UPDATE, April 22: Team Korea's head coach, Kim "kkOma" Jeong-gyun, intends to resign from his position ahead of the team's participation at the Asian Games, the veteran told Inven Global. KkOma and the Korean e-Sports Association (KeSPA) will further discuss kkOma's intent over the weekend, KeSPA stating: "After further discussions, we'll be delivering kkOma's final decisions to the performance enhancement committee to make the final decision."
In a press conference on Thursday (full transcription below), kkOma heavily criticized KeSPA's scheduling and the selection process for Team Korea's League of Legends roster. Furthermore, he answered some of the criticism with regards to how the head coach should've been more vocal about some of the issues behind the selection process.
On April 21, KeSPA held a press conference to address the controversies going on around the 2022 Asian Game player tryouts and exhibition matches. The League of Legends team head coach Kim “kkOma” Jeong-gyun spoke in front of the press to give clarity on what had been going on through the process.
KkOma started the press conference by explaining that he was the one that requested this press conference to KeSPA, and that he wanted to clear some things out. The following is a full translation of the event.
The players went through a difficult schedule due to the exhibition match. Was the process thoroughly discussed with KeSPA?
I refused the exhibition match from the beginning and continued to refuse until it happened. The players have to go through such a busy schedule at this point. They have MSI, Summer Split, preliminaries, etc. The players that go to MSI go because they did well. As the head coach of the national team, I didn’t want to make the good team march through a tough schedule. After the exhibition match was fixed, I kept telling KeSPA it was best to keep the camp period short.
After the exhibition match schedule was fixed, we found out that it was canceled on match day. The camp was for a week, so I emphasized to KeSPA that they needed to go back to Seoul as soon as possible. I did my best to give the players some rest.
The roles of each lane are different. Isn’t it better to bring two players per lane?
It’s Asian Games regulations.
Some fans question that you should have spoken out earlier. What did you think after hearing that?
I kept telling KeSPA that the schedule was bad. All teams postpone schedules unrelated to playing the game during the season, such as sponsor schedules. I explained to KeSPA the difficulties players and teams have to go through.
However, I don’t understand what more I could have done. Do I have to speak out on social media? Or do I have to stream and talk about the situation? Do I have to ignore all the procedures and react radically? I’m not sure what they want. This press conference is being held because I requested it from KeSPA.
How much does the head coach’s opinion matter when selecting the players or planning the schedule?
Since it’s my first time being the head coach of the national team, it’s really difficult. After selecting all the players, the schedule can go by pro organizations’ schedule, but picking out 10 candidates was the hard part. I’ve been serving as a head coach for a long time, and I’ve tried using a 10-man roster.
When you play five-seven players on a roster, it takes a very long time to select who’s better. There are so many cases to consider. If it’s a simple 5v5 matchup, there could be a player in bad condition. One player could play well, but his teammate might underperform. League of Legends is a team game, so I think it’s impossible to select the best combination in a short period.
After the players are selected, I’ll need to focus on the details as I did in pro organizations. I think the Spring Season stats are much more important than the results from the camp. Team synergy is also important. I’ve been telling these things to KeSPA constantly.
Do you mean that KeSPA’s player selection method didn’t go well with your method?
That’s correct. I always spoke negatively about this exhibition match, and I told them all the precise details. The reason I didn’t say anything through an interview was that all the players had already arrived at the camp and they all were eager to be picked as a member of the national team. I didn’t want to show myself fighting. I was sorry to the players, so I wanted to talk after it was over.
The standards in selecting the players are rather vague. Everyone agrees that the Spring stats are important. Wouldn’t it be proper to select the team with mostly T1 members?
As I emphasized earlier, the spring season stats are important. I should consider their current prowess while selecting the players, which is connected directly to the Spring Season stats. If the stats are good, even if they underperform later on, they will eventually get better again with time.
Did you disagree with the tryouts?
Yes. Some people say I should have said that earlier, but I didn’t know what I could have done since it was my first time being the national team's head coach. I thought it was best to tell KeSPA. As I said earlier today, I told all this to KeSPA from the beginning.
The players had about three days together. How was the environment? How did practice go?
The players knew that the exhibition match was canceled on Monday already. When it was canceled, I thought I needed to do my best in the given situation. We rested on Monday, and we scrimmed on Tuesday. Everyone was there because they wanted to be on the national team, so after scrimming and playing in-houses, they returned yesterday. The best solution in my situation was to cancel whatever was left and minimize their schedule at Gwangju. I believe I did whatever I could for the players.
How did the players react after the exhibition match was canceled?
I didn’t talk individually with all the players, and I don’t know what they think. They all knew it was canceled. I didn’t speak with them, so I can’t answer for them.
You said you refused the exhibition match and tryouts, and you didn’t want to bring ten players. What are the authorities of the head coach?
I head that picking out 10 players in advance was to pick substitutes in case someone was injured — in that case, we can call a player up only from that roster. My role as a head coach was to evaluate the gathered players and report to KeSPA. After that, they make the decisions. I don’t know how it’ll go later on, but I believe I’ll be in charge of everything in-game.
Some people say that the members of the subcommittee should be revealed. What do you think?
I don’t think I could answer that. Please ask KeSPA about that.
You said that you don’t know how it’ll go later on. Does that mean it hasn’t been discussed yet?
When the games begin, I believe I have all power. At the moment, the most important thing is picking the players. When I first took the job of head coach, I heard that strategy analysts would be helping me. I haven’t picked the coaches yet intentionally. What I want are active coaches. I wanted to pick the players first and pick coaches that would be of most help to the players, so I postponed picking coaches to last.
How many coaches are you planning to pick? When will you pick them?
I’m always giving a lot of thought to picking coaches. When the players are fixed, I’ll pick the coaches immediately. The more, the better, and I’m also considering people who can help outside of the game. I’ll need to talk with everyone more. Players come first, and coaches that can help the players will be picked afterward.
It seems that you’re full of complaints about KeSPA’s work with the exhibition match or tryouts. Is there anything you’d like to request from KeSPA about the future schedules?
The schedules are the tightest during MSI. After MSI, teams have to play in the Summer Split, and the players need to play the preliminaries before Worlds. If we had discussed this schedule after all the players were selected, it might not have come this far.
I think everything will go well after the players are picked. My biggest complaints are bringing out the 10-man roster and the current schedule. The remaining schedules aren’t fixed yet, so I can’t say much yet.
Do you want to fix the six players quickly rather than bringing out 10 players?
Yes. Everyone that joined the camp, all 10 players did their best as soon as they were picked out. However, there are too many things to consider while working with these 10 players. The six-man final roster should be fixed as soon as possible.
The head coach’s opinion should be the most important in picking out the players. Do you agree?
I can’t answer that. It’s difficult to pick the players that represent the country alone. I’m not a machine, so I can make mistakes. Sometimes, the people who help me could be right. I might seem like a coward, but it’s difficult to say that I should do this alone.
You said that the roster has to be fixed as soon as possible, and you need to look at the Spring data rather than having a camp like this. You also mentioned MSI. Wouldn’t T1 take up most of the roster?
I’ve thought that this is a hard job. Although I’m the head coach of the national team, I don’t know how I should proceed or deal with situations. I told KeSPA all about this. If everyone is put on the spot so much, I think any future head coach will have a hard time as well.
Did you feel bad about all these controversies?
The part where people criticized me for not doing an interview was the most interesting. I refused the interview because they asked me as soon as I agreed to be the head coach. All I had to say back then was that I’d do my best. Everyone knows that my nickname is a “recorder”. I didn’t have anything else to say, so I refused.
At first, I didn’t know what to do as the head coach — if I should have done something through social media or if I should have gone on stream and talked about everything. All I’m thinking of is winning a medal at the Asian Games. I was probably more careful since I am the head coach. I'll follow if anyone can tell me how I should have behaved.
Is there anything you’d like to tell the public or the media?
I don’t ask anything from the public. If we all work hard together, I believe they’ll watch us positively. The players are always working hard, so I hope everyone sends their support. I don’t ask anything from the media either. Everyone needs to play a role. My role is to do my best as the national team’s head coach.
About my nickname, “recorder” — I just do that to protect the players. I can say anything as long as it doesn’t harm the players. I think it’s important to do my best in any given situation. If that’s not enough, it means that I don’t deserve to be the national team’s head coach.
All photos via: Inven, Riot Games
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