Nearing the end of 2022, we met Jeong “Chovy” Ji-hoon for an interview. In his early days as a pro player, he wasn’t very talkative, and it was a bit difficult to get full sentences out of him, but the five-year career he’s already had made him fluent. Throughout the interview, Chovy was relaxed and calm and even had some jokes to lighten the mood.
How was the 2022 season for you?
There are quite some things I’ve achieved this year. I won the LCK for the first time, and I made it to the quarterfinals at Worlds. When I won LCK, I did really well, so I felt good, but at Worlds, my performance in the end wasn’t good, so I felt bad.
I’ve never been too greedy about achievements in my career, and through this Worlds, I became sure that I shouldn’t be. I decided not to be conscious about any achievements and just focus on my performance, so I think I’ll be working harder so that I wouldn’t be disappointed in myself again.
Was your performance disappointing to you at Worlds?
As I played, I felt I wasn’t any better than other players. I felt like an average player, so I wasn’t happy.
Was there a reason?
I was called “a player that always wins lane”, and people said, “this is the time to prove that I’m the best”. I think this didn’t go too well for me. Personally, I didn’t think that I should be evaluated so highly, and those praises returned as pressure. I felt I should play well, and that made my performance to be daunted — I didn’t make the high-risk-high-return plays I used to, and it made my performance regretful.
It’s been a while since Worlds. Have you made up your mind about that thought?
After Worlds, I looked back and thought about why I didn’t play well. Now, I’ve organized my thoughts. I think I’ll be able to deal with the same situation better, with high expectations.
Since you’re extremely talented, those high expectations will always follow you throughout your career. Everyone says that your laning and fundamentals are one of the best. What are your thoughts on that?
When I was confident about my performance, I also thought that. However, now’s the time to put away those thoughts and start with the base again. I wouldn’t have to start from the beginning, but I’ll be playing to build up from around the middle.
The quarterfinals against DWG KIA were really interesting. You said you were sick of them when you drew DWG KIA, which made many fans laugh.
Whenever we met DWG KIA this year, we won, but it was always a tough win. I’m only human, and I wanted to move forward easily, so I said that. DWG KIA is good, and we’re good, and sometimes we take turns making mistakes — we gave and took almost equally, so those matches turned into interesting games for the fans.
Frankly, when we went three games in Bo3s or five games in Bo5, sometimes it was because I made mistakes in a couple of games. [Laughs] It’s alright, though, since there were games we won because I did well.
As you lost to DRX in the semifinals, players you were teammates with reached the finals, and they won. How did you feel?
Honestly, I didn’t watch it live and just saw the results. It was early in the morning in Korea, and I don’t wake up that early. When I saw the results, and people told me that DRX won, I thought I was dreaming. [Laughs] I sent messages to my old teammates and returned to normal life.
Another year has passed. What changed the most for you over the year?
I thought about living out my life a lot. Some people around me think about retiring, and some already did. So I thought about what I should do, and how I should live since all I did since I was 18 years old was gaming.
Was it a maturing phase?
I matured as a person, but from a pro player’s point of view, I was distracted from what I should do and what I should be thinking about. I think it was kind of ironic.
Have you at least decided how to live out your life?
Not precisely, but I decided roughly what mindset I should have, and how I should view my life. Even if a big issue drops in front of me, if it doesn’t kill me, I get through it and get over it well. So I think I shouldn’t worry too much about any issues and just live the present happily. I used to be the opposite, so I’m still adapting to the new style.
Gen.G announced the extension of your contract before the summer split. You used to move teams almost every year — why did you re-sign?
Actually, I don’t really like changing teams. I don’t like change. Last year, I was going to re-sign with my original team, but the conditions were a bit different from what I thought, so I came to Gen.G. The conditions were good here, and I didn’t need to change teams again. I feel comfortable staying in the team I used to play for. Some people might be surprised, but for me, it’s quite ordinary.
Sometimes, it’s not assuring to extend the contract in the middle of the season. You don’t know how the roster would turn out, and especially for Gen.G, all the other players’ contracts were expiring.
This isn’t a contract between me and the other players — it’s between me and the team. If I have to play and live with different players, that’s what I’d have to accept. If my teammates leave the team and sign elsewhere, it’s their business. I thought I could deal with any situation, whatever decisions my teammates make, so I prioritized the conditions with the team and myself.
2022 Gen.G was a bit different from the teams you’ve been in. You had several teammates to lighten the load. Were you able to feel that in the games?
The difference was that the games I played in 2022 were a bit less fun. Normally, we discuss the winning scenario and decide how to play. In that process, we each are given “missions” to do, and the amount has decreased for me. I used to carry more roles. It felt like I’d become a supporting player from a carrying player.
I never thought that I would think this way. I acknowledged it just recently. So next year, I’m going to try to find what I can do more, even if it’s not about in-game things.
The new bot duo is rather new to the scene. Delight debuted a bit earlier, but Peyz will be having his debut. You would have to carry more roles.
I’m not sure yet. It’s because we haven’t scrimmed yet. They could be really good from the beginning. I shouldn’t evaluate a player before playing together, so I’ll eventually find out.
You’ll be playing with Peanut for the second straight year. Compared to the other junglers you’ve played with, he has much more experience. Do you feel the difference?
I feel that he’s different from in the game, from his playstyle. He always decides and plays logically with his style. I’ve been playing accordingly, controlling the waves and pressure as the mid laner.
How’s the synergy between you two?
There are many areas where we did well together, and I also recall moments where we didn’t. Personally, I’m not that sure about people talking about the “mid-jungle synergy” — we each should do well. When it’s not enough, players have to fill that through synergy. We just have to be better than the opponent, so if we both do well, the results are good.
When I see Canyon and ShowMaker, they show plays that feature amazing synergy. I’m not sure if it’s because of the synergy, but they’re both great players. On the other hand, Faker has played with several different junglers, but the pressure I felt playing against his mid-jungle duo was always similar.
Other LCK teams’ rosters have been finished. Which teams look the strongest?
T1, Hanwha Life Esports, and DWG KIA look strong. KT Rolster also looks strong. I think 2023 would be one of the fiercest seasons for the players.
Gen.G was also rebuilt. Which position do you think you are in, compared to the three teams you said are strong?
I haven’t played against them yet, but I think we can make it within 3rd place. If things don’t go too well, maybe 4th. I believe there are no cases we fall below that. Obviously, we could fall if I underperform.
The top teams you mentioned have the best mid laners. Faker, ShowMaker, and Zeka all proved their value at Worlds this year. As the player who has faced all of them, do you feel the difference in style?
The style isn’t too different. Some players capture the weak point really well, but I don’t know about the styles. The difference comes from how skilled a mid laner is in their role, not their style.
Does that mean the best players do everything well, so the style isn’t that different?
They do everything well, but when you see the great mid laners play, there’s kind of a formula. Some players follow the formula, and some don’t, and I think that’s the line between great players and normal players.
Deft said that great players have unique “steps”. Is it similar to that?
I’m not a bot laner, so I’m not sure about that. The formula I mentioned is about the level of understanding the game, and the level of understanding the lane. Some players act proactively to create a certain situation, and some just fight and the situations are made. I think that’s the difference.
Under your standards, were there any rookies or amateurs that fulfill those conditions in solo queue?
Last year or the year before, I felt that from Zeka, and he’s doing great. After him, I don’t think I’ve met anyone that gave me that feeling.
Personally, there were players I met in solo queue that had a barcode nickname or random alphabet characters. Whenever I checked who it was, it was always Rookie. That’s probably why I don’t remember actual rookies or amateurs.
It feels that veterans who reached the top still play well. You’ll be playing your sixth year as a pro next year. What’s the biggest difference between your rookie days and now?
Probably just the years I lived? Everything I experienced and learned made me the way I am now. I don’t think I’ve changed too much as a person.
There are things I know better about LoL, but sometimes I feel that I don’t move like before. I used to have extremely good concentration, and sometimes I dodged skillshots that were nearly impossible to dodge, but nowadays, I sometimes get hit by the most obvious skillshots. [Laughs]
You’re still very young.
Seeing the prospects come up, I don’t think I fit among them. To general people, I’m still young, but sometimes, I think I’m not that young where I am. Maybe my body and mind age faster than others.
Then let’s wrap up the interview before you age more. [Laughs] What are your goals for 2023?
My goal is always the same. I want to be happy as a person, and as a pro, I want to get good results. I’ll do my best to grab both.
I’m mostly independent and calm. When I saw the fans cheering for me even when I was underperforming, I was really grateful. I thought I should do better in the future. I’d like to thank everyone, and I’ll do my best to deliver my best performance.