Viewers of the LCS were treated to a rare sight last weekend when former CLG coach-turned-streamer William “scarra” Li joined the analyst desk after not making an appearance on the show for over a year. For scarra, the return to the Riot spotlight was a slightly awkward one—or “circular,” as he’d later put it.
After stepping away from competitive League of Legends to become a full-time streamer, scarra has suddenly found immense popularity. And it’s all thanks to a different Riot game—or game mode, to be more precise.
The release of Teamfight Tactics on League’s Public Beta Environment on June 18 completely transformed scarra’s profile on Twitch. Before the game’s release, he averaged about 2,700 concurrent viewers at any given time. Now, a month later, his viewership has ballooned to nearly three times that. Around 7,000 people watch him play Teamfight Tactics on any given day.
“I feel like I have a really good opportunity to capture something important,” scarra told Dot Esports. “A kind of lightning-in-a-bottle opportunity for myself, so I have to work harder to try to do it. I tend to like the challenge, the opportunity, and I ended up doing it.”
The challenge scarra’s set out for himself is a little more nuanced than your generic Twitch streamer. He doesn’t just want to entertain. He wants to educate.
“I think educational-style videos are something only a couple of people can do,” scarra said. “I think I have a really good head start on it, and I think there isn’t really much competition for me at the moment,”
That head start came thanks to Dota Auto Chess, the Dota 2 mod released on Jan. 4 that sparked the recent surge of autobattlers on the market.
“Getting the opportunity, fucking lucky,” scarra said. “I ended up playing [Dota Auto Chess] for four months in a row before TFT came out and before I even knew about TFT, so it was like, well, I love the game mode, and somehow I’m back with Riot in the most awkward, circular way possible.”
For scarra, guides are a way to channel his creativity. He says it’s difficult for streamers to be creative, especially if they’re streaming games. To stay relevant, scarra estimates he puts in at least an hour or two every day working with his editor, trying to come up with new content strategies and new ways to make his videos engaging.
He’s released five guides so far, most centered around basic mechanics in TFT, such as how to properly build economy over the course of the game, when to purchase experience, and how to position units. His most popular one by far is a beginners guide, released on the same date that TFT was made available on PBE. It goes over the game’s mechanics, each class and what its bonus provides, and some basic compositions to try.
With the release of official patch notes for TFT, scarra has also began doing patch note rundowns for the game. In these videos, he goes over balance changes in the patch, providing viewers with his opinions on what champions and compositions will be strong in the upcoming patch cycle.
Looking toward the future
Scarra still remembers a moment from his childhood. He was in school one day when he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. While his classmates all said “doctor” or “lawyer,” scarra only wrote that he wanted to be happy.
“I remember my teacher got pissed off since that’s not an actual occupation,” scarra said. “The more I think about it, I think my younger self was just a smarter person and the older self is looking to catch up. I actually believe happiness is what everyone strives for.”
Recently, though, scarra updated that motto with an addendum. During a conversation with Unicorns of Love coach Fabian “Sheepy” Mallant on his goals in life, scarra realized just focusing on happiness wouldn’t be enough. Even if he enjoyed what he was doing, if he wasn’t satisfied with his work at the end of the day, he’d feel incomplete.
Eventually, scarra hopes to make enough money passively so that he can branch out and try a lot of things. He lists off a bunch of ideas: Maybe he’d start an organization, become an entrepreneur, or invest in “cool stuff.” A personal goal he’s had ever since his days as a pro player, though, is to make enough money to pay for his friends at restaurants, citing his love for food and the ability to share that passion.
Scarra knows the harsh truth that no Twitch streamer has ever been on top for long, and he knows his newfound popularity might be fleeting. To him, that’s less important than enjoying the game he plays and working toward his larger end game.
“Honestly, I really love TFT right now, but maybe in a couple of months it gets stale,” he said. “I don’t want to be a person that hates the game they play. The way I see this industry, is that there’s no way you can see where things are going to go. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but in the end, I’m just going to play what I like and hope it works out.”
Just like how he couldn’t have predicted the launch of TFT and its resounding success, scarra doesn’t know what his stream will look like in a couple of years, let alone a couple of months. Instead of worrying about what the future might entail, he’ll be hard at work making engaging content. Oh, and finding time for a bite or two to eat with his friends.