Jeong “Impact” Eon-young had been to six consecutive World Championships from 2015 to 2020. Unfortunately in 2021, he didn’t make it as Evil Geniuses failed to qualify. It was a comparably long break for him as he came back to Korea earlier than usual.
Over his break, Impact thought a lot about how he could improve, how NA could improve as a region, and how he could help the league do better in international competitions. Nearing the end of his break, Impact met up with Inven Global for a chat.
Unfortunately, you didn’t make it to Worlds this year. Did you come back to Korea early?
It’s been such a long time since the last time I didn’t make it to Worlds, so I really didn’t know what to do. It’s my first time since 2015. I thought of what I should do and came up with an idea: help the NA teams scrim for Worlds. It didn’t go well, so I wasn’t able to help them much.
Being on vacation isn’t much fun for me. If I just rest, it feels like I’ve become a breathing machine. I need that stimulation of winning or losing. I really wanted to go to Worlds this year too, but we didn’t make it. Next year, I want to get to Worlds again, but even if I don’t make it, I want to help other NA teams — I don’t know if the teams will allow me. [Laughs]
If you were to help them, wouldn’t it help improve your own performance as well?
It would, yes. But since I’ve been playing the game a long time, there should be a lot that I could teach as well. It could also mean that I can be at a disadvantage in the future, but it’s going to be fun. I might be able to prove myself as well. If things go well about what I coached, organizations could give me a better evaluation.
Looking back at 2021, how was it?
It was regretful. Although we didn’t do well in spring, we had a chance to end up in 1st or 2nd place in the summer. The regular season was great, but the playoffs were bad for us. It felt that we lost because our mentalities were shaken up. We should have made at least 3rd place, and that was really regretful.
You’re tied at 1st place only considering the summer season, right?
Yeah. We even started the first week of summer with a 0-3 record. It was the worst start you could imagine, but we pulled through. We were 2-4 up to week 2 and after that, we won 16 games while dropping only two. Things worked out from the third week, and I think Jiizuke and I played really well. Especially Jiizuke. He was proactive and attempted many things. We benefitted much because of him.
But it seems Jiizuke is without a team for next season.
All I can say is that it’s unfortunate. I don’t know what went on with him, so there’s nothing I could really say. I think that he’ll be able to join whatever team, at least after spring. Even during spring, so I’d like to urge the organizations reading this interview to pick him up. [Laughs]
Jiizuke is good, proactive, and capable of being a great player. He knows how to make plays to win. He might lack a bit of detail in his plays, but only very few players could play as well as Jiizuke can. I hope he could join a team as soon as possible.
It seems that the LCS has changed a lot. How does it look?
Cloud9 is eye-opening. Signing LS is one thing, but they changed the whole team. What was the most shocking for me was that Summit joined C9. I thought it would have been better for him if he joined DWG KIA. He’s only 23 years old, so if he wants to settle in the LCS, he could. The key is how much English he learns, but I don’t think he could learn that much. If there are a lot of Koreans around, it’s harder to improve your English skills. Even LS understands Korean. In that regard, I think it’ll take Summit a while to play well as a team player.
Fudge transitioned to mid lane, but his laning wasn’t that strong in the first place. It might be better for him to play mid, and he probably role-swapped because he’s confident. I can’t tell until I see them play. It’s the same for LS too. It’s his first time returning to competitive League of Legends since his “failure” in bbq. Honestly, I hope they do well. I don’t want them to play badly.
Even for rivals, do you hope they play well?
Yes. I want my rivals to do well. Beating rivals that do well is what feels the best. You have to beat those that get a high evaluation. For example, if Kiin is 5th or 6th, and you solo-kill him. That’s not as great as solo-killing Kiin who’s in 1st or 2nd place.
Speaking of rivals, there are a lot of boot campers this year. I see that you’ve been playing some solo queue yourself as well. That’s like bootcamping too.
Yeah. Cloud9 and 100 Thieves are here. They’ll be going back soon, and I’ll be heading back to NA on the 27th. There’s not much to do if I go early, so I thought I should grind solo queue here. It’s much better to play solo queue here. I played with an easy mind before, but this time, I tried to concentrate much more. It was quite scary from Diamond 1, and I spent a lot of time getting through it. There were people who just left the game or cursed a lot. It got better from Master and Grand Master.
I got kind of angry and punched through that area playing jungle. That was one of my goals of playing solo queue here. I wanted to learn better about the role of a jungler. It’s important to learn about other roles.
Revenge is also here in Korea playing solo queue. He’s a hard worker. He came alone this year, and I often went and helped him out. I ate with him or ordered food for him. He’s a nice guy who is willing to learn. We share a lot of information and Revenge listens to me well. He also teaches me about what I didn’t know, so he’s very helpful to me.
It feels that there are more Koreans and foreigners in the LCS now.
Honestly, it feels dizzy. [Laughs] Jojopyun is also part Korean, but he doesn’t speak Korean at all. At first, I thought he was Chinese. Jojopyun also has a good mindset about the game. He’s proactive and it shows that he has a lot of passion for LoL.
I guess the reason there are more Koreans than before is because of Cloud9, right? Ssumday and I were here all along, Huni had been out but he’s been here too. Rather than having more Koreans, there are more European and Chinese players now. Team Liquid looks like an EU team. [Laughs] If CoreJJ leaves, they’ll probably become completely European.
Bjergsen and Olleh are back after a long break. How do you think they’ll do?
I didn’t think that Olleh would return, but since he worked so hard in Korea, I think he’ll do well. He has a lot of experience, and that’ll be a big help for him. I hope he does do well. As for Bjergsen, he has a great mindset, and there’s a good chance that he’ll do well, but I’m a bit worried because there are things he didn’t do well before.
He’s still the best mid laner ever in the LCS.
There’s no doubt that he’s the best mid laner of all time in the LCS, but this game has been around for quite a long time now. For him to keep up to his name, he would need to prove himself again.
Frankly, to prove himself, he needs to do more than do well in the LCS — he needs to do well in international competitions. People say that I’m good in the NA, but since I missed Worlds this year, no one will remember me. It’ll go the same for him. I hope Bjergsen reaches Worlds and does well.
Winning domestically and winning internationally is completely different.
It doesn’t mean much doing well in the NA. NA has been doing bad for such a long time. If you win LCK or LPL, fans start to have high expectations for you, but no one really looks forward to LCS or LEC champions. G2 and C9 are exceptions since they actually did well. Besides them, honestly… All the teams need to have high goals. Winning domestically is obviously a good thing, but if you reach semis at Worlds after finishing 3rd domestically, that’s what fans will remember.
There are roster shuffles every offseason, but this time, there are role swaps as well. Fudge, Dove, Xiaohu. What do you think about role-swapping?
I also swapped roles early in my career, so… [Laughs] I started as a support and moved to top lane. It went well, so I kept playing top. In this game, playing well in one role doesn’t mean that much. You need to understand the other lanes well too. Especially for junglers. If they understand the lanes well, they start running to help whichever lane that needs help without having to be called for.
If they played in other lanes, they’ll do well in their new roles as well. You see, Canyon is a jungler but he did well in those few games that he played mid. That’s because he knows the lane well, and that’s why he’s such a good jungler.
As for those players that role-swapped this time, they’re all good players, so they’ll do well. Honestly, I think Chovy would do really well if he transitioned to top lane. He has insane laning, doesn’t miss CS, and doesn’t make mistakes during the laning phase.
EG’s roster has changed completely as well. What do you think of the current roster?
Vulcan was a good player all along, and I thought Inspired was a good player since I saw him play at Worlds 2020. As for jojopyun, we’ll have to see. He hasn’t shown anything, and I haven’t played with him yet either. But he did show that he has a strong passion, so I think he’ll do alright. Honestly, it’s harder to evaluate my own team. [Laughs] I can say that my team is a team worth looking forward to.
Danny was a super rookie last year. To Impact, what kind of player is he?
Well, he could do well, and he could also do bad. Realistically speaking, anything is possible. If he’s always on the lookout to improve his weaknesses, he could become one of the greats as well. Obviously, he’s our bot laner, so I want him to do well. [Laughs] This Lock-in will show if Danny could keep up with the expectations.
There’s word of making a super server in NA. How do you think that would be?
It’s too late. It would be rather meaningless. I thought that while playing on the KR server. There are a lot of great players here, so people come bootcamp here. Those who are here would feel that the level of play is completely different here.
The players in the KR server often int. The reason is that they try things often. In the NA server, the games get dragged on for a long time — all because they don’t know what to do. They don’t do anything. That’s the biggest difference.
There aren’t many hot amateur prospects in the NA. The level of NA solo queue isn’t that high, and that’s the problem. In my opinion, the only way to save NA is Starlink. If NA players could play on Korean or Chinese servers with a low ping, it’s going to be so much helpful.
If everyone can play on one server, there will be more people and less queue time. Scrims will be possible with any team. Future industries might be the answer for NA. That’s why I invested in Tesla. [Laughs] It’ll be awesome if everyone around the world can play on one server with low ping.
I think I ask you this every year. Another year has passed. How long do you think you’ll be pla…
(Without hesitation) I don’t know. [Laughs] I didn’t think that I was smart, but people around me say that I am. I’m also very confident. I think we can win if we play as I think. There are things that I could see in the game, and that’s why I think I can play well. I still need to play better as well.
It’s time to finish the interview. Any closing remarks?
It’s regretful that I missed Worlds and I wasn’t able to show much to the fans, but I hope we can show fun games in EG next year. I remember people saying that EG’s games were fun. I’m happy that I was able to prove myself a bit this year. There were a lot of people complaining that I was too slow when I was on TL. This year, on EG, my tempo was really fast. I think I proved well that I can do both styles well, and I believe I could do well next year too. I hope you cheer for me. Next year, Worlds will be in NA, so I hope NA does well at Worlds. It’ll be much more fun for NA fans if we do.