The Strange and Surprisingly Meaningful Connection Between K-pop and the HGC
Only some are born to be stars. Owning your fame takes courage, and many fail to muster it. But Team Dignitas's Joshua ‘Snitch’ Bennett and Fnatic's Simon ‘scHwimpi’ Svensson have done so—and, weirdly enough, their passion for K-pop had a big hand in that process.
We caught up with HGC Europe's resident K-pop heads Snitch and scHwimpi during Opening week at the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, where the two players were taking a breather ahead of their evening scrims. We spoke with them about K-pop, what it means to them, and which musical group their team would be.
How did you guys get into K-pop?
Snitch: When I was in college, a friend who was really into K-pop told me to check out this video. It was BIGBANG's “Fantastic Baby.” They all had ridiculous haircuts and crazy makeup, and I was like, “This is the weirdest thing I've ever seen”—but it was also catchy as hell. I got super into that song, and from there I started getting into BIGBANG, then other K-pop groups, and so on.
scHwimpi: For me it happened during last year's BlizzCon. We were scrimming MVP Black, and one of them linked TWICE's “TT” in the lobby. I really got into that video. I watched it many times a day. Then I started exploring.
How popular is K-pop amongst HGC players?
Snitch: I'm super disappointed that none of the Korean players are really into it. So that's kinda sad. There's only a few of us in Europe—mostly me, scHwimpi, and Wubby.
scHwimpi: Cris, too.
Snitch: Oh yeah, Cris. Then over in North America we have psalm, and uh, Glaurung a little bit? But it's not a huge thing there either. Jun knows some stuff, but he's not into it.
Such a shame. Which group or artist would you choose as your favorite?
Snitch: My ultimate favorite would be Taeyeon. I have a thing for amazing singing, and she's probably the best all-around vocalist in K-pop. Her voice is incredible and I love everything she releases. But G-Dragon is also a really big thing for me. The way he expresses himself, his musical style, his very unique fashion—it sometimes looks ridiculous, but he always pulls it off.
Recently he's been doing this thing where he's being himself a lot more, showing that there's two sides to him: the G-Dragon side, the public persona that he has to have, and the Kwon-Ji-yong/himself side, the private persona. It was really interesting to me because I could relate to that, too.
scHwimpi: Why are you try-harding? I can't live up to these answers.
Snitch: Well, I'm kinda into this interview.
scHwimpi: Anyway, for me, it's hard to choose because I usually have a new favorite every week. The longest favorite was IU, I think. I really like her because I like calm and sweet songs. But right now, it's probably Bolbbalgan4.
You guys are performers, too, in a way; you definitely are idols to your fans. Has your interest in K-pop influenced how you think about your job and life?
Snitch: In a weird way, yes. It has given me a lot more confidence to be expressive. When I see the way [K-pop stars] act and define themselves, I'm inspired—I think it's really cool, and I wish I could be like that. That's actually why I dyed my hair blue-green last year. It was very K-pop–influenced.
And to go back to the recent G-Dragon release, the theme really connected with me because my private and public personas are not necessarily the same. I always think about which one I want people to know. Do I want them to know me? Or do I want them to know this ‘Snitch’ that I've created? For now I'm content with how it is. But maybe one day I'll be sad that my real name isn't out there, that it's ‘Snitch’ who's popular, not Joshua Bennett.
scHwimpi: It's like having two different people to be. For me, the fact that I can be ‘scHwimpi’ makes me more comfortable. I'm probably seen by many fans as a cocky . . .
Snitch: But he's not like that at all, actually. He's very shy.
scHwimpi: If I had to be myself, I don't think I could handle it as well. So, putting on a show on stage actually helps. For me it really helps. [For instance], I would have never worn the pink D.Va jacket on stage at Opening Week if I hadn't listened to K-pop. In K-pop they have really ugly clothes, right? But they pull it off so well.
What I took away from that was, if I try to express myself more and try to stand out, some people will like me, even if I'm different. My friends, they all hate K-pop. They think I'm a weirdo. But I really like it. So just like that, maybe some people will like me, too.
In honor of Fnatic already having been the Backstreet Boys, if your team were to be a K-pop group, which one would you be?
Snitch: This is a tough question. My ultimate secret craving is to do a K-pop cover along the lines of what Fnatic did. I'm totally down for that—full choreo and everything. I'm actually a big SHINee fan, so their songs would be really fun to cover, even if it would be very taxing choreo. But my team would never agree to that. They probably wouldn't even care. They're all too lazy.
scHwimpi: The only boy band I know is BTS. But I don't even know all their names.
I imagine some people might want to give K-pop a try after reading this interview. Would you like to recommend a track to all the potential fans out there?
Snitch: “Crooked,” by G-Dragon. It's actually a very sad song—the lyrics are about how detached he feels—but the tune is very happy. There's a layer of depth there.
scHwimpi: I would pick “23,” by IU. What she's saying is that she doesn't really know where she wants to go in her life, who she wants to be. She's questioning what she really wants. And I think that at our age, those questions are very normal and relatable.