Two months ago, Riot Korea announced the franchising of the LCK, and alongside the announcement, they also announced that the 2020 LCK Summer Promotion Tournament will be its very last one. Four teams, Team Dynamics, SANDBOX Gaming, Griffin, and Seorabeol Gaming, duked it out for a spot in the 2020 LCK Summer Split.
Many experts labelled them the underdogs of the tournament, because not only did they have a negative track record against their fellow Challengers Korea team, Seorabeol Gaming, Griffin and SANDBOX looked much more promising toward the end of the Spring split.
However, Team Dynamics was the first team to come out on top. Their performance in the tournament not only proved a lot of people wrong, but also proved that they’re ready to take the LCK by the storm.
On a warm day in June, Inven Global sat down with Team Dynamics to talk about their journey. As they’re a team that consists of rookies, veterans, and a champion in another genre of competitive video gaming, success in the LCK and the World Championship seemed to be that common goal that glued them together.
It’s very nice to meet you all. Can you please give us a quick introduction?
Rich: Hello, my name is Rich, and I’m the top laner for Team Dynamics.
Beyond: I’m the jungler, Beyond.
Kuzan: I’m Kuzan, and I’m the mid laner for the team.
Deokdam: My name is Deokdam, and I was previously known as Feiz.
GuGer: I’m the support for the team, GuGer.
sBs: I’m sBs, and I’ve been recently promoted to head coach.
Feiz, why did you end up changing your nickname to Deokdam?
Deokdam: My IGN in solo queue is Deokdam, and not only did everyone start calling me that, I got more known as Deokdam, so I changed it.
Through the recent Promotion Tournament, Team Dynamics took one of the last tickets to the LCK. When it was confirmed that you’ll be joining the LCK, how did you feel?
Rich: Did it feel great?
Kuzan: It really was. How about you? Did you almost cry?
Rich: Of course. I almost teared up.
I heard that the CEO of the team bawled his eyes out. Did any of the players get really emotional?
Rich: GuGer. I saw his eyes become red.
Did you expect your run at the Promotion Tournament to be such a breeze?
sBs: When we won our first match against SANDBOX, Rich said the game was easy (laughter).
After the team beat SANDBOX, your next opponents were Seorabeol Gaming. Did the negative track record against them bring forth any pressure?
sBs: It may have seemed that way from the outside, but we didn’t feel pressured nor think the match was going to be hard. We knew we were going to win, and we’re glad that we won.
This Promotion Tournament seemed different than the previous ones. Mentally speaking, what changed?
GuGer: This was the very last Promotion Tournament, so I thought that my career would be over if I didn’t make it this time, so I gave it my all.
For sBs, the last time you were in the LCK was back in 2013. How does it feel to return to the LCK?
sBs: After returning to the scene, I felt indescribably happy to win the Promotion Tournament. However, as we got back to the grind to prepare for the season, things are starting to become more normal.
There are many players on this team that have a lot of experience with Promotion Tournaments. What was different about this one compared to the ones before?
Rich: After I left Gen.G, not only was I not able to find a team, I felt alienated from the mid lane position. I decided to switch to top lane, and I was lucky to be contacted so quickly. After joining the team through tryouts, the fact that I was able to make it into the LCK by performing well made me feel very happy.
Beyond: As a pro gamer, I’ve once pretty much hit rock bottom, and made it back into the LCK. Right now, because I don’t want to return to that rock bottom, all I want to do is perform well,
Beyond, when you said you hit your lowest point in your career, are there people that gave you strength?
Beyond: After I left MVP last November, I spent time with my parents, and they gave me the most strength. Not only was I not able to find a team. things looked pretty bleak overall, but they told me, ‘It’s not late, so keep working towards your dream’. Those words gave me a lot of motivation.
Kuzan, did you learn anything in particular through this Promotion Tournament?
Kuzan: Whether I played in Challengers Korea or in the LCK, my mindset towards the game has always been the same. That’s why I didn’t feel anything special during the Promotion Tournament.
One of your nicknames is, ‘The King of CK’. Do you like the nickname?
Kuzan: There was another nickname that I liked, but I can’t remember it right now.
GuGer: During CK, we called Kuzan ‘The Ice Emperor’. We always made fun of him with that nickname.
GuGer: Kuzan’s most played Champion is Lissandra, so whenever he picked Lissandra, we always said things like, “The Ice Emperor Kuzan has arrived”.
How did you feel during this Promotion Tournament, Deokdam?
Deokdam: I remember coming back from overseas, two days before the team’s promotion tournament back in 2019. After I watched the team lose in the Promotion Tournament, I felt really terrible, but at the same time, hoped to play in a Promotion Tournament as well. That hope became a reality, and I’m glad that we were promoted into the LCK.
I know that GuGer played in seven of these Promotion Tournaments, one even being in a different region. Mentally speaking, what was different from those previous attempts to your most recent one?
GuGer: I did play in a lot of these Promotion Tournaments, and even once in a different region. Promotion Tournaments are always scheduled at the very end of the split, so the preparation process is very difficult. Not only that, I felt incredibly pressured to get promoted, since this was the very last one. I even considered retirement if I didn’t make it this time around. However, I made it happen, and it’s a huge relief.
Is there a special behind-the-scenes story with regards to this Promotion Tournament for you, sBs?
sBs: Not one that I can recall. However, there is a moment that I can recall. Coach Chelly joined the team during the later half of the season, and when our second match against Seorabeol Gaming ended, he suddenly came up to me and asked, “Despite joining the team right before the tournament, am I allowed to be this happy?” Basically, he felt that he wasn’t doing anything, so I said to him, “You’re already doing so much just being on the receiving end of my stress relief”.
Okay. Here comes some personal questions. Rich, there were definite fluctuations in your performance during the regular season, but it’s as if you flipped a switch since playoffs and started playing a lot better. What’s your secret?
Rich: I was never particularly aware of such a thing. I personally believe that I didn’t play well during the playoffs. Ever since the playoffs, I think that drafts went more in my favor. I was just playing like how I always do.
Although you stood at the very peak of a competitive world in one game, you became the challenger again in League of Legends. As someone with champion DNA, what’s your secret behind becoming a champion?
Rich: (Laughter) I really didn’t think about such a thing. I do think that the most important thing is to not have strife between teammates. If there’s conflict between teammates, that reflects upon gameplay. If there are problems, we need to share what they are, give feedback, and maintain a healthy relationship with one another.
Beyond, what’s your mindset playing for Team Dynamics? Has anything changed from your MVP days?
Beyond: After I left MVP, I had a three month break, and during those three months, I changed a lot. I had a lot of time to think, and I think as a person, I’ve definitely matured. This opportunity was my very last attempt as well, and practiced hard with nothing else but the LCK in sight.
Kuzan, you’ve once again become an LCK mid laner. What are some of your goals?
Kuzan: As a team, I at least want to make it to the playoffs. My personal goal is to receive a lot of POG (Player of the Game) points and leave an impact with the fans.
As Kuzan and Rich are both from Gen.G, what are some of the differences between Gen.G and Team Dynamics?
Kuzan: At Gen.G, there were personnel other than the players, so it felt like I was going to work at a company. With Team Dynamics, it feels like I’m going to play the game with my friends.
Rich: I think that’s pretty accurate.
Deokdam, after you returned to Team Dynamics from being on loan for XTEN Esports, you only had one opportunity. Did you feel pressured at all?
Deokdam: When I first rejoined the team, the roster wasn’t even complete. However, as each member joined the team, they were all very nice people, so the anxiety slowly faded away.
Who is the player that treats you the best?
Deokdam: It’s hard to say… However, if I had to pick the weirdest person on the team, it’d be Kuzan. He’s very weird. I think he lives in a different dimension. In terms of how he’s weird, there are a lot of stories I can tell, but to protect his private life, I won’t tell them.
For GuGer, there were a lot of familiar support players, such as Wadid, Nova, and GorillA. It must’ve been a weird feeling to see them on the opposing teams.
GuGer: Among those faces, I spent the most time with GorillA, and meeting him in the Promotion Tournament made my heart ache a bit. However, I didn’t think SANDBOX was going to get relegated, and I just thought, “I’ll be waiting across the finish line”. I wasn’t worried at all.
Did you contact him to cheer him up before his last match in the tournament?
GuGer: I was going to, but I didn’t want to bother him in any way before an important match, so I didn’t. He’s a very emotional guy. I still didn’t contact him, so I’ll talk to him in the game later.
(For sBs) Back in 2013, you were known for your Graves. Do you still play him? If you had the choice, would you bring back the old Graves’ kit?
Rich: He’s old now, so I don’t think he can play Graves too well.
sBs: Old Graves will be nice in the current meta. However, he’s pretty good right now.
We’re now going to ask you some questions, and whoever you think fits the criteria, please point at him. The first question is, who is the biggest cheapskate on the team?
Kuzan: I disagree.
GuGer: There’s no way you can say no to this.
Kuzan: We always play the Ladder Game for late night snacks. We all get equally chosen at random, but I think my teammates chose me because I don’t buy them anything outside of that.
Rich: No, no, we're taking your everyday behavior into consideration here.
GuGer: He only buys coffee for himself!
Kuzan: Not true! I did buy coffee for all of you! If anything, I’ve never received coffee from you.
Who is the loudest person on the team?
GuGer: We’re just a loud team overall. Whether we’re eating, sleeping, or playing, we’re always loud.
Then, on the flip side, who’s the quietest?
Beyond: Apart from when I’m playing solo queue, I agree that I’m the quietest.
Okay. Who is the dirtiest person on the team?
Deokdam: I’d say we’re pretty clean overall. There’s always one player on a team that doesn’t shower for two to three days, but we all shower at least once a day.
Then, who’s the messiest person on the team?
Kuzan: I really love coffee, and there’s usually two to three empty cups of coffee around my desk. I think that’s why I have this image of being the messiest.
If you had to choose one person apart from myself that’s the best at 1 vs 1s, who would it be?
Deokdam: I’ve conquered them all.
From the head coach’s perspective, who do you think would do best in the ‘real world’?
sBs: Although everyone listens very well, if I had to choose, it’s definitely Beyond.
Okay. Apart from myself, who do you think will prosper the most after retirement?
GuGer: I mean, he’s already accomplished so much...
Do you agree, Rich?
Rich: Nope. I think Kuzan will, because he’s a cheapskate.
We’ll call it there for the ‘finger-pointing questions’! Recently, the Mid Season Cup just finished, so what are your thoughts on the tournament?
sBs: The teams were all very good. I always liked the LPL’s aggressive playstyle.
GuGer: I especially think TOP Esports played really well. I’m friends with Ggoong, the coach on TES, and he always talks very highly of Knight and JackeyLove. Not only are they good at the game, the two of them are very good at utilizing their teammates.
Deokdam: Senna-Mordekaiser was playing in the MSC, but we were the first team to play them competitively. Although we lost on Senna-Mordekaiser, isn’t there a lot of meaning behind their appearance at the MSC? Mordekaiser’s a really fun champion. He’s good at killing the enemy bot laner, and if he hits lvl 6, many of his strengths as a champion comes online.
It seemed that there was a clear difference in skill between the LCK and the LPL teams. JackeyLove stated in an interview that the LCK teams try to play too perfectly, so all they need to do is focus on the mid to late teamfights. From the coach/players’ perspective, what are some of the LCK teams’ problems?
sBs: Each region has champions that they prefer, and unlike the LCK, that champion pool for the LPL seems interconnected to a degree. That’s evident when different champions are played in the LCK to the LPL when the two regions are playing on the same patch. LPL likes to dominate their opponents, while LCK likes to be stable with their macro, so strategically speaking, they don’t go well with one another.
GuGer: They tend to not even take the slightest risk, so it sometimes works against them.
In an interview, the team stated, “We play our own game”. How is this mindset different from that of the other LCK teams?
Rich: In Challengers Korea, we lost so many games where we ended up losing because we tried to play reactively. That’s why we always set the things we’re going to do, and focus solely on those plays. Rather than having a different mindset than the other LCK teams, we focus on playing to the best of our abilities and not make mistakes.
What’s the goal for the upcoming Summer split? Are there any personal goals? Perhaps a player that you’d like to face?
Rich: I want to win Worlds. You always have to set your bars high. Also, I’ve always wanted to play against Nuguri, but these days, there are so many top lakers I want to face.
Beyond: Just like Rich, I also want to win Worlds. I also want to play against Clid. He’s an incredibly good player that’s very aggressive, and I want to beat him during the season.
Kuzan: As I mentioned before, I want to accumulate as many POG points as I can. While there isn’t a player I’d like to face, there’s a player I don’t want to face. During practice, I’ve faced most of the LCK’s mid lane talent, but I’ve yet to face Chovy, even when I was on Gen.G. So many people rate him very highly, so I do feel a bit pressured to face him.
Deokdam: I want to solo kill Deft, a player that all bot laners look up to. Although I do like Deft a lot, he’s someone that I absolutely must overcome.
GuGer: I want people to think that I’m a great support player. People rated me very poorly, so my goal is to prove them wrong.
We’ve reached the end of the interview, so would you like to say something to the fans, and the future fans of Team Dynamics?
sBs: As newcomers into the LCK, it’s natural that our fandom isn’t huge, so please start sending us a lot of support.
GuGer: Because of the level of interest between LCK and CK, and because of the coronavirus pandemic, we can’t meet the fans. The atmosphere that the fans bring is always pleasant, and that is our source of motivation, so please cheer for us.
Deokdam: We’ll work harder than ever, so please send us your support.
Kuzan: We’d be left embarrassed without the fans. Please send us a lot of love and support, and we’ll make sure to repay all of it with great performance.
Beyond: We’ll make sure to live up to fans’ expectations so please send us a lot of support.
Rich: Please cheer for us!
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