Three-time LCK champion, two MSI appearances, and two Worlds appearances. The human Nexus Park "Teddy" Jin-seong, who once dominated the LCK and made a name for himself as a top-tier bot laner, returns to the LCK after a half-year break.
Teddy had a rough time last year. After leaving T1 after three years, he found a new home with the Gwangdong Freecs and seemed to be starting a new chapter in his professional life. However, the reality was anything but easy. The team's struggles took a toll on him, and they finished the season in seventh place.
In the aftermath, we didn't hear much about Teddy's next move during the stove league, and he was naturally placed on the 'players taking a break' list. A split later, Teddy announced his return to the team at an unexpected time and with an unexpected team — in a Liiv Sandbox uniform. We caught up with Teddy in the Liiv SANDBOX office, and here’s his first interview since returning to the LCK after half a year.
It’s been a long time since we talked last. How have you been?
I played ARAM with friends, spent time with them, and talked a lot with my family. I also played solo queue. Just the ordinary.
It’s probably the longest break you took since your debut. How was it?
Before I took the break, I was kind of depressed, but during the break, it was good for me. I think it’s because I was relaxed mentally. Watching the LCK, I thought it was so comfortable compared to what they were doing — scrims and all, but on the other hand, I felt jealous because it seemed fun.
No one really expected you to take a break, and I don’t think many people expected you to return to Liiv SANDBOX. How was the stove league last year? I heard that you had offers from the LPL.
I did have offers, but I didn’t really want to go. At first, I thought of taking one of the offers, but I feel that I made the right choice. Taking a break for a season was good for me. There weren’t that many teams that gave me an offer, and I thought it would be better for me if I took a break and practiced alone.
Was there a special reason that you decided to come back?
I never thought of leaving completely. My concern was whether or not a team would take me. Fortunately for me, Liiv SANDBOX gave me an offer. I was worried that my game sense and professional mindset might go away if I took a break for longer, so I wanted to come back.
After the break, did any goals change for you as a pro player?
I don’t have a specific goal, but I want to show that I’m a good player. I had a regretful performance last year and before. I felt that I was capable of reading plays well and played well before, but it was definitely not as good recently.
What did you think about Liiv SANDBOX when you took the offer?
When I first talked to the team, it felt that I would get along well, and it seemed they all were hard workers. I watched them play in the spring season, and I thought I could make the team better if I joined and worked hard enough.
Some people speculate that you gave up getting a high salary when you joined Liiv SANDBOX. Were there other goals for you?
The salary didn’t matter. First of all, I didn’t want to rest for another season, and I wanted to work hard to do well over the remaining year. I really wanted to play again in the LCK, and I thought I should concentrate on the game.
You said that you watched Liiv SANDBOX’s games. What other games did you watch? What was fun?
I mostly watched the games of the players I know and the top-tier teams’ games. I watched all of the playoffs, of course. The T1 vs. KT series was really memorable. The two teams fighting endlessly were interesting, but the most interesting part was that both of their performances were amazing.
What kind of synergy do you think you can bring to the team?
I’ll have to see what I can do. We haven’t even scrimmed yet, so I’ll need to find out what I can do as we prepare for the season. I want to do as much as I can to support my teammates and become a trustworthy bot laner.
When I first talked with the team, they said that they wanted me because of my stability in the late game. I should work harder on that part. Frankly, I didn’t really think much about my stability — I guess they saw me as a stable bot laner since I really didn’t like dying. I should keep focusing on that.
Your nickname is human Nexus, and that proves your prowess. Have you talked with your teammates yet?
There are players that I’m already close to, and I believe we’ll get along well. Everyone has a great personality.
As a bot laner, it’s always important to have good synergy with the support. What do you think about Kael?
I’ve always thought Kael was a good player, and now I’m duoing with him. I think his biggest strength is his composed performance. If we work on playmaking and teamwork, we’ll become a great duo.
In Liiv SANDBOX, you’re the most experienced, so it seems that you would have to lead the team. What are your thoughts?
When the games go into the late game, it becomes a bot laners’ game, so I should work hard to get in form and do well.
Recently, the bot laner’s role has been important in the meta. Isn’t it regretful for you that you didn’t play in that meta? Did you think while watching the games that you could have done better?
I didn’t really think that. Although the meta was focused in the bot lane recently, my eyes were on the mid-jungle players that have to make plays. Since I think that I can do well in whatever is required of me in the bot lane, I focused on reading the mind games around vision and the mid-jungle playmaking. It seems that Peanut excelled in that regard.
How about bot laners? Are there any players that caught your eye?
It was Peyz’s debut season, and he was good. Early in the season, it seemed that he lost lane in the early game, but he improved over the season. Now he gets ahead in lane, is stable, and has great mechanics. He has become a great player.
Last year as well, Liiv SANDBOX signed a bot laner between the spring and summer seasons and did well in the summer. It’s the same this year. Do you think you have to do the same?
I am slightly aware of that. After signing a bot laner, they made it quite high into the playoffs, so I should do the same and play well.
Even so, they didn’t make it to Worlds. Compared to last year, Liiv SANDBOX had better results in the spring, so I believe the team’s goal is to make it to Worlds. What do you think?
I joined a team that I believe is good to deliver a good performance. I want to show the best I can do. I’m not sure how high we can get, but I’d like to show ourselves improving. My initial goal, as well, is getting to Worlds.
Are you aiming for any personal records or milestones? Getting on the All-Pro team, perhaps?
I’m not paying much attention to my individual record. I believe everyone will recognize me if I play well. It’s the same with getting on the All-Pro team. If I play well enough, they’ll vote me on the team.
Is there anything you’d like to improve before going into the summer season?
The part I have to improve the most is being calm and stable. I want to blend into the team well while reducing playing as an individual to create good synergy. During my break, I got rid of distractions and gained much more focus on the game. I believe I can concentrate more on the team game now.
Last year was arguably one of the hardest years for you. How was it?
It was really hard, and I got pretty negative. It felt that nothing worked out no matter how hard I tried, so I got quite discouraged. It was so hard for me. Now that I had some rest, I can play with a much more positive and bright mindset.
Ryu prioritizes players’ ability to fight, and that’s probably one of the reasons the team signed you. What do you think about Ryu?
Frankly, I don’t know his style yet. I did have some meals and conversations with him. He seems really reliable. It feels that he’s always relaxed, and I like that he’s very mild.
Who have you talked to the most among the players?
I think Burdol talks the most. He’s playful as well. Also, coach Lyn and I are close, so it’s comfortable for me. Recently, Lyn watches players when they play solo queue and tries not to laugh when they make mistakes. When I see that, it makes me work harder and make fewer mistakes.
You played with Clozer for a while as well. Do you think it’ll be better since you played on the same team?
The roster changed too frequently back then, so I wasn’t able to play with him too much. Since he’s a good player in lane and in fights, I believe we’ll be able to create good synergy.
Now that you’re back in the LCK, are there any players or teams you’d like to beat?
I want to beat them all. (Laughs) I don’t have any specific rivalries in mind, but I want to teach UmTi a lesson. When my solo queue points dropped a bit, he said I lose points when I join a team. I’ll make sure to be a nuisance to him in games.
Fans are happy that you’re back. A word to the fans?
I was on a break for half a year, and I’m thankful to those who kept an eye on me and waited for me. I’ll be playing the summer season in Liiv SANDBOX, and I’ll do my best to show a good performance.
Are you happy that you’re back?
Yes. I’m happy to be back and looking forward to playing scrims and LCK games. I want to win, and I want to smile and laugh with the victories.