Before boarding his plane to America for joining Gold Coin United, the second division North American League of Legends team, we were able to meet Mingi "MadLife" Hong, also known as MadLifeGod. As we moved to the Cafe for an interview, he looked calm and mature at the same time. Let's hear the story of Mad Life.
How are you these days?
I thought I could easily find a new team when I returned to Korea after All-Stars. But it was difficult seeking a team for the first time. After several discussions, I signed a contract in less than a week and now I have just started to practice with the new team.
Did Locodoco help you a lot? What did he say when he asked you to join the Gold Coin United(GCU)?
Well, Loco is indeed a good sales rep.. (laughs) He told me that he understood how I did so well in Spring while having a bad time in Summer and he also told me that if we work together, he could tap into my potential and cheesy stuff like "you can still shine" (laugh). It would be a lie if I said that didn't have any influence on my decision, but I also had the idea that this team could get promoted if I join. He told me that GCU will get promoted and win the Summer Season to go Worlds but.. (laugh).
You've been a professional player for a long time. Which moment do you recall as the most memorable?
Winning the LCK was the most memorable moment for me. I wanted to win so badly after finishing as runner-up in the previous season. But it was very difficult to achieve because the team members changed. When I finally won the championship, I was so happy.
What was it like to be a CJ professional gamer?
As soon as my parents heard the news about CJ, they were so happy about it and I liked it too. In the early years after joining CJ, I went to overseas tournaments a lot, but things didn't turn out well and I felt sorry for the team.
I remember that you encountered 3 Support bans and a champion pool issue was brought up. How did you feel about it at that time?
There were not enough champions to use as support back then, so I worried a lot about what to practice. I never had three (Support) bans when scrimming, so I never expected to play with three bans in the tournament. I suppose I was unable to perform well in such a situation.
As the team members left one by one, You gradually became the leader of CJ. Was it burdensome?
Team members were changed frequently, and the absence of CloudTemplar was very difficult, but I thought that we should overcome this with a professional mindset. Though it did not work out in the end. I felt this year too that frequent replacement of rosters seems to have a bad influence on a team's performances.
CJ seemed to have a good vibe until early spring of 2016, but suddenly they began to fall off. Was there any decisive moment or reason to that?
In the early Spring Season, I gave most of the shot calls since all the players except me were amateurs at that time. We had pretty decent results as a rookie team and we aimed to advance to play-offs. But it didn't work out as we expected. We kept losing in both scrims and tournaments and our self confidence suffered from it. Things would have been better if I had stronger leadership, but I was unable to focus on my role in Summer.
Personally, I think you're more comfortable when you're not carrying the burden of making important shot calls.
I personally am an introverted person. I began my career as a gamer in 2010 and I spoke only when it's necessary and other than that, I only gave small advise. I was maintaining that style because I played the best with that environment. But when the situation changed and the other teams improved, it was very difficult to adjust myself into a new surrounding.
Weren't the big titles like MadLifeGod burdensome when you were having bad days?
It hurt a lot. Once I had this negative thought that "I never asked for these titles.." But when I think about it now, I am very grateful to be called those titles and I think trying hard to show great performances is the best way to return the fans’ favor.
How did you feel when CJ was demoted?
It was a day where I did not want to live and I wanted to hide somewhere. It was such a dishonorable moment as a professional gamer.
What was it like to leave the team?
I intentionally tried not to think too much when I left CJ. The deal was made, and looking back at it won't do anything but just bring about mixed feelings. I didn't want to be influenced by emotions because it would not help. Not that I like to be emotionless, but I think I gained some kind of tolerance to farewells since CloudTemplar left. Shy hyung and I cried a lot back then.
When did you decide to play in North America?
Once the league was completely finished, I did a lot of thinking about my future, because I thought I was old enough to think about my life as well as my gamer career. I also thought it would be helpful to learn the language in that country. I decided to go abroad for the future, as well as my life as a gamer.
How will you be positioning yourself in the new team?
It seems like it's getting harder to keep my original intention as time has passed. But I have much experience and I need to use it wisely. I believe that to keep trying to keep my skills from being rusted and share my experiences with less experienced players is the best thing I can do for now.
What is one thing you want to achieve in the NA?
If GCU can advance to Worlds, I will conduct interviews without the help of Homin hyung (laugh). I think promotion is the top priority for now. Our goal is to compete with the first division teams after promotion.
Any last words for your fans?
Once, I thought I'd stay in Korea because I'd miss you all so much, but I decided to go to America for a better future. I'm very thankful for the almost 5 years of support I’ve had in Korea. I will show you good performances in America and promise to come back in good shape. I hope that you all have a good year-end.
Photography by Chaerim "ttipi" Park