Nearing the end of 2021, Golden Guardians signed veteran support, Kim “Olleh” Joo-sung. Not many had thought that Olleh would return, but those who have been following his career knew that he had been working hard after he decided to come back as a pro gamer — maybe even harder than when he was a pro player before. He even hit third place in KR solo queue, the highest placement for a support player.
After Golden Guardians announced that they had signed Olleh, I sat with him to talk about how he made up his mind to come back, why with Golden Guardians, and about his future.
When I returned to Korea, I was rather burnt out. I had lost a lot of interest in the game, and it felt like living in jail since I was doing the same thing over and over again all the time. That’s why I decided to try something new. I looked up things and saw that “metaverse” was a hot topic. And that made me think, if there’s a game in the future like Sword Art Online, it’ll be amazing.
So I watched the Sword Art Online series on Netflix and thought that this was the future. I looked up things about virtual reality and wanted to learn it. There was a program the Korean government supported where they teach the students how to create virtual reality through coding. It was a five-month course, and I enlisted right away.
"If I got into this industry, I would have to be doing this for the rest of my life, and I spent some time thinking if I wanted to do that."
For the first two months, it was really fun. There were other students there as well, but they were mostly people that had their other jobs. I was completely unemployed. Since I had a lot of time, I kept studying that as if I were playing solo queue, and naturally, my programming skills improved faster than others. I even took an online class. The teacher praised me a lot, so I thought I might be talented in this area. I tried mapping out new games and actually made some. I even made a fan game for a streamer called Woowakgood. I thought that things worked out if I gave the time and effort.
In the beginning, I was a blank page and I knew nothing. If you asked me to make a VR game, there would nothing that I could do. Through this program, I created things from ground zero — movie scenes, music videos, games… Whatever I did, I felt that all I needed to do was work hard.
I was living like that for three to four months, but suddenly, one thought hit me. If I got into this industry, I would have to be doing this for the rest of my life, and I spent some time thinking if I wanted to do that. I thought about it for a long time, but when I did, the most regretful thing for me was my results at Worlds. Obviously, I didn’t win Worlds, and I wasn’t able to perform well there. Since it was regretful, I also thought I should have worked harder. The programming experience was great, since it taught me that I could learn and do this if I was willing to whenever I want. On the other hand, being a pro gamer was something I would never be able to do again. That made me more desperate.
Returning as a pro player
That way, I decided to return to competitive League of Legends. I played solo queue and I hit Challenger faster than I thought. I was worried I would get stuck in Diamond or something, but I got through it smoothly, so I believed in myself that I was still pretty good.
When my mother saw me focusing on LoL again, she asked if I wouldn’t regret learning all that and not using it, so I told her that if I don’t make top 10 in KR solo queue, I’d give up being a pro gamer. After all, she was worried about me, and I knew that. All I did after that was play LoL.
"If GGS hadn't contacted me, I might not have made it back."
At first, I went back and forth at around 1,000 LP. When I'd meet players that were good, my winrate would be just 50%. It felt that there was a barrier that I couldn’t get through, and I realized that I need to put in additional effort. So I reviewed the replays of my losses while queueing for matches. As I did that over and over again, I started to see my weaknesses or opponents’ weaknesses, and my winrate went up again. One day, I breached 1,300 LP and got top 10. That convinced me that I was ready to come back as a pro player.
During that process, I reported to my mother every day. When I reached 10th place, I told her that I’m ready. Around that time, GGS contacted me, so I didn’t even consider any other offers and told them yes. I wasn’t in a position to consider other offers, and I didn’t want to bother them with any negotiations. Everything was so timely. After GGS announced that they had signed me, CoreJJ called and congratulated me.
Frankly, if GGS hadn't contacted me, I might not have made it back. They called me in, so I became more devoted to the organization. I felt that I should give in my everything here. To come to think of it, they helped me out with my green card back when I was there, and I felt that I’d be garbage if I didn’t repay them for their kindness.
I have no concerns about my ADC. I played with Cody Sun when he was a rookie. We didn’t do well in the Spring, but we flew up in the Summer. This time, I’m playing with Lost, who did really well last year in TSM. The starting point is much higher compared to Cody Sun, so I’m looking forward to it. Now that Doublelift isn’t in the LCS anymore, any ADC can rise high and become the best ADC. Last year, that was FBI, but I’ll be supporting Lost so that he could become No.1.
I’m not worried about Licorice either, since he’s the best top laner from NA, and Ablazeolive was always stable in solo queue or competitions. I was his coach for a short period, and he makes me think of Bdd. Ablazeolive is really good on Azir. Frankly, I don’t know much about our new jungler. Management told me Pride was really good.
"Now that Doublelift isn’t in the LCS anymore, any ADC can rise high and become the best ADC."
The biggest advantage of this team is that everyone’s personality is awesome. They’re all young players with great potential. It’s the first time I’m the oldest in the team, and I think it’ll feel like I’m a teacher leading students. [Laughs]
Even now, I think that I should be released or sent down if I don’t play well. Sometimes, players have articles in the contract mentioning that they can’t be sent down. I thought that was excessive for me, so I accepted when they told me I could be sent down to the academy team. As I joined GGS, Chime was sent down. He was a player that I coached, so I called him to tell him I’m sorry. I think we’ll be talking a lot when I get back.
Since I’m the oldest in the team with the longest career, I should be a model to others. I should listen to the coaches well and set a good example by taking notes during feedback and stuff like that. I used to have some ego back when I was in the LCS, since I hit #1 in solo queue and always won lane. I had weaknesses, but I didn’t listen that well. After all, the feedback was for my own good.
This time, I’ll be listening to the coaches very well. After I signed with GGS, I told Inero my weaknesses first: that I’m a bit slow in adapting to the meta because I’m older and things like that. When I told him that, he said that he was aware of everything and that they knew my problems but they could make it work. I promised him that I’ll do whatever he tells me. [Laughs]
100 Thieves’ roster is the same with a small addition. I think that’s the best-case scenario. They did well over the year, and they also did alright at Worlds as well. They’re moving forward from that with a minor change. It feels that 100 Thieves will be the most solid team in 2022.
Team Liquid change all the time. Looking at individual players, they’re all really great, but it feels like having five Blue-eyes White Dragon cards in Yu-gi-oh. It’ll be really strong, but you might not have enough turns to play all of them. If everything works out well, they’ll be really great. Since CoreJJ has been doing well, they’ll probably be really strong. They have the most potential.
It seems that Cloud9 are going for a gamble. I’m not sure how they’ll turn out. I do feel good that there are several Korean players there, and that the quality of NA solo queue will be better because of them, but it’s surely a big change for the team. One thing for sure is that Blaber is always good. He’s a constant. If Blaber and Fudge do well, and the Korean players adapt well, they’ll do great.
"[Team Liquid] feel like having five Blue-eyes White Dragon cards in Yu-gi-oh. It’ll be really strong, but you might not have enough turns to play all of them."
If Korean players fail to adapt to the solo queue, it’s going to be really hard. Each game in KR solo queue is like scrims. Everyone has good macro, but it’s completely different in NA. Even if I do the right play, if my teammates don’t respond, it’s a massacre. That’s when you start to doubt yourself, and that could ignite a mental breakdown.
Evil Geniuses feel like a dark horse going into 2022. They have a solid roster. I’m not sure about the rest. They all feel pretty similar. As for us, anything is possible. I’ll need to see after I get there. Danny is really good — it seems he has a good gaming sense. It feels that Cloud9’s games will be the most interesting. I think it’ll be fun whether we win or lose.
Going back to NA
I did say that I wanted to play in the LCK, in my own words, but the players in the LCK are so young now. Most of them were born after 2000. Faker and Deft are the oldest in the league now. In the LCS, CoreJJ and I are 27, Aphromoo is 29. I even had a break from professional LoL. LCK is the best league in the world, so I thought I should do my best where I actually could.
A solution I came up with was studying English harder. I always streamed in English. I used to need some time to think when I spoke in English, but now, I could say whatever I want in English almost right away. I tried to call people and speak in English and watched movies without any subtitles. I even watched Arcane without any subtitles as well. At least my English playing LoL should be no problem.
Since I’ve reached 3rd place in KR solo queue, I’m not afraid of anyone anymore. I was the highest among support players. Kellin was below me, and I felt that this was enough. I believed that I would be able to play professionally again with this. I wanted to hit No.1, but there was a 150 LP difference above me. It would have been meaningful, but I was satisfied.
Recently, I heard a lot about how successful people behave. I heard that they all focus on one thing, without thinking about other things. I used to be here and there, thinking about other stuff a lot, but this time, I’ll be concentrating solely on LoL. Right now, I’ve erased everything from my brain besides LoL. I unsubscribed anything that isn’t LoL on Youtube and followed channels that are LoL-related — patch news, tips, etc. I only think of LoL all day, and all I want to do is work hard to win again.