In the last season, the Golden Guardians (GGS) had only four wins. Then how is this season? It hasn’t been even halfway through the season, and they already have four wins. They’re at 50% win rate and can even aim for the playoffs.
The most visible change to the team was their mid laner. Son “Mickey” Young-min is starting for GGS in place of Hai now, and he’s given surprising performances that he had shown in Korea. Especially, his recent performance on Zoe left a deep impression.
Mickey used to be called a dice; his performance was highly inconsistent. He was called 1Mickey on days that he was bad, and 6Mickey when he was good. This was the same as Kim “SSONG” Sang-soo when he used to be a player. Hoping we’ll only see the 6Mickey, the following is the interview with Mickey after the match on the 15th.
It’s the first time you’re starting full-time in the NA. How do you feel?
Our team’s results weren’t that good last season. I feel good because our team’s results are getting better after I joined the team.
Although you were a player that was one of the starters in Korea, you were in the academy team for a long time in the NA. What was the problem?
It wasn’t my will to be playing in the academy team. I was supposed to be starting for Team Liquid, but I played in the academy team because of team circumstances. (Were you discontent?) Yes, I was discontent.
On what parts do you think you helped the team?
I’m not a player with a star-career, but my experience in the pro scene isn’t short. I learned during my long experience, and I taught my teammates about the team game a lot, like how to get vision, when to gank, etc. I taught them a lot about making plays as a team.
It seems you’re nearly a playing coach.
I don’t know how my teammates would think, but I think I taught them many things. (Laughs)
In Korea, you were known for being inconsistent, and you had issues on your mentality. How are you now?
When I was in Korea, I was just a boy, with a boyish mindset. That’s why I lost my cool often. Now, I’m trying to look back at myself, and fixing what I’m doing wrong.
Did you get close to your teammates now? It hasn’t been long since you joined the team.
I’m getting closer to them now. Since I’m not that good at English, there’s a limit to how close I can get. To get closer, I need to talk more. Since I can share more of what I know in the game only if I speak English better, I’m doing my best, even if I’m not that good. I think that’s one of the things to focus on for our team to get to a higher place.
What do you think is different between NA and Korea?
It seems a bit more comfortable here, so I’m not having much trouble. When I was in Korea, it was hard for me. Losing was even worse. I was angry because it seemed like all my effort wasn’t followed by good results. Now, my mind is more at ease here; there’s less stress mentally.
You used to be on the same team as Nam “LirA” Tae-yoo. Does he give you any advice on living in the NA?
We often hang out and share our thoughts on the meta. We have a chat room with the players who used to play together in the Afreeca Freecs. Most of the players in that chat room are here and there, and we share information from Taiwan, Korea, Turkey, and the US.
You used to be in ROX Tigers just before coming to NA. Now, ROX is affiliated to Hanwha Life, and has gotten bigger. Don’t you regret leaving ROX?
Honestly, I think I was the problem. I wasn’t the only problem there, but I think I was the biggest problem. I’m still in touch with them, and I’m happy that they’re doing well. I hope they continue to do well.
You used to talk your mind in interviews before. You even “trash talked” Faker. Regarding that, NA could be more of your style.
When I said that to Faker, it was just so that the fans will have more fun, but the Korean fans took it too seriously. I would never disregard Faker; he’s a player I respect. NA fans are more open to trash talk, so that’s good for me.
Were there any players that were impressive to you in the NA?
I thought that Bjergsen plays the smartest. Since all the players’ mechanics are really good nowadays, they’re all similar. What’s important now is how much they think during the game. I usually play in the jungle as my sub position, and when I meet Bjergsen as my mid laner, he’s so reliable. He doesn’t die much.
Were there any fun situations or stories while you were in NA?
I sometimes hang out with the Korean players, but there weren’t any fun things happening. There’s not much to do in NA. We just eat, go to karaoke, and just have fun. (Laughs)
How’s the NA solo queue?
I don’t feel that big of a difference. In Korea, when there are many pro players in the game at the highest MM, the level of play is insanely high.
What would be your goal for this season?
Personally, my goal is to get to Worlds. I’ve been pro for about 3-4 years, but I haven’t been there yet. I’m not sure if our team can reach Worlds, but my goal is getting there. At least to the playoffs, and if we’re good, Worlds.
What do you think the possibility of your team getting to Worlds is?
Well, it may be difficult, but it’s not impossible. Getting to playoffs is also hard, but I think we can do it, and I really want to do it.
Any last comments?
There still are many fans in Korea that are cheering for me. I want to thank them. The GGS fans must have been frustrated when Hai was suddenly replaced; I’m thankful for all the support you still give us.