The player that made Korea famous for its talented toplaners, Shy, has retired. If we look back at the past, Shy was a strong contender for the title of "best toplaner in KR." After joining CJ Frost at the early stages of his career, the team miraculously reverse swept CLG EU, and Shy had won his very first title. In that very same year, he continued on to place 2nd at the World Championship and had his name known across the globe.
However, in 2016, CJ Entus faced its relegation from the LCK. As a result, Shy joined hands with Rox Tigers, but unfortunately, due to a wrist injury and the performance drop that came with it, he couldn't live up to his previous standards. In the end, after leaving a record of 19-20, Shy decided to leave the scene. Shy, however, mentioned that he had left with no regrets, as he truly poured his heart into the game. By quickly accepting our interview request, Shy informed us that he desired to say a final farewell to his fans.
※ The original 'INVEN KR' article's formatting was altered before translation to give the English-speaking audience a better reading experience.
Original Article: [Interview] Goodbye, Shy: His Final Farewell
You said that you wanted to say a final farewell to your fans. And well, here it is!
Usually, when an esports figure retires, he or she leaves a long post on Social media. So I was initially planning to do the same, but I just couldn't get myself to write it in words. I wanted to tell my fans as quickly as possible, but the opposite happened. I'd like to apologize to them for such a late goodbye. To be honest, I still can't get over the fact that I have retired. Before my retirement, when I saw players who have joined the scene as early as I have, retire, I was thinking to myself that my turn will soon come. I feel pretty... empty right now.
What exactly triggered you to retire?
It wasn't a sudden decision. My announcement was made late, but I started feeling my limits as a player during the Summer Split. I just couldn't see my old-self in me anymore. As I constantly lost in lane, I thought to myself, "has the time come?" As these thoughts continued lingering in my head, I started accumulating a lot of stress during practice. Then I told the head coach that I won't be able to practice anymore as much as I used to anymore. That basically told him that I'm planning to retire.
Your wrist injury must've been a major factor.
When my wrists felt fine, I played well. But when it started hurting, nothing worked. As time passed, I started asking myself, "if my wrists hurt, I can't play? If only my wrists were fine, I would've done so much better." It felt unfair. In the end, I can see now that those thoughts made me weak and didn't help me whatsoever. I simply hated the fact that I was becoming weaker than the other players.
Fans didn't exactly see you as a bad player though.
If I told my coach that I would like to play more often, he would've let me. But that is solely my desire, and I didn't exactly prove my worth during practice either. It could've been a bad influence on the younger players on the team.
Professionals of any given category are people that need to constantly prove their worth. I didn't want to put myself before the team - I didn't want my pride to hurt the team as a whole. If I was going to play, I wanted to be a big help to the team, and moreover, carry them. I didn't want to be a deadweight that simply "supports" the team.
I feel like the stress from your slump wasn't the trigger that made you retire.
When I was in my slump, I just simply had the mindset that I can overcome it if I really tried my best. But right before my retirement, I didn't have any confidence, I was exhausted, and had lost the motivation to continue playing. That's when I knew it was time for me to leave.
You said that you felt "empty." What're your plans for tomorrow?
I'm not necessarily worried about tomorrow, but rather, the future as a whole. I'm thinking of whether I should become a coach, start streaming, or join the army. But I have worked hard so far, so I think I deserve a break and some time to try out other games. (Laughs)
Oddly, when I first left the team, there were so many things that I had to pay for using my own money. I saw the "reality" of things. After a short break, I'll really need to start planning for the future.
When you informed those who are around you that you'll be retiring, how did they react?
They didn't ask me why, but rather, looked at me with the expression like "finally." (Laughs) I had actually brought up the subject of retirement quite often in many previous conversations with my acquaintances, so they knew that the news was coming. It wasn't a sudden or a spontaneous retirement.
What's the first thing that changed in your life following your retirement?
My concerns regarding the future.
Professional gaming teams are extremely busy at this point in time. Despite it being the "preseason", due to the changes in rosters, teams need to take time to develop synergy and plan out events to properly introduce the players. I no longer feel that pressure, but like how I've mentioned earlier, I've got other things to worry about now. (Laughs)
How did it feel when you packed your things to leave for home?
I haven't gone to the army yet, but when I hear stories from those who have, they all mentioned that it felt great to finally finish... but at the same time, sad. I felt similar. I wanted to retire, but I had moments where I thought, "is this really the right choice?" It felt uncomfortable to leave.
Won't there come a time where you'll miss being a professional player?
I don't think I'll miss it. I poured all my passion into the game, and as a player, excluding finances, I think I achieved almost everything that I had to. I didn't reach the top multiple times, but to have gotten there at all, I had to really play my heart out. It was difficult, and I did everything that I could've.
You weren't disappointed and have no regrets. That means you're satisfied with your career as a player, right?
As a player, I'm satisfied. I was once called the best, but I have also hit the floor. I also made Korea well-known for having strong toplaners. That's all I need. It was the best experience of my life.
What was the best moment during your career?
Teamwise, the Finals that involved my team and CLG EU and the '2012 World Championship Finals'. As for myself, as a single player, the best moment was at the All-Star Finals where I reached the peak of my performance. At that time, I could confidently say that I was truly the best of the best.
Who was the "best" teammate that you've played with?
I want to choose Ambition. I only played for CJ Entus and Rox Tigers so I don't know too many players, but whenever I talked with Ambition, I knew that he was a hard-working player. Just talking to him alone was a big help for me when I was a player. Also, I think he played a big role in regards to the rise of SSG this year.
How was the relationship between CJ Entus and Shy?
Back then, my mind was 100% about League of Legends. I got angry when I lost, and the competition between the two sister teams, Azubu Frost and Azubu Blaze was very fierce. At that time, whenever I lost to Flame, I cried under my blanket.
RapidStar at the time was also a very strong player. Back then, I didn't have anywhere to go to relieve the feelings that I had. Thinking about it now, it's kind of silly. We used to argue so much and even cry when things didn't go as planned. Why were we so serious? (Laughs) It's all a great memory now.
You fell into a slump near the end of your career. What kind of advice would Shy give to Shy?
When I was underperforming badly, I constantly questioned myself in every aspect, "is what I'm doing the right thing?" If I could go back in time, I would not only tell myself but every one of my teammates to have confidence and ignore pointless criticism.
Although our team was underperforming, we still remained popular, so I think people gave us a hard time because they were jealous. (Laughs) When I started underperforming, on top of thinking about how I could play to win, I also thought about what I should do to stop receiving flak.
What was the most memorable moment for you as a professional gamer?
Just one, right? Then it'll be the memory of trying to achieve something great with others. I'll miss that. Having that experience again will be difficult. It felt like something that you'd see in a movie or a comic.
Will we ever see you again working in the esports scene?
I'm not too sure yet. (Laughs) As of right now, I don't think that I will. It'll depend on the opportunities that will come my way. For now, however, I'm planning to continue streaming. I also need to finish my [mandatory] army service, so I'll probably get that out of the way first.
Do you have anything that you want to tell the amateurs who dream of becoming professional gamers?
There are many players who truly pour their heart out, but can't get far. But if they don't collapse and have the mindset to continue improving, they will get there. From personal experience as a player, I saw that each individual player has a specific potential. As for Bdd, I knew that he was going to be a great player. Also, the former players of CJ Entus that stayed with the team for a long time are doing great in other teams, right? Every player has a moment where they will shine. So don't give up and only look forward. A moment will come for you, too.
Lastly, what kind of player do you want to be remembered as?
I enjoy reading about history. Say, if you read a history book, the specific date of an important event is recorded at the top like: "Year XXX, XX of XX." I want my name recorded like that in the history of esports. "Shy, debuts in 2012... etc."