After an expected 4-0 victory against Florida Mayhem, Seoul Dynasty remained an undefeated OWL team that appears unstoppable. I wanted to get an insight on what makes the team tick, so asking the Kwang-Jin Baek, General Manager for Seoul Dynasty, for an interview seemed like a good place to start.
After all, managing the team favored to win the entire league most likely poses some unique challenges. Seoul Dynasty doesn't need to improve or tighten up their game-- instead, the challenge lies in staying consistent and making sure the good times keep rolling.
Calm and totally relaxed, Kwang-Jin was happy to answer my questions:
How do the team operate off the stage?
We have a tendency to do better on stage in general. We don’t really care about winning or losing in scrims. When we go onto the stage, we usually have much better results.
Why do you think that is? Does your team generally not take scrims seriously?
First of all, the first players to make Seoul Dynasty, have so much experience in the big league and in finals matches. Handling the pressure of the stage is easy for them. Also, all of our new players are collaborating with our veteran players very well and learning a lot.
Secondly? I think it’s just talent-- they were born with it.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of your role?
This job for me is really interesting. I’m learning a lot but, if I had to give an answer, the hardest part is dealing with the players complaining about food!
So who complains the most about food?
All players complain about the food, so it is hard to pick just one or two players, but Ryujehong complains a lot. Tobi also complains a lot about food, but he at least pretends that everything is fine.
So your team doesn't have too many serious worries?
Yes absolutely, we are doing everything else that the players would normally have to do. We are taking care of everything so they don’t have to. The players acknowledge this and are very appreciative.
What are some of the most unique or odd requests from your team?
Everything that they ask is odd! Like, things that are very private-- they ask things that normally you would ask your mother to do for you.
Is there any internal competition between the players of Seoul Dynasty? Players wanting to be considered the strongest player on the team, perhaps?
Surprisingly, I don’t feel any competitiveness among our players. It’s really unique that they cheer and support their teammates completely, even when they share a position or role on the team. They cheer so sincerely, I can see it from the dugout every match.
Is this something you think is common among top-tier Overwatch teams?
I haven’t seen all the other teams so far, so I’m not really sure. But I’ve seen different players on other teams and some of them are competitive in a way that they would just focus on their record. Right now, our team is really good in the way that they cheer on others.
I think that is the mentality that all the professional players need if they really want to win the League. That is the only way that a team can collaborate with each other and go on to win in the very end.
NYXL’s player-manager recently commented that his team thinks each of their players is the best player in their role. Do you think this is a sentiment Seoul Dynasty players share?
I don’t think their players really believe that is true. Any professional player wouldn’t say that about themselves and really believe it. They know it has to be a collaboration of all players, not just one player doing really well.
I’m pretty sure that players would say that they are the best in an interview or for the press. I’m fairly confident, however, that all the pro players in this league know where they personally rank in their skill, so even if they say something so confident, they know the truth in the end.
How important do you think it is for your team to stay humble, despite the rest of the onlookers constantly talking about your teams favorite-to-win status?
So, this is a really long league. I think it’s important to remember that, in the end, if we really want to win then we have to strategize and figure out where we are as a team moment by moment.
We have to analyze our performance, practice level, and players conditions vigilantly. We can never know for sure if we are the best.
What is something the fans of Dynasty may not know about the team that you’d like them to know?
That Ryujehong, in the end, is introverted. Because he is the captain of all of these younger kids, he is trying to lead the team well. However, his personality? He was born an introverted person. So sometimes, he acts in a way that you wouldn’t expect, but he is just a different type of leader.
What is your overall strategy in trying to cope with how long the league is?
We are going to take it slow, step by step. In 6 months, I’m pretty sure the meta is going to change at least once or twice. We are preparing for how to adjust and I want all of our players to individually know how to adjust.
For each stage, I have different goals. We meet those goals, and then go on to the next one and the next one. Through our process, I believe our team will be untouchable.
All photos of the team taken by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment and subsequently released by Blizzard for publication.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.