Wolf Schröder broadcasts and commentates on professional eSports league games watched by gaming buffs all
over the world. As a young boy in his hometown Atlanta, the united States, Schröder made friends with Korean
gamers who shared StarCraft game strategy tips with him. While in college, the amateur game presenter was
offered a job by a Korean cable TV network.
I visited the Nexon Arena Studio in Gangnam,
the upscale district in the southern
part of Seoul, on the night of April 3,
when an SSL Series 2017 game was held
as part of the StarCraft II League. It was
one of the full league games in which a
total of 20 Korean gamers were to compete
for nine weeks. I arrived an hour before the
game started, but many people had already
taken their seats in the studio. Most of
them were young, and among them were
eSports Fever Runs High
The game was streamed live via Naver,
SPOTV GAMES, eSports, and YouTube, and
a VoD service was also promised. As it was
a big game, however, many people had
come to see it in person.
eSports refers to video games using
electronic systems, such as computers,
video networks, or video game consoles.
eSports buffs don’t just play games themselves,
they also watch streamed games
between pros and take part in the gaming
industry’s cyberculture. Korea has a
particularly advanced eSports fan culture.
Whenever games are held on specially built
stages at Seoul Plaza in front of the Seoul
City Hall or at Busan’s popular Haeundae
Beach, joyful shouts or dismayed
sighs from thousands of spectators sweep
through the entire area. Blizzard Entertainment,
the American global video game
maker of smash hits like StarCraft, holds
media events in Korea whenever it rolls out
a new game.
Wolf Schröder, a freelance eSports broadcaster, is
known for his unique style of broadcasting marked by
breathtaking moments in the game interspersed with
personal stories about the gamers.
On March 26, Blizzard Entertainment
CEO and co-founder Mike Morhaime showcased
“StarCraft: Remastered” at COEX in
Gangnam, ahead of its release this summer.
Morhaime is well aware that Korea
is one of the countries that determine the
success or failure of new video games.
Blizzard created StarCraft I in 1998, but it
was Korean users that led the evolution of
online games into eSports.
Who better than Wolf Schröder to
explain the amazing eSports fever in
Korea? To listen to what he had to say, I met
him at the Nexon Arena Studio before the
“StarCraft was an inexpensive game
that was playable for free in cheap PC-bang
[internet cafés or LAN gaming centers].
The company OnGameNet, now known
as OGN, created a tournament called the
OnGameNet Starleague (OSL), which officially
started in 2000 and ran through
2012,” Schröder said. “During this time,
the game grew in popularity along with the
OSL, and viewership increased. Big sponsors
like KT and SKT entered the scene.
With telecom companies on board, other
big name sponsors like Woongjin and Samsung
joined in, and even the beer brand
Hite had a team. StarCraft was broadcast
on television by OnGameNet and then
eventually on a new channel, MBC Game.
For gamers, to be able to see their favorite
game on television with professional
players and big sponsors was incredible.
Nowhere else in the world was eSports this
popular, and Korean gamers were proud.
That attitude still exists today.”
Schröder seems to have a thorough
grasp of Korea’s online game history, as if
he had been here from the beginning when
the industry first kicked off. As to why Korea
is such a trailblazer for eSports, Schröder
cited Korean gamers’ strict adherence to
their coaches’ instructions as well as their
tireless practice and strong sense of teamwork,
built through group training.
An Atlanta Boy Spellbound by Video Games
At one time, StarCraft was considered
a highly addictive distraction, frustrating
Korean parents who wanted their children
to concentrate on their studies. Meanwhile,
far away in Atlanta, the United States, the
game was changing the fate of a young boy.
Wolf Schröder first encountered StarCraft at
the age of 10 and was immediately caught
in its spell. He then found out that some
Korean boys in his school were better at it
than him and not only enjoyed Battle.net
multiplayer games but even developed their
own game apps by using editor apps. Those
Korean boys were not only good at games
but also at math. As he befriended them,
Schröder became mesmerized by the
world of StarCraft. He also had the chance
to try his first Korean food at their homes.
He quickly acquired a taste for dishes like
bulgogi and ramyeon as well as snacks like
Ppushyeo Ppushyeo (a noodle snack) and
Schröder’s strength is his storytelling ability. He turns breathtaking gaming moments into exciting
sagas by blending them with personal stories about the gamers rather than flatly commentating on
the games. He does so because he doesn’t like gamers and fans overseas to regard Korean gamers as
machines or robots.
After entering Georgia State University,
Schröder launched the Open Wolf Cup
tournament, named after himself, and
started a one-man online broadcasting program.
A computer and a microphone were
all he had, and he broadcast live from his
apartment. As many as 128 gamers took
part in the first tournament and the $50
cash prize came out of his own pocket. He
also volunteered as a presenter or commentator
for tournaments organized by
other people. He quickly racked up broadcasts
of around 100 games at 14 tournaments,
in which some 130 gamers participated.
Indisputably, he is a first-generation
To his utter disbelief, in his sophomore
year, Schröder was offered a job by a Korean
cable TV network.
Wolf Schröder, wearing a cap emblazoned
with the Korean national flag, poses for the
“I was invited to Korea to work as a
broadcaster by GOMTV. They were looking
for new broadcast talent to move to Korea
and commentate on StarCraft II,” Schröder
said. “Since I had quite a bit of experience
in casting live tournaments, I was a natural
fit for them. I had a long résumé, but actually
had done an offline broadcast in a studio
just once before. I was excited to ‘level
up’ professionally and take my career to the
next step, and Korea was the place to be!”
In 2011, he quit college and flew to
Korea, where he signed a one-year contract
with GOMTV as a game presenter.
By the time the contract expired, he had
gained enough confidence to stay on and
work freelance. He currently broadcasts
five or six games a week, mostly StarCraft
II, Heroes, and Overwatch, for GOMTV,
AfreecaTV, and SPOTV. He broadcasts
these games in real time on YouTube for his
fans all over the world and his work sees
him frequently travel overseas.
A Unique Broadcasting Style
Schröder’s strength is his storytelling
ability. He turns breathtaking gaming
moments into exciting sagas by blending
them with personal stories about the gamers
rather than flatly commentating on the
games. He does so because he doesn’t like
gamers and fans overseas to regard Korean
gamers as machines or robots.
Schröder believes this image of Korean
gamers is a result of their outstanding
skills. Aware of this, Korean gamers sometimes
say to him, “Put in a good word for
me, Wolf!” But he keeps his distance from
them for fear of losing his objectivity as a
broadcaster and gathers information about
them mainly through the media or their
As Wolf Schröder gained recognition,
the organizer of the 2016 KeSPA Cup
recruited five presenters, three Koreans
and two foreigners, which turned out to be a success. When Schröder interviewed
the Korean gamers in fluent Korean, he
attracted wide attention and was given the
Korean name Kim Eul-bu (a rough transliteration
of “wolf”). Since then, he has been
more actively exchanging messages with
his Korean fans on Twitter, Instagram, and
About 10 game presenters with an international
reputation, including Schröder,
now live in Seoul. Schröder meets them
frequently, though he keeps a healthy distance
from gamers. As far as eSports is
concerned, being the best gamer in Korea
means being the best in the world. The
same is true for game presenters. Of the 10
or so foreign game presenters, Schröder
cited Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles,
Duncan “Thorin” Shields, and Christopher
“PapaSmithy” Smith as his role models.
They are all League of Legends commentators
and presenters. “Their analytical
style and quick ability to process and convey
information is very impressive,” he said.
Schröder, second from right, broadcasts an
eSports game in the foreign broadcasters’
booth at the Nexon Arena Studio, where an
SSL Series 2017 game is underway as part
of the StarCraft II League.
Love of Korean Food
Schröder says he considers himself
Korean. On social media, he stimulates his
followers’ appetites with postings of himself
enjoying Korean food. The revelation
that he takes Korean food on his trips to the
United States incited a huge response from
his fans, and a photo of him using two forks
like chopsticks, joking that he was more
comfortable with chopsticks than with forks,
brought a flurry of comments.
Last winter, Schröder posted photos of
himself participating in the candlelight protests
at Gwanghwamun Square in downtown
Seoul, calling on the then President Park
Geun-hye to step down. When the Constitutional
Court finally removed her from office,
he congratulated the Korean people on their
victory, the result of enduring the long cold
winter in the streets for the future of their
country. On the day, he said he hoped everyone
would have a good meal and enjoy the
rest of the day. He received thousands of
“likes” for that posting, with many fans saying,
“Yes, there’s no doubt he’s Korean!”
Indeed, when he returns from trips to the
United States, Schröder jokes that there’s
no place like his home in Korea.
Schröder’s love of Korea clearly extends
to its food. He still remembers the taste of
grilled pork tenderloin he ate at a restaurant
in Mapo, north of the Han River in Seoul,
where the staff at GOMTV took him on his
first day at his new job.
“Korean food is by far the tastiest. I get to
eat it all the time,” he said. “The flavor here
is really strong, and food is always served
piping hot, and is usually fairly spicy. When
I first moved here, many Koreans told me
they found it difficult to travel to America
because the food there tasted bland or
empty to them. Now I understand why! This
is of course without mentioning that almost
every Korean restaurant is open until late
at night, they serve soju, and they’re all reasonably
priced. Don’t go to America and
try to spend the same amount of money on
Korean BBQ. Expect to pay double or triple.
A bottle of soju for 10 dollars or more.”
Since his love of Korean food is widely
known, he has been asked many times to
appear on TV cooking shows or give interviews.
But this 28-year-old young man
seems to know better. He knows that he has
no time for such things, and that he is an
eSports presenter — no more, no less.
Over the past six years, since he first
settled near the GOMTV studios in the Mokdong
neighborhood in northwestern Seoul,
he has moved six times to find a better
place. He is still dreaming of a house from
which he can see the Han River when he
raises the blinds in the morning. He believes
it won’t be long before his dream comes