SK Telecom T1 climbed out of their 5-game losing streak by defeating kt Rolster 2-0. As much as SKT players would have been stressed out during the losing streak, we were curious about how players handle that stress and overcome slumps. After the match, we sat with SKT top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha to talk about how he relieves his stress from gaming.
Congrats on today’s win! It’s been quite a while.
I also didn’t think it would take me this long to have another interview.
You must have wanted to talk so much...
While looking at other players’ interviews, I thought, ‘It should have been me talking there’. I wanted to make more interesting statements.
With the 5-game losing streak, you would have had a hard time. So today, I’d like to talk about how a pro player overcomes those hard times or slumps. What does Khan think when on such a losing streak like the recent one?
When I lose, I get really bitter, but I think that I lost because there was a problem with me. I locate what the problem is, fix it, and think I’ll do better next time.
I don’t think it’ll be easy to stay positive after losses, and there would be mood swings. After all, your teammates are all quite young. You’re a positive person; do you try to encourage your teammates?
I try to control myself away from mood swings. As for encouraging the players, the coaching staff does that. What I do is to try to concentrate on practice. The environment is like that. Our coaching staff controls the atmosphere so that we can stay lively.
Have you ever felt that you’re on a slump?
Up to now, I haven't felt that I'm on a slump. I don’t get burnt out when I concentrate on gaming, so there’s no trouble in practicing.
Still, what do you do when you’re exhausted and the games don’t go well?
The stress all resets when I go to a Karaoke myself and sing a few songs. I haven’t ever had that much trouble yet. I think round 1 in the last spring split was the hardest time. I played and practiced even during my 4-7PM free time, and that turned out well in round 2. I’m trying to maintain that mindset until the end of the year, so I’m continuing to concentrate on practicing rather than napping. Doing one’s best is something anyone can do. I’m the oldest in the team as well; I tend to do more because of the younger players coming up.
Is there a person you reach out to when you’re going through hard times?
I mainly talk with my family over the phone. They listen to me and console me. I also get help from close players like Peanut or Rascal. We talk often. They joke around from time to time and refresh me by saying the game wasn’t that bad. I talk with them over the phone often and get help from them. I’m very thankful.
On the other hand, if a close teammate is on a bad slump, what would you say?
Rather than talking about in-game things, I think I would say things out of the game to get his mind off of the game to refresh.
Have you helped other players often?
I actually find it difficult to contact those people [in slumps]. When I get in touch, I would just say, ‘let’s meet up and get something to eat soon’, and just chat with them.
Are there any special ways you relieve your stress from gaming? A hobby?
I just play more games. I try to clean up my head and concentrate. Being good at gaming isn’t to find a solution, it’s finding what’s closest to the correct answer; it sometimes opens my eyes to that path.
There should be things you learn when you go through those hard times. What did you learn?
From time to time, I get to think that it’s not always good to play just games. There are times that I’m not able to maintain my condition because I play too much. If my body is tired and gets shivers, I have to rest.
Can you pick a champion that in your opinion, is the least stressful or is good to relieve stress?
It depends on the situation. There are champions that win the game after getting pounded all along like Maokai, champions like Jayce that can pound your opponent all over during laning. If you’re playing Maokai, you don’t get as stressed even if you get pounded because if you can manage to stay close, you can win the games. As for Jayce, there could be the pressure that I have to carry, but I can pound the opponent even if I lose so that doesn’t feel as bad.
You can say that because you’re good at Jayce…
(Laughs) I guess, maybe.
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