Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco sits down with League of Legends YouTuber and content creator Kiandymundi to discuss everything from how he got into streaming, his unique style and inspirations, to his favourite in-game skins, the battle royale bandwagon and why his drawings are so wacky.
How did you get into content creation?
I started out on YouTube and I’m primarily still on YouTube. I got a Twitch partnership last summer and that was after applying four times, so it was completely to my surprise as I thought my application got lost in the ether.
So at the end of summer I thought I need to start cracking down and putting more eggs in more baskets because YouTube famously doesn’t do well in the current state of affairs. I got into streaming and that taught me to be more disciplined and self-manage my time better.
It’s very easy for me, working from home, to just self-vegitate. And that’s still working for me – I can just sit there and draw, and look at Twitter for 30 seconds then go back. It’s a habit, it’s a good habit, but it can eat into my time.
Talk us through your creative process. You make interesting videos, draw cartoons, bastardizing League of Legends characters and turn them into these funny amazing things.
I love how you say bastardize! I agree 100%. That’s the point -they’re supposed to be as obscene as possible.
What happens when you take Lux, imagine if she was a wax figure and you melted her in a microwave. Let’s draw her like that!
“When I draw things, I want to look at it and think, what would make it say: ‘Put me out of my misery please!’ What happens when you take Lux, imagine if she was a wax figure and you melted her in a microwave. Let’s draw her like that!”
What gave you that idea? I want to get into your creative psyche…
It was a guy called David Firth – an animator. If you’ve not heard of his name, you’ve heard of his work: Salad Fingers. Which is just creepy off-the-wall, hyper detailed and wrinkly.
I thought okay that’s kind of funny, but it’s not really supposed to be funny. So I took that as inspiration but put my own take on it, and my work is a lot more comedic than that in terms of the way my drawings look.
One of my favourite drawings was Urgot – before he had his rework. And it’s literally just a brown blob.
When I draw things, I want to look at it and think, what would it say: ‘Put me out of my misery please!’
You stream other games outside of League of Legends, right?
My stream formula is I’ll do the first few hours in League, cos that’s what most people want, but then I’ll branch out into other stuff that I want to do, because I don’t wanna condition my viewers to only be used to one game.
Should anything else come out that I wanna do, they’ll all just immediately zone out and that’s not fun. I was doing Sea of Thieves, I do Hearthstone occasionally, PUBG a lot.
Are you on the Fortnite bandwagon?
I’m not. I know it’s huge, and I was saying this to a friend recently: I wish I jumped on the Fortnite bandwagon in terms of YouTube content. Maybe it would be really good, but one – I don’t have the time. And two – I don’t really have an interest in it right now so I don’t want to be insincere.
I don’t want to articifially say I’m really enjoying it when I’m not.
The thing I like about battle royale as a genre – which is new to me cos I’m like a year late to the PUBG hype – I like that it’s realistic. Obviously it has bugs, but it’s realistic in the sense that if you see someone 2km away, you have to accomodate for how far away they are with your bullet drop etc, and I’m not that good, but if I did make that shot, I’d feel so good about myself, you know what I mean.
Watch the full video interview here:
You say you’re not that good. There’s this notion in the League scene that if you’re a content creator you need to be high elo. What do you think about that, what’s your elo?
Silver 1 currently, into my Gold promos, but after the 10 games you’re placed into at the start of the season, I haven’t touched it.
I’ve been playing since Season 1, so eight years now, and the thing is: you play a game for eight years, you know what you’re doing.
All my friends joke and laugh and say ‘you’re only silver or bronze or unranked’, cos I’ve gone whole seasons where I don’t do my placements. And I’m like: ‘Say what you will. I’ve played the game for eight years. You’ve played it for four, just chill!’
I think people in Diamond like to forget the fact they are 1% of the playerbase or less. When new updates come out, and some people say ‘I can’t believe this Singed update… do Riot not know what they’re doing with their game?!’
It’s like, hold on, you’re the 1% – they’re a capitalist business trying to accomodate for everyone else who wants to just have fun. It’s a game, remember!
Some people may be mechanically better than me, but I don’t play competitively. I only took ranked seriously back in Season 2 or 3. I played on NA servers because most of my friends were on there. It was the first MOBA I ever played so I never really cared about ping, I had like 150 ping and never knew any better.
When I started YouTube, I thought I’d move onto the servers here and I could never go back onto American ping.
There are two branches of content: elo, and comedy. You’ve got people like Dyrus, Voyboy etc who came over from streaming onto YouTube, then you have people like Foxdrop and Gbay, who make informative content and talk about how to get better at the game.
And that’s good. But when I first got pulled into League, there was Dunkey and things like that, he’d be rambling on about spaghetti or whatever else and it’s just funny to me. It’s one step above toilet humour – and that’s not an insult!
“I’m very lively on camera, but the second I end the stream, I just become lethargic and sort of melt and vegitate in my chair, and grunt. I don’t even bother forming words after that!”
I know lately the whole YouTube meta has shifted to a place where people search the algorithm for things like ‘how can I get better at this or do that’, so you’ve got a million videos saying ‘New Irelia: Jungle full AP? You won’t believe that happens next!’ And it’s like okay, that’s one way to do it…
Or maybe: ‘How can I draw Lux being melted into wax?’
Yeah! I’d rather do that.
I’ve got a question for you, actually. What’s your favourite skin? Or, what one do you own that you’re proud of? Your rare gem of a skin.
Back in 2012 or 2013 I think it was, I loved Blackfrost Anivia when that came out. I also love the Aether Wing Kayle skin. What about you?
Well I don’t play Kayle, but my skin I’m proud of is Judgment Kayle, which you got for playing 10 match-made games in Season 1.
Some people said you got that skin from taking part in the tribunal when that existed, but I’m not sure that’s true.
Judgment Kayle is not particularly flashy or great, but I like the exclusivity. King Rammus, Black Alistar… Rusty Blitzcrank is so bad, it’s normal Blitzcrank but 1% darker.
Above: One of Kiandy’s most popular videos
It’s like shiny Pokemon. Who’s your favourite?
The first shiny Pokemon I caught was a golden Fearow. Just randomly, this was when I was in college so I didn’t know the strategies of finding them. I was just like: ‘Hold on, this is a weird colour!’
The magic of shiny Pokemon very quickly evaporated because my first shiny was on DS, and you could just trade with people over the internet. Within seconds of going online, you’d have shiny legendary Pokemon with Japanese names, at level 1, that had obviously been hacked into the game. They’re there – but the luxury is lost.
The only shinies I caught are ugly things: Spinda and Lombre…
I realise I’m wearing a Pokemon T-shirt but I haven’t had that much of an interest in Pokemon in recent years. I feel like the magic is lost. There are so many of them now: chair-mon, table-mon, there’s literally a candlestick, and an ice cream Pokemon.
The old Pokemon Grimer and Muk, now they have Trubbish, a plastic bin bag of rubbish that’s called Trubbish. There’s no need at all.
You have a unique style and are different to other League content creators out there. Some YouTubers, like KSI, will have an on-stream persona then they’re different off-camera…
I’m exactly the same. I’m very lively on camera on my streams especially, then the second I press ‘end stream’, I just become lethargic and sort of melt and vegitate in my chair, and grunt. I don’t even bother forming words after that!
I’ll end my stream sometimes at 10 or 11 at night, and crawl into my private Discord room and say: ‘Does anyone want to play PUBG?’
I’ll have them do all the loot and hard work for me, and carry me around!
So I have a persona, it’s much more energetic. I think most people do, even if they say they don’t, I think that may be a marketing thing cos they don’t want people to see behind the veil. But it’s human nature, everyone has an elated version of themselves that they want to broadcast to other people.
But you can’t be like that all the time, that’s the thing, you’d just burn up and it’d be way too much.
Talking of burnout, do you do all your own editing?
I do everything. The thing is, for me, when I started my cartoons… I know they’re bad now, but they’re a good kind of bad. That’s what I want.
They take me a lot less time to make now, than they did two or three years ago when I started. It would take me a full week back then. When I look back on them now I think ‘that looks terrible’, it looks like I’ve made it in Paint. Anyone could do that.
And I do it now in the space of maybe one or two days instead of seven or eight days. And that’s everything: production, animation, writing, voiceover, editing… so from blank Word documents to final video, 15 hours.
“All my friends joke and laugh and say ‘you’re only silver or bronze or unranked’. And I’m like: ‘Say what you will. I’ve played the game for eight years. You’ve played it for four, chill!’
I’ve considered hiring an editor, but one, I don’t know how much to pay one and I don’t want to pay much to someone else when I know I can do it myself. I’m not a great editor, I don’t even know how to use after-effects, I do everything in Sony Vegas.
I like that simplicity so I’d rather do it all myself. Maybe one day in the future I could hand less important things like stream highlights over to an editor, to chop up sensibly so it’s watchable. But I’d never let them do a cartoon, the cartoons are obviously mine.
Have you had any fan creations sent in – which are good?
No (laughs). But that’s good because I want them to be atrocious.
Actually, I made this hybrid champion, and I only did it because I saw my friend [and fellow YouTuber] UberDanger do it. He called it the greatest champion in League of Legends, and it had like Skarner for an arm, Mundo another arm, it was like 10 to 30 different champions all meshed together in a big mess.
So I thought, okay, that’s a good idea, and he did it in Photoshop, and took actual League of Legends art. I thought I can take this idea and genuinely make it my own because I draw my own original stuff.
Even if I did a copy of his video, he wouldn’t be bothered. We’re friends. I think people on the otherside of YouTube, from a viewer perspective, think there’s animosity and competitiveness [between YouTubers], and I used to think that, and it’s a weirdly toxic way of thinking.
When I matured and became a content creator myself, I realised, actually everyone is just nice and respectful.
So I took the idea, made it my own, using my drawings, and created a monstrosity and I just called it James:
My drawing of it is not that great, it’s just a mess. But – I then had two pieces of fan art that must have taken hours to draw.
They actually drew my awful hybrid creation, but it was so good. I mean, the amount of effort people put into work, whether it’s two minutes or two hours, I appreciate it.
Kiandymundi’s fan art of James – above and below
People like to draw. I think I’ve got a very distinguished appearance, so I’m easy to draw. I’ve got like big hair and a beard; I look like a cartoon character.
I think I described you as Neon Jesus in the article I wrote about you a while back.
(Laughs) Neon Jesus. I like that.
Your dress sense is unique, you have your own style.
I literally forget that I wear outrageous T-shirts. All my friends joke and make fun of me for it, but I like them. They’re nice. But some of my friends hate my fashion sense!
Your friends are wrong! Moving into the topic of esports, Riot has a UK office now and is launching its Forge of Champions tournament soon. They’re reaching out to UK teams and content creators, have they reached out to content creators like you too?
They have. I’m not too familiar with the competitive scene or that engaged with it – I’m more interested in the comedy side of League of Legends.
But I’m well aware Riot has spent the past few months setting up a foothold in the UK to bolster the scene. They have contacted me, not for esports-related reasons, but for community reasons.
I’m not sure I can mention it, but it will be out soon (Riot later released a couple of promotional videos by Kiandymundi, including a 30-second Easter video and an ad which is being used as a pre-roll ad on YouTube at the moment).
How did you get into what you’re doing and how would you advise other people to get into this line of work?
There’s the whole ‘follow your dreams, kids’ advice, but I prefer the more sensible thing of ‘I got lucky’.
I was a straight shooter from high school onwards, I went straight to college with no resits, then straight to uni with no resits, but then on my second year of uni, I was doing biomed, and I dropped out.
So I did a complete 180 and went down a different path. I was smart once!
My advice to people is if you want to be a streamer or YouTuber, do it, if you have the time alongside other things. If you’re in college or working, focus on that until you have grown it to a stable platform where you can actually work from it.
I got lucky with one video that went viral. I look back on it now and it wasn’t even a good video. It’s so terrible by my current standards, but people liked it so I made more and I got better at it. [For comparison, here’s Kiandy’s latest video]
It’s the frontier isn’t it, really. I mean esports, gaming, YouTube, vloggers, it’s been around six or seven years now, but it’s a frontier.
What’s it like being a YouTuber and knowing all your work is on a platform that isn’t yours?
YouTubers don’t have a union. We just suck onto the terms and conditions of the terms and conditions of YouTube, or Twitch. Although I really do like Twitch as a company: their ethos and the way they look after their partners and anyone who uses the website really. Probably because they’re owned by Amazon, it gives you security knowing the platform has large funding and will go somewhere in the future.
“I was at the League Fest pub quiz with Gbay, Voyboy and Phylol, and I’m the one answering all the difficult questions. They’re like: ‘Dude I thought you were stupid’. Obviously they know me for drawing stupid shit. But I was smart once.”
Art is so different to what other LoL content creators are doing though. James is art.
What I’m doing is not the most popular thing. The only reason I can continue to do what I’m doing on a weekly basis is because I have support from Twitch and Patreon and stuff like that.
The thing I like about YouTube is I know for a fact what I do is to a major degree, original. I don’t think I know another LoL animator who uploads every single week, I’ve done it every single week for about three or four weeks now. No one else does that.
What about holidays?
I have places like this [points to the i62 backdrop around him]. I need to go on holiday more. Whenever I travel abroad it’s usually for work, which I really enjoy, I get enjoy from that.
Tell us a funny story to end with.
A funny story is, when we were at the pub quiz at League Fest at i58, I was on the same table as Gbay, Voyboy, Phylol etc, and I’m the one answering all the difficult questions. Like, ‘what is the Latin name of blah blah blah’, and I’m like, ‘oh I know that’.
And they’re like: ‘Dude I thought you were stupid or something.’ And I’m like: ‘What? What makes you think that!’
Obviously all they know is me drawing stupid shit. But I was smart once.
Go follow Kiandymundi on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter and Patreon
Dom is an award-winning writer who graduated from Bournemouth University with a 2:1 degree in Multi-Media Journalism in 2007.
A keen League player and WoW RPer, he has written for a range of publications including Games TM, Nintendo Official Magazine, games industry publication MCV as well as Riot Games. He currently works as full-time content director for the British Esports Association.