Looking back to season 5, there were many well-known junglers in Korea. There was Ambition, a player who changed his role from mid to jungle. There was also Bengi, a player who played for the best team in the world. But we also can't leave out 'Jin Air Green Wings' Chaser.
Chaser was with JAG for over 2 years. Then, he played for 'Longzhu Gaming' for another. Afterward, he made the announcement that he will be playing in the NA LCS. Along with 'Ssumday', director Park, and coach Kim, the four well-known figures moved to Team Dignitas.
But their stay didn't last long. On this year's February, we visited the Dignitas team house to see them. There, we saw the 4 familiar faces enjoying their time. But soon after our visit, coach Kim and director Park made the announcement that they were leaving the team.
Because of it, we worried for Chaser and Ssumday every time they made an appearance in the LCS. The only thing we could've done at the time was cheer for them. And as the Summer Split went on, we heard the news that Chaser was leaving the team.
We wanted to meet the player to hear from him. And on July 20th, 5 days after his announcement, we ran into an opportunity to speak with him at a coffee shop.
When did you return to Korea?
It's been about 2 weeks since I left. I actually told the team that I would like to leave long before my actual departure. But because of schedules and other reasons, it took me a while to get back to Korea.
You have been in America for approximately 7 months. How do you feel that you are finally back?
It's very comforting here. I can go and do whatever I want. Being able to meet all of my friends again also feels good. Life in the states had many limitations for me because I wasn't too knowledgeable about the surrounding areas. But it's too hot here! In LA, before my departure to Korea, I wore a hoodie because it was so cold during the night.
Were there any hardships living in America?
Hmm... Not really. Even though my English was lacking, I didn't really experience any major hardships. The language barrier, of course, was something that I had to overcome in the beginning. But given time, I got used to it. There was nothing that time couldn't solve.
How was the life like living in the Dignitas teamhouse?
It was pretty good. Overall, I experienced a lot more freedom there compared to the LCK team houses. The players were granted a substantial amount of free time. I also came to love American food.
But there were still some that didn't fit into my taste. The food provided to the players in the LCS waiting room always had this strong smell to it.
What did you do during those "free times" that you mentioned?
Occasionally, the team would leave the teamhouse to eat out. We would also go to arcades and Korea Town from time to time. But on my own, I didn't really go anywhere.
You joined the team with 3 other Koreans. Are there any memorable moments involving them?
The moment our Korean coach left. It's not exactly a fond memory, but it's something I couldn't forget.
You said you wanted to leave the team far before your actual departure. Why?
It's been about 2 weeks since I left the team. But the decision to leave the team was made a little more than a month ago. The biggest reasons for my departure were salary issues.
A while back, we interviewed 'Ssumday'. He told us that there was a little bit of an internal conflict within the teamhouse. Can you enlighten us?
The recruitment of Korean players and coach didn't really work out in the beginning. Players from different regions share different cultures and ways of living their daily lives. Conflicts can arise between individuals who share different opinions and views; so we can't really say it's a team problem but rather an individual's. And as a reminder, this had nothing to do with my departure from the team. Also, The whole "issue" got a lot better during the summer.
Dignitas had a strong start during the split. But suddenly, they started falling off. Do you have any idea why?
We were always an inconsistent team. At times, we exhibited performances that were good enough to take down some of the top teams, but sometimes, we lost to the bottom ones. I can't really explain how or why.
Unlike the LCK, teams in the NA LCS go through lots of roster changes during an ongoing split. What's your opinion on it?
I was astounded at first. In my personal opinion, having a player replaced could end up being critical for a team; as the hours spent in building team synergy would go to waste. However, this is from a player's perspective, and a little bit of change will most likely be fine.
But I can't really say too much on this subject. That is because there were many occasions in which a big roster change brought success to a team. But there is this one odd thing I would like to point out about NA LCS. There are many players that are being constantly used and moved from team to team. This came as odd for me.
If another NA team offers you a position in the team, are you willing to go back?
Like I said, my stay in America was not bad. So going back is definitely an option I would consider if I receive an offer.
Is there something that you regret from your stay?
I asked myself, "What if I had played more confidently?" Both in game and outside of the game. If I was more confident in my plays, I think everything could've gone much better. I also think my unfamiliarity with NA and its language really held me down and kept me from expressing myself to the fullest degree. But it was still a great learning experience for me. Chanho(Ssumday) was always there for me as well.
Was there a player from another team that you kept in touch with?
I contacted Flame from time to time. I also kept in touch with GCU's FeniX. They were people that I could depend on.
You played in both LCK and LCS. What is the difference between the two leagues?
First of all, LCK teams put more emphasis on macro management. Say for example, in Korea, when your toplaner is split pushing and the opposing toplaner disappears, the team calls it out and reacts to it accordingly. But in NA, small details in team communication like that gets left out from time to time.
Also, in a way, I feel NA players approach mistakes more kindly. When they make a misstep in a game, they say things like: "They outplayed us," or "We were just unlucky." In Korea, mistakes are seen as merely mistakes.
NA teams are known to struggle on international stages. As a previous LCS player yourself, why do you think that's the case?
When actually playing against them in scrims or on stage, they all feel like a strong team. And from what I've heard, TSM had a high win-rate scrimming against LCK teams during their stay in Korea. When NA teams are playing at their usual performance, they are no different from the LCK teams. But for some reason, every time an NA team plays on top a stage that matters, they don't play like themselves.
What are your future goals?
I came back at a rather odd timing [nearing the end of the split], so it would be more than difficult to join a team. So until then, I will just keep up with the other players by playing KR solo queue. And when the new season starts in 2018, I will actively look for a team.
You have been playing as a professional for years. So in a good way, you finally caught a break. What will you do other than gaming?
First, I want to properly and consistently exercise. As a gamer, my posture became a mess, and I want to overcome it by working out. And now that I think about it, I haven't even had the time to learn to drive. I think I will get my license too during this break.
It's your birthday soon (August 1st). How will you spend the day?
Huh? How did you know? Well, I won't be doing anything too special. I will most likely just eat with my friends (laughs).
If you were to completely retire from playing professional League, what would you do?
Well, I would be drafted into the Korean Army first... After the army, I would want to run my own business[like a coffee shop]. But honestly, I haven't really considered life outside of gaming. I want to think through it over a long period of time.
After your departure from the team, Shrimp became the sole jungler for Dignitas. What're your opinions on him?
When he performs, he shows very aggressive but effective plays. However, I do think he is inconsistent at times. Compared to me, he is much more adapted to the NA scene, most likely because he started his career there.
Many interesting plays come out from NA junglers. And recently, a player that goes by the name of 'Mike Yeung' caught the attention of many fans due to his performance during Rift Rivals. What're your opinions on him?
He is indeed a fantastic player. But his weaknesses are very noticeable. Hig biggest weakness is his champion pool. It's true that he is very fluent on Nidalee and Leesin, but if a team really set their mind to ban out his strong picks, I think he would struggle.
Recently, passive(tank) junglers have been rising in popularity due to the changes of 'Cinderhulk'.
Cinderhulk at the moment is a very cost efficient item. It's a great time for the tank junglers. And like how Score said in his previous interview, there is a strong chance that Cho'Gath could make an appearance on stage. I have seen Cho'Gath being played in solo queue myself, and from what I have seen, he has the potential to delete an ADC that has full health. And boy, a champion that could do that is very scary.
If I am to pick more champions that could be played, I think Nunu would be good too. Although Nunu does have limitations in how much he can attribute to a game, picking him alongside a strong botlane could be very effective.
And about the new champion, Kayn... He is very strong after his transformation, but I haven't had the chance to actually play him because he is almost always banned.
Chaser, you may be back in Korea, but there are other Korean players who are still fighting it out in LCS. Is there anything you would like to say to them?
Personally, it wasn't exactly easy adapting to a foreign team. There were many emotional hardships that came and went. As a player that experienced it, I want everything to go well for them.
And I have a personal message for Ssumday.
"Chanho! I'm sorry for leaving you! But boy let me tell you, Korea is ridiculously hot right now! The weather in LA is pretty good, so I recommend you stay there... for as long as possible. Keep on fighting!"
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