Getting Candid with Dignitas Newest Fortnite Player, Khanada
We sit down with Dignitas Fortnite player Khanada to talk about his gaming career and the competitive scene.
I sat down with the king of consistency himself, Leon “Khanada” Kim, and we discussed everything from his early acting career, his plans for streaming in the future, and his strategy for bringing home his first FNCS title to Dignitas FN.
Welcome to Dignitas! How are you enjoying it so far?
Khanada: Everything I've been experiencing is nice! It's been good.
Let’s talk about your original start with gaming and Fortnite. Where did it all begin for you?
Khanada: With Fortnite, I started right when Season Two came out of Chapter One, which was like around four to five years ago, and that wasn't even my start with gaming. Before Fortnite, I used to play CSGO a lot. I had over 1000 hours on it, I was really addicted. I also was really addicted to Overwatch and Minecraft. Games that came out when I was younger that were really popular. But when Fortnite came out, everyone was talking about it, so of course, I started playing it and fell in love with the game right away.
How did you start to get into competing?
Khanada: At the time, I was playing just for fun. But I was the one on the squad dropping the most kills. I was the one carrying my teammates. Wins were all that mattered, and I would always just want to win a game with high kills. That was something I enjoyed. Then I found this player that was playing competitively in a scrimmage Discord. And I said to myself, “I should really look into this because this is fun and something that I could do.” So I started off scrimming, and that's how I started getting into these online open tournaments that started coming out. One of the first tournaments was the “Luxe Cup”. I placed top seven and made my first $700 off the game.
Wow, so you realized this could really be something…
Khanada: Yeah, because I was going crazy! Streaming it and everything. Everyone was saying how good I was, it was just going really well.
How did your parents feel about you wanting to compete?
Khanada: At first, they thought of it as a hobby. They didn't really think anything special of gaming because that's how parents are. They're just old-fashioned, right? They don't really know anything about the new technology, etc. I was going to school, and it was a hassle because I went to an acting school in Manhattan, New York City. I was waking up at 6 am and getting home from school at 6 pm. It was really tiring because the tournaments would start at 6 pm. I would be consistently coming home and competing right away like it was nothing.
That’s a long day for anybody. So tell me about acting. Was that something you wanted to pursue seriously? Would you still want to pursue it?
Khanada: I really loved acting when I was around the eighth grade. I applied for this summer acting program and got accepted. I was thinking about going all in on acting because I didn't really care about gaming at the time. But then I started doing well in these tournaments. So acting became something I couldn’t do anymore. It’s just really hard, it’s a hard thing to do. It’s something that you have to be really good at. So, I don't think I would ever go back. But yeah, if it weren’t for Fortnite, I would definitely still be pursuing it.
So back to your parents, when did they start to take your career seriously?
Khanada: When they started seeing the first big earnings I made off the game. It was with Tfue and Fiber for the first trio FNCS, I made $20,000. But that's like a one-time thing, it's not consistent money. So my parents were like, “You need to show us more.” So as I was still in school, I was placing consistently.
After they saw the amount of money that I was actually making, they were like, “Okay, this might be something he could do.” But they also gave it a few months to a year to see if I was consistently doing well. Because no matter how good you are at the start, if you want this to be a career, you need to be good your entire career. You can't just be good at the start and then stop. So I started off doing well and then just consistently kept showing that I could make money every single season of Fortnite.
Exactly. Back in February, you made Fortnite competitive history by being the only player in NAE to qualify for every FNCS Grand Finals; 16 straight. This impressive accomplishment speaks to your consistency as a player. How do you maintain that kind of consistency season after season?
Khanada: Learn how the qualifiers are. If you learn the format and how the game works, you'll understand how to qualify every time. Nowadays, if you're a good team, you’re guaranteed to qualify for Grands, but I’ve been a player for the longest time now, I know how every single qualifier works. So I can easily always consistently qualify. Unless, of course, I'm just not in the right mindset and I'm just trolling. That's when you have an issue. Even with this FNCS right now, I didn't qualify for Week One for out of Opens because I just didn't take it seriously. Right. That’s the biggest issue with not qualifying is not taking it seriously. When you let your guard down and think it's so easy to qualify, it’s not going to turn out the way you want it to.
This accomplishment also reminds us of how long you have been competing and in the spotlight. Being in the spotlight is difficult for people of any age, but especially for a teen in the world of streaming and esports. You no doubt have grown so much since you started. What have you learned from mistakes that you may have made along the way?
Khanada: For my personality, I would say I used to be incredibly toxic, right? And that's the reason why I got banned on Twitch. After two years of being banned on Twitch, I realized if I ever get unbanned, I have to stop with the toxicity. Because that's not what people like to see. Nowadays, everything's cancelable. Everyone cancels anyone for anything they see. There are even people canceling Mr. Beast for donating millions of dollars to charity. It just makes no sense to me. But that's just how people are nowadays. I just have to be careful with what I say and think before I speak.
For sure. Every time I watch an FNCS broadcast, it's always “Free Khanada” in the comments. Do you think that you'll get unbanned from Twitch at some point, or would you maybe try another platform?
Khanada: I'm just waiting to see if DIG can help me out, but I don't really have any hope anymore. It’s already been more than two years, so it is what it is. If I get unbanned, it’ll be great, but I don't really have any hope for it. I'm actually going to start streaming on Kick, right when I go to Texas because DIG is getting a house there. So right when I get there, I'm gonna start streaming on Kick.
That’s great! Well, you have an audience waiting for you. Moving on, you and Ajerrs have had some incredible tournament placements recently. Achieving 2nd in both the last FNCS Major and Dreamhack San Diego. What makes you two such a great duo?
Khanada: We've been playing for a long time, since Chapter Two. We’ve played maybe seven or eight FNCSs together, and after playing with somebody for so long, you know exactly what their playstyle is. What their strengths are, their weaknesses, how they play, etc. After playing with somebody for this long, you just know everything about them. There isn’t a wall between us. It’s so simple to talk to him. We don't take anything personally, it's all about getting better and wanting to be the best. Even if we can lay blame, it's not like someone is getting hurt from it. We're learning from it. We’re also friends too, so it doesn't even matter. We are the duo that's just not gonna separate at all. I would never ever drop Ajerrs, and I don't think he would drop me. Even though he's had offers before from really good players, I told him, “If you want to leave, it's fine. I don't care.” But he’s never left.
Your top 10 placement at Dreamhack San Diego solidified your spot at the Gamers8 LAN in Saudi Arabia this summer. This Zero Build LAN with a massive prize pool is a huge opportunity. How do you feel about Zero Build as a competitive mode vs. traditional build tournaments?
Khanada: Zero Build mode is way more competitive than builds, in my opinion. If there were cars in the game, I think it would be way more competitive. In the finals of Dreamhack, it showed that the smart teams were the ones that did the best. Even though people thought teams from Europe were going to be the best, they ended up not showing up. Even in the top three, there were no European teams. But yeah, I definitely think it's more competitive than builds.
I agree. You have to use your game sense because you don't have buildings to defend yourself, so you have to know your environment way better.
Khanada: Right, you have one mistake, and your entire game is just gone. With builds, you can have mistakes, but you can always come back from them. In Zero Build, you have one mistake, and your entire game is over just like that.
How do you prepare for ZB tournaments?
Khanada: It’s all in knowing what to do and what not to do. With builds, you need to have more mechanical skills and also know how to play the game. With zero builds, it's all based on your aim and game knowledge. You have to make sure you're on point with your game knowledge.
I know you’re itching to get that much-deserved 1st place FNCS finish. What have you and Ajerrs been doing to prepare for FNCS Major 2?
Khanada: For this current major, I definitely need to find a drop spot that’s uncontested because right now, we are contested. And when you're contested, the game is incredibly harder. You can't play consistently because if you get eliminated off spawn, your game is over. So I just have to make sure that I’m doing everything well and don't have any problems off spawn.
2023 is going to be a big year for you! So before we go, what would you like to see in the near future for yourself?
Khanada: To win an FNCS. I’ve never ever won an FNCS before, and my closest was last FNCS, which I also should have won. But hopefully, this one goes well for me and I take it home. This FNCS or the next one.
I’d like to thank Khanada for sitting down to chat! If you’d like to keep up with Khanada, you can follow him on Twitter @Khanada.
And you can follow me on Twitter, @kaylasuestreams