Ambition, the LoL pro that started from being ‘the best mid laner in the world’ and who then became the best ‘jungler’ in the world, has retired from the pro scene. On December 24th, 2018, he announced his retirement through his very first live stream. Although it was somewhat expected since there was no news on him moving teams, it was indeed a sad thing to hear that this veteran was ending his career.
Ambition was one of the few pro gamers that had many notable career highlights. He was a LoL 1st generation player, the player that had the most successful position change, a Worlds champion, the oldest player to perform in the LCK, and the only married pro player in the LCK. His name cannot go unnoticed when going through the history of LoL esports. That’s why it’s heartbreaking to hear that we’ll no longer be able to see him perform on stage.
He told us that he also had a hard time deciding his retirement; perhaps he too was feeling down about his departure. It wasn’t just about feeling sad. There were complex feelings surrounding him - sadness, regret, and frustration. He thought about his decision so many times and cried a lot as well. However, Ambition’s life after his retirement was better than he thought it would be. He was able to feel a different kind of happiness he couldn’t experience when he was a player.
“I cried a lot before deciding to retire. I thought about so many things. I went through countless obstacles and soon began to think about how it came to this. The results I delivered weren’t so bad, so was I bad? I felt frustrated and I blamed myself. I also thought about whether the reason was that I didn’t get a lot of points in solo queue. I was just so depressed.
One day, I went over that emotional limit. I think on that day I cried more than I ever had in my life. But, after crying like that, I felt better. I started to sort out my thoughts and that’s how I decided to retire.
I’ve never regretted my decision of retiring. As a matter of fact, I think it was a good thing to do. The best part is that I can spend time with my wife. She looks very happy as well. It might seem trivial but I’m just happy that we can sleep and wake up together. This was a life that I was dreaming of for so long.
On the other hand, if I was to remain as a pro, I think the results would have been very bad. It means that I’d have to sustain another year with this kind of individual performance and physical state. I knew that someday I had to face my retirement and I think I made my decision on time.”
Ambition added that his wife told him numerous times that he’ll have to face it someday when he had such a hard time deciding whether he had to retire. On May 2017, Ambition married the very first LCK Buff Girl, MaengSol-ji after 4 years of being together. He stated that he wouldn’t have maintained his pro career if he didn’t have his wife. His wife, who has been Ambition’s best supporter, was also his strongest pillar when he was going through bad times.
“While I was thinking about retiring, I talked with my wife the most. At that time, I did have some options. I had offers from overseas as a player and coach. I also received an offer from a Korean team, asking whether I would like to perform as a coach. However, nothing really caught my attention. I told my wife that I’d go, but the next day I’d tell her that I wouldn’t. Eventually, she said to just do what I want. She told me that she’d support me no matter the decision.
Soon, I suddenly thought about streaming. To be honest, at first, I didn’t think about retiring. I thought about practicing while streaming and performing in summer again. However, it didn’t make sense. Since I wasn’t sure if I could make my comeback to the pro scene, I would face some motivation issues. Also, even if I do succeed, I thought that I wouldn’t be able to perform as a pro that long. So… After going through all the aforementioned troubles, I decided to retire fair and square.
I get a lot of help from my wife because she works in Twitch. She prepared everything for my live stream. I knew nothing about it and it was really complicated. I think that I would have never done it without her help. As a matter of fact, my wife made all the images I use in my live stream. I also talk with her a lot about the live stream content as well.
One thing that I’m concerned about is that now my wife is the one who is struggling emotionally like I felt before I decided to retire. She said that she’s sad about not seeing me perform in the LCK and playing inside the game booth anymore. I did think about going to the stadium to watch the KeSPA Cup Finals but I didn’t since my wife seemed sad. Well, it must be tough to see me in the crowd since she has been watching me perform in the booth all the time. Now it’s my turn to support her."
After sharing his struggles from the past, Ambition thanked head coach Kezman. He confessed that Kezman’s advice helped him calm his mind. Also, he didn’t forget to mention the fans that are still giving him the same amount of love they gave during his pro days.
“Head coach Kezman gave me a lot of advice. When I was struggling and had a lot going through my mind, he told me, “Don’t feel pressured. You should think about going to a team or not if you get an offer. If not, then you can think about retiring. You must have never rested like this right? Try to enjoy it when you have the chance.”
In the past, when I was thinking of when I should retire, I decided to quit when no team wanted me. That’s why Kezman’s advice helped me a lot. I thought to myself, ‘if there are no offers that’s when I should retire’.
As a pro, it feels the most rewarding when I meet my fans who cheered and felt happy watching me perform - especially the fans who’ve been supporting me for a long time. I have a fan who’s been coming to my fan meetings since 7th grade; now that fan is a senior in high school. It’s so fascinating and I’m really thankful as well.
Although a lot of my fans were sad when I first announced my retirement, they mostly respected my decision. Now they seem to like it after I’ve shown myself laughing quite often in my live stream. I’ve only met my fans offline in the stadium and fan meetings. Now I feel that there are a lot of online fans that support me. I’m so thankful.”
There are multiple paths for a ‘retired’ pro gamer. Some go back to living an ordinary life or some become coaches. Some people become streamers such as ClowdTemplar, Shy, and Madlife. Reflecting on Ambition’s pro career, probably a lot of people expected him to become a coach.
After shifting his role to jungler, Ambition was known for leading the game and was named the ‘magician of macro’. He led his team, which was fairly low in the standings, to the Worlds Finals stage in just a year. Because of his vast experience as a pro, high understanding of the game in general, and leadership, becoming a coach seem to have suited Ambition the most. However, he chose to be a streamer. Given how well-suited the position of coach, why did he choose to be a streamer?
“To explain why I didn’t choose to go to a foreign team - it was because it felt like I had too many obstacles to face. I’ve experienced it a lot in international tournaments but I’m not good with adjusting to foreign environments. That’s why I was able to anticipate how hard it’d be [if I performed in a foreign team]. Of course, I had to think about my wife as well. Although she tries to understand a lot and always supports me, I knew that she would have a tough time.
However, I thought it wasn’t the right timing to become a coach in Korea. I questioned myself, ‘if I become a coach and my team wins and claims the trophy, will I be happy?’. The answer was ‘no’. That’s why I thought I wasn’t ready yet. Still, I do feel like becoming one when I get the chance after I feel more interested. In the case of commentating, honestly, I’m not confident. If I’m given an offer for an event, as a guest commentator or an analyst, I do want to take that challenge if it doesn’t interfere with my personal image or concept.
Basically, I want to experience various things. I started pro gaming when I was almost 20 so I didn’t get to do anything else during my 20’s. The stream I started after retiring felt like I came outside for the first time. There were many things I was worried about and actually found difficult as well, but I think I need to be able to overcome them.
Honestly, I wanted to stream more comfortably. But I wasn’t a natural born streamer so I thought that it would be boring if I didn’t make an effort. That’s why I couldn’t do it that comfortably. I’m in the middle of studying content that will make my streams much more fun. Although I mainly put my focus on showing myself and communicating with my viewers since I’ve just started out. It was more fun to talk with people than I expected.
It’s true that I am deadpan, but actually, I’m not as rough as I used to appear during my pro gaming career. However, that image stuck with me so I started doing things less one by one. I would only speak once for things I would say twice, laugh less, and stay expressionless on purpose. So I wasn’t able to show the other sides of myself as time passed. I’m trying to show the real me as much as I can in my stream.
But still, the character I was given when I was a pro gamer, ‘빠따 (*Bba-Dda: swinging the bat at his teammates)’, helped me a lot in streaming. In Twitch KR, the fans of certain streamers are called, ‘___ 단 (Team ___)’’ and my fans are called ‘빠따단 (*Team Bba-Dda)’. Many people like it and find it funny, which I appreciate. My goal is to try my best and become the most entertaining streamer out of all League of Legends streamers.
I should use this as an opportunity to advertise my stream (Laughs). I’m currently streaming on Twitch. I’m not the only one; there are many other people who stream not just League of Legend but other titles as well, so you should come and visit my channel when you are looking around. You could just come and be like, ‘Oh, this is what he really is like,’ and leave. I’m working hard so I hope you give me a lot of support and attention.”
Ambition certainly became more lighthearted than he used to be back when we interviewed him during his pro gaming. He gave us several responses even when we asked him one thing and he did not avoid answering any questions. He even led the conversation to several subjects even though we didn’t ask him about them. We had the courage to ask him several questions we didn’t get to ask him before. Of course, we didn’t leave out wicked questions. Ambition continued answering without any hesitation.
“Back when I was playing as a mid laner, I almost didn’t approve of the rookies. I already knew their abilities. However, Faker was a rookie who went over that. I had no choice but to admit that he was extremely good. That’s why I got nervous a lot during the laning phase. Also, I had this bad habit of evolving right after I learned my ult whenever I played Kha’Zix. I think all of these put together resulted in the scene where I got killed by his spear when I was evolving.
Now, this incident is brought up many times as the moment I stepped down and was replaced as the best mid laner. No hard feelings. In a way, I find it nice that people put a lot of significance in a clip that could have turned out unimportant. In fact, it seems that I appeared as a victim for LoL highlights many times (Laughs).
If I were to pick a player with the most impact back then regardless of their current status or evaluation, I would pick DanDy. Of course Faker for mid laner, Mata for support, and MaRin for top. For AD Carry, I have to think a bit since there are too many. It doesn’t feel awkward to put anyone on the spot since everyone’s good, but if I were to pick, it would be Deft and Imp back when they played for Samsung. I used to think many times, ‘Who are those guys? What are they?’ when I saw their plays.
As for a rival, Score comes first to my mind. He was a rival that I was jealous of and he helped me grow the most at the same time. He was a good inspiration. We didn’t talk separately about this but I think he felt the same way. I think we couldn’t help it since we had many things in common. We are the same age and have similar careers. We both changed our position to jungler.
I think I would have found my pro gaming career much harder if Score wasn’t there. He was a rival but at the same time, he felt like a comrade. I kept on supporting Score even after I was disqualified for Worlds 2018 and he made it to the top league. I usually don’t support other players but I supported him naturally back then. I will continue to support him in the future.
The most memorable moment for me was when I won at Worlds. Well, your happiest memory lasts very long. I will never forget the feeling I felt the moment we destroyed the enemy Nexus in the last set 3. My heart was really swelling and it felt thrilling. It was a grand emotion I had never felt before. Also, the moment I held up our trophy cup, all the memories of hard times were gone and what was left was the great feeling that I came all the way for this.”
It’s hard not to feel sorry or regret when you have to step back from a place you spent all your 20’s in such a short moment. However, Ambition did it. This was possible because he had done his best at every moment. He said something similar too when we asked him to leave a message for any younger players who are considering retirement: there is no need to worry if they have done their best; there will be many paths laid out for them to take.
An hour passed quickly and we were near the end of the interview. Ambition did not forget to leave a message of gratitude and love for his wife as he used to during his time as a pro gamer. It was an end that felt just like him, who was known as a doting husband. ‘Legends Never Die.’ This is the last farewell from Ambition, who will be remembered as a legend forever.
“If you really did your best during your pro career, there are many things you can do even after you retire. So I want to tell you that there’s no need to worry about retirement that much. Even though it feels like no one is aware of all the effort and passion you’ve put in your career, everyone will know it in the end. There’s no need to fear being forgotten. In other words, it means that you should try your very best.
Lastly, my wife was the motivation for my career and the strength that let me go on. She was more upset about my retirement than anyone else was, and I hope to become happy while doing my best at streaming so that she won’t be sad. It’s the same for the fans. I’ll always try my best so that nobody will feel sad about it.”
A managing editor who can do more things than you think.