SB Joker on Building his Career as the Oldest Active Player in the LCK

SANDBOX Gaming defeated kt Rolster on the 16th (KST) and secured a spot in the 2019 LCK Summer Split playoffs. Over the split, Cho “Joker” Jae-eup contributed massively to the team. As the only active player in the LCK to have finished his military services, he sat with Inven Global for an interview.

You secured a spot in the playoffs. How do you feel?


We talked a lot about how far up we can go. Because of all the anxieties, we wanted to confirm a slot as soon as possible. There were no teams that could be taken easy. Now that we secured a spot, I thought that we should feel more at ease, and be greedier so that we can rise higher.

Today, we wanted to talk about the trait that Joker only has… That you’re the only player that finished his military services. Most of the players consider going to the army as the end of their careers. How were you able to keep playing?


Actually, after I graduated from college, I wasn’t that determined to become a pro gamer. I tried to reduce the time I spent playing games. I wanted to do other things, but LoL became really popular and people around me kept trying to convince me to play LoL with them. When I started playing, it was fun, and I started to want more. I get really competitive with what I enjoy.


After I had been playing for a while, I started to think that I’m not bad at all. I started playing more seriously, but as much as I’m older than most of the players, the people around me such as friends or family started to worry about me. They were saying that there aren’t many players at your age, and even if there are, they’re players that have been made over many years with long careers. They were worried that it was too late for me to try to become a pro player.


However, I thought I would regret it in the future if I gave up because of what others think. I thought it would be better to try and regret than regretting without trying.


So you’re one of those guys who try and regret rather than regretting after not doing anything.


After I made up my mind, it felt more comfortable. Since it’s something I like, I didn’t care what others think and did my best. And that led me here. I made my goal one step at a time… I was lucky.


My first step after getting to the LCK was ‘not going to the relegations match’ but we reached playoffs. This time, it was ‘getting higher than spring’ and it’s going well. The next step would be Worlds, and I think I would feel really proud if I get there.

Was your first goal not Worlds?


Of course, my first goal was Worlds, but I thought it was out of the question. I’m not a dreamer. I wanted to be realistic and take one step at a time. Usually, there should be both ups and downs… Interestingly, we started from the bottom and we keep on going up without going down. I thought we would suffer a big fall at least once during the summer. So I’ve become to gain confidence despite my old age as a pro gamer.

Right, usually there are slumps.


I think it’ll come some time. Others worry for us. Still, I came up here with confidence alone, thinking I can always do it.

When they talk about age, many people point out mechanics. How are you managing yourself?


After I’ve finished the army, I never thought that my mechanics were outstanding. I try to find what I can do well; using my brain. But I guess I have at least the minimum necessary mechanics to get here. Some people may not really like it because my mechanics may lack compared to other pros, but I just do my best and try to show the best I can show. To do that, I try to stay healthy; exercising to keep my back and neck healthy, get massages, and maintaining my life cycle healthy. 

I heard that you’ve quit drinking because of that.


I reduced drinking a lot. When I was in Challengers, I relived my stress often through alcohol. After we got to the LCK, I felt I lacked in many areas, so I thought that I should reduce things that are bad for me. I sometimes drink during vacation, but during the season, I seldom drink and try to keep myself healthy. I’m in a lot better shape now. (Laughs)

How is communication with younger teammates? Isn’t there a generation gap?


It could be uncomfortable as a teammate for them… Since it surely wouldn’t be as comfortable as a friend the same age. But I still know all the words the ‘kids’ use. We get along well, but sometimes, very rarely, we disagree on some matters from my stubbornness. Thanks to my teammates who have such great personalities, I’m still here.

Until when do you think you’ll be active as a pro player? Aren’t you afraid of the future to come?


I don’t worry as much now. Even if the day comes that I won’t be able to continue as a pro player, I think I can find something I can do well. I don’t worry much now, and I’m having fun now.

They say you didn’t miss a single target at the reserve forces training. What’s your secret?


I wasn’t that good of a shooter, but I wanted to go home early that day, so I really concentrated. I think motivation is really important for humans.

Lastly, a word to your SANDBOX buddies as the oldest player?


I surely need to improve more, but I’m always thankful to you, all the teammates, and the coaching staff for everything. Let’s do our best to make awesome results. Thank you!


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