On Jan. 28, in the 2023 LCK Spring Split, Liiv SANDBOX defeated BRION 2-1 and collected their third straight victory. Behind Liiv SANDBOX’s successful start, there was the new head coach Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook leading the team. After their win, Ryu joined Inven Global to say hello to worldwide fans.
Congrats on today’s win, and happy birthday! You’re back in the LoL esports scene as a head coach. Would you like to say hello to fans around the world?
I played abroad for a long time — in EU and in NA. There are still fans who send supportive messages via DM even when I was fulfilling my military service. I’m so grateful for all the support. I’m back now. [Laughs]
Do they still post those emojis on your Discord?
I remember in the interview before you joined the army, that you wanted to return to the scene as a coach. Did you know you would become a head coach so soon?
I never even imagined that I would become a head coach so soon. I just wanted to be back in the scene as a coach, but Liiv SANDBOX gave me a great opportunity as the head coach, and I’m very happy. I hope I can live up to the expectations.
You had experience as a coach and a playing coach when you were in the LCS. Does that experience help you in being the head coach here?
It’s better to have had some experience than to go into the job blank. That experience definitely has been helping me do my job as the head coach.
How is it being a head coach compared to being a player?
It’s as fun as being a player — a different kind of fun. It’s very satisfying when I see the players improve, and when they click together more and more as a team. It’s really fun.
As the head coach, is your point of view on the game much different from being a player?
It’s rather similar, but the biggest difference is that I have a broader viewpoint on the game. When I was a player, I was more focused on my own lane, but as the head coach, I have to look over all the roles and the game as a whole.
You’re a rookie head coach, and Liiv SANDBOX is doing pretty well. Do you think you’d get off to such a good start?
I’m happy that we have a good start, but I don’t think that we are doing well because we’re that good. It’s fortunate that we got off on the right foot. There are many things to improve, but once get there, there wouldn’t be any team that we can’t beat.
What has changed since your first loss against Dplus KIA?
First of all, the players seem less nervous. Our players have less experience compared to most other teams, and we were able to learn much from that match. We pinpointed the little details and used them to improve ourselves.
Which player do you have the highest expectations for?
I would say everyone, but that’s boring, right? [Laughs] Among the players, I have the highest expectations for Burdol. If he improves just a little bit more in certain parts, he will become a top-class player. He’s already well-balanced and doing well, but if he improves more on decision-making and gains a clear viewpoint of how he wants to play the game, he’ll become a flawless player.
You said before that you want to make a team that fights well. How much is Liiv SANDBOX now?
I think we’re at about 60%. If we polish some details, we’ll get much better. You know, everyone on the team, the players and coaches, all love to fight. [Laughs] In that regard, everyone has been accepting the concept well.
Next week, you’ll meet Nongshim RedForce and Gen.G. How do you think it’ll go?
We’ll work hard to improve what we lack. Nongshim RedForce had a good performance even in the games they lost. Since they got their first win, they would be more confident, so it won’t be easy against them, but if we prepare well, I’m confident that we’ll win.
As for Gen.G, they’re a great team. All of their lanes are strong. We’ll be able to win if we don’t make mistakes. I really want to beat them because Score is the head coach. [Laughs]
On a side note, aphromoo just announced his retirement. Have you contacted him?
I was a bit caught up with my own stuff at the moment, so I didn’t contact him yet. I did hear he retired, and I’m kind of sad. I wanted to see him play for longer. He’s still someone who can have much influence over the scene even after retirement, so I want to cheer him on in his new journey.
Any last comments you’d like to share?
I’d like to thank all the fans again. Although I’m far away, coaching an LCK team, I hope you cheer for us. I’ll work hard so that one day, we can meet on an international stage.