When Australian-Chinese League of Legends talent Athena “Kitty” Jiang received the confirmation of her joining the League Pro League (LPL) for its 2023 English broadcasts, she saw it as a dream come true. Having worked in broadcasting as an analyst and a caster for the League Circuit of Oceania (LCO) since 2022 and a content creator since 2019, her joining one of the biggest and best domestic leagues in all of LoL esports was a cornerstone moment in her career.
Such a move, besides providing Kitty with additional invaluable experience in working at the highest level of LoL broadcasting, allowed her to work with established figures in the Chinese League scene, of which include Munchables, Oisín, Mazel, and Hysterics, the person who helped her join the LPL in the first place.
Although familiarizing with a new region and a new crowd has brought initial struggles for the 20-year-old content creator-turned-broadcasting talent, through her incorporation of quips related to streaming and LoL humor into her work, Kitty has managed to hold her own in front of a regular crowd of thousands of online viewers, growing her presence as a result.
With the spring split slowly winding down to its conclusion, BLIX.GG caught up with Kitty for an interview on the current state of her career. In the first part, she covers her arrival into the LPL as a caster and how she has progressed since then. Part two can be found here.
Joining the LPL
Pedro Romero, BLIX.GG: As of right now, you are currently working in both LCO and LPL. It's quite a big challenge for someone else as yourself to manage both positions in different leagues. At this point in the split, how have you been working in both leagues?
Athena "Kitty" Jiang: I have been juggling both regions for a split now and it's been relatively easy to handle on my end because I'm lucky to have the LPL broadcast be remote. My feelings so far into 2023 are that I still really appreciate having LCO because I started there. Everyone that I work with is pretty much family to me now and that in-studio environment, where I get to meet people face-to-face, is very refreshing. On the LPL, it's my first split working in a major region and it's also my first as a shout caster. It was a very big challenge but I'm also really glad that LPL is full front when it comes to their workload. They have games every single day and it's kind of like a hyperbolic time chamber like in Captain America but I feel like I couldn't have done it in another region.
BLIX: When you were accepted into joining the LPL and working within the English talent lineup, did you feel any sense of intimidation over the task that lay ahead and everything that surrounded it?
Kitty: Although I was born in Australia, my parents are both from China so I am fluent in Mandarin and I'v`e always been very passionate about Chinese League of Legends so one of my biggest goals was to work for the LPL. I was lucky enough to message Hysterics [Jake Osypenko] around the end of 2022 and I asked about my options if they were looking for full-time casters for next year and he said, "yeah, you came at the right place and the right time,” and although it is still currently my first year in costing, I think the amount of overwhelming support from the viewers for LoL esports was very unexpected, to say the least, and very positive and I'm very thankful to everyone accepting me so quickly.
Who Kitty sees as her inspiration
BLIX: In a feature piece you did with Snowball Esports, you cited Lily Picchu as your biggest inspiration when it came to content creation. Going by that line, which caster, analyst, or anything of the like has been your inspiration in that specific field?
Kitty: I have a lot of people that I look up to in the costing industry but there's a couple that come to mind. As an analyst and color caster, the person that I learned the most from and look up to is Caedrel [Marc Lamont] from the LEC and I also have been following Sjokz [Eefje Depoortere] for a very long time and also Yushang [Duan "Candice" Yu-Shuang] from the LPL Chinese broadcast. They're two very strong women that have been involved in the LoL scene for a very long time.
BLIX: What about them caught your attention that then prompted you to cite them as your biggest inspirations?
Kitty: When it comes to casting, I think Caedrel is one of the best professionals that we have in the LoL industry currently and he's just very good at everything he does. He's very knowledgeable and he is also very similar to me. I would say he is a big memer but it's really nice to see him translate his knowledge and make a brand for himself on the LEC broadcast while also having previous experience as an ex-pro player.
When it comes to hosting, I didn't actually mention this earlier but my first interaction with a big NA figure that has been involved in the LoL scene was Ovilee [Ovilee May] in DreamHack 2022. I got to work with her for the desk and after interacting with her, I knew how professional she was and the way she handled the event was very inspirational for me. Sjokz and Yushang are two hosts that I've been following for a very long time. Outside of being an amazing host, she is also very strong on her brand and I also respect her as a professional. Yushang is a pretty new one because she has also been hosting the LPL Chinese broadcast for a very long time but I've only recently got to know her as mutual, and the way she presents herself on stage is so mesmerizing and I will always aim to try to emulate the same energy that she gives off.
BLIX: How have you brought your own brand/flair when it came to being an analyst and a commentator in LoL esports?
Kitty: Because I'm still relatively young--I'm turning 21 this year--a lot of my lingo is quite jarring compared to the rest of the casters since I'm a bit of a Zoomer. I would mention a lot of these memes and Twitch emotes during my casts and it catches people off guard. Sometimes a lot of my stream persona comes out on the casts and I've received a lot of feedback and compliments about how it felt very genuine and that the humor was definitely there, so one of my strongest attributes when it comes to being a caster is that I definitely seem very genuine and passionate, but humor is probably one of my strongest elements when it comes to trying to entertain everyone.
Personal progression in the 2023 LPL Spring Split
BLIX: So far, you've worked more than 10 matches in the Spring Split in the LPL. What was your mentality like when you made your first cast and how have you gotten used to working within the LPL as the season progressed up until now?
Kitty: There was a big difference between when I first started off in the LPL and where I am now, but I'm gonna be real with you. When I first started in the LPL, I was super nervous. I don't think I felt the amount of nerves that I've ever experienced in my entire life because it was going to be in front of thousands of people, and I've only had a limited amount of experience shout casting on a broadcast. It felt like I was being thrown into the deep end, but as the week progressed, I got to know my co-casters very well. I've also put in a lot of work into VOD reviewing and improving my craft in general where I just become a lot more comfortable with myself on a cast and on camera in general.
I think the chemistry between me and my co-casters is very important because when I first started off in the LPL I didn't know how many jokes I could really toss out there because, in the end, it's competition and then it's entertainment. I didn't know what my personality would be like. Should I be more timid or should I be more outgoing? After pretty much an entire split with the LPL, I'm very comfortable in my own skin and I'm not scared of voicing my opinions. Everyone has their own opinions, of course, and I will always stand by mine when it comes to game knowledge and all that. The two big ones are definitely feeling more comfortable and the support from my co-casters and settling in as the weeks went by. I'm super happy with how far I've come.
The above match -- FunPlus Phoenix vs Team WE 2023 Spring Split Week 1 Day 1 -- was Kitty’s first cast in the LPL
BLIX: You've casted with four people throughout the split including Hysterics, Oisín, Mazel, and Munchables. What has been the biggest difference when it comes to working with those four individuals during matches?
Kitty: I would say that me and Oisín [Oisín Molloy] probably share the most in common when it comes to personality. We're both big weebs and before each cast, we spend a lot of time talking about life and it's very easy to have a conversation with him. We just naturally bounce off each other extremely well and we also share the same type of humor.
When it comes to Hysterics, he is very structural in the way he presents the conversations to me. He is also probably one of the most "out there" casters that we have in the LPL. I would say he's very crazy but that's the best way to reflect yourself as an LPL caster… since LPL is known as that crazy LoL region. I've known him before LPL as well so that was really nice.
Munchables [Joseph Fenny] is also kind of similar to Hysterics, but I would say he's been working as a color caster for a long time. I mean, all of them have been, but Munch is probably the most structured color caster that we have in the LPL. He gives a lot of directions and that's just very easy to bounce off with.
My experience with Mazel [Lennon White] is he is also a super sweet guy. They're all very sweet but Mazel is probably one of the sweetest people I've ever met. He is a bundle of joy and he has a lot of pop culture references which I try my best to bounce off. I was very interested in everything Chinese when I was growing up. I didn't really speak much English until I started school when I was six, so I sometimes miss the pop culture references. I'm so sorry Mazel but he's still super silly and he has the most energy when it comes to any play-by-play that we have, honestly, around the entire world.
BLIX: What do you think has been the biggest piece of advice that you've received so far in the LPL?
Kitty: I would want to credit Roz from the LCS for helping me so much with guiding me and providing me with constructive criticism. He has been very willing to support me since starting in the LPL so I'm really thankful for that. Raz has touched on pretty much everything but I think the biggest piece of advice that I would tell myself all the time is to only listen to constructive criticism and don't look at most of the social media comments. That is probably a very big thing that a lot of people fall into the hole of, but there are definitely reasons for that and I will still try my best to work on it because it's just something that comes with the job.
Read More: View part two of this article.