Jung “RapidStar” Min-sung, who coached in NA for a long time, has returned to Korea as a coach for KT Rolster at the 2023 LoL World Championship. What differences exist between coaching an NA team and a Korean team? Inven Global met with RapidStar during Asset Day to hear his story.
You've been a coach in NA for a long time. How is it different coaching NA teams and Korean teams?
I don't see huge differences between Korea and NA. The differences seem to be more team-specific than country-specific. Each team has its own identity, staff, and players, and the atmosphere is determined by these factors. Different teams have different styles. In the past, there was a systematic and rigid atmosphere in Korean teams, which might have been due to the system that has been in place in Korea since the days of StarCraft. But now, these aspects have relaxed a lot, and a more free atmosphere has emerged.
With many former pros transitioning into coaching roles, there seems to be a higher level of freedom. Given their experience as a player, I think it has become easier to connect with and understand the players, like friends.
Has your coaching style changed after joining KT?
I think my coaching style changes slightly every year. Each year, when I look back, there is always something I feel unsatisfied with. I use this self-reflection as feedback to improve my coaching style for the next year. So, I think it changes every year.
Is there a difference between coaching C9 during their boot camp in Korea and coaching KT for the World Championship preparations?
Back then, C9 was one of the most comfortable teams in terms of welfare among the teams I have been with. It was very comfortable practicing there. The staff took good care of us, and we didn't lack anything. In contrast, while coaching a Korean team, it just felt like living in Korea.
KT was very strong during the LCK summer regular season, but you failed to make it to the finals. What efforts have you made to achieve better results?
When things are going too well, there are often things that go unnoticed. Sometimes, when things are going too well, you end up missing details. But as someone with extensive experience, I know what this is like, and I thought I had done a good job of self-examination and improvement. But there were still areas where we could have done better. So, we are going through the process of reevaluating those areas. I realized that I thought I knew them, but we still have more work to do.
What areas have you been focusing on the most as you prepared for Worlds?
We have some clear team strengths, but there are many areas where our weaknesses have been exposed. We're working on improving these weaknesses.
With teams like Gen.G and JDG being considered the top teams, do you think there's a significant gap in level between them and KT, or is it closer?
While Gen.G and JDG are considered top teams, I don't think there's a big gap. There is a noticeable difference in their overall strength, particularly individual skills and team performance. However, that doesn't mean other teams are far behind. The outcomes can vary significantly depending on the draft and the condition of players on the day of the match. While JDG is the most potent contender, I don't see a massive gap between them and other teams.
How would you compare the LCK and LPL as a region?
I don't believe the LPL and LCK styles differ significantly nowadays. While LCK tends to prefer stability, LPL tends to favor a more aggressive style. Still, teams from both leagues have adopted elements from each other. In fact, there are teams in LPL that resemble LCK's style, and there are LCK teams that resemble LPL's style. JDG plays like a typical LPL team, while Gen.G plays like a typical LCK team. T1 is similar to LPL teams, and a team like BLG resembles an LCK team. I don't see a substantial gap in the level between the two leagues or a significant style difference recently.
Regarding coaching C9 and comparing LCS then and now, which do you think is stronger?
It's somewhat relative. At that time, teams from other regions seemed weaker, and now those teams have become much stronger. C9 and NA have improved since then, but other teams have gotten much stronger. Still, the single-game format of the Swiss stage might be an advantage for NA teams. However, if NA teams manage to get to bo3s or bo5s, it will become more challenging.
I write. I rap. I run. That’s pretty much it.