Supergiant Attorney Gil-Hyun Yoon, “Abilities will be a companion backed by the heart”
In October of last year, Loudcorp launched its esports agency, Supergiant. Inven had the opportunity to sit down with Gil-hyun Yoon, a lawyer in charge of legal affairs at Supergiant.
As a child, Mr. Yoon was obsessed with StarCraft and was an esports “jin fan” who watched all the competitions. He started playing League of Legends on the North American server, and that’s how he got his start in the esports industry, and now, almost 10 years later, he’s part of an agency.
In our interview, Mr. Yoon reiterated the need for agents. As a professional athlete, he explains, you naturally don’t know much about areas outside of your specialty, so you need an agent to take care of your day-to-day needs. He added that having a good agent is very important for athletes.
So, what does a good agent look like to Mr. Yoon, and here’s his answer.
Q. Can you give us a brief introduction?
My name is Yoon Gil-hyun, and I’ve been practicing law for 14 years. Since I was a kid, I rarely drank alcohol and did nothing but study and play games. I loved StarCraft, starting with the Progamer Korea Open in 1999, and I watched almost every Star tournament until the early 2000s. That’s where the relationship started, and now I’m working with LoudCorp.
Q. How did you get into the esports industry?
I was a fan of Lim Yo-hwan, but as I started to like him, I started to like Hong Jin-ho, and I wanted him to be happy. Then I saw an article that Hong Jin-ho had founded Kongdu Company. I was a lawyer at the time, so I sent an email to the company. I said, “I’ve been supporting you a lot. I’d like to work with you, and I don’t have to pay you much.” So we started working together. At that time, I was in a law firm, so I couldn’t do it for free, and the law firm probably paid me about 200,000 won a month. That was 9 or 10 years ago.
Q. So your connection at Kongdu Company led you to Loudcorp.
Yes, because Mr. Seo was a founding member of Kongdu Company at the time. While working with Kongdu Company, the law firm I was advising changed as the company grew bigger and bigger. But personally, I kept in touch with him, went to the game, watched the game, and so on. And now I have the opportunity to work with him again.
Q. I’m also curious about what you do specifically within the firm.
I wouldn’t say I specialize in esports, but I don’t think there’s a lawyer in Korea who’s reviewed as many contracts for professional gamers as I have, and I’ve been doing it for nine years, so I’m able to see what the players’ needs are, what they’re worried about in the contract, what they need to make sure is covered, and I can see those things before the players do. I can see the things that aren’t in the contract, and I can take care of them. Athletes love that kind of thing.
Athletes are kind of a walking business, because everything around them is actually a contract, and when you get down to it, it’s not just the contract with the organization, it’s all the contracts. Similarly, you might have an endorsement deal, or you might have to move, or you might get into a collision while driving. You’re managing and reviewing all the contracts that surround the player.
Q. So it’s kind of total care?
The concept of Supergiant is a little bit like that. We call it a one-way service, and we want to be a group of experts that you can always go to if you have a problem or if you have a question, not just to save you, not just to negotiate the terms of your contract, but to be a group of experts that you can always go to if you have a problem or if you have a question. If you need something, whether it’s as an athlete, as a person, or in your day-to-day life, you can ask us, we can check it out, and we can provide a solution. And in order to do that, we need the legal side of things, which is why I’m here.
That’s why we don’t say agency, we say esports entertainment.
Q. Most people have an advisory lawyer for legal services, what’s the difference?
This was the first year that authorized agents were introduced, and next year I’m thinking of registering as an agent myself. I have my own company, Yulgang, so I can’t come here every day, but the world is better nowadays, so I can work online as much as I want, so we can communicate in real time and still work together. As a lawyer, I’m the main lawyer for Yulgang, and on the esports side, I’m an agent and lawyer for Supergiant.
It’s what I always wanted to do, and I love gaming, so I’m very passionate about it, and I love LoL. I don’t watch as many tournaments as I used to, but I’ve been doing it since North America. It’s very satisfying to be able to do something that helps the players that I support and love, even if it’s just on paper.
Q. Looking at your bio before the interview, I see that you’ve advised in a lot of different sectors. What makes esports unique?
A: Esports hasn’t been industrialized for a long time compared to other sectors, so there’s not a whole lot of legal stuff that’s in place, and the standard contracts have only just come out. That’s a gap that we’re trying to fill. When an athlete signs a contract with a gaming organization, when they sign with an advertiser, or when they sign to participate in an event or something like that, in traditional sports, they’ve done it a lot, and there’s already a market for it, so there’s a universal framework, but in esports, there’s not a lot of precedent, so it’s not as easy.
Also, the age of the players is low, and there are many minors, so there is a feeling that the parents are undergraduates, so there is a process to make it understandable and acceptable not only to the players but also to the parents. It’s like a mix of traditional sports and a cram school. A cram school doesn’t just teach the students well, it has to satisfy the parents as well. Esports has that too.
Q. What advice would you give to athletes who are about to sign a contract, or maybe not right away, but soon?
First of all, you’re an expert in something, and when you’re an expert, you inevitably don’t know much about what you’re not an expert in, because you’re investing most of your life in it, so it’s natural that you don’t know anything else, and also, in a way, they’ve made a choice. A normal person gets a job and their income goes up and then it stops when they get older, but athletes have this extreme up and down. It’s a job where you’re making most of your income in your 20s and 30s, so how you make it and how you manage it during that time is very important, and it’s really hard to do it all yourself.
That’s where having an agent comes in, and I think in organized sports, you almost always have an agent, but it’s not just a formality, it’s more of a fence around you, someone who’s going to look out for you, someone who’s going to check in with you and ask you questions when something happens. Finding a good agent is probably the most important thing in an athlete’s life, and the criteria is the kind of service and the level of service that you’re going to get, and I think Supergiant is definitely at the top of that list.
Q. In our interview, we got a sense of what Supergiant is all about, so what are your goals?
We aim to be the best esports management company in the world, not just the best in Korea. Esports will continue to grow not only in LoL, but also after that, and there will be more interaction between leagues. Of course, Korea will always be the best in the world in terms of player supply, so we are working hard to create the perception that when you contact Korea, you should look for Supergiant.
Q. Finally, I’d like to wrap up the interview by asking you about your vision as a fan of esports and as someone who works in the industry.
Objectively speaking, our relationship with athletes is a business relationship, and it’s in our interest for our clients to do well. However, I believe that business is not just about money, and it’s not just about heart, and I believe that the best performance comes from a combination of the two. I want to be a partner who supports athletes with ability and heart. 스포츠토토 I want to become a comprehensive esports management company that athletes can trust. That’s my dream.