Have you ever thought about death? From time to time, this thought catches your mind. You try to shake it away thinking of your dreams and people you love, but you can’t help it when that thought gets into you. Still, we continue to live our lives to the fullest.
What a ridiculous way to start an interview. But this player made us think about death in that much of a ridiculous way. This player was Noh “Arrow” Dong-hyeon. Arrow went to the NA after playing in kt Rolster and it’s been quite long since he did. He had played for Phoenix 1 and now, he’s preparing his second season as the ADC of Optic Gaming.
Last Friday, we were able to meet Arrow who was visiting Korea. We talked about many different things and heard many stories; he spoke of his contemplation about death. Fortunately, his thought about death was directed in a positive way. Life is precious.
Although he got regretful results at his new team in the first season, Arrow is preparing the next season with will. From his past and current, and his future dream, his contemplation about death and his affection for pineapple pizza. We present you the conversation with Arrow in the form of an interview.
Hi, how have you been?
Hi. I think I’ve been pretty well, but as you know, Phoenix 1 was cut out of LCS franchise. So I was looking for a new team and joined Optic Gaming. After joining the team, there were quite a few regrets. There were some mistakes in games that could have been won. I lacked concentration and lost a lot of games in early and mid season. My morale was down significantly and we ended up 9th in the season.
Still, there were some things I learned during that time. At first, I was quite mad at teammates making mistakes and losing the game, but now I started to think ‘It’s okay. Things could happen. I should concentrate on reducing my own mistakes’.
It’s somewhat different from you getting MVP and being happy last year.
Since we lost a lot, I became very impatient, although I wasn’t such an impatient person. When I realized that I was becoming impatient, I thought the first thing I should do was to get rid of that thought. The negative emotions and being impatient came out in my performance affecting my ability to play the game. Furthermore, if I continue to be like that, I might lose faith from my teammates. Still, I needed to talk to them a lot since it was early in the season. Teamwork is made from time and effort and there will be mistakes during that period of time. So I decided not to think negative of other people and tried to concentrate more on my own mistakes.
Anyway, why did you order pineapple pizza? Did you know that you could earn bad reputation worldwide because of that?
I really like pineapple pizza. But our top laner, he nags me all the time. When we order pizza, for example, we need to order a whole pizza. Two is too much, so I say I like pizza with pineapples, but he gets all hyped up saying ‘Why in the world would you put pineapple on a pizza?’ So I just give in. Pizzas are still tasty even without the pineapples. I like both pineapples and pizza. If there’s pineapples on top of a pizza, that’s even better.
Fair enough. When did you come back to Korea?
I’ve been here for about a month now. I met a lot of people I wanted to see and went to PC cafes a lot. I got to Master tier playing duo with Kakao and played PUBG with friends. I also played screen baseball with Dong-bin (Score). I thought of visiting Busan with Ssumday because Nagne lives there, but we couldn’t find the proper time for each other so we didn’t go.
Now it’s been a while since you’ve been in the NA. What has changed for you as a player, or in your personal life?
Well… I learned how to get along with many different types of people. There are really a lot of people with different personalities in US. And I was really surprised at the players. They exercise a lot more than I thought they would. They really care about their health. When I first went to US, I always thought I didn’t want to do any exercise, exactly like when I was in Korea. But after a while, I saw them doing their work properly and putting enough time to exercise as well; their life was balanced, so that gave me a good impression.
So did you start exercising?
I…. will soon. (Laughs) I went along to work out a few times, but not regularly. I’m planning to exercise on a regular basis now.
Then is there anything that got worse?
Obviously, I get lonely from time to time. I usually don’t go out very often, but sometimes other players or some people I know ask me if I want to ‘hang out’. Even if my English got a lot better, I still feel a bit awkward when I’m with them, being the only foreigner. Of course I get along quite well when I ‘hang out’ with them, but it’s not that easy for me to ask them first.
To come to think of it, you’re the only Korean player in Optic Gaming.
Since the strategy coach or other players are all foreigners, I tend to stay home. But I think it would be better for me to hang out with them from now on. Nowadays, I started to think… All people must die…
What? Why? All of a sudden? Did you get a big impression from the movie ‘Final Destination’ recently?
No, I just sometimes get that thought. It’s scary. If I close my eyes, I can’t see anything, but if I open them, I can see. Normally, people don’t really think of that. When I think all people will die someday -- most people have negative thoughts on that, but I try to be more positive.
So you’re talking about YOLO very seriously, right?
(Laughs) I think of that sometimes. If I’m busy during the season, I don’t come to think of that, but after the season is over, I get scared thinking ‘what would happen if I die?’ Don’t you think other people will think about the same thing?
Hmm.. A Pro gamer might be one of the safest jobs in the world, don’t you think?
(Laughs) Maybe. But still, my thoughts just wander off to that. When I’m on the highway, if the speed gets fast, that thought comes to mind. So I just try to think positive. Those thoughts could make me negative and pessimistic but I try to think ‘I should live without regrets’, and that ‘You only live once, so I’ll always do my best on whatever I do before I die’.
Okaaay… Then how was the last season for you? You should have a lot of regrets compared to last year.
We could have won a lot of games, but we missed out because of mistakes. The season was full of regrets. Still, we have potential. I think teamwork is important, and I need to get closer with my teammates.
Who are you the closest to in your team? Is there any player that you can talk to about personal issues?
It hasn’t been long, so I’m not sure. I think I should hang out more often and get closer to them. If the other players hear this, they might be disappointed, but I’m saying this because I just want to get closer than I am right now. I want to get closer to my support, who I need to build up more synergy. I wish I could get really close to them so that our scrims can become really “happy-happy”.
Did you watch this MSI? How do you think it’s going?
*Note: This interview was held during the MSI 2018 Group Stage.
I thought Team Liquid of NA would do better, but their results weren’t that good. That’s just too bad. EU’s Fnatic is kind of an enduring style; I saw them seize that small chance to win the teamfight. After seing that, I thought Fnatic was a really good team. RNG seems like a team that goes all-in on Uzi. Watching the MSI, I thought it was really interesting.
On the other hand, Kingzone has a different team color. Each player is really good in each position. I still wonder why they weren’t that dominant during the group stage; in Bo1s. Maybe it’s because they lack experience in the international stage. I think it’s important to have that experience, whether or not you’re good. They say the play style is similar between Korea and China, but they’re really different if you meet them in international competitions.
If I predict who will win it all… If Kingzone takes advantage of the Bo5 enough, they might be the best candidate. But the Flash Wolves are really good too. Especially their jungler. Personally, I wish the Flash Wolves win it. I always want new teams or new regions win the championship. If RNG or Flash Wolves win the championship title, it could be better to see more spectacle moments. Merely, I think it could be more fun if that happens. I think if Kingzone is in their best form, they could beat RNG, but if they make mistakes or RNG plays their full potential, it could be hard for them. To make it short, I just wish Flash Wolves become champions.
Do you think it won’t be fun if EU wins the championship? It’s going to be a big issue for all League of Legends fans if that happens.
If Fnatic wins… I just wish this ‘EU is better than NA’ thing doesn’t stay. Of course this type of rivalry is always fun, but I hope the gap doesn’t get bigger and hope it always stays close.
Team Liquid’s ADC Doublelift is delivering very good performance. How do you feel as a player in the same position from the same region?
I think Doublelift did great during the MSI. There were no ridiculous deaths. Oddly enough, this MSI had many older players of the scene playing ADC, and it seemed that those older players like Doublelift sensed danger better than the younger players. Anyways, I think he was really good, but I think their team made too many mistakes.
Maybe it’s a good thing. They can find out what their mistakes were and they could focus their practice on not making those same mistakes to play well in the Summer Split and at Worlds. Although NA wasn’t able to do well, as a result, it could be even better for them.
Do you think you’ll become a good ‘old’ player like Doublelift in the future?
I’m still too young and lack experience. Oh right, Doublelift works out a lot too. Maybe his healthy mental state comes from all that exercise. I should really start exercising too.
This was a similiar question given to Rekkles and Hans Sama. Can you rank the NA ADCs in order? There are too many, so let’s just go with the top 5.
I’ll put Doublelift at the top. He’s the best. Whenever I play against him, I really feel that competitive spirit; I really want to win. It could be because of that thought; I make a lot of mistakes. Second will be Sneaky. He has been playing with Smoothie for quite a while. I would put Apollo at third. When I watch Clutch Gaming, they’re performance isn’t always that sharp, but they win a lot. The biggest reason to that is because they don’t make many mistakes. They’re a new team like us, but Apollo and their support, Hakuho have really good synergy and don’t make many mistakes. It’s hard to decide between Cody Sun and Zven, but I think during this season, Cody Sun was better. Zven still makes too many mistakes.
So I’ll say Doublelift – Sneaky – Apollo – Cody Sun and Zven. I’ll leave myself outside of the list and think I have potential to be in there. I could become first in that list if I just perform well. Maybe I’ll rate myself again after the next season.
Fly who was your former teammate when you were in KT returned to Korea, and Kakao did too. Will you be staying in the NA for long?
When I saw those transfers, I thought that it might be more interesting to play in the LCK. To other pro gamers or fans think “Leagues other than the LCK isn’t as good as the LCK and they think it’ll be easier to win the championship, but I think it’s more difficult.
The loneliness and English is hard, but the games are also very difficult. Even if I’m really good, the teamwork with the other players is really important. Everyone needs to improve together if I’m putting in an enormous amount of effort, but it’s not as easy as thought. The players are simply a lot more easygoing than the Korean teams since there’s no coach that forces you to do so. So it’s wrong to think ‘Foreign leagues are easier to win the championship because their performance isn’t as good as the LCK’. If any player thinks ‘I’ll be untouchable if I go to foreign leagues because I was good in the LCK’, I want to tell them that they’re wrong. It’s a lot harder than that. It’s a team game, so one player can’t make a big difference. If their English is good, it’s a lot better, but if not…… Yes. English is essential to survive here.
I’m thinking of staying in the NA for now, and I want to make this team as good as Korean teams. The Korean teams take benefit without losing anything, but here, the macro game isn’t that tight. I want to have everyone understand that macro so that everybody can improve a lot.
This is a question from the fans. What’s your secret to becoming good at English?
My answer is going to be too obvious. I studied. I thought I was pretty good. It’s been a while since I was at school, but I remember how it went: I just simply went to school, came home, played games but my mother told me to study, so I did. I want to tell those many students out there, if you have nothing to do, study. It’s not bad. I didn’t know back then, but that study paid off for me. The English I studied came in handy.
So it seems like you were a good student. What do you think you’ll be doing if you didn’t become a pro gamer?
I think I would have gone to something related to computers. Making programs. Something like that.
At first, my mother was happy because I got good grades, and I also put in more effort to make her happy. But starting from high school, it became difficult to do that. I started playing more games than before. I think I would have become a doctor if I continued to study hard for my mother. She wanted me to become a doctor, and since I was pretty good, I could have at least tried to become one. Now, I really like games so I became a pro gamer. My mother was really disappointed at first, and she didn’t even support me much.
Back then, she was really worried because her earnest son went out playing games and not coming home. But after I became a practice member at KT and got paid, she started to let me do what I wanted to do. After I won the championship, she really cheered me on. Now that I’m home for a month, she’s really caring for me. When I told her that I’m leaving in two days, she seemed quite disappointed again, but in a different way.
Wait, what? You’re leaving the day after tomorrow? And you’re eating pizza with me on a Friday night?
Okay… Then what do you want to do far in the future?
I have a lot of things I want to do. I want to learn cooking from a good chef and make improvements. It’s like a drama. I’m mostly interested in making improvements and achieving things.
So this time, you got this from the movie “American Chef”?
(Laughs) Maybe? I want to try being a chef, and I also want to become a farmer. A life without computers. Farming. I remember grinding sesame and eating sesame soup when I was a child. I had a puppy and we grew chili pepper in the farm.
If you make a bucket list of what you want to do, would it be filled with cooking and farming?
Those two, and raising dogs for a long time. When I was a child, I had a cat, but I had to give her away because we couldn’t afford to keep her. I also want to do some volunteer work. Doing volunteer work out of my heart.
Meeting someone I really love and get married is also good. Learning cooking and opening a restaurant. Setting up several computers in my room so that I can play with my friends like a ‘Man Cave’. Since all the computers are in different situations, it’s hard to play in the same environment. I want to make a place that we can all enjoy gaming.
That’s any man’s dream. We’re up to the end of the interview now. Any comments to the fans?
The upcoming season will be really important for me. I need to perform well in this season so that other teams look at us different, and I would be satisfied more. I’ll put in all the effort I can put in. I may not be able to keep up to the expectations, but I’ll always do my best. I’ll practice until I’m satisfied with myself.
And finally, think about death. If you think you’re sensitive and fussy and often get mad at people around you, think thoroughly about death once. Be good to those around you, and don’t leave regrets. Be a person who can give good memories. Something fun to think about, huh? (Laughs)
A managing editor who can do more things than you think.