On Jan. 17th, day 5 of the 2021 LCK Spring split took place. In the first match of the day, DAMWON KIA took a decisive 2-0 victory against Nongshim RedForce, and went on a two-match win streak. Although Gnar is a champion that’s currently statistically underperforming in the LCK, the top laner for DK, Kim “Khan” Dong-ha was able to not only survive the continued ganks from Han “Peanut” Wang-ho, he was even named Player of the Game (PoG) in game 2 for his outstanding performance.
Inven Global joined Khan in a 1-on-1 interview to talk about the victory, his thoughts on Gnar’s performance in the LCK, and his personal goals for the season.
Congratulations on your two-game win streak. How do you feel?
While I’m happy that we’re on a win streak, I’m more focused on how our team is going to perform better in our upcoming matches.
You stated in your previous interview that you only wear sunglasses when you’re unhappy. Why did you decide to wear the ‘Pepe the Frog’ mask during the PoG broadcast interview?
I was exhausted after such a fierce match against T1, so I wasn’t in the mood to wear it. However, tonight’s match was a lot cleaner than against T1, so I was in the mood for it.
I want to talk about Gnar. What’s your perception of Gnar? It feels like it’s becoming a trap pick, so which tier do you think the champion is at?
I feel that he’s a bit shy from being perfectly balanced. His laning phase, teamfighting, and split-pushing overall is a bit weak, but because of the champion’s versatility, our team internally ranks him pretty high on the list. However, this champion isn’t that hard to play; there are limits to the champion’s functions. Players will eventually figure out countermeasures against Gnar, so I don’t think that his win rate isn’t going to get better. I predict that he’ll slowly fall off the meta.
The enemy banned out your Gangplank, which you previously stated to be a counter pick for Gnar, and additionally, you showed incredible confidence in being able to face the same matchup when reversed. When you saw the GP ban, how did you feel?
While the confidence is still there, I was more happy that we made a successful bluff with GP.
In your last PoG interview, you said that you’re going to ‘kill’(?) Peanut, and because of that, it felt like he was especially ganking your lane more in tonight’s match. Did Peanut react to that interview at all? What did you guys talk about?
We’re really close pals, so we talked about a lot of things, even unrelated to the game. He didn’t really react in a special way to my taunt; we just talked about how we should grab a meal whenever we can, and just joked around as friends. In terms of tonight’s match, we just wished each other good luck.
You previously stated that your teammates are the ones that are doing the heavy lifting, but you had some highlight reels in this series. How would you rate your gameplay in this series? Do you feel that you got carried this match as well?
Out of a 100, I’d give myself 75. The 25 points deduction comes from having incredible teammates. The reason why I’m able to receive spotlight is because of my teammates having bot side priority. That’s why I was able to survive the ganks, and if you have the right knowledge at hand, it’s not that hard. That’s why I don’t think I did as well as people may assume, and for the future, I hope to play better even without such knowledge at hand.
I feel that that the top lane meta is so versatile; tank champions like Malphite and Ornn, bruiser champions like Gnar, and even support champions like Lulu are all viable. What’s your take on the current top lane meta?
Because of such versatility, it’ll all come down to, ‘Who has the bigger champion pool?’
You’re also known for your wide champion pool as well, and your continued success gets people excited to see which champion you’ll pick next. For this next question, you may answer with a truth or a lie. Are there any pocket picks that you’re preparing for?
I can confidently say that I’m able to play all the uncommon picks that have been utilized by other top laners in competitive play. What I’ll end up playing will all be situational, so whether you’re a fan that’s excited to watch what I got in store, or if you’re my opponent that’s trying to scout information, everyone won’t know when I’ll play something new.
While your ultimate goal for this season is to win Worlds, do you have a personal goal that you set for yourself?
My personal goal is to become a top laner that will rescue my teammates when they're behind. It’s a hard goal to fulfill, as two conditions must be met. First, I have to hard carry the game, and second, all my teammates have to be really behind. I think that such a situation will rarely come, but if it does, I hope to be the solo carry that my team needs.
Next match is against Fredit BRION. How do you rate their strengths and weaknesses as a team?
Before the start of the season, many experts predicted that the team won’t be successful in this split. However, based on the players’ performance in both solo q and scrims, I don’t believe that they’re that weak. They’re much better than people think, so I’ll make sure to not underestimate them and prepare well for the match.
Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans?
I’ll work hard to perform at my peak in every match, and outside the game, I hope to be that amicable personality that fans can enjoy. Thank you for all the support.
Striving for perfection to achieve excellence in esports