Master Of The Mic And The Drip - An Interview With Danny Lim
“I'm really happy to be back”.
After a year-long absence from the Overwatch League, broadcast talent Danny Lim returns, much to the praise and joy of OWL fans everywhere. Live translator, vibrant personality, and one of the best-dressed men in esports, Danny was originally part of the 2018 and 2019 broadcast teams as a Korean translator, and now upgrades to a permanent spot on the 2021 Desk Team alongside Soe Gschwind, Jonathan "Reinforce" Larsson, and Scott "Custa" Kennedy. While he still provides translations for post-match interviews with the league’s Korean players, Danny now finds himself in the wild world of wacky skits, doomed ranked games, and Pringles stacked on top of all the Pringles.
When he’s not shopping for the freshest fits, rewatching Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood for the fourth time, or catching up on the One-Piece manga, Danny is a charismatic and always welcome personality on the Overwatch League broadcast. For more than a year, Danny provided stellar and engaging interviews with OWL’s Korean players and had become a key figure on the talent team, as not only an interesting character, but also a curator of some of the Overwatch League’s finest pieces of content.
He spoke to GGRecon about his career so far, his process, his fondest memories, and a slight look forward as to what to expect for this upcoming season.
Unlike his counterparts on the broadcast team, whose careers in esports you can trace back across multiple years and titles, Danny doesn’t have that same history in the industry. In fact, it almost feels like he was blipped onto the scene and subsequently performed like he’s been here the whole time.
“I started my ‘esports journey’ with the Overwatch League; that was my first esport ever. I joined OWL probably mid-way through the first season; I joined it as the content translator/editor. I would have to translate videos, create subtitles, and also cut rough cuts as well. That's how I got started.”
It’s a pretty solid first gig for someone’s debut into esports, but Danny assured that live event hosting and translating has been something he’s ingrained himself in for years.
“There is a big K-pop convention that happens yearly, it’s called KCON, it's a convention plus a concert. I was the pre-show host for New York and LA for 2016, 2017, and 2019. Whenever Korean artists came to do tours, I would translate for them in interviews. I've worked with GOT7, a concert in Chicago with Red Velvet, I've also worked with a group called ITZY, which was the last one I did before COVID. I did two tours with KARD, and yeah, those were some of the groups I worked with!”
Danny’s been a well-versed live translator, content creator, and event host on stage for the latter half of the decade, working with some of K-pop’s most beloved up-comers at KCON or on their nationwide tours. In another interview, maybe Danny could’ve gone into more detail about which GOT7 member had the best sense of style; but for now, Danny instead explained how he went from a smaller content editor role to being the league’s live translator for almost two full seasons.
“Long story short, at that time they were doing AMAs”. During their deal with Twitch, the Overwatch League used to feature Q&As with the players post-game day as an exclusive for the Twitch All-Access Pass. As it turns out, they needed someone to assist in helping the league’s Korean players participate in the process.
“Then someone from Blizzard found out that I had done K-pop concerts and translating for K-pop artists on their tours. So, like someone reached out, and I said, ‘Yeah, I'll do it, but put me on camera though because I love being on camera’. That was my thing, ‘Okay, I'll do it only if you put me on camera’."
Danny’s first foray into live translating for the Overwatch League started with none other than the 2018 Shanghai Dragons’ Eui-Seok "Fearless" Lee. Suffice it to say, it was a big hit with the fans online, and it quickly snowballed into having him play a more prominent role in the league's broadcast.
With his name and face now rising into fame, alongside his prowess as an interviewer, there was another aspect to Danny Lim that just about caught everyone’s eyes. He was not just the guy who simply did the translations, but he also did it with the most iced outfits possible. Of course, you simply cannot get a chance to talk about Danny Lim without talking about his impeccable fashion sense.
"DRIP?! Oh, really?! Aha! That was mostly our wardrobe stylist, Hayley; she helped pick out the outfits I wanted to wear. I love clothes, I love shopping, and all the stuff that I'm wearing on broadcast, most of them are my personal clothes. You say drip, but I know some people were making fun of me in 2019 because I wore some weird sh*t! I remember in 2019, I talked to our wardrobe person being like, 'Hey, you know, everyone is wearing the same thing; all the male broadcasters are always wearing a button-down shirt or t-shirt. If you want to put me in some weird sh*t, I'll be down.’”
I think one time I was wearing overalls, jean overalls, and people were making fun of me. I know Korean viewers were making fun of me, but those are the things that you wouldn't wear on a normal day. That was like my thing.
But again, Danny’s fashion game is only some of what he brings to the table. What everybody came to love about Danny was just how well he was able to conduct his interviews, and the great pieces of content he was able to get out of players. Does this type of work come naturally to him, and what kind of process does he have to get the most out of a translation?
“I guess translations sort of, I wouldn’t say come natural, but I’m okay with it because I've had to do it since 2016 when I was on stage with artists while they're talking.
“There are actually professional translators that study for years and years, and for me, I’ve never studied. I don’t want to say this is the right way to do it because there are so many other translators that are way better than me. But how I learned how to live translate was through experience. From my experience, the best way is to not focus on every single word that the person is saying. When I translate someone, at first, I think the mindset is really important. I sort of think of it as acting. I sort of getting into that person's character, you know.
"Once you start focusing too much on what the person is saying, word for word, you're bound to miss it. People actually talk really fast, even in Korean. When it’s out of a match, when they're excited, they can talk really fast. Of course, you want to be precise in what you're translating, but instead of focusing too much on the word for word, it’s like bullet points. Make bullet points of what the person says, and then translating that. Even if you miss a couple of words, the answer itself is still the same”.
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Did the post-match questions centre around showcasing a players personality, or were they always strictly about the match at hand? When it came to the process of writing questions or trying to figure out what to talk about, Danny was clear that it’s been an evolution over the years.
“In 2019, it was me, Emily Tang, and Mica Burton who were doing interviews, and our sole jobs were to interview. I feel like we had more time, so, that’s why we could also sort of form questions for the match and also showcasing a player's personality.
“This season, we’re only doing two or three questions. There’s not really a time limit, but it’s a show, and we have to move it along. I know the viewers don’t like too much downtime or too much talking. It's two questions, but I feel like this season is a lot different because I’m on the desk, and everybody, Soe, Johnny, and Custa, they all help me come up with questions. I feel like 2019 was more simplified questions about general things like the match or the person, but this year we’re really trying to get into more detailed aspects of the game, more detailed questions for the player.”
With only 25% of the season completed, there are a lot of post-match interviews to look forward to this year. But looking back on Overwatch League 2018 and 2019, there were so many great moments involving Danny's translations in a post-match interview. Everywhere you look, there's just this incredible mound of excellent clips from both seasons that showcased an iconic or memorable interview, that it's a little bit of a crime that they're all not conglomerated into one huge video. While he's gone through almost every player and personality out there, here are a few of Danny's most memorable interviewees over the last couple of years that just left an absolutely wonderful impression on him and the fanbase.
Ho-jin "iDK" Park - "I really loved iDK; he's a personality for sure! He wanted to be interviewed every time, and he was really witty and he knew how to have fun with the questions. Even in 2019, Watchpoint did a segment on him, because iDK said something on Twitter that he wanted to be interviewed after a match but never got the chance to, so we had a mock-up interview with him in it, we put staff in the crowd, and they were cheering for him during the post-match interview".
Chan-hyung "Fissure" Baek - "Fissure actually, because I think he was the person that really tested me on my knowledge of Overwatch when I first got started. His answers were pretty long sometimes, pretty lengthy. At the same time, he would talk about the games and about players, I just remember when Fissure came up, I had to be on my A-game. If I was told we were interviewing Fissure, I would have to take a deep breath and be like, "Okay, bring it, bro, bring it!" He was such a good person to interview, he gave really good answers".
Jin-ui "im37" Hong - "Im37 who's back in the league and who I'm happy to see again. I know a lot of people are asking me to do another interview with him for the memes. That one I will never forget, I got jebaited hard. The only person who jebaited me and took the mic from me, I'll never forget it. And I didn't even know he was speaking English at first! I was listening and thinking about what to translate, then I heard people start laughing"!
The infamous incident with im37 really forced Danny’s hand in future interviews, and ever since that day, he made sure to never again let that microphone slip from his grasp. It became a bit of a meme with how protective Danny was with the mic, that he almost acted like its guardian angel of sorts. Well, if you ever wondered why Danny was so controlling over the microphone, to the point of hilarity, the honest truth, he even he doesn’t really know for sure.
"I know in any sport if you see an interviewer, they never give up the mic. If the player says something that's inappropriate, or you know if they're in the heat of the moment, they're excited, they might blurt out stuff, and you can't really stop that. This is all my theory though, I haven't confirmed with anybody. If I have the mic as an interviewer, if he's about to say something, I can take it away, so I have control of the mic and the audio... But I actually don't know why. That's the funny thing I never asked production why I can't pass on the mic!
"I never actually asked why I can never let go of the mic. Because K-pop groups are, big, so I can't just walk around with one microphone and have everyone talk; they all have their own mics. I don't actually know why, though. Doesn't that make the most sense? The most logical explanation? Actually, I think Koreans, a lot of Korean people when they talk, they give the mic, and then they'll give it back to you. When I see interviews on tv or on tv shows, or on Youtube, that's how it happens on the Korean side. That's really interesting... Now that I think about it, it's weird!
"I remember I was interviewing, this was when 2019 just started, I was holding on to the mic because production told me not to give up the mic. Every time in 2019, they reminded me, 'Don't let go of the mic that's your power', and I was like 'Okay!"
But perhaps the truly biggest impact that Danny's had over the years, is being the gateway for Western audiences to truly understand and appreciate the Korean players of the Overwatch League on a deeper level than just how well they play the game. Especially in 2019, Danny was there for the highest of victories, and lowest of losses, and it was his ability to navigate the proper words and narratives within an interview, that made that season all the more special. Take, for example, the rivalry between the Vancouver Titans and San Francisco Shock, the two teams that dominated the season and who were fierce rivals to the end. Does that narrative and rivalry hit as hard, if Danny isn't there to tell us what the Korean players feel at that moment? That's the question that was posed to him, and at first, he didn't really see that to be true.
"Honestly, the narrative was there; the players made it, the production made it, the desk and analysts made it. The matches played out, one team was doing good, and another team was doing good. It was the natural story of Overwatch, and it's the producers' job to tell that narrative, and I guess I'm just the sugar on top?
"The story arc was already there, but I think Vancouver vs Shock was a really good example. You know, having Super trash talk, yeah, it happens, but Vancouver, if I wasn't there, then the whole rivalry thing wouldn't have happened, or the trash talk wouldn't have happened. I didn't mention Bumper [earlier], but Bumper is probably one of the people I miss the most. Usually, to be honest, what happens is I always brief the questions to every player, because we have a couple of minutes before we go on. In the 2019 season, we had a little bit more time, so if I felt the player was a little bit more nervous, I would be like, 'Hey, you don't have to feel nervous, I think it would be fun to say this do you want to say this? And they say, 'Oh okay, and that's how the trash talk usually happened".
"I never forced a player to say anything; I just gave them suggestions. There were some players and who didn't, and I wouldn't push them on it, I'd say, 'That's okay, this is your interview'. But for Bumper, though, that guy was on a whole other level. I just loved talking to him. Every time I'd go up to him, I'd say, 'Yo Bumper, we're going to make it spicy today, right? and he'd be like, 'Oh yeah! Oh yeah, okay!' He never wanted to make it spicy, but afterwards, I think it was his personality that he's just always smiling, like "oh yeah, that was easy"!
I think I am the bridge or the funnel or whatever. I'm going to give myself a little bit more credit because I did sprinkle a little bit more of that spice sometimes.
While Danny's bromance with Bumper was always a treat to watch in 2019, it's always important to look onward and upward into a better future. Specifically, how can Danny accomplish something even bigger and better as a member of the Watchpoint crew? Well, he gives a small behind the scenes look as to the creative process and how we can expect to find better content in the future.
"This season, I know we have a lot planned. I actually have a couple of content ideas that I want to do, that I hope is fun for the viewers. I know for a fact all of our producers they are literally working day and night. The first thing I noticed when I came back this season was that the vibe of OWL changed drastically from 2019. OWL this year has been a lot looser, you could say. Because of that, I know the producers and everyone who's working on OWL, we're actually having fun coming up with ideas and shooting content. Keep an eye out. I know we'll have some good ones this year.
"I have a couple of stuff in mind, this year Hex joined as a producer; he works on Watchpoint Preshow and Watchpoint. He and Jeremy, they're probably the two producers that we talk to most. All of the ideas that you've seen, all the skits were sort of their ideas. I have some things I want to do, but I haven't talked to them yet, but they're always open to suggestions. You know how Hex's personality is, he's always so witty and funny. Every time we have a meeting, I get excited, like what did Hex come up with this time, what did he write this week, what does his script look like. It's something I could never come up with; he has a really distinct sense of humour. I think people don't realise how important editing is, our editors are doing such an amazing job".
Danny Lim's presence as a broadcaster for the Overwatch League is integral. His impact can't be understated, whether it's his goofy personality or incredible ability to help connect audiences with players through a language barrier, Danny has shown again and again that he's one of the best talents working in the business today. It's incredible to have him back on the team this year, and based on what we know he can deliver, fans across the world are going to be in for a treat.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment