Anybody needs a break after being on their toes for long, especially when they’re in the center of everybody’s attention. How they relieve the stress they had would be all different. Some enjoy just having pure rest, some may pack up and go for a trip, and some would eat whatever tastes good.
Spring split probably felt like a lifetime for Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho. Despite the high expectations, his team stumbled and ended up in last place. He returned to Korea after the season to get some quality rest. He went on short trips and enjoyed delicious meals. Ssumday was doing his best to return to the LCS in the best shape he can be in.
During his break, he spared some time for us to chat.
It’s been a while since the season ended. How have you been?
We were eliminated so early. I came back to Korea a while ago and had a break, went on trips to Japan and Gangwondo. I didn’t visit LoL Park or Jamsil for the LCK matches, but I did watch all of them.
I saw you tweet pictures of Gangwondo. When did you go to Japan?
A few weeks ago. I went to Osaka with coach Kim Jeong-soo of DAMWON Gaming and the translator who worked with us when we were in Team Dignitas.
How long will you be staying in Korea this time?
I’ll probably head back in about two weeks to practice.
Have you been taking a ‘real’ break while you’re in Korea?
Well, not completely. Although I don’t play too seriously, I do play solo ranked. The problem is that there are so many players that are toxic… I try not to play that much when I’m on vacation. It’s sometimes stressful, but what’s more important is that when I take a break from playing a while, it’s really fun when I return. There are new things as well.
On the contrary, it could be difficult to catch up with the meta if I take a break for too long. That would be the con, but usually, by the time I return, others have found good builds and everything so I just need to follow their steps. (Laughs) (Don’t you look for strats yourself?) During the season, yes, obviously. For now, it’s more to just enjoy, to not lose my touch.
It seems that you were going to have a fan meet, but didn’t.
I saw that Bang and Huni were planning one, so I thought maybe I’ll hold a fan meet as well, remembering that I had a lot of fun when I had one in 2016. While I was planning for it, it was more complicated than I thought, and since I had so much fun last time, I’ll do it next time with better preparation to have more fun.
You said that during your last stay in Korea, you did your best to not do anything. Is it similar this time as well?
Yeah, kind of. I’m trying to have a good break to re-energize myself. Last year, my former coach, Stardust told me about when I first joined 100 Thieves. He said that I seemed too stressed from adapting to a new environment, new team, and new teammates, so I wasn’t in a very good condition. But after vacation, I came back in a completely different form, in much better shape. I’m trying to do that this time as well so that I can return in a good form.
Have you met up with any other players?
I haven’t yet, but I’ll be meeting some old KT players today: Score, Arrow, Nagne, Prime, and coach Hwang. (When will you be meeting them?) Right after this interview; the other players already met up; they said they’re at a PC cafe. (Laughs)
Your Youtube channel seems to be going well; you have more than 5K subscribers now. I saw you uploaded a Minecraft video recently.
It went pretty well when I first started. I gained a lot of subscribers from the beginning, but as we fell to a losing streak, it wasn’t easy to stream. Since I wasn’t able to stream much, I didn’t have enough videos to upload so the popularity decreased a bit. I’ll be uploading more now.
I wanted to talk about your past during this interview. What kind of person was Ssumday as a boy?
When I was a boy, I was just a little pipsqueak that wandered around the neighborhood, playing pogs and playing games in arcades. I loved playing games. I was good enough to play all day with a quarter. I also played a lot in middle school and first played League of Legends when I was in ninth grade. At that time, I liked playing games so much that I thought I can survive only on water if I could play games all day.
Didn’t your parents disapprove if you played that much?
Of course. That was what I wanted to do. Obviously, my father didn’t like it that much. When I first said that I want to take pro gaming as a career, he opposed. I know it would have seemed that I’m just saying that because I didn’t want to study. So I decided to try and prepare while still attending school.
There was an amateur team called PSW Ares; I joined that team. I started there trying to continue going to school, but it was so hard. During the day, I would be at school, and in the evening, I had to scrim. There wasn’t even much time to play solo queue. It was exhausting; At school, I always got in trouble since I was sleeping during class. Not long after that point, the team lost in a preliminary and was disbanded.
I had to talk to my father with my deepest intentions and was able to persuade him. He told me later that when I came to him for the third time to discuss this matter, he said that he saw in my eyes that I was truly determined.
I still remember what he told me at that time; he told me that I would be walking a different path from all others and that I wouldn’t have many school memories to look back to. As he said, I lived a different life from others and gathered different memories to reminisce. Sometimes, I dream that I’m in high school. I dropped out after tenth grade; if I didn’t choose to become a pro gamer, I would probably attending college now. (What do you think you would have been like?) I think I would have been a troublemaker. (Laughs)
(Laughs) Troublemakers are usually popular. How were your grades?
I didn’t study at all. I had no interest; I was good at whatever I was interested in. All the adults used to say that if I studied as hard as I liked games, I could have become anything I wanted to be.
Alright, what did you want to become?
I wanted to become a pro gamer. (Laughs) I grew up watching Starcraft, so I had that dream.
How did you first come across League of Legends?
During middle school, my friend’s brother found LoL and started playing in the NA server since there was no KR server at that time. He talked me into playing it together because it wasn’t as fun when playing alone. So I started LoL, but I stopped around level 20. As I said, I wasn’t interested in studying; everything was in English so it was hard to understand and it was also my first time playing a MOBA genre game. More than anything, the ping was so unstable. It went above 400ms like every day. (Laughs) It was too hard.
About half a year later, the KR server opened, so I started again then. (Do those friends still play LoL?) They still do. All my other friends know that I started that way. Sometimes, I tease that friend saying, ‘why do you still suck after all this time?’ (Laughs)
What was your first placement results?
It was Silver. I was mostly an all-arounder. I had favorite champions in each position like LeBlanc, Talon, Annie for mid, Sivir, Ashe for ADC, and Blitzcrank, Alistar for support.
Then how did you end up playing in top lane?
I played in all positions even when I was an amateur. I guess top lane was the most fun. Also, I thought there weren’t that many good players in top lane at that time, so I thought I could beat all of them. (Laughs)
Do you have any memorable moments while you were trying to become a pro gamer?
There are a lot, but the most memorable moment was when I was having a tryout with KT. I played some internal scrims with them and after the scrims, the coach called me individually. He wanted to see me play 1v1 against Ragan, the top laner at that time. So we played Irelia vs Jax, which were the meta picks back then, once each. Before the second 1v1 was concluded, the coach stopped us and told me to pack all my stuff and come into the team house. It was really memorable because we didn’t even finish the second game.
How did you feel when you first joined the team?
It just felt really good. Back then, I was just a child that thought the world was mine if I could play games. Other than that, the players I saw on TV playing games were standing right in front of me, so that itself made me happy as well. They did shatter the fantasy I had of them by fighting over a dollar for food though. (Laughs) I was extremely happy to see Lee Young-ho (FlaSh) as well. (Did FlaSh also fight over a dollar?) Not him. (Laughs)
You said that it was hard to adapt to the food in the US, but now you’re alright. It seems that Bang was impressed by Mexican food there. Doesn’t he ask you to go together to have Mexican food?
Yeah, it seems that he does like that style food. Personally, I don’t. It’s alright though because we’re not obligated to eat altogether. We often eat separately.
I thought that LCS teams prioritize team activity, moving together and doing things together as a team.
Oh yes, it’s important. Once we played a bomb defusing game on Steam. It’s a game where we need to communicate frequently and clearly. Communication is the key point to that game. Teamwork as well. It’s the same in LoL. When the jungler comes, we need to respond to the gank.
It was your first time playing alongside Bang. How was it?
I saw that he really is a celebrity. We were waiting for our plane at the airport and a kid came up to him and asked Bang for his autograph. A lot of people recognized him.
In-game-wise, there’s no doubt; he has two rings. His English is really good. It makes me kind of jealous because I struggled a LOT when I first learned English. (Laughs) I only knew the Alphabet when I first came to the US. I’m a bit proud of myself about that now.
Did your English improve much now?
Yes, but I’m still learning. My tutor, Sophie Ahn teaches at USC, and I went to an esports club there once to do something similar to a workshop. (In English?) (Proudly) Of course. I answered questions there as well. They asked me how the people around me reacted when I said I’ll become a pro gamer. I had this friend who said that he’ll become the president if I become a pro gamer. Of course, he didn’t become the president. (Laughs)
NA players exercise a lot. Do you?
Personally, I don’t enjoy exercising that much. Still, it feels good when I do. It feels like I had a constructive day. As the season started, I was going to register for fitness, but someone suggested yoga and pilates. The team registered a yoga class for Huhi and me, so we went together.
At first, I thought yoga was just fancy stretching. Little did I know. Yoga requires strength, maybe as much as the amount needed for working out; it was harder than I thought. Still, it was quite fun. But again, like streaming, after we fell to to a losing streak, we stopped going. (Will you continue yoga?) I think I’ll just work out. Yoga is too difficult.
How about making a summer body?
(Laughs) That’s on my bucket list forever. Maybe once in my life, someday. As they all say, diet starts tomorrow. I have a huge belly now. (Laughs) I don’t think it’s the time yet.
How about living in the States. Do you want to live there in the long run?
(Thinks for a while) If my whole family immigrates to the States, living there would be quite alright, but if they don’t, I think living in Korea would be better. Living in the US is really good but it was hard at first because of communication. If I’m there alone, away from my family, it’ll be lonely. But not only that, Korea is more familiar and somewhat comfortable. I like what I’m familiar with.
Let’s talk about the spring season now. It’s a topic that can’t be passed up.
I heard that there’s a possibility that 100 Thieves could sign Bang even before I signed my contract. I had high expectations from then already. In my opinion, the prowess of individual members could never be in the last place. The coaching staff as well.
From the minute Bang arrived in the US, he appealed to us that he wants to go to MSI. To go to MSI, we would have to win the spring split. I was a bit worried thinking, ‘would it be alright to make such a fuss already?’ Of course I wanted to go, too. There are so many regrets last season.
What was the most regretful?
There were too many games that we simply collapsed when we should have shown that we’re a team that can do it regardless of the result. There were many situations that I could have done better as well. (Which game was the most regretful?) Well, we lost so many it’s hard to pick just one. (Laughs)
What do you think the biggest problem was?
The scrims weren’t as bad as the league. I think the problem was that we weren’t able to bring our scrim performance on the stage. (All the players are quite experienced. It wouldn’t have been nerve issues…) I can say that it certainly wasn’t nerve issues, but I’m still not sure.
How was the team atmosphere?
It wasn’t that bad even when we were on losing streaks, but as you know, we ended up in last place. It can’t always be good. I try to look at it positively thinking that there’s no place to go down anymore. The only way to go is up.
It’s the first season Ryu had as a coach. How was he?
As a coach that had a long career as a player, he knows the game well. But since he was a mid laner, he mostly looks after the mid-jungle. (Laughs)
Now let’s go to some fan questions.
- What do you usually do in your free time or vacation in the US?
I usually go and eat tasty stuff. I travel when I get a longer break. (Do you travel to eat?) That’s an important matter. I gained a lot of weight in Osaka; I’m a pig now. (Laughs)
- What’s your favorite restaurant or place to go to in the US?
There are lots of good food in the States, but since I like Korean food, I usually go to Korean food restaurants. Yup Dduk, Honey Pig Kbbq... and the spicy crab soup at Ondal is awesome. As for places, I often go to karaoke in Koreatown. (What do you usually sing?) It depends on the trend, but I usually rap. Nowadays, Flex, sung by Kid Milli.
- Is there a special method you use to maintain your mentality?
Nothing special; I think my mentality got stronger because I have quite a long career now. When I get stressed, I eat. (Do you read comments in communities often?) Oh, yes. I’m a bit sensitive about the comments. (It seems that you seldom get negative comments.) Is that so? Anyways, it’s not that I wanted to perform badly; I always do my best and put in all the effort I can, but negative comments make me feel all that effort was for nothing. I can endure because there are a lot more people that cheer for and support me.
- Where was the best place you’ve traveled?
I’ve been to several countries, but it was mostly to participate in tournaments, so I wasn’t able to actually “travel”. In that matter, I think Osaka was the best. Any restaurant I walk into tastes good and the view is amazing as well.
- Are there any worries or interests you have besides LoL?
I’m a bit worried about the future; after I retire as a pro gamer. (What do you think you’ll do after retirement?) Well, first, I would have to fulfill my military duty. After that, I’m thinking of becoming a coach or streamer because after all, I like games, and I have the experience and expertise.
- Looking at your social media posts, it seems that you’re an emotional person. What genre books do you enjoy reading?
I usually buy essays, but I don’t read them often. (Laughs) I have a book with me most of the time because I spend a lot of time moving around, but… I do think I should read more. (Is there any book you would recommend?) A fan gave me ‘A Man Called Ove’ as a gift; it was quite interesting. You should try reading it.
- It’s your sixth year as a pro gamer. What has changed the most since your debut?
Well, there’s so much. First, my age. I’m the youngest in my family and since I started my pro gaming career at such a young age, I was always the youngest. Now, there are so many young players. It’s a bit awkward when people call me hyung or oppa. But what can I do, that’s how life goes.
Back then, I was just a child that didn’t know anything and liked gaming. Now, I’ve lived in the US as a gamer. My life has changed completely. I worry about my future life. There are so many players that disappeared after one season; I’m kind of thankful and proud of myself for lasting for so long as well. I felt a bit emotional when PraY recently announced retirement.
- Do you have any hobbies?
Hobby… I usually enjoy watching gaming streams.
- What’s your personal motto?
Mine is ‘put in your best effort at whatever you’re doing’. When I had the fan meet a few years ago, some fans joked if they should escape work to attend the fan meet. I scolded them and told them I would throw them out if they do. (Laughs) You have to do your best at whatever you’re doing.
How did you end up with your nickname, Ssumday?
When I first joined a team, I had to come up with a nickname, but at that time, I knew nearly no English. So I started off with a simple word: SunDay. After PSW disbanded, I wanted to have a more special nickname, so I thought of ‘Someday’, which seemed too normal. With a few changes, I ended up with Ssumday.
If you have to be stranded in an uninhabited island, which teammate would you bring along with you?
I think it would be Aphromoo. It feels that he’ll be capable of surviving well. He’s really cheerful and entertaining. Just being with him would be fun. If you watch his streams, you’ll find out right away; he’s fun, nice, and cares a lot for the people around him. Although it’s sometimes hard to understand what he’s saying because he uses a lot of slang. (Laughs) (Did you learn a lot of slang from him?) I did, but I forgot everything.
Is there a top laner that you’re keeping an eye on in the LCS?
That would be Licorice, who everybody is keeping an eye on. He’s really good and has the ability to improve very quickly. He has improved a lot since his debut.
In our last interview, you said that you’ll do a cosplay if you have the chance. Bang did Ezreal at the LCK finals; when will you do one?
Well, I haven’t had the chance yet. (Laughs) Personally, I think somebody that’s good-looking should do cosplays. (I think a Teemo cosplay would be cute on you. Maybe we should make you the chance?) Teemo sounds pretty good. (Laughs)
Do you ever think that you want to return to the LCK?
It’s not that I never thought about it, but there would be some realistic issues. Although there may be people who want me back, there would be those people that would criticize and insult me if I’m don’t play up to their expectations. For now, it might be a bit too late. Still, I'd like to think that there’s still a possibility of me going back like Flame did this year.
What would be your goal for the remaining year?
Well, spring fell through my fingers, but summer is what’s really important. My goal would be to show and prove what we’re capable of. (And reach Worlds?) Yeah.
Thanks so much for today’s interview. Do you have anything left to say to your fans around the world?
It feels good to say hello through this interview. I hope to see everybody again soon. Thanks.
A managing editor who can do more things than you think.