Here’s a person who spent a hotter year than anybody. He’s someone who lost his chance at his long desire. Although he was dismissed from a position that he has devoted everything to for more than two years, he still wanted the players he taught to win and to be happy. However, the team didn’t leave him alone, and he was caught in the middle of a tornado by revealing “secrets” of the team. As some of the problems have been solved, he has been pursuing the same dream in a different team. This is the story of Kim “cvMax” Dae-ho.
Although it became easier for esports fans to learn about cvMax’s recent activities on Youtube and streams after he joined DragonX, it wasn’t enough to fill the curiosities of the fans. In the first interview after his contract with Griffin was terminated, cvMax didn’t even slightly hesitate in answering the questions.
“After leaving Griffin, I was very lost. Should I say I felt really blank? I had been running with my eyes only on Worlds, but I wasn’t able to go. Honestly, I didn’t think I would have a good image. I don’t have any championships except for the KeSPA Cup, and to others, whatever happened, I left the team in discord with the team. I was going to rest and stream, but thankfully, I got offers from more teams than I thought.
I thought I should just talk to them and met up with a few teams, but as I was talking to them, I felt that I want to do it again. If I were to meet up with too many teams and take up too much time, I thought I would feel sorry to the teams I turned down, so I wanted to make a decision ASAP. The DragonX office felt the most humane. The players they had were good as well; I thought if I join here and adjust a few things, I thought they would be really strong, so I joined DragonX.”
Another reason cvMax selected DragonX was trust. Although he had strong confidence in his own work performance, cvMax cleared that he wasn’t able to do all that he wanted in Griffin. cvMax told that DragonX has currently given all the power in managing the team to him with faith.
“It’s important to me whether others have faith in me or not. When I was meeting the executives and staff members of DragonX, it was an official meeting, but I felt their personal faith in me. They made me feel that I didn’t need to ask for all power over the team; they already gave that to me. All I asked them permission for was to stream whenever I wanted.
I realized what ‘real trust’ is after joining DRX. If I just do whatever I’m required of, I can do whatever I want. I can make up the schedule, make decisions before asking, everything is accepted by trust. For example, back in Griffin, if I wanted to have the players wake up 1 hour later than usual, I needed to report first, and it was even declined sometimes. Here, I don’t even need to report to them. Even if I change the time table, even if I don’t watch the scrims, they’re like, ‘if cvMax made that decision, there should be a reason’. It feels that their trust in me is at another level, so I’ve been doing very comfortable here.
The environment DragonX has provided me is perfect, but there are still unfortunate issues. I’m still taking legal action, so I can’t devote myself 100% to the team. I need to go to the police office, talk to lawyers, and there’s still more news from the accuser. It’s also still very bothering with Riot Games Korea who seems to be hostile to me, along with Doran’s suspension. I’m stressed because of the chain of situations I need to resolve completely.”
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about cvMax is his unique style of feedback. To motivate and improve the players, he uses many different examples or drastic expressions. Through videos or interviews, we can look into a part of cvMax-style-feedback. Those who’ve been around in the esports scene for a while that has seen the full feedback of cvMax say that his style is unprecedented and there will never be again.
“I have pride in my own feedback and never thought that it was a problem, so I didn’t attempt to change my style or atmosphere. I’ve been improving to make it more efficient so that it could be more helpful to the players. Personally, I think I’m doing similar to that I had been doing in Griffin, but those who had been with me since Griffin say that I got worse (Laughs).
I treat each player differently and don’t give feedback in the same way. If I give the same carrot and stick to everyone, even if the content is good, it’s not accepted very well. There was a player that asked me why the feedback style is different to each person. The reason is that humans have big differences between its entities. Let’s look into this for a moment.
Animals don’t have much difference and they don’t have much distinguishment amongst themselves. Let’s think of the deer, representing herbivores and the lion, representing carnivores. Long ago, there may have been a very fighting-spirited deer that wanted to pick a fight with lions if they see one. All of those deer probably were ripped into pieces by lions. It’s the same with lions. There may have been peaceful lions that didn’t like killing the deer with their claws and teeth. Those lions starved to death. Only the fierce lions and docile deer survived until now.
However, humans have exceeded a singularity. After its safety and food issues were resolved, humans were able to breed without worrying about their personalities. The generations passed by and their genetic traits continued to divide, so all humans have different personalities and characteristics. Because of this, all individual personalities have to be respected and I always try to understand each person’s personality and give decent feedback accordingly.”
cvMax is also known for his affection towards his players. He has always been trying to maintain horizontal relationships with the players so that they can joke around like friends, and more than anything, he prioritizes the closeness and trust between each other. When we asked him about the atmosphere of the team house and each players’ pros and cons, he started giving a long and detailed answer.
“All the players were very social, so I was able to get close without much effort. All of them are good-hearted. They’re all witty and fun so there’s no way you can’t get along. When I’m with the players, it’s so fun that I tend to forget how old I am. I get to think that I wasn’t like that when I was their age… I was very childish and my jokes were very low-level. We’re at the same frequency.
As I always say about Doran is that he has amazing mechanics, but his mindset is a bit off. He doesn’t know how to use the jungler and doesn’t know how to rely on the team. He tries to solve a problem that no one can solve by himself. For example, if a 4-man dive is coming to top lane, he should ask for help to his teammates or avoid the whole situation by getting away far, but he tries to endure the attack himself. Of course, he does his best in that situation, but obviously, it’s a loss. If he adjusts and improves this, he’ll become a great top laner.
When I picked Pyosik, all I saw was his mechanics; he lacks comprehension of the game. Things like which path to take after recalling, how his choice affects the team, etc. For example, in the last KeSPA Cup, we were planning a fight at the dragon, but out of nowhere, he took the top jungle path. In a way, his teammates are sacrificing for Pyosik, so I’ve been telling him to feel sorry and learn. In the future, he’ll become an S-class jungler.
Chovy is a complete player that is walking the path that Pyosik should walk. Long ago, his mechanics were perfect, but he didn’t have enough knowledge in the game, so even when he won lane, he often gave up benefits. Other than that, his positions during teamfights were a bit off. However, now he has his own expertise in laning and has a very good comprehension of the game. Chovy’s now a veteran and is playing up to everyone’s expectations.
I’m also very thankful to him that he followed me with trust. I want to reward him enough to make up for what he gave up. As much as he turned down an extremely good offer, I’ll be teaching him intensively and bring up other players’ prowesses so that he can be enjoying his choice ASAP. Like this, I’ve been trying to carry my role as the head coach with much more effort, that might be why they say my feedback is worse than before (Laughs).
Deft is perfect whether it’s in-game or out of the game. He has a great personality, is mature, and leads the younger players as the oldest player. He tries to make the feedback discussion more active and is sometimes a place of comfort where other players can rest; he’s literally another coach. I was worried a bit that if his social side gets developed, his performance might decline, but there was no need to worry. Although he’s not as young, his prowess is amazing. If I get to talking with him, it’s really interesting. We spent a lot of time talking about many things, things that aren’t related to the game, such as space, dinosaurs, etc. The most recent topic was ‘What is mental strength? Why is mental strength needed in this era? When do you need to use your mental strength and when shouldn’t you use it?’
Keria is a very ideal youngest player. He only has the pros and no cons as the youngest player. He’s never immature and along with Deft, he is a big help in bringing the team together. He’s already proven himself of his ability, so no words are needed about that. Keria’s a very fast learner, so he fixes his mistakes very quickly when given feedback. Now, he doesn’t make any big mistakes and is learning the game while listening to other players’ feedback as well.”
After DragonX was reborn with cvMax and new players joining the team, they had their first tournament in the KeSPA Cup as a reformed team. Although they defeated DAMWON Gaming in their first match, 2-0, they were swept by Afreeca Freecs in the following semifinals. We asked cvMax about the results from the tournament and his thoughts on how DragonX would do in the upcoming spring split.
“Obviously, it’s regretful that we didn’t win the championship, but I’m not too upset about it. In games, the better team wins; in KeSPA Cup, Afreeca Freecs were better than DragonX. I think it was a result that exactly reflected each teams’ prowesses. This loss was a process that we needed to experience. It’s better to lose and learn what lacked exactly than win with luck. They needed to experience this pain in advance so that they wouldn’t be too lost for losing a game during the LCK season.
The 2020 LCK seems that the power is very well-balanced. For the past few seasons, the teams were clearly divided into top-middle-bottom teams. This season, I think all teams are at the same starting line except for APK Prince. Of course, APK Prince was just promoted this season and there’s no data of them playing in the LCK, so I’m putting my evaluation on hold. We’ll have to see how it goes.
As for our goal, I always have my eyes only on the championship. If you were to give me a random Challengers team, I would say that my goal is to win the LCK championship. However, realistically speaking, the current DragonX is a mid-tier team, considering what we’ve shown at the KeSPA Cup, the players, and how fast the team synergy is being brought up. LoL is a game that is played by five players, so enough time is needed to bring the five to one; we also have to bring up individual performances as well. I think the current DragonX is at about 60%. To bring it up to at least 90%, at least a whole season would be needed.”
On the other hand, at the end of last year, all esports fans’ eyes were on cvMax as there were the ‘Kanavi incident’ and other issues with Griffin. Back then, cvMax explained that he was in an unfair position, and had a long, lonely fight. We were curious about what his thoughts were during that situation, where everything he did drew attention.
“I was always alone. I grew up in a single-parent family without a mother, and my father was the CEO of a company, so he was seldom home. One day, when I was in early elementary school, I cried out my eyes after banging my pinky toe on a doorstep. But nothing got better by crying that much. I realized that to resolve the pain, I had to do something myself. My father also educated me to be independent, so I naturally didn’t rely on others in critical or troubling situations, trying to solve problems myself.
I enjoy pressure and enjoy drawing attention. However, it’s really uncomfortable when seeing the truth being twisted. I don’t like it when there’s misunderstandings or misinterpretations, so I want to explain whenever such things happen, but if I do, I would probably need to be streaming 24/7. I think everyone would realize the truth if I resolve the situations in front of me and communicate with exact facts whenever I have the chance.”
Regarding the whole incident, the LCK managing committee had suspended cvMax indefinitely, but the punishment was postponed for multiple reasons. However, as Choi “Sword” Sung-won sued cvMax for assault last December, his fight was still ongoing.
“I was really angry when I was suspended. I expressed myself in my stream very frankly. More people were helping me than I thought. As a result, my suspension has been postponed, so all I’m thinking of is putting an end to the accusation from Sword as soon as possible.
According to Sword’s accusation, he said that I struck his shoulder and pushed him against the sink on his chair so he crashed into the edge. I never struck his shoulder and there is no edge in the Griffin house. This accusation is an own-goal by Sword and he’ll know better than anyone else that he’s lying. Now that he’s lying, he wouldn’t be getting any help from people around him. Although they can speak vaguely of what happened, they can’t make up something that didn’t happen.
Recently, five higher-ups in Still8 and Griffin resigned. I think that punishment is right for Cho and former general manager, Kim Dong-woo, since I heard and saw what they said and did, but for the other three, I don’t think it’s up to me to judge. Especially, I’ve talked to Seo Kyung-jong several times; it’s hard to explain, but it doesn’t seem that he was involved in any illegal acts. What he did wrong might be that he wasn’t able to identify the wrongs of the people below him.”
There’s a question that cvMax often asks his viewers on stream. ‘If you have unlimited money, what do you want to do most?’ The answer to this question for cvMax himself was always ‘winning Worlds’. Although he is off to a fresh start in DragonX, his answer hasn’t changed.
“My dream is still winning Worlds. And I believe that this dream can come true with the current DragonX roster. Of course, with the current prowess, it’s nowhere close. It may even be difficult to get in the middle rank in the LCK, let alone win Worlds for now. However, if the players spend a whole year with me, DragonX will become a contender for winning the World Championship.
My biggest desire is to draw attention from people. I’d like to thank everyone that watches and supports me. I don’t want to disappoint them and give them more fun so I’ll continue to do my best in what I have to do. I’ll repay you for all the interest you have in me in any way, so please look forward to it.”