On the 21st (KST), SK Telecom T1 and Afreeca Freecs faced each other in the Wildcard match. After a fierce battle, SKT claimed the 2-1 victory and will be facing SANDBOX Gaming in the playoffs. Inven Global met up with SKT head coach, kkOma, and spoke briefly about the victory, how he tends the mentality of his players, and how positive he is about SKT.
There are still several mountains to the championship for SKT. Let's have a look at what kkOma thinks.
Could you please introduce yourself?
Hello, I’m SKT’s head coach, Kim “kkOma” Jeong-kyun.
What is the difference of mentality during regular LCK versus Playoffs?
In the regular season, there usually are more games so even if we lose due to mentality issues, we can return in the next match after recovering from that, but in the playoffs, if we lose, there's no next match. So I told the players that we shouldn’t lose because of mentality and that if we were to lose, the reason should be prowess alone.
Who in the team is stressing out the most right now?
I think Effort was a bit pressured today. Except for the veteran players, I think all of them were quite nervous because it was the playoffs.
There are always such high expectations for SKT and now you guys are in a position where you are going to have to face every single team in order to make it to the finals. Are you positive about that? and do you think the outcome is going to be good?
When I work with the team, I try to be very confident and think positively. I believe we’re able to beat any team. We won 2-1 today, and since we have a set loss, it’s good that the things we lacked can be seen and improved. Since we found things to improve, I’m satisfied that we won 2-1 today.
It seems like a stressful situation and we heard that you do a lot of mental management for the players. How does that work?
Any coaching staff find it difficult to manage the mentality of the players. There is no manual in managing the players' morales… It’s always different according to the situation, depending on that person . What I do is say whatever suits the situation best, trying to say necessary things for the player or things that would help them.
What does the team do to relieve stress?
I’ve been working for about 7-8 years. I think it’s really difficult to explain how professionals relieve their stress... To make it short, in my opinion, the best way to relieve stress is ‘victory’.
Now that SKT has won this match, you have to face SANDBOX and DAMWON. When you're done with that, you would have to face Griffin. Which team are you the most cautious about?
We would be cautious of all three teams, but since our next match is SANDBOX, we’re aware of them the most. We need to beat them to face move on to the next opponent. It's not time to worry about other teams. I'm only looking at the match against SANDBOX.
You have won worlds 3 times already. Are you optimistic that if you guys go to Worlds this year, the outcome would be positive?
I don't know about the outcome... Even if we won three times, you never know. It’s been more than two years already since we last won. I really hope that we can make it to Worlds and bring back the champion title.
Today we noticed that Bang was walking around LCK (LoL Park). Did you guys actually get to meet and if you did what did you guys talk about?
Actually, I was just talking to him before I came to this interview. We just chatted for a bit. Personally, talking to players that were on SKT like him really relieves stress and pressure. I’m very thankful.
I interviewed Bang maybe a month ago. He told me that he keeps contact with you and he constantly sends positive messages to your team. Do you also send him positive messages?
Yes. Always. He’s a player with a long and amazing career. I always cheer for him and obviously, I send him positive messages. I’ll continue to cheer for him and I am absolutely sure that he’ll do well there as well.
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