(G)I-dle's Soyeon ready for League of Legends World Championship spotlight

South Korean K-pop star Jeon "Soyeon" So-yeon takes on the role of League of Legends champion Akali in the fictional musical group True Damage that will be performing at the League of Legends World Championship final. Provided by Riot Games

PARIS -- South Korean pop idol group (G)I-dle, released a special set Thursday for their song "Lion" on MNet's M Countdown music show.

Previously it had been performed on the TV show Queendom, a showcase where (G)I-dle had competed against fellow South Korean women's groups Mamamoo, AOA, Lovelyz, Oh My Girl and soloist Park Bom. Their new "Lion" set had presumably been recorded around the same time as the Queendom final comeback performance on Halloween.

That same day, (G)I-dle's Jeon "Soyeon" So-yeon appeared backstage at the AccorHotels Arena as she was preparing for the League of Legends World Championship opening ceremony. It was another reminder of the remarkably tight schedules and impressive amount of work that K-pop idols put into their craft daily, and Soyeon is nothing if not exceptionally industrious.

Soyeon sat at the end of one of her green room couches. She was the smallest person in the room, made smaller by a baggy blue sweater and large cargo pants that skimmed the floor. Her voice was soft yet firm. It held undercurrents of the hard edge she had shown on South Korean singing and rapping competitions like Unpretty Rapstar and Produce 101, as well as her dazzling rap bars as a lead member of (G)I-dle.

On Sunday, she'll be on the stage at AccorHotels Arena, once again performing for millions of League of Legends fans. One of the stars of the 2018 world championship ceremony, Soyeon will take a similar role to the one she played with the pop group Riot Games created for that year, K/DA.

"I had such a good experience when I did K/DA for worlds finals last year," Soyeon said. "I was always thinking that if there was another opportunity to do something like this, I would grab it. So to return to this finals stage, it's a very happy and honorable stage for me."

Around this time last year, Soyeon was part of a fictional girl group called K/DA, based on League of Legends champions Akali, Ahri, Evelynn and Kai'Sa. They were voiced by Soyeon, fellow (G)I-dle groupmate Cho "Miyeon" Mi-yeon, Madison Beers and Jaira Burns, respectively, for a single called "Pop/Stars" that was released during the 2018 League of Legends World Championship finals.

Soyeon's Akali was the most popular of the group, thanks in large part to Soyeon's rap verse which featured a backlit Akali on a moving train in the K/DA "Pop/Stars" music video. "Pop/Stars" passed over 100 million views on YouTube in its first month.

Suddenly, there was a significantly larger international spotlight on Soyeon's formidable rapping skills and (G)I-dle as a result.

"I was relieved because both the original fans of (G)I-dle and the Western fans of League of Legends both received K/DA Akali really well," Soyeon said. "It was a bit of a relief and happy for me. It was such a cool experience for me to enact such a cool character like Akali."

This Sunday, Soyeon will reprise her role as Akali, this time in another League of Legends fictional group: True Damage. Soyeon's Akali is the creator of this hip-hop group, which also includes League of Legends champions Qiyana, Senna, Ekko and Yasuo, who will be voiced by Becky G, Keke Palmer, Duckwrth and Thutmose.

"The genre is different," Soyeon said. "For K/DA it was more K-pop, girl group, idol group. This is more hip-hop group, so the motion is a bit different."

Soyeon moved her hands through the air in a wave. The dressing room lights glinted off of her jewel-encrusted nails. She tapped her foot.

"This True Damage group, Akali is the leader of the group, so I'm going into it with a slightly different mindset," she added.

Taking the lead isn't new for Soyeon, who has lyric, music and arrangement credits for most of (G)I-dle's songs, including their debut single "LATATA," first comeback "HANN" and more recently, the group's Queendom hit, "Lion." Her return to the League of Legends universe coupled with (G)I-dle's recent third-place finish in Queendom will likely bring even more fans to Soyeon and (G)I-dle as a whole.

"We've been doing a few international events these days," Soyeon said. "Especially overseas, outside of South Korea is where fans would come up to me and say, 'Oh, you're that K/DA girl. Previously most of our fans were pre-existing K-pop idol fans, but after that finals stage happened, some of the fans would say, 'I'm a League of Legends fan. I'm a fan of K/DA.'"