before people start going, “Oh, she looks like she has everything figured out.” No! It’s a lie! But thank you.
DC: What advice would you give to a college student who wants to go into esports?
OM: Stay in school. As tempting as it may be to drop out for a job in esports, you’ll be way more valuable to the scene after receiving an education. Unless you’re being recruited to be the new starter for TSM, it’s probably not worth it.
If esports and gaming is your passion, use it as fuel to motivate you through the ups and downs of trying to get into the scene. Getting involved in your high school or collegiate esports or gaming club is a great way to get some hands on experience.
And don’t be afraid to put in the volunteer hours. In esports it’s kind of a meme to not get paid for the work in the beginning, but being able to build your resume with that work will eventually pay off in the end.
DC: Do you have anything to say to your fans, or students who look up to you (whether you think they should or not)?
OM: Thank you so much. I would not be anywhere if it wasn’t for the support from college students, from fans and from everyone who watches and supports the League of Legends scene.
The biggest outside of esports advice that I’d have to give is just stay true to yourself. If you’re passionate about something, just follow that passion. Don’t let anyone try to deter you from it. Because that’s esports, and that’s the community we all love.