Misfits Gaming delivered an opening performance for the ages on Week 1. Although their new roster had not played on stage before, their strength was obvious — and their opponents, outmatched. On top of going 2-0 following wins against Rogue and SK Gaming, the players also met their fans in a meet and greet session to celebrate the Misfits Gaming Arena’s grand opening.
In the middle of the festivities, Kang “GorillA” Beom-hyeon was his usual kind-hearted self: at times interacting with fans and/or teammates, at others catching fragile objects before they fell to the ground, mostly smiling through the process.
“We don’t really have this type of event in Korea during the split since we’re focused on practice, but I think what we’re doing right now [the fanmeet] is a really good thing,” GorillA said, matter-of-factly. “I really think this kind of event is quite important since I believe my fans were the ones who led me to where I am right now. It’s a nice change of pace, and I really like that.”
Although he changed continents, he was still the same GorillA whose stories of kindness spread around the Korean scene. He was still looking out for others. Besides, he was still the same man who seemingly had to change teams on a regular basis. “I had a bit of a superstition: every two years, the team I’m in either vanishes, or I change teams,” he said.
“I really want to see this ‘tradition’ stop, so I came to Misfits, and I hope I won’t be changing teams!” He added, before laughing at his predicament. But in truth, there are no regrets to be had on the matter.
You see, on that front, GorillA takes from his father, an employee-turned CEO of a big Korean company, Booxen. Before that, his father (and role model) worked for many companies. In fact, his son’s career is quite similar in some aspects: both of them never left the companies they worked for (or teams they played in) on their own. In truth, they both had the same approach.
“Whenever [my father] moved to another company, there were reasons behind it, whether from the company itself or from a merger,” GorillA said. “What I really learned from him is the sense of duty and belonging. Even if I changed teams every two years, whenever I was on a team, I really gave my all to that company — that team. That is what I learned.”
He will be giving his all to Misfits, just as he did for NaJin White Shield, GE/KOO/ROX Tigers, and Longzhu Gaming/KingZone DragonX. However, Misfits is located outside of Korea, thousands of kilometers away from his father. The latter more than respected his decision: he was thrilled. “He was happy because he kind of saw it as a free language trip,” GorillA said, jokingly, before adding: “He has had a long career and worked for a long time, so he knows how important English is. He was very happy for me, and he praised me.”
GorillA’s father saw the importance in English for good reason: it is the most popular language in Western society, and is taught in schools worldwide. And GorillA would need it in Europe, as Misfits primarily communicate in English. However, the player needed to properly negotiate his contract beforehand.
Although his level in English is commendable, and although he displayed his ability to communicate in English in a number of interviews, GorillA’s command over the language is not where he wants it to be yet. That could have been problematic during negotiations with Misfits Gaming. but people were quick to help him — among them were Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-seop and Yun “JoyLuck” Deok-jin.
“When [Misfits and I] needed to talk in-depth (for example, contract details are very important), that’s where Locodoco helped me,” GorillA said. “Locodoco already had contacts within Misfits, and I heard that Ben Spoont asked him to really encourage me to join Misfits. [Locodoco and JoyLuck] especially helped me with communication.”
Just like that, GorillA joined Misfits Gaming and went to a whole different environment. Indeed; compared to where he lived before, the language is not the same, neither are the streets he walks in, nor the freezing cold and occasionally snowy weather — a matter that made him laugh heartily. “It’s hard for me to go outside alone at the moment since I can’t communicate,” he said. “I haven’t explored a lot so I don’t have a lot of experience yet. Still, one thing is sure; the weather is quite gloomy.”
Needless to say, one shouldn’t worry about him conquering those negatives. In fact, he has been embracing change overall, very enthusiastically at that. The communication process within the team has been open across the board. That meant that he could provide feedback to Steven “Hans sama” Liv — and vice versa. In fact, the latter would have been more difficult to do in Korea.
“When you’re the young team member in Korea, it’s hard to express your opinions because of the culture,” he said. “However, there are no barriers here: we can all talk to one another [in that way.] It’s really open, and I appreciate that. I like that there are no barriers (in communication). These cultural differences actually help.”
“Everyone communicates [in-game], but in order to communicate well, I need to master the English language — and that is not the case yet.” He said. “However, once we’re in a match, even though I would commit grammatical errors, I still speak because we have to win. Now I’m curious: I don’t know what they think of my [in-game] communication.”
And for that same reason, he has issued a promise to his Western fans: “My English isn’t perfect, but I will do my best so that I can try conducting an interview in English within a month.”
His teammates are also not the same. Not only that, they have evolved in a different league than he did throughout his career. That much has been obvious when he and long-time LEC veteran Paul “sOAZ” Boyer had exchanges concerning their vision of the game. At least, they both acknowledge the difference and pool their efforts towards the same goal: winning in the LEC.
“It is true that, sometimes, we don’t agree on how we should approach the game, but I think that neither of us is wrong,” GorillA commented. “I’m just more accustomed to the LCK way of playing the game, and he’s more accustomed to Europe. He also has his own approach to winning a game. I think that we can find common ground.”
And things have gone off to a flying start, as Misfits stand alongside G2 Esports at the top of the standings after a 2-0 Week 1 showing. “I hope that people will speak of GorillA as a good player,” he said, addressing his fans at large. “To that effect, I will do my best to score good results.”
Moreover, for the first time in his career, GorillA is playing with a younger and less experienced bot laner. In the past, he played with Lee “Zefa” Jae-min and Kim “PraY” Jong-in, and those players had more experience than he did. Even then, they have already shown that they were a duo lane to reckon with.
“It is true that Hans sama is younger than the AD carries that I played with before,” GorillA said. “He has a very different style, too: he’s aggressive. I think we have a lot of things to contribute to one another. If you take both of our qualities under account, we’re going to form a very good bot lane.”
Perhaps, if there is one similarity, it lies in the way two teams in his career have come together: NaJin White Shield in 2014, and Misfits. Back then, NaJin welcomed three players at once: himself, Baek “Save” Young-jin, and Jeong “NoFe” No-chul. “The same has happened in Misfits: Maxlore and Steven [Hans sama] are still here, and we [E.N.: sOAZ, Febiven and GorillA] are the newcomers,” he said. “Back then, I was the youngest on the team, but I’m more mature as a person now.”
GorillA is more mature than when he started out, and he has been taking on more responsibility as a player within Misfits. However, he had to leave old friends behind. For instance, take Save, Zefa and NoFe, his old pals from the NaJin days.
“Save is currently serving in the military,” GorillA revealed. “Until recently, we’ve been frequently keeping in touch with each other, but not about the game: we spoke more about our daily lives, and how things were going.”
“Every time [Zefa, NoFe and I] chat, we don’t talk about the game. I really wish my former colleagues, whether they’re players or within teams’ supporting staff, the best in their endeavors – that everything they’re doing goes well.”
GorillA also left behind his Korean fans, but the adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’ does not apply. He has noticed that they were watching his performances, even writing posts about Misfits in the community. For that reason, he said, “I really want to thank them, and I want to give them my best.”
But there is one person that he left behind, most of all: PraY.
“In the beginning, I personally had a tough time getting closer with him,” he recalled. “The first time that we’ve met, I was at the bottom, and he was already up there. Ultimately, over time, we grew closer to one another.”
“Right now, I’m under the impression that he’s doing what he wants to do,” he added. “Even though he loved competing professionally, he’s a streamer at the moment. I wish him all the best in his streaming endeavors. The fact that we aren’t playing as a bottom duo doesn’t mean that we’re no longer friends. In fact, I wish that we will be friends for life.”
Disclaimer: Huge thanks to Misfits Gaming’s translator, Hyunseon “Hajinsun” Park, for her crucial help. Without her, this interview would have never taken place in this form.
Thanks, also, to Alexandre “DrPuppet” Weber for the photos taken at the fan meet.