In an interview with Inven Global, JD Gaming's (JDG) Head Coach Yoon "Homme" Sung-young delved deep into the inner workings of the Worlds-favorite team, tackling subjects like preventing complacency, navigating through unstable performances, and his experiences coaching the star top laner Bai "369" Jia-Hao.
One of the most prominent narratives surrounding JDG is the perception of them as a "super team." Homme tackled this notion head-on, explaining that while each player offers unique strengths, the team's collective success isn't guaranteed by these individual talents alone. The real challenge, he revealed, is channeling these distinct abilities into a cohesive force on the Rift. This process has been far from simple, with JDG's early struggles against teams like Team BDS highlighting the gap sometimes between individual skill and team synergy.
"While all our players are individually skilled, that doesn't automatically translate to good synergy, which was a challenge for us early on," Homme admitted. He emphasized that this disparity was the root cause of their initial instability, pushing the coaching staff to prioritize team cohesion above all else. "Our job is to merge everyone together and be on the same page, especially concerning the basics, the drafts," he added, pointing out the necessity of mutual understanding and coordination in the team's strategic approach.
Addressing JDG's recent performance [the first day of the Swiss Stage against BDS], Homme recognized their capability to learn and adapt quickly. "We made quite a few mistakes yesterday, but today we managed to demonstrate that we can reduce those errors," he stated, underscoring the team's resilience and focus on continuous improvement. This adaptability seems particularly crucial given the current competitive landscape, where, according to Homme, no single team clearly outshines the rest.
When it comes to the team's strategic approach, Homme has a distinctive philosophy. "Another thing is, I like to have the players play something that's suitable for them, not necessarily what's in the meta," he revealed, expressing his preference for player comfort and confidence over rigid adherence to prevalent game strategies. This personalized approach also extends to his coaching methods, where he prioritizes aligning closely with players, understanding their personal and professional nuances to better guide their development and performance.
The topic of 369 brought forth intriguing insights. Many have noted how strong 369 has been this year, even compared with his past strong performances — in the eyes of many being the best top laner in the world. Once less open to feedback, the top laner's attitude has shifted significantly under Homme's guidance. "Regarding 369, I can say he wasn't very receptive to feedback before, but now he seems to listen a little better. Even in-game, he's definitely hard to face, no matter the opponent. As a competitor and player I coach, he's a complicated, difficult person to work with, as well as someone difficult to face [in-game]," Homme shared. This evolution is not just about being more coachable; it's also about 369's growing versatility on the battlefield. "That's probably why he ended up becoming someone capable of playing something like an engage champion or a tank where now he's actually good at playing the sacrificial role for the team — a team player," Homme added.
Homme's reflections were bolstered by teammate Zhuo "knight" Ding, who has observed 369's substantial growth over the years. Knight's comments highlighted 369's enhanced adaptability and readiness to meet the team's needs, attributes that have undoubtedly contributed to his current status as one of the most consistent players and potentially the best top laner globally.
JDG's journey hasn't been without its challenges. The team had a relatively disappointing Worlds performance in 2022, and gained momentum with the acquisition of 369 and Kanavi. Their strategy, revolving around early-game domination and adept mid-game adaptations, carried them through to significant victories, including both of the 2023 LPL playoffs and a triumphant showdown at the Mid-Season Invitational.
As JD Gaming proceeds on their path, refining their synergy and honing their strategic prowess, fans and competitors alike watch with bated breath. The team's evolution, especially with a talent like 369 in their roster, hints at even greater accomplishments on the horizon in the League of Legends competitive scene.
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