On a chilly winter day approaching Christmas, Inven Global had the opportunity to meet Kim "Olleh" Joo-sung, who has completed his military service and returned to LCS. Olleh, now even more mature due to his experiences in the military, welcomed me with his usual bright smile.
Throughout the interview, the conversation revealed Olleh's passion for contemplating how the non-gaming aspects he learned and developed during his military service could be applied to League of Legends team games. Let's delve into the story of Olleh's return to the LoL scene.
Congrats on finishing your military service and returning to the scene. What have you been up to lately?
After being discharged, I played ranked games like crazy and reached the top. Then, Immortals contacted me, and after we were done with the negotiations, I took my mom on a trip to Guam. Currently, the team has a specific direction, so I'm practicing new metas like Ashe support and Renata Glasc. I'm trying out various things.
How was your military service?
When I was going, it felt like I was being dragged in, so I was frustrated. However, through my military service, I learned a lot. I learned more about being one and looking after my comrades. I’d like to apply my military experience to my pro gaming career, to become a better person and teammate.
I’m keeping in touch with many of the people I met in the military. Some people say they won't see those they met in the military again, but I consider those connections precious. Since I had fewer connections with people while pursuing a pro gaming career, I cherish all the connections I make and try to maintain them for a long time.
Did you watch Worlds?
I watched the entire Worlds this year. From the beginning to the end. As I had been in the army, I had a lot of time to think about the game and my life. The conclusion I came to was that being able to play in matches, regardless of the team or salary, is a real stroke of luck.
And I saw Faker mentioning that in an interview. For me, I had come up to that conclusion due to my personal reflections during my military service. Considering what I had to go through to get to that conclusion, it was impressive to see someone younger than me having such thoughts while shining on the highest stage. I got to respect him even more.
Did you find any particular team interesting during Worlds?
I was definitely supporting Golden Guardians, but I was disappointed when they lost to Garen. It was regrettable that they gave the opponent something they were good at. I also supported the NA teams, especially NRG. I cheered a lot for players like Palafox, FBI, and Contractz, who I played with before. They were players I played with in 2019 on Golden Guardians, and seeing them climb up to the quarterfinals was truly admirable.
You're an extremely rare case of a military service-experienced LoL player. You’re probably the only one among players that are active. How do you think your experience in the army would impact your gameplay?
During my military service, I felt that having good human relationships was crucial. Even in a pro team, when I worked really hard and played well, if the teammate next to me didn't follow or suddenly couldn't keep up, I would think, 'I'm working so hard, why isn't he pratcicing?' But now, I think I'll find a way to help that person no matter what. I didn't do that in the past. I was too busy focusing on my stuff, and I didn't have the leisure to look after the people beside me. Now, I definitely want to think more team-oriented.
Before, when we lost, there were many times I thought, 'I did well in this game, so it’s not my fault.' I thought I went beyond what I could do, but we still lost because of the limited influence of a support over the game. But looking back now, I should have found ways to help teammates carry more. I will no longer have that kind of attitude. If we lose, we all share responsibility, and it doesn’t matter even if I did well.
You joined Immortals. Can you explain the process a bit more??
Immortals finished 10th in the last summer season. The season ended way too early compared to other teams, so they probably planned the stove league plan very early. They contacted me quite early, asking if I had any thoughts about returning to pro play and if I wanted to play with them.
My future seemed uncertain when I was simply playing solo queue, but after Immortals contacted me, it felt like a sudden path opened up for me. Thanks to that, my motivation increased.
After that, other teams also approached me, but it felt like they wanted me as a second choice — it felt that all the other supports had been taken, so they were going for plan B with me. On the other hand, Immortals wanted me as their first choice, so I chose to join Immortals.
Have you met your teammates? How's the atmosphere?
We haven't lived together yet, they came to bootcamp in Korea, so we sometimes played solo queue together or practiced 2v2 bot duos. It feels like things will go well. They all seemed nice. We had dinner together recently, and because there's quite a significant age difference, the kids just looked cute. (Laughs)
LCS has transitioned to an 8-team format. How do you feel about that?
It will be more competitive. Honestly, if 6 out of 10 teams make it to the playoffs, there are a couple of teams that suffer and hit rock bottom, making it easier to get wins. But if it becomes 6 out of 8 teams, the race will be much fiercer, and the two teams that don't make it will have a really bad spring. I don't know about the summer, but I think the spring will be more intense. I expect a situation where some top-tier teams will take one or two spots, and the rest will fiercely fight for the remaining four spots.
Is there a specific team you want to beat?
Not really. I just think if I do well and our team does well, that's enough. I believe that if we focus on improving our fundamentals and get stronger, wins will follow. When I think back to when I was with Team Liquid in 2018, instead of worrying about who the opponent was, we thought about how we could perfect our play. Of course, we have to pay attention to the draft and the opponent's strengths, but our internal foundation is more important.
Then, who do you think is the favorite for winning LCS Spring?
Many people are mentioning Cloud9 and NRG. However, personally, I think it's difficult for a super team to harmonize. If there's a superstar, the team revolves around that player, but if there are two or more, there will be sacrifices or conflicts. Therefore, I don't necessarily think super teams will work out in the end.
What are you most looking forward to in the next season?
I'm curious about how I can apply what I learned in the military to team life. I'm also curious about how much I've grown as a person. Those aspects are what I'm looking forward to the most.
Any last comments?
After being discharged, I had doubts about if I could come back. While others were playing in competitions and practicing every day, I planted trees and trained in the military. I want to overcome that gap and do well.
I consider experience extremely important. I have to convert the experience I gained in the military into success in the LoL esports scene. By doing so, I believe I can succeed when I move on to the next chapter of my life, regardless of what I end up doing.