It’s been a year and a half since Eonyoung “Impact” Jeong left Korea to play in NA LCS with Cloud9. Even as other players come and go in NA LCS, the fact that he stayed with C9 for entire time tells a lot about how he is a valuable asset for his team.
Having started his pro career at 2012, he is at his 6 year as a professional LoL player. Although 6 years are might not be a long time for other sports, it’s not a short time for League of Legends players as both the players and the game itself is very young. Now, there are many players who are reconsidering their career choice as a pro player - if they haven’t been doing so already.
However, Impact is still going strong. My impression of Impact was a kind of person who, no matter what happens around him, does what he is needed to do. On August 19th, we had a chance to talk to Impact in the NA LCS studio after his unfortunate defeat in the quarterfinals at the hands of Team Dignitas.
You’ve gone through some trouble as you couldn’t find a chance to play in the early season. Instead, we saw Ray subbing in your place. Can you tell us why?
I was a bit lost and couldn’t play as a team. I started to play in more matches once I started to focus more on the game and started to play better.
So, was it a teamwork problem?
Yes. I often thought to myself how it felt like I was playing on my own. I reviewed my matches on my own and also with the coaching staffs countless times so that I could get back in shape.
Could it be that you didn’t have the drive to play better? You’ve spent a long time away from home, and even longer as a pro player.
I’m not that kind of person. I’m more focused on improving myself rather than just winning. When I make mistakes or do badly in a match, I focus on trying to fix that problem. I’m not obsessed at winning the championship. I believe that we can win anything as long as I do well.
C9 didn’t do so well after the Rift Rivals.
In my opinion, we weren’t playing as well as we could even before that. [Post-RR] was a continuation of that, since we’d lose even when I win my lane in the laning phase. That’s when Coach Reapered started to shake things up by subbing in Ray. I didn’t care much since I trusted his decision, but I’m sure there were some problems with the team itself.
Your pro career was one of the best, while Ray was relatively a newcomer. Did you feel any sense of shame for being subbed out?
I could have, but I just thought it wasn’t necessary because I just needed to play better if I wanted to play in matches. I just needed to play well.
Your team was on a roll later in the season. Jensen was especially impressive too. In your opinion, why do you think Jensen started to play very well?
Jensen did play well, but I think other midlaners have played poorly at that time. In other words, Jensen started to play better, while other midlaners started to play worse - which made Jensen stand out.
When you say ‘other midlaners’, does that include Bjergsen as well?
Well, he still played very well, but I thought he wasn’t as good as he used to be. He sometimes made questionable mistakes like getting caught in a random moment. Jensen definitely made less mistakes than other midlaners. He never died without a good reason.
(Laughs) I remember Jensen being a good player who makes a bit too many mistakes.
It used to feel like he was going up against 9 other players in the game. Well, he still plays like he is fighting against 9 players in scrims. (Laughs) I remember him fighting against all 5 enemy champions while popping Ghost with Flash on cooldown as Taliyah. He died soon with their Alistar’s Flash-W-Q. However, in LCS matches, he definitely knows how he can contribute to our team, and he knows when he’d get into mortal danger.
Let’s go back to questions about you. You were not selected as All-Pro this split. Were you disappointed at the results?
Not really. I knew I wasn’t going to be chosen because I did poorly early on. I really don’t care whether I’m chosen for things like this - I’m just curious about who was chosen. Though I was a bit surprised because first place was Chanho “Ssumday” Kim. I thought Hojung “Flame” Lee would be chosen instead. However, although I was a bit surprised, I do agree that Ssumday did really well throughout the split.
During this split, the toplane was filled with Korean players. How was it?
Most of those players have yet adapted to playing on an international stage. And so, I constantly told myself that I can’t lose to them and that I have to perform better. I felt the same way throughout today’s series.
The series today must’ve been hard on you. What are your thoughts on it?
DIG didn’t draft or play out of our expectations. Even though constantly locking in Maokai before seeing our pick first caught us by surprise, we didn’t see it as a big problem because he wasn’t the biggest factor that decided the match. Overall, I think we lost because we made many mistakes in-game.
I think things would’ve gone much better today if we would’ve taken Cho’Gath. It’s because DIG often took carry champions that had no mobility skills and Cho’Gath is great for applying pressure to those said champions.
When C9 lost, TSM Bjergsen posted on Twitter, “Does this mean we're going to Worlds?”
I didn’t know because I don’t bring my phone when I’m set to play on stage. Back then, I used to, but when I noticed how easily I can get distracted by it, I stopped bringing it. I came to play League, so I will give my undivided attention to the game and the game only.
Your stay in NA has been a long one. Have you grown an attachment to C9 as an organization?
Of course. I’ve been playing for C9 for a year and a half. I also have good relations with all my teammates and staff members. It’s a great team.
In America, there are some places that are great but some that aren’t…(Laughs) First off, the weather is always great here - it’s very comfortable. In Korea, the winters are way too cold while the summers are too hot. The only downside is the fact that there are not a whole lot of convenience stores or Karaoke here.
Going shopping is also a bit different. Ranging from products made from cheap materials to the ones made from high quality ones, in Korea, there are a wide variety of clothes you can select and buy from. In America, there aren’t as many places like that. Also, I sometimes hesitate giving my credit card to the cashier when buying quality clothes here, because they’re so expensive. (Laughs)
You’ve been playing for such a long time now. I thought you were rich! (Laughs)
My hands tremble at the thought of spending money. It’s a habit that I got from playing for ‘Xenix Storm’ back in the day. Back then, I didn’t make much money, and so from then on, I grew hesitant on doing whatever that involved money. Even today, I deposit most of my money into a savings account.
Do you still keep in contact with ‘Comet’? The coach of ‘Jin Air Green Wings’? (Previously a support player for Xenics Storm and Inven reporter.)
He calls me all the time and asks me, “Are you ready for an interview?” (Laughs) Currently, he is the coach for JAG, and I remember speaking to him about it. I told him that he should take the opportunity to coach JAG, especially because he has the experience of playing on stage.
Don’t you miss Korea?
I visit from time to time, so it’s okay. But I do sometimes get the urge of wanting to play in the LCK again. I want to test myself to see where I am currently - by playing against the LCK toplaners. When I was practicing in Korea [as an NA player] I didn’t feel like I was too behind. However, I want to test myself again and again to see where my limits are truly at.
If you end up going back to the LCK, which team do you want to join?
I’ve said before that I won’t leave for any team other than SKT. Maybe I will consider joining KT if they give me an offer… But to be honest, I haven’t really thought much of it.
I can feel that you are extremely competitive.
I used to smash my keyboard whenever I lost. (Laughs) But my mentality definitely saw change. Back when I played for Xenix Storm, I often expressed my inner feelings in an aggressive way. Coach kkOma helped me a lot.
This is a bit irrelevant to the question, but I have a playstyle in which I play for the team and not solely for myself. Before I left for America, kkOma told me, “You should start focusing on yourself now,” but when I started playing on C9, I couldn’t get rid of my habit of being a team-oriented player. Eventually, in frustration, I\`Surprisingly, I started performing better and so did my team.
You’ll soon be competing in the qualifiers to get to Worlds. What say do you have on the matter
There really isn’t much to say, especially because we still have a lot of time. The only thing I will say though is: we’ll have to play well. That’s it. During the playoff series, I don’t think our team was able to portray even 50% of what we could’ve done. During the qualifiers, if we put all that we’ve practiced into our plays, I think we’ll end up with good results.
Any final words?
We’ve shown disappointing performance today, and things could’ve gone a lot better if we haven’t. Also, Korean fans give more attention to LCK and Worlds compared to the LCS. That’s why I want to make it to Worlds. I want to say hello to all my old Korean fans. It’s the least that I can do for them.