In the summer of 2016, there was a rookie ADC that appeared out of nowhere. With splendid mechanics and ability to carry, even with the consistency and stability unlike a rookie, Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk caught the eyes of all LCK fans in no time at all. He fell short of the World Championship in that year’s finals but won it all the very next year and put his name up among the world-class ADCs.
For Ruler, the years 2018 and 2019 were a bit struggling. In 2018, the non-ADC meta hit along with a slight decline in performance; he fell in the Asian Games and Worlds. Although he recovered his form in 2019, the team fell to a slump and was in danger of going to the relegation match.
Ruler signed a new 3-year contract with Gen.G Esports heading into 2020. He’s aiming for a bigger leap forward. With about 3 weeks to go until the new season, we were able to catch up with him and talk about several things. Now a 5th-year gamer and the captain of the team, Ruler seemed to have matured a lot more.
There were many things that happened over the past 4 years, but you seemed to have maintained your prowess from your debut until now. What’s your secret?
I always practice really hard. Even in my own perspective. I think the most important factor is the amount of practice.
If you put in all that effort without a break, aren’t there any burnouts?
When we were nearing the end of the 2019 summer split, I felt that. Just playing the game itself was tiring. It was exhausting and it was hard to concentrate. From solo ranked to scrims to the official matches. It was the first time I’ve ever felt that way. I didn’t do much in effort to overcome that though, as the season ended and there were no official matches, it went away.
While the team’s on a slump, you were considered the sole ace of the team. What did you think of that title and was there pressure because of that?
If people call me that, it means that they recognize my ability. I’m obviously thankful for that. However, I was worried about my teammates or players that consider themselves not good enough because they might get hurt. Although I was satisfied, I was also worried at the same time.
There was no time to feel any pressure. When we were on a slump, all I thought was that I should do well. Every single game was too precious and I didn’t have the luxury of feeling the pressure. All I thought of was winning.
You’re like the purebred ADC. Even when non-ADCs became meta, you played traditional ADCs more. Some people even said that Ruler doesn’t know how to play non-ADCs.
When non-ADCs were popular and appearing often, I had to be at the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. By the time I was back, the patch version was different, and I didn’t have enough time to practice non-ADC champions. So I just played as before but as non-ADCs stayed strong, I felt the need to practice.
After that, I practiced a lot, and I was actually pretty good. But whenever we were playing an official match, the situation made me play a traditional ADC. The coaching staff also trusted my prowess in playing traditional ADCs and supported me.
Now, there aren’t that many good non-ADCs so I don’t think they’re good. I think eventually everyone will return to traditional marksmen.
There’s a new ADC champion now. What are your thoughts about Aphelios?
I think Aphelios is overrated. He isn’t as good as he is considered at the moment. But he is surely a good champion. I think he’ll appear in the LCK as long as he isn’t banned.
You may be asked this a million times, but who do you consider as a rival? Many fans consider you, Deft, and Teddy as the top 3 ADCs in the LCK.
First, there was something I really wanted to say when I had the chance. I heard that many people say that I’m overly conscious of Teddy. This is kind of misleading; they say that Ambition said something like that during his stream, but I’ve never thought of that.
I actually did mention Teddy a lot when Ambition was in our team as a player, comparing his play to mine. So I naturally wanted to win against him whenever I meet him. However, I was never overly conscious of a specific opponent. Whoever I meet, I just do my plays. If I get too conscious, my own performance gets worse.
Anyways, I do think that Teddy is a rival for sure.
Then would you like to say a word to Ambition about that?
Chan-yong hyeong, if you misinform your viewers in your stream, you’ll get in trouble! Watch out! (Laughs)
Let’s talk about this year’s Gen.G Esports now. Gen.G’s activities during the stove league caught a lot of attention. First, you re-signed with Gen.G on a 3-year contract.
I had a lot of thoughts. I’m 23 years old and 3 years later, I become 26. I’m not young anymore. If I’m not able to find a team after the contract is expired, that could mean the end of my career. Even so, the reason I signed with Gen.G was I felt that they always treated me well.
It’s hard to explain in words, but being in Gen.G makes me feel that I’m important to them. They look after me in all little things. Once, I was in the team house with my parents and Arnold Hur came to talk about several matters with them.
Were there any changes after earning the title ‘franchise star’?
I didn’t think much of becoming a franchise star, but now that I’ve signed a 3-year contract, it’s really coming to me now. I feel do feel good that I’m being called that. It’s not something that everyone has a chance to become. it also makes me think that I should do even better.
Along with that, signing Rascal, Bdd, and Clid was also a big move. How did you feel when you heard that they’ll be joining you?
I felt really good. It didn’t seem easy while the team was trying to sign them. Our coaching staff was extremely busy and I saw the whole process beside them. I was even happier thinking that they saw the fruits of their effort. Obviously, I was happy that I’ll be playing with those players as well.
The sixth man, Kellin, also showed better performance than expected during the KeSPA Cup. As their laning partner, what’s the difference between Life and Kellin?
Life is quite smart, engages well, and looks after me well during the laning phase. But sometimes, he dies out of nowhere. Kellin as a person is kind of dumb (Laughs), but his plays aren’t at all. He tries to be proactive and has great mechanics.
They’re both good players; I don’t think there’s any difference regarding prowess. The biggest difference would be their champion pools. It seems to fare well for the team. We can substitute the players strategically according to which comp we’ll be using.
You started as the youngest in the team and now, you’re the captain of the team. Although you’re not the oldest, you’re the player who has played in this team the longest. It seems like a lot of responsibilities.
The responsibilities give me some pressure. When I was the youngest, I never thought about anything like that, but as I aged and younger players came in, there were a lot more responsibilities, since I am the captain of the team.
What are captains’ responsibilities in an esports team?
It’s not that there’s a lot more to do as a captain. What I felt was that captains need to keep the balance well during feedback. I need to mediate the discussion from the middle so that my teammates don’t feel left out. It’s a bit difficult.
Also, as a captain, I need to set a good example. Frankly, I don’t think what I do is setting a good example yet. It’s my first time as a captain and I believe if I continue to do my best, things would change.
As much as people had high expectations for Gen.G at the KeSPA Cup, there should be regrets. How did the team think of the results?
We knew from scrims that we make a lot of mistakes, but in official matches, we felt it more. Starting from getting vision, getting cut off, getting too deep into teamfights and dying, etc. We’re doing our best to fix those problems. I believe that we’ll do well if we just fix our mistakes.
The synergy and teamwork seem to improve as time goes by as well. If KeSPA Cup was 20-30%, now it’s around 50%. We need to make at least 70% before the LCK starts for the fans to be satisfied.
If we ask you about your goal for the year, obviously it would be winning the championship, right?
From the beginning, the goal was the same. My goal is to win LCK Spring, win MSI, win the summer split, and win the World Championship. There’s still a lot that I want to achieve. Wouldn’t the goal be the same with all pro gamers? I think I would be really happy if I can achieve the grand slam.
Aside from the results, what would your personal goal be?
I’d like to become a pro gamer that isn’t forgotten among the fans. After the summer split was over last year, we didn’t make it to Worlds, and some fans left… There was something I felt then. My goal is to become a player that is always consistently good so that fans always cheer for me and no one leaves.
Lastly, a word to the fans who are looking forward to Gen.G Esports’ 2020 season?
I know that fans have high expectations. I’ll do my best to deliver top-notch performances to live up to those expectations. I’ll also do my best to become a great, mature guy as a person, so please cheer for me a lot.
A managing editor who can do more things than you think.