Last December, after interviewing 100 Thieves’ bot laner Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, we joked about him going to Worlds as Inven Global’s correspondent, if 100 Thieves fails to make it to Worlds. After 10 months, it all came to be, and Bang came with us to Worlds for the Group Stage.
Although he may have thought he was ready, it wouldn’t have been just easy for him to experience being a reporter for the first time. What was more was that as much as he’s an active player himself, Bang was more careful about several parts that reporters may not consider as much.
As a result, Bang’s transformation to a reporter was a success. He had fun as a reporter, and the numbers he put up were great as well. Taking a short break from a player, trying out being a reporter for about 20 days. Which interview was the most interesting for Bang, and what was the most difficult? Check it out in the interview!
I heard that you're still jet lagged. How've you been so far?
It's been about 3 weeks since I came back from Berlin, but I'm still jet lagged. I've been sleeping and eating whenever I want, so there's been many times where I fell asleep in the afternoon to wake up at night. So I'm still jet lagged.
You're living life very naturally.
That's right. Since I don't have a lot of official schedules, I've been doing things instinctively.
You came back after groups in Berlin, what did you think about the knockout stages that happened in Madrid and Paris?
Well... I got all my predictions for semis wrong. I thought SKT was going to beat G2, and IG was going to beat FPX. And for the finals, I thought G2 would win... But you were all wrong. Yes, I was wrong.
After the SKT match, I was confused. Maybe restless is the better word. So... yeah.
Judging from your speech, there must've been a lot going through your mind.
I only went to the group stages at Worlds, and I streamed and played solo queue after I came back, but after SKT's semifinal match, I became a bit lethargic. I didn't want to do anything. I don't know if it's SKT or the LCK as a whole that got eliminated, but there were a lot of things going through my mind.
So although I was playing solo queue, I felt really bad to turn on my stream. I also didn't want to stream as well, and I knew what the team was going through, even emotionally, after the loss, I feel that whenever I stream, I have to spread positive energy to my viewers. I felt that I was going to spread my depressed mood, like a virus, to my viewers, and it's not like I can pretend to be happy.
I know that... some viewers are sad as well, so I've been laying low. I usually don't stream during the matches. Because there are viewers that want to watch both streams, and I also want to watch the matches as well. So I was originally going to stream after the semifinals, but because of the results, I didn't feel like streaming.
Are you better now?
The finals are over, and I think I'm better now. It seemed like the SKT players are better and were streaming, so I'll be streaming as well.
Although it feels bad for LCK and your former team, SKT, to be eliminated, you current region, LCS, unfortunately didn't make it out of groups. Did you feel sad about it at all?
I've played in the LCS for 2 seasons, and as a region, I really didn't think it was lacking competitiveness. Obviously, the top 2 to 3 teams in the LCS would be able to stand their ground in an international tournament.
In that regard, I was left confused and sad. I actually almost cried, because the teams from the league that I'm playing at were playing so bad. I was angry, and...
Did it hurt your pride?
Definitely. I was mad from a pro's perspective. When I watched the LCS' representatives play poorly, I was really sad. When it comes to the LCK, as a human being, it affected me more emotionally.
So you were mad at LCS from a fellow pro's perspective, and for LCK, you became mad, from a fan's perspective.
Yes, as a fan. Overall, I was left with a lot of feelings, and was very confusing. To see LCK fall... Yes, in many aspects.
Much credit to FPX, but for you, you're not exactly happy with the results. Perhaps there's a bit of regret?
To be honest, I didn't care much about the finals. In the end, the better team wins.
In Berlin, as Inven Global's special correspondent, you've caught the attention of many through the video interviews. How was your experience as a reporter?
Before I went, I was really worried. For starters, the fact that I had to directly interview the players really worried me in many different aspects, because I thought that players would be uncomfortable with it, so they wouldn't like it.
They wouldn't like you?
Yes. Those things worried me. However, everyone I interviewed was very friendly, and they were very cooperative during the interviews so I think they went well, and my worries turned into something fun.
Was anyone surprised to see you as a reporter?
Did some go, "Why is Bang here?". Some were surprised to see me, but since I've already spread the word around, Mata said hello to me and just walked by. He went, "Hey, Jun sik... Hey". And Sangho, aka SKT Effort went, "Huh? Why are you here?". I think he just pretended to be surprised though.
Being socially proper.
Haha, yeah. The reaction was mixed.
Did you take some time to tour Berlin and eat good food?
The schedule for group stages was a lot tighter than I thought. So the play-in stages were happening when I arrived, and there was 2 to 3 off days after, so I looked around, and I wanted to take a lot of photos, but I couldn't as much as I want to. I went to eat a lot. I had Schweinshaxe, - Schnitzel, and Sauerkraut? Is that fermented cabbage? I loved it. Oh, and Currywurst as well. So, I fed myself well. I think I gained like 2-3 kg. Did you drink beers? Yes, the beers were amazing.
Thank God. When we sent you, we were worried that you wouldn't eat well.
I ate very well.
What were you thinking about the most while interviewing?
My number one priority was to not stress out the players. Because as a player playing in an international tournament... In international tournaments, each time you play a match, whether it's through interviews with reporters, there are cases where you have to show yourself to fans. Those situations can sometimes be stressful to players. So I tried to not stress them out as much as possible.
I was also careful about the questions I asked the players, and had to be very wary about how the players were feeling.
You've been interviewed a lot yourself. I think you implemented what you've went through in your interviews. For example, you could've avoided questions that you personally felt uncomfortable with. And although we've laid out interview questions for you, you've added onto it, right?
In regards to those aspects, did you find it a little bit of fun?
Yes, I found it a bit fun to find the right questions to ask the players. It's different for each player. For example, if I was asking a player 7 questions, and on question 1, players sometimes even gave answers to questions 2 and 3. So in those situations, the question can get broken down, and I feel the urge to ask a different question. Overall, I've learned a lot, even while asking questions, and dealing with different types of situations was fun.
I had to adapt more than I thought, while conducting interviews. All players are different, so it was fun, and this job almost felt natural to me.
Was there an interview that you felt was really fun?
For me... the Teddy interview. That was the first time that I had a conversation with Teddy. Back then... the team, SKT, was something that we had in common, so because of that, it was fun.
As a senior SKT member, did you have any affection towards Teddy? Perhaps helping him filter out things he shouldn't say in an interview?
Not in that way, because Teddy did great in his interview. I was able to empathize with Teddy from the things he said in the interview. Although it was our first conversation, I feel like there was a connection, so it was fun.
In terms of the public response, your interview with kkOma was the most well received. Whether it's views or comments. One comment that caught my attention, was that you could see how much kkOma cares for you, and he looks at you with much love. Did you feel this yourself during the interview?
I did feel that during our interview, but he usually takes good care of his former players, so I feel that love more outside the interview. If you could even feel such love in a short interview, he takes even better care for you in real life. He's very respectable, and a great man.
As a player, I've met many head coaches, and kkOma's very good at his job as a head coach. Each player may have their own opinions, but at least for myself, he's close to being the perfect head coach. Coach Choi (cCarter) as well. Someone who embraces the players, who cares for the players, and acts as a shield for the players. As a player, it feels very reassuring. Creating an environment for players to only focus and play the game... It's not something anyone can do.
Coach kkOma is definitely someone I have to go see and thank on Teacher's Day. I was someone who lacked a lot of social skills, but he helped me become a better person and taught me a lot. I can't imagine myself doing that to someone else.
There must've been people that you couldn't interview. Perhaps a player that you really wanted to interview. Is there someone like that?
I wanted to interview players from DAMWON and Griffin. I've never met the players from DAMWON when I was playing in the LCK, and although I played with them in solo queue, I've never been acquainted, so I wanted to talk to many of them at a place like Worlds. Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to do so. I also wanted to interview the Chinese and the Vietnamese players. Japanese players as well. However, DFM was knocked out early during play-ins. I didn't get the chance to talk with the Chinese and the Vietnamese players, so it sucks that it didn't go through.
People have been commenting that they want to click on the video, just from the thumbnail. Did you see some of the comments?
I was in Berlin, so I tried to get some feedback to improve. It's fun to read comments about my efforts in a different line of work. It was definitely fun. There was a lot of positive comments, so it gave me lots of good energy.
Little by little, whether it's news about player signings, plans from other pros, whether it's re-signing or moving to a different team, is flooding in. It's that time of the year. What are your plans?
NA has a very different vibe. There's a lot of players being traded to different teams, and potential player swaps within the team. Those things... although they aren't revealed to the public, there's a lot of talk behind the scenes.
It's the same for LCK as well. For me, I'm right in the middle of it all, It's fun hearing about all that talk. Nothings for certain, until something's officially been announced. And for myself, to hear about what other team's are saying is entertaining for me as well. The talk about which team wants me aren't coming from teams directly, but they just come as rumors, so it's enjoyable.
I heard that there are rumors that you didn't even know.
That's right! There's a lot of talk like that during the off-season. In the community, when I hear about random people talking about their acquaintances being the head of some organization or whatever, I'm just at a loss for words. When rumors like that are spread in the internet, fans are left anxious after reading them. If there's rumors about your favorite team or your favorite player going to another team.
Some people use those rumors to write things that seems to be reliable at first glance. When I look at things like that, sometimes, they go way too far. It's a topic that's actually more sensitive towards the players, but to spread rumors about it is just...
So what you want to say is "Don't spread such rumors, and it's a time where not only reporters, but especially fans are anxious, so let's not get swept up by it".
That's right. If there hasn't been an official statement either by a team or a player, no one knows. Even for me, although I know certain things that are pretty much confirmed, there's still a lot of wrong information. Still, I find stories about me pretty fun.
I can't ask about your future plans here, but what are your immediate plans?
I have to slowly start preparing for the next season. In terms of the boot camp schedule... In NA, teams share a lot of information about potential roster changes with the players so I'm receiving a lot of updates as well, and I'm also sharing a lot with my team as well. It's a time to slowly prepare for 2020.
Although we loved you as a special correspondent, it'd be much better to see you at Worlds as a player.
It's going to be different to be interviewed as a rep from the LCS.
You have to again, work hard for next year, so can you share a bit of your resolve for 2020?
No matter how fans might perceive me to be, I'm working really hard to achieve my goals and for my future. And although I'd love everyone to support me in my journey, my hope is for the fans to receive positive energy from how hard I work. I want to be as honest as I can with my fans. I want to show what I've got with sincerity, and throughout that journey, I hope nothing but positive vibes for the fans.
Obviously, my goal is to win Worlds. When I make it to Worlds, I hope many people will watch my matches. My goal is to always show that I'm a great player, so please keep an eye out on those things.
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