Time really flies. It’s already Choi “Doran” Hyeon-joon’s 5th year as a pro player. Doran, who used to baffle interviewers with his introverted manner, has become a player who sings and dances in his stream, with a mindset of thinking embarrassment is temporary but making fans happy goes forever.
While Doran was preparing for 2023, we met him at Gen.G’s facility. Doran decided to stay in Gen.G following 2022. The biggest reasons were that it was comfortable and that Gen.G really cares for the players.
Doran’s goal for 2023 was to be recognized as the best top laner. His idea of the best top laner was a player who makes teammates comfortable when they play. Doran said that he is practicing to give the team more options during the game.
How have you been?
I had a long break, so I spent a lot of time with my family and met up with friends. These days, I’ve been scrimming and playing solo queue. The schedule is almost the same as during the season. I need to bring up my form and build teamwork and synergy with my new teammates.
Have you gotten acquainted with the new bot duo?
Since the original players are quite experienced, including me, the new players could feel difficult to blend in, so I thought we should try harder. The problem is that I’ve never had to welcome younger players, so it’s difficult for me too. Fortunately, they tried to start conversations often, so we’re quite close now.
As far as I know, Peyz and Delight have quite different personalities. How are they?
I think Peyz is exactly like how I was when I was a trainee. It’s a bit hard to approach him, but he talks more the closer I get. It’ll be much better with some time. I also talked quite a lot with Delight. He is very empathic, and I feel comfortable talking with him.
How are they in-game? Although you’re physically the farthest apart in-game, how’s the synergy?
As you said, there aren’t many things that the top and bot duo can do together in-game. Rather than making something with me, we are trying to build synergy with the two players as a team. Since there’s a rookie on the team, we’ve been trying to learn about and help each other.
I heard that Peyz is a hot prospect that Gen.G brought up since he was in middle school. How is he in your eyes?
He’s a much better player than when I was a rookie. [Laughs] I think he already has what it takes, and he accepts the coaches’ feedback well, so he’s a fast learner. I believe he’ll do well in no time.
You decided to stay in Gen.G. What was the reason?
In 2022 playing in Gen.G, I felt really comfortable. Being comfortable is good, right? I felt that the team really cares for the players, so I got very attached to the team. That was why I didn’t think about joining another team. I think I made the best decision that I could make.
That way, Gen.G is returning in 2023 with the same top side in Doran, Peanut, and Chovy. Do you think that would be an advantage for Gen.G?
It’s easier for sure when we try to build teamwork. However, there were some parts where the top side creaked in 2022. Since we’re close enough to talk about those things thoroughly without being awkward, we’ll be much better this year.
What was creaky?
During the summer, our stats were quite dominating, but our Rift Herald gain rate was disappointing. There were a few things we didn’t do shotcall-wise, but since we can pinpoint them through feedback, we’ve been trying to improve by talking it over.
Listening to the comms of the 2022 season, it seems that Ruler and Lehends were the mood makers. How do you think this year would be?
Since it’s harder for rookies to talk more, the original players should be the mood makers. Peanut is always one of the more talkative players, and Chovy and I have been trying to talk more — although we didn’t discuss it separately. We’ve been trying.
People pointed out your consistency in the spring season. What do you think about that?
In the spring season, there are no words to deny it. My performance was really bad. In the end, it was alright for me since I accepted all the criticism to work harder, and that showed in the summer season, so I was satisfied about that.
As you said, your summer was much better.
My teammates’ performance was really good during the spring, but I felt that I was the culprit in the finals, which cost us the championship. I was determined not to let that happen again. That way, I worked hard, and we won the championship. When I heard that Gen.G wanted to re-sign me in this stove league, I thought my hard work paid off.
Since Gen.G was really dominating in the summer, there were high expectations toward Worlds, but you were eliminated in the semifinals. How did you feel?
After we were eliminated and got back to Korea, it was disappointing whenever I saw anything related to Worlds. But as time passed, it faded away. That feeling might have gone quicker than in other years. I believe I grew mentally.
Does the previous season linger around in your head for long?
It used to, yes. But in the 2022 season, although the final results at Worlds weren’t the best, and neither was my form, I think the regrets faded earlier since I sincerely thought that I worked hard.
You still won the LCK for the first time and reached the semis at Worlds, which are the best results in your career. Do you think that helped you get over the regrets?
It’s true that the achievements are difficult to achieve, and the results were quite decent. But rather than the achievements, having worked really hard had more to do with getting over the regrets.
You also gave the fans much to enjoy with your pledges and created content. You used to get embarrassed quite easily. How did you get to try all that?
Whenever I did celebrations, I was really embarrassed, but I felt it was worthwhile when I saw the fans enjoy them. The embarrassment was just momentary, and I felt kind of proud afterward, so I endured the embarrassment. When I went live at the karaoke, some people weren’t that happy listening, but I saw that all of my fans enjoyed it. I would do it again, but if I do it too often, people would lose interest, so I’ll do it occasionally.
Do you think your personality changed as you became more active with these contents?
I used to be unable to talk when there were people around, but since it’s been a while since I lived in a group, my personality might have changed. I can talk well even if there are many people around, and I feel comfortable about it.
It seems that your interview skills improved too.
It’s a bit better than the old days… My interview skills were really bad. [Laughs]
Many teams, including Gen.G, rebuilt during the stove league. What did you think after playing scrims?
I haven’t played against all the teams, but there weren’t any teams that were unbeatable. I believe we could get good enough results.
How much has Gen.G built up to now?
It could be just me, but I think the three top side players have better synergy than 2022. It’ll take a bit more time for the whole five players to work together well as a team — we’ve probably built about 50% out of 100%. It’s not much, but I’m not worried since it seems that we could build up our teamwork in no time.
Chovy predicted at least 3rd place, and 4th place if you’re really bad in the spring season. What about you?
I can’t say we’re really good up to now, but there’s some time left until the season begins. Looking at the playoffs, there’s quite some time left, so if we slowly adjust and improve, we can aim for higher places.
What’s your goal for 2023?
The results have to be good, so the number one priority would be building better teamwork and synergies with my teammates. My personal goal would be to become a top laner that everybody thinks is best.
What kind of top laner is a good top laner?
I’ve been aiming to make an environment where my teammates can play comfortably. My goal is to become a top laner that can give more options to my team with good shotcalls and plays.
Any last comments for the 2023 season?
I think the players’ confidence is the most important, and we all are very confident. Especially, I have been thinking that I could do well too. I’ll do my best so that we could bring good results to everyone who cheered for us.