According to merriam-webster.com, the word ‘underdog’ is defined as, “A loser or predicted loser in a struggle or a contest”. During the 2020 LCK Spring split, this term was used by many experts and analysts to describe the newcomers to the LCK in Spring.
SeolHaeOne Prince, formerly known as APK Prince, promoted into the LCK by defeating Hanwha Life Esports and Jin Air Greenwings in the 2020 LCK Spring Promotion Tournament. The start of the season was full of turbulence. They started off the season with a 1-4 record before facing the top 3 teams in the standings, eventually ending Round 1 with a 2-7 record and was at the bottom of the standings.
However, their performance in Round 2 made them seem like a completely different team. Whether it was playing in a comfortable environment due to the coronavirus pandemic forcing the league to switch to an online format, the team’s bot laner, HyBriD’s explosive potential coming to light in official matches, or their mid laner, Cover, stepping up to the plate and showing much improvement in his performance, they eventually ended the split in 7th place with a 6-12 record.
On a day that seemingly marked the start of the hot Summer days, Inven visited the SeolHaeOne practice facility for a conversation with the entire roster on the team. As they’re no longer the underdogs of the LCK, they now prepare to face the heated challenges that await them in the Summer split.
Hello! We have a lot of people gathered today, so please introduce yourselves.
Ikksu: Hello! My name is ikksu, and I’m the top laner and the captain of SeolHaeOne Prince.
Kuma: Hello, I’m the jungler for SeolHaeOne Prince, Kuma. I’m in charge of being the youngest on the team.
Keine: My name is Keine, and I’m the mid laner for SeolHaeOne Prince. I’m a Qiyana one trick.
Trigger: Hello! My name is Trigger, and I’m the bot laner for the team. I have the longest hair on the team.
Mia: I’m the support for SeolHaeOne Prince, Mia. I’m the duo partner for this bot laner with the ponytail.
Alphamong: My name is Alphamong, and I’m the top laner for the team. I’m in charge of bringing laughter to the team.
Flawless: I’m Flawless, and I’m the jungler for the team. I’m the one who cleans for the team.
Mickey: I’m the mid laner for SeolHaeOne Prince, Mickey. Within the team, I’m in charge of grooming our support player, Secret.
HyBriD: Hello, I’m the bot laner for the team, HyBriD. I’m in charge of getting pentakills for the team.
Secret: Hello, I’m the support player for the team, Secret. I’m in charge of coaching Mickey.
In what way are you coaching Mickey?
Secret: As a mid laner, Mickey still has much to learn, so I’m always 1 vs 1ing him to get him in shape (laughter).
The team’s name changed from APK Prince to SeolHaeOne Prince. Isn’t it awkward?
Flawless: We all just found out about it today as well.
How has everyone spent the off-season? I heard HyBriD went on a vacation?
HyBriD: Yes, alongside Secret and some other pro players. Secret’s dad runs a vacation cabin up north, so we had lots of good food and played foot volleyball.
The 2020 LCK Summer split is just around the corner. How is the preparation going?
Ikssu: We’ve been practicing the way we always have. We’d sometimes win, and we’d sometimes lose, so we’ve been riding the flow of things, just like nature’s providence. Rather than being conscious about playing aggressively or what not, we’re adapting to the situation.
The team’s had a very meaningful split in the LCK. What kind of meaning did this split hold for everyone?
Ikksu: It was very fun to return to the LCK stage. However, not much has changed since our Challengers Korea days, because there weren’t any spectators. We didn’t have a lot of people come watch in CK as well, so I think that’s why it felt similar.
Secret: This past split was the highest point in my career, so it was very meaningful. As a pro player, I felt I definitely grew after this split.
Flawless: I returned to the LCK after 3 years, so it felt like a new challenge.
HyBriD: I think my monetary value as a player… didn’t go up. My journey to the LCK has been quite long as well, and I think my debut split was quite successful. As a pro gamer, it’s an unforgettable experience.
The team showed steady improvement as the split went on. What was the main reason behind it?
Ikssu: The fact that we played in our practice room was very big. Playing in a comfortable environment really served us well.
HyBriD: Although he’s not with us right now, the fact that Cover, our mid laner for the Spring split, trained intensively and played really well in Round 2 played a big part in elevating our team’s performance.
If you had to choose one thing that the team did well and a thing the team did poorly, what would they be?
Ikssu: Our loss patterns were clearly because we played very poorly, while our win patterns were because we played very well. The peak of our performance is something we’re all satisfied with, but consistency was something that we lacked.
I believe the bright atmosphere within the team is something that greatly contributed to the improvement in performance. The fans love such a positive vibe within the team as well, so who’s in charge of setting the mood within the team?
Secret: Whether we win or lose, we all have the mindset that we should have fun playing the game, so we all mesh well. Such a positive mindset definitely helped us improve. It’s not about having one person be the leader. Whether you’re a starting member or a sub player, everyone jokes around and raises each other up to not have anyone feel like they’re left behind.
I think Alphamong, whos in charge of bringing laughter to the team, plays a huge part in that.
HyBriD: Just looking at his face makes me laugh.
Ikssu, not only can everyone find you on the team’s official Youtube and TikTok videos, you’re also the captain and became the face of the team. With your teammates following you and many fans having their eyes on you, do you feel pressured at all?
Ikssu: Recently, I’ve been told that I became a lot more poised. Maybe because I became older… In any case, I do feel like I have a lot more responsibilities.
Alphamong, as a sub top laner who’s competing for the starting spot, what are some of the things you learned from ikksu?
Alphamong: (Smiling) His ability to read the game is exceptional, and he also takes care of his teammates very well.
Does he buy you a lot of good food as well?
Kuma: Not really.
HyBriD: No way~
Alphamong: He just takes care of us in other ways.
Trigger: It’s not like he cares extra for the youngest on the team.
Flawless, after being with many different teams, you joined SeolHaeOne last season. What was the reason behind joining the team, and returning to the LCK after three years?
Flawless: I wanted to continue playing in the LPL, but because of my health issues, I decided to return to Korea. Then, Secret contacted me to come onto the team, so I really wanted to join and have fun with him. There were so many positive emotions that I’ve never felt before on a team before here, so it’s very nice here.
Kuma, how are you preparing for the upcoming Summer split?
Kuma: The secondary roster’s also actively scrimming others and the main roster, so we just have to keep working at it. There isn’t much pressure in competing for the starting spot, so as long as I work hard and do well, an opportunity will come for me at the right time.
Trigger, we didn’t see you starting for the team too often during the Spring split as well. As someone competing for the starting position against a highly sought after player like HyBriD, how are you distinguished from him?
Trigger: HyBriD’s late game potential and explosiveness is incredible. I guess his strengths are my weaknesses. However, I think that my champion pool is a lot bigger, and that I play a lot safer.
Then, what are some things that HyBriD’s weak at?
Trigger: The fact that he has no weaknesses is his weakness.
HyBriD: My boy’s learned well!
Mickey, after leaving the LEC last split, you decided to return to your former team. What was the process of your return and your mindset like?
Mickey: To be honest, I didn’t think I’d return to this team. I thought that I failed, and I didn’t think too highly of returning to this team. Even until right before the roster submission, I thought about what to do many times over per day. I wasn’t confident in my skills, so I initially told them that I’m going to be taking a break. Even still, my mind changed many times a day. After losing a solo queue game, I’d be like, ‘Maybe this isn’t going to work out’, but when I won, I’d be like, ‘I want to continue playing as a pro’.
Even still, the fact that I haven’t achieved much as a pro gamer and quietly retiring is something that didn’t sit well with me. During all that, HyBriD, Secret, and our head coach were very adamant in having me on the team. Although I kept declining until the very end, our head coach successfully convinced me to return, so I did, thinking that this is my very last chance.
As it was an incredibly hard decision for you to make, your resolution in returning to the LCK must be very distinguished as well.
Mickey: In the end, I want to be remembered as one of the greats, and a player who’s achieved something great in the scene. I’m pretty sure all pros feel the same way. Although it’s going to be hard for me to get rid of my image as a “Dice Roll” player, I want to at least be remembered as someone who was great and fun amongst the fans.
Rather than a resolution, I have a goal. I want to solo kill every LCK mid laner this split. If I had to choose one person though, it’d obviously be Faker. Just like many others, I’m a huge fan, and he’s a player that I want to become close friends with, so that’s why I’m that much interested in such a way.
It’s been a while since we saw you as well, Secret. Alongside ikksu, I heard you’re also a leader in setting a bright atmosphere within the team.
Secret: I don’t know how I usually am… But I do try to get along with all the players and the coaching staff. I want to live a very fun life. I want to be happy. Even when something bad happens, I try to trick my mind to think in a positive way.
Mia, back when you were on KT, you didn’t get to start a lot for the team, and on this team, you’re competing for the starting spot against Secret. As a support player, can you tell us about your strengths?
Mia: In terms of in-game performance, I don’t believe that there’s too much of a gap. While in-game performance is important, I believe that leadership outside the game is just as essential, so I’m learning a lot from Secret. If I am to choose some unique points of appeal, it’d be that I can play pretty much all support champions, and that I play the laning phase very well.
Secret: Also, he doesn’t lose his cool inside the game. He’s very calm, and does his job as a support player very well, so I think he’s a very good player.
HyBriD, you scored three pentakills in your debut split. With so many pentakills in your pocket, do you feel your popularity rising?
HyBriD: Truth be told, I’m not sure. I’m always grateful for all the praise, but I don’t particular pay attention to what others say about me, so I don’t feel it.
Secret: He says that, but he absolutely loves getting praised.
They say that people who’ve done it once do it better in the future, so does the sensation from back then help with your preparations for the Summer? Also, did getting all those pentakills help you find another goal?
HyBriD: As far as I know, I think I’m tied for having the most pentakills in the LCK, so I want to widen that gap this time. So, as a goal… Since I got three during Spring, I want to get four pentakills in the Summer. If I do that, no one will be able to break my record, right?
What’s your secret behind getting all those pentakills?
HyBriD: Although you need a lot of help from your teammates, I think that as a bot laner, you just need to not die, keep dealing damage, and dodge skillshots. Marksman champions’ auto attacks are strong, so it’s easy to rack up all the kills. With the right amount of help from the team and luck, it’s not that hard.
I want to have you all draw a picture for us. Please draw how you see yourself in 10 years.
Now, let's take a look at what everyone drew. Please explain what you've all drawn.
Ikksu: I drew myself living comfortably. I want to enjoy the coziness by watching Doraemon on TV.
Kuma: I also drew myself just idling around, because I want to live like this in the future.
Keine: I want to make tons of money and live in a mansion with my family. I also drew a Porsche on here, because it’s my favorite car brand.
This picture is very different from the first two pictures, who just want to relax and do nothing.
Trigger: (Laughter) I want to win Worlds.
Mia: I love animals. My dream is to raise a lot of animals and live comfortably.
Unlike the first two pictures, where there was only one person, I see that you have a life partner in your picture.
Mia: I need to get married, at least.
Secret: This is my ideal lifestyle. In this picture, I didn’t find success as a pro gamer, but rather used the money that I made as a pro gamer, started a business and became successful. I’m a CEO with a lot of money. Not only do I have 100,000,000,000 KRW (roughly $83 million USD, basically a millionaire) in my safe, I have a lot of nice watches I give out to people that come visit me, and if I get to lie on a huge bed to watch movies on a huge screen, I’d be very happy.
If you had to choose one person from the team to give away a watch, who would you give it to?
Secret: I’d give it to our manager, who’s always working hard.
HyBriD: Everyone has similar goals. I want to lie down on a sofa that’s 20 times bigger than I am and watch movies. I even have a fireplace in my house. Also, I’m definitely going to buy a Ferrari. I also have a little garden next to my house. Ever since I was young, I wanted to run a tonkatsu (pork cutlet) business. I want to make the money I need to start the business as a pro gamer, and want to create a successful tonkatsu brand and restaurant that everyone knows.
I heard that there’s a nice tonkatsu restaurant nearby.
HyBriD: I… will make better tonkatsu in the future. Just you wait.
Mickey: I drew two pictures, one’s when I did succeed as a pro gamer, and one when I didn’t. If I don’t succeed as a pro, I want to raise a dog that's as big as me in the mountains and live peacefully. I love animals, so I want to raise a lot of animals.
If I do succeed as a pro, I want to stream and make a lot of money. I haven’t decided on a platform yet, but the CEO of AfreecaTV loves me, so… This here is a dice, and I want to buy a huge dice to play roulette.
Flawless: I want to win the lottery ten times. I want to achieve the unthinkable.
Do you usually buy lottery tickets?
Flawless: Nope (laughter).
Alphamong: I also drew myself winning the lottery, but this is something that’ll definitely happen next week (laughter). It didn’t work out this week, so I let it slide this time.
If you win the lottery, will you be retiring from competitive play?
Alphamong: Perhaps, but it’s fun, so I might keep doing it. It’s fun, so I’ll decide next week (laughter).
Now that you’ve drawn how you see yourselves in 10 years (or for Alphamong, next week), what are your goals as a pro gamer?
ikksu: I’ve achieved and received a lot more than my initial goals, so rather than setting up goals that lets me aim higher, I want to see how much I can achieve.
Kuma: I want to start for the team.
Keine: I want to solo kill ShowMaker. He’s the reason why I decided to become a pro in the first place, and at the same time, someone that I have to overcome.
Trigger: Winning Worlds. I want to be the player that won Worlds the most amount of times.
Mia: My goal is to become LCK champions and go to Worlds. If I do, I want to at least play in the semifinals of the tournament.
Secret: As they say that a late blooming flower is beautiful, I want to be remembered by the people for a long time as one of the greats.
HyBriD: Initially, becoming LCK champions and winning Worlds were my goals. Now, I want to at least become champions in the LEC, LCS and the LPL. When people think of a bot laner, I want people to immediately and only think of me.
Mickey: Recently, I had a profound realization, and that’s to end my career like Ambition. Not only did he switch positions and worked hard, he’s won Worlds and even became the main character of Riot’s official animated video. I want to push myself to become something like that, and want to be remembered by the people for a long time.
Flawless: A pro gamer’s career is short, so I want to live life without regrets. Even if I decide to retire, I want to make sure that I’ve given it my all and leave the scene.
Alphamong: I want to make sure I destroy every LCK top laners’ mentality at least once (laughter).
If you had to choose one top laner’s mentality you want to destroy, who would it be?
Alphamong: I just want to destroy everyone’s mental (laughter). Among them, I think destroying Doran’s mentality would be pretty funny.... And CuVee’s as well.
What’s the team’s goal for the upcoming Summer split?
Ikksu: We don’t have one. Why? Because if we set a goal and achieve it, there’s definitely satisfaction, but people tend to lose a lot of interest in many things as well. Rather than working towards a clear goal, our mindset is to give it our all and achieve as much as we can.
We’ve reached the end of our interview, so as the captain of the team, can you please say a few words to your fans?
ikksu: All the players and our management is incredibly grateful for all the support that you’ve given us. Thank you for all the support, and we’ll always give it our 100%. Thank you..
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