At the end of last month, 100 Thieves top laner Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho extended his contract until 2022. Ssumday had a great season in 2020 LCS Spring Split, getting the most votes in the All-LCS Pro Team aside from Cloud9 players. Even so, Ssumday wasn’t satisfied and was determined to do better in the upcoming season. After he re-signed with 100 Thieves, Inven Global had a chat with Ssumday.
How have you been?
I didn’t do much because of the coronavirus. I mostly just stayed home. I stayed in Korea during the break for about a month but had to be quarantined for two weeks.
What did you do in Korea?
I met my friends and family. I wanted to have fun with my friends more, but because of the quarantine, the vacation felt a lot shorter than usual.
Did you meet any of your former teammates?
I wasn’t able to meet any of them. They all seemed extremely busy (Laughs).
Let’s talk about the last season. Since you didn’t win the championship, obviously, you wouldn’t be completely satisfied. How was it?
I thought the team was quite strong. Compared to our ability, the results weren’t as satisfying.
It was a completely new team this season. How was it?
It was more convenient to adapt since I’ve known them and played with them before. At first, I was quite surprised that they were returning since I’ve seldom seen a player return to a team that they left. Now, it’s quite common. Meteos had played in OpTic Gaming and Cody Sun had played in Clutch Gaming. It was helpful that we were able to learn the different styles of different teams. Since they’ve been around for a while now, I was able to feel the experience they’ve accumulated.
You’ve known Stunt for a while… How was Ryoma?
To me, Ryoma’s kind of like a baby (Laughs). He’s actually young, and he uses emojis really frequently. He likes to play around as well. Out of the game, he’s like that, but in-game, he gets really competitive and is always ready to learn.
Ever since he joined the team, he’s improved a lot. He thinks more about the plays he makes. At first, it felt that he trusted his mechanics, but it seems now he thinks more about the team and the whole game. He made big improvements in team play.
On the other hand, Bang left the team.
We talked a lot before the season started. We didn’t have much choice. As you know, Bang had better results than we did (Laughs). I think he’s happier playing LoL there.
There were drastic changes in the roster, but you made the playoffs. What went well and what did not?
We didn’t have a special strategy or anything. We tried to learn more and improve our macro and fundamentals. In that matter, I think we improved a lot. We improved little by little, but at about the last week, about the week before the playoffs, the practice was a mess. It wasn’t quite “practice” -- we just played. Because of that, what we built up disassembled. That appeared as game results.
In terms of my own performance, I felt a lot of pressure. I was very conscious of the high expectations towards me, and I think that affected my performance. This isn’t something special for pro gamers; everyone should feel that. It’s my fault that I wasn’t able to control that.
There had been another Korean around in your team before. This the first time you were off on your own. How was that?
On our off days, I often hung out with Ryu or Arrow. We went to Koreatown and had KBBQ or went to karaoke. I miss that, but now I’m used to it. There’s not much difference that I’m the only Korean on the team. It would have been really difficult if I was the only Korean from my first season, but now, it’s already my fourth year here. My English got a lot better and it helps that I already know most of my teammates.
About half of the matches were online. How did that affect the team?
Surely, it was quite different. The official matches kind of felt like scrims. It was the same for any team, so our head coach and mental coach told us that the first team to adapt to this environment would have good results. We adapted fine and did well until we threw it all away (Laughs).
It seems that you have a lot of regrets towards the end of the season and playoffs.
When we lost… Well, against Cloud9, I think we lost because they simply were the better team. Against TSM, it was so close; we went into Game 5. I believed we would win until the end, so it’s even more regretful.
How is the changed playoffs format?
I can’t say which is better yet. Before, teams went straight to the semifinals, but now, there’s another game to play. It was complicated during the playoffs, even on the day we played. We played and the other teams waiting to play against us were able to prepare after watching our games. The teams that went to the losers’ bracket aren’t able to see the lower placed teams’ drafts. I believe there can be improvements.
You were voted on the All-Pro Second Team. Considering Cloud9 was the first team, it was quite close.
I don’t think there were many top laners that stood out this season. Since Cloud9 only lost once during the regular season, it’s natural for the whole C9 team to be the first team. As I was on the second team, it’s really positive for me. I’m thankful to those who think of me that way. It’s meaningful, so I should try to maintain my performance and improve more in the future.
Papasmithy joined the team as the general manager. What change did he bring to the team?
Papasmithy cares for us a lot outside of the game. He does the role of a manager in terms of Korean teams, which is actually his position in the team. The name of the position may be the same, but his position is a lot higher than that of Korean teams. I don’t know thoroughly, but he should be doing a lot more than I see. He often gives feedback and tips in-game as well.
Prior to this season, you extended your contract until 2022. You’re the only member within the team that got an extension.
I’ve been waiting for permanent residency, and the team was helping me out a lot. I would officially become an NA player. Otherwise, it would become more convenient for me regarding my mandatory army issues.
Looking back at my career, I’ve always been in one team, unless the team disbanded or something. In Korea, I was in KT, in NA, I was in Dignitas. Dignitas didn’t make franchising, so I became a free agent back then, so I came to 100 Thieves. I felt that it would be better for me to stay in 100 Thieves. Everyone likes me and is friendly towards me. Personally, I’d like to become a franchise star of this organization, and it would be an honor if I can.
You would have become quite close to Nadeshot now.
I don’t think I’m at his level yet, to become “friend” friends, right? (Laughs) I remember when I first joined 100 Thieves, Nadeshot picked us up. He came in a car that looks awesome. When we met him, a passerby recognized him and asked him for a picture. That moment, I felt that he’s at another level. Even though he’s the owner, he treats me like a good friend.
Did you watch the Mid-Season Cup?
Yes, I did. All the teams were really good. There was a lot to learn from their games. There were so many teamfights and the concentration the teams displayed during the games was amazing.
369 stuck in my mind. He played well aggressively and defensively. At least during the Mid-Season Cup, 369 was a complete player. Other players were really impressive as well. TheShy seemed really confident during the draft with his Lucian or Jayce picks, but I think other teams prepared well to play against him. It’s not that he played bad; other teams were ready to counter him.
Which team was the most impressive?
I would say Top Esports, since they won (Laughs). From what I know of, it hadn’t been long since they gathered in that roster. JackeyLove joined the team late as well. I heard a lot that knight and Karsa are really good, so I watched them. They were really good and had good synergy.
The summer split will begin soon. How are the scrims going?
Usually, we’re not much of a “scrim team”; we’re better in official matches (Laughs). Oddly though, the scrim results are quite good this time. Since scrims and official matches are different, I don’t know if I should see this positively or negatively. It’s not that we’re winning all the scrims, but our scrim results weren’t very good before this. There’s always more to learn from losses than wins.
As everyone knows, Cloud9 dominated the league. Do you think it’ll be different this season?
They were at another level last season. I’m guessing that they won’t be that dominating this season.
Lastly, a word to the fans?
I’ll be doing my best, as I always did, so please cheer for me! Thank you.
Images via Riot Games
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