New teams joined the NA LCS with the new franchise system, but several teams disappeared as well. Most players and coaches moved to other NA LCS teams or to other regions, but some retired or took on a new challenge in different areas.
Former Team EnVyUs head coach Kim “viOLet” Dong-hwan, is one of those challenge seekers. From Warcraft 3 to Starcraft 2, and then to a coach of League of Legends, his eSports career was full of ups and downs. Now, viOLet will be taking on a new challenge as an assistant coach of Team EnVyUs in the Overwatch scene.
His life was like a roller coaster. It was hard for him to approach the eSports scene in the first place because he lived on the far south island of Korea, Jejudo, and his parents disapproved of him being a professional player. When he had his debut as a Warcraft 3 player, he had to do part time jobs to earn the money to buy a plane ticket, without his parents knowing. When he at last became a professional player, his house caught fire and he had to consider retirement, but he was able to continue to pursue his career with the help of a friend.
After Warcraft 3 lost its popularity, viOLet switched to Starcraft 2, but the poor environment of the gaming house caused some health troubles. While he was recovering back at home, a decent offer came from the US, and he was able to play there. However, he went through a lot of distress with visa problems for nearly a whole year. The owner of Team EnVyUs is said to be fond of the dramatic story of viOLet’s life: having good results even under the difficult circumstances.
He has been in the States for six years. Six years could be short, or long. What did he feel during his stay in America? The first thing viOLet mentioned was the difference in the eSports fans. He felt that if the fans of Korea were just watching, seeing how the players play, the NA fans actually cheer on the teams like their own, enthusiastically. He was in awe after seeing a large man wearing a shirt with a game character printed on it, cheering for the players.
“Sometimes fans came and consoled me when I was down after a loss. After that, I thought that I should be better, for the fans. It was an experience that I haven’t had in Korea. I talked to many other players who play in the US about this matter and they all agreed.”
When viOLet switched his career from a Starcraft 2 player to League coach, the fans were one of the main reasons. He started to think seriously about teaching somebody after seeing a father teaching his child about the game.
“I was worried about what to do after retirement, and my team, EnVyUs, approved of my career and said ‘The players like you and you know a lot about living in the US. What do you think about being a coach for our LoL team?’ It was a challenge that I wanted to take, so I said yes without hesitating.”
Clearly, being a coach of a different game couldn’t have been easy. However, he played a lot of LoL while he was a Starcraft 2 player, and while interacting with the players of Azubu Frost/Blaze, his former team, he achieved a higher level of knowledge in the game, which gave viOLet enough confidence to be a coach.
“It’s not that I teach the players what to do within the game just because I’m the coach. I know that the players know better because I was a professional player myself. So I mainly did the things outside of the game, and concentrated on analyzing the opponents. Most of the problems the players had were problems that I’d already experienced while playing in a foreign country.”
His career as a coach started from the summer split of 2017. However, before and after Worlds, many teams with big sponsors started to join, along with the flow of franchising. In this process, small teams or teams with insufficient money were squeezed out. Team Envy wasn’t very good and avoided relegation narrowly, only to be pushed out from the new franchising system. Coach viOLet was very regretful about that.
“As a person who is working in the eSports scene, the growth of the scene is very welcome. But we were the direct victims of that. I still like LoL and I wanted to produce good results with the players, but we were finished without having a second chance. I had just got to know about how everything worked around here, but it’s over now.”
Coach viOLet was regretful that he wasn’t able to show much during his time as a coach, but he was proud of making improvements after being in last place. He didn’t have a whole lot of time to gain the full trust of the players, but he said he was still in close touch with the players, like Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo, who moved to Clutch Gaming of the Houston Rockets.
Now he is about to have a whole new start in the Overwatch League; viOLet is very eager to help the enthusiastic players, and bring about some good results. He thanked the fans who always support him to end the interview.
“I think there are many people who don’t know me because Warcraft 3 and Starcraft 2 were games that were popular to only a small portion of the eSports fans. I don’t think that many people will read my interview article (Laughs). What I want to say is that now the eSports scene in Korea is growing, and many Korean players get famous in foreign leagues. This is of course because of the players’ passion, but also because of all the fans who are always supporting them. I want to thank all the eSports fans who give such generous support.”
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