Although Go “Score” Dong-bin is now thought of as one of the best junglers in the world, in his early career, he was never thought of as a ‘god-like’ player. As a matter of fact, he was more of a supporting role for the majority of his early kt Rolster days. With players such as Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho, Yoo “Ryu” Sang-wook, Lee “KaKAO” Byung-kwon, and Song “Rookie” Eui-jin receiving most of the spotlight, Score was a rather unknown player for the LoL fans.
This jungler actually started off his career as a top laner; he soon changed his role to a bottom laner. After shifting his roles several times, he started to play as a jungler in 2015. This was a clear turning point for Score. With delivering exceptional performance as a jungler, he soon led kt Rolster to Worlds. Score also made it to the first Asian Games as a representative of Korea.
As his reputation grew, he always stated that he would someday like to fulfill his pro gamer goal which is to lift the LCK trophy. Finally, in 2018, he succeeded by winning the LCK Summer trophy. It was indeed a happy occasion for this 7-year veteran.
After going through a long and strenuous journey for the LCK trophy, we got the chance to meet kt Rolster Score during his brief off-day. Although he seemed gratified, he still was hungry for more.
“I’m currently happier than ever. However, I still have my ultimate goal left; winning Worlds.”
The following is our interview with kt Rolster Score.
Throughout your career, you’ve played in the top lane, bottom lane, and the jungle. How was this possible?
Before I played LoL, I was a CHAOS user and I was an all-rounder in that game; I played on every role. I think that made it possible. I thought that I’d be good in any position in LoL too.
What did you have to give up to become a pro gamer?
Well, I don’t have any personal time. I’d say that I had to give up my ordinary 20s life. It was also highly difficult to have a hobby. The environment itself was too restricted for me to do something as an individual.
Although I am curious about what living an ordinary life would’ve been like, I don’t regret my life as a pro. I wouldn’t trade anything for it; my pro life means so much to me.
You must have worked hard during your pro life. When did you put in the most “extreme” effort?
Well for me, game-wise, I’d say I had to put in some “extreme” effort during my StarTale days. The place we practiced was really close to our dormitory, so the environment was fit for us to practice until right before we had to go to sleep. At the time, we didn’t have any off days. We just played games every day, sleeping for only 4-5 hours a day. After going through all this, I felt that it didn’t suit me. That’s why I tried to sleep a bit more while practicing.
A lot of people must have congratulated you on winning the LCK.
It was the first time I’ve been congratulated this much in my entire life. At the stadium after the finals, a lot of fans started to shout my ID and name. It made me realize how glad I am to have chosen to become a pro player.
Do you sometimes think of your previous teammates?
Of course, I do. They were all friends that I lived together with… It’s pretty similar to my friends I made in my school days. You know, people say that the friendships you form during that time go on forever. I spent even more time with my previous teammates, so it’s pretty much obvious that I think of them a lot.
You’ve earned some negative nicknames during your career such as “a king without a crown”. Now that you’ve become a champion, what was it like hearing those rather ‘unwanted’ nicknames?
When I’m not in a good emotional state, I do feel frustrated. I felt especially frustrated when the team or I were underperforming.
You’ve now earned a high reputation for your exceptional jungle performance. What do you think makes you stick out compared to the other junglers?
Experience. When players perform in a tournament year after year, sometimes they will confront and have to deal with similar situations. It might have been a situation a player experienced 2-3 years ago. Well, in my case, I am more experienced compared to others, so I do have my own ways of going through those situations.
You are also well-known for your good performance against rookies.
Rookies are usually full of spirit. They’re highly aggressive, so players tend to go passive against them. The answer is to fight against them with confidence. I try to meet their aggressiveness head on. I think that’s why I don’t really lose against them.
Currently, the Chinese junglers are performing very well. What are your thoughts on this?
People say that the two junglers performing in RNG are really good. However, they haven’t faced “kt Rolster Score” yet. I’d like to boost the stature of the Korean junglers in this year’s Worlds.
Now that you’ve claimed the LCK trophy, do you feel any different than before?
If you finish second, you feel destroyed. I just don’t feel that destroyed feeling right now. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same. Probably it’s because Worlds is still left.
I heard that at first, you didn’t want to perform in the Asian Games.
Well, I really wanted to give everything I have for the Summer split since the team was really desperate at that time; the team was underperforming. Although I wanted to participate in the Asian Games, I had to turn it down. But, thankfully, they asked me again and that’s how I joined the Asian Games. My team (kt Rolster) gave me their full support as well.
Do you have any thoughts on your retirement?
It’s irrelevant to my performance, but as I become older, I always think that every tournament may be my last. I started to think like this after finishing the previous split. Some named players did join the team and at first, we were thought of as a “super team”. However, we underperformed. So, if we finished badly this split, I thought that it really might be my last.
What did ‘failure’ teach you?
I felt frustrated every time another team lifted the trophy and received loud cheers from the crowd at important tournaments; I wanted to receive that loud roar with my teammates as well. When I won the LCK this time, a lot of people in the stadium cheered for me. Some even called my name out loud. It was such an overwhelming moment for me.
Do you have any thoughts on your Smite usage?
I hope that someone will make some statistics comparing how many times I stole the Baron and how many I got stolen as well. You know, I actually have more times where I was the one to steal it.
To be named as a legend, you should at least have a single championship trophy right? (laughs)
I think now we’ve gotten over our jynx; we finished 1st place in the Summer regular split and we won the Summer trophy as well. We were always confident, but we collapsed because of our jynx. But, we’ve overcome it and that’s why I think we can play as the main role for this Worlds.
How long do you think you’ll maintain your pro career?
As long as possible. Well, I think I’ll be a pro until I have to go to the army. To be honest, [ending my pro career] doesn’t really get to me just yet. The next tournament that I’ll participate in is more important for me.
Have you ever thought about what you’d do after retiring?
After I retire as a pro player, I want to live a comfortable life without working. Because I have never really had the opportunity to fully rest, I can’t help but wonder what it will be like to do nothing and rest for an entire year.
How do you maintain your health?
I just take supplements. I know that I have to do some exercise, but I don’t have time.
As years passed, have you ever felt that you’ve hit a wall in your career?
As I became older, I did feel the importance of maintaining my health. I’ve barely caught a cold in my life but starting last year, I started to suffer severe colds at times. That’s why I’m taking care of myself more than before. I try to get some more sleep.
Can you share the most memorable moment of your pro career?
I think it’s a bit early to think back on my career since there’s still Worlds left.
You’ll meet some of your previous teammates at this Worlds.
Although I did meet them personally, it’ll be the first time meeting them in an official tournament.
What will you do if you manage to win Worlds?
I’ll simply prepare for the next split. (laughs) I’m not sure if I’m a workaholic but it’ll feel awkward for me to rest until I retire from the pro scene.
What is your personality like?
I have a very peculiar personality. I am very blunt yet buoyant at the same time. I think it probably depends on the position or situation. I am definitely not the type of person who approaches someone first.
Are there any differences in the pro scene compared to the past?
People treat and think of pro gaming as an actual profession. The salary for the players is quite average nowadays.
Being one of the pioneers yourself, what is it like to see the salaries for rookies increasing?
As a person working in esports, I feel so happy since this means that the scene itself has developed.
In what ways do you want the current esports scene to develop?
I hope that the government would support esports a bit more.
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