Jo "CoreJJ" Yong-in, the support player for Team Liquid, has had a phenomenal year. He's been named one half of the best bot duo in NA, has two LCS championship titles under his belt, and is now heading into the 2019 LoL World Championship as NA’s number 1 seed. As his achievements grow overseas, his domestic fans continued to miss him more by the day. Then, he showed up at LoL Park for the final round of the LCK Regional Qualifiers. His English improved to the point where he can joke with the other global LCK casters on the caster’s desk, but his gentle and warm smile hasn’t changed a bit. Just as expected, a lot of fans wanted to say hello and take pictures with him, so a mini fan meet was suddenly held at the Bilgewater Cafe. He must've felt as if he’s on top of the world.
However, CoreJJ didn’t feel that he had a perfect year. He suffered disappointing results from the last two international events that he participated in, and with a chance at redemption through Worlds, he felt the need to stay vigilant. We were able to hear how he was doing, his mindset heading into Worlds, and some sharp predictions about Worlds as well.
It’s very nice to meet you. It’s been much too long. What have you been up to recently?
CoreJJ: I’m doing really well. I haven’t used my body for a while, so I’m going to start going to the gym. I want to live a healthy lifestyle. For now, I’m just relaxing. I haven’t played League to the point where I’m worried about losing my form. I don’t even play other games. I’ve already played TFT a lot during the season (laughter).
I think I can tell myself that I’ve done well this year after Worlds. Things went bad for my squad towards the end during MSI, so I want to make sure that at Worlds, we do well until the very end.
I get it. You may do well during Spring and Summer, but if you don’t do well at Worlds, something just doesn't feel right.
CoreJJ: You would feel really bad.
What if you were doing bad during the seasons, but do well at Worlds?
CoreJJ: Then the negativity all goes away. Definitely. I can tell you this out of experience (laughter)
How do you feel about being named the ‘Best Bot Duo’ alongside Doublelift?
CoreJJ: Over the last two seasons, they kept telling us that we’re amazing, but if we didn’t make it to the finals during MSI, all the compliments would’ve been for nothing. I’d feel like a lost frog in a well. Likewise, if we don’t do well at Worlds, then what we did during the Summer split would’ve all been for nothing. I want to be better than our past selves, and show the world that NA is a strong region, and we’re the best that the region has. We might’ve been named the best bot lane in NA, but we’re not perfect. Doing well at Worlds would definitely make us perfect.
Can you feel Doublelift’s love on a daily basis?
CoreJJ: Not love, but… I think we mesh really well. He’s honest and funny. Practice each day is very fun as well. Getting good results at Worlds would definitely make this year perfect.
What would you say the difference between when you first met Doublelift and now?
CoreJJ: We’re both veterans in the scene. Nothing really changed when we spent time together. Instead of changing our playstyles to match each other’s, we had a lot of time to understand each other.
If there’s one thing that you want from Doublelift, what would it be? Perhaps more communication, or becoming your gym buddy?
CoreJJ: Gym buddy would be nice (laughter). However, he gets up really early in the morning to work out… so there’s nothing I want to ask from him at the moment. I don’t want to mess up his daily routine and have it negatively affect his in-game performance. I DO want to ask him to retire as late as possible (laughter). I want to keep playing with him for a very long time.
Does Steve (LiQuiD112) treat you well?
CoreJJ: Definitely. Even if it’s a small thing, he gets us whatever we need. For example, if my shoes are uncomfortable, he gets me new ones.
As we were preparing for the last LCS finals, we were internally discussing how the lack of morale could be our biggest obstacle, because we’ve won many titles, and other teams may be hungrier for the trophy. One of the solutions was “If we’re lacking morale, then win it for Steve, the person that always takes care of us.” He always shows his passion for the team, so he’s been a source of inspiration.
Currently, you’re the best support that LCS has to offer. What would you say your biggest strength is?
CoreJJ: When I watch other great support players, I always think to myself how I’m also good as well, but I don’t think I have any strengths that particularly stand out. It’s not like I do something that no other players do. I just think about winning. Because I think about the different directions of how I want to beat my opponents, I’ve earned good results.
I’ve heard that you’re the gentle voice of the team.
CoreJJ: I’m not good at being strict… I think that’s why I mesh well with Doublelift. He’s a very honest person, and I learn from that. A team needs a lot of direct and honest feedback. I’m not like that. I always try to indirectly tell things to make someone understand and not hurt their feelings at the same time. He and I are very different, so I really do learn good things from him.
Does Doublelift learn a lot from you?
CoreJJ: I have no clue (laughter).
Is there a particular support player that piqued your interest this season?
CoreJJ: I always enjoy watching Lehends from Griffin. He’s a very creative player. I can play like how other players usually play, and is easy for me to learn the standard playstyle, but I try to get the most out of the players that play creatively. Life from Gen G is similar to Lehends. I’ve watched almost all the LCK matches. They’re really fun.
How do you think TL would do at Worlds?
CoreJJ: The initial goal is to get past the group stages. Doublelift never went past the group stages, and that became this obstacle that he can’t overcome. Once we hurdle over that obstacle, I believe that we can even win the whole tournament. Instead of thinking about quarters or semis, I want to focus on getting out of groups.
Is there a specific team that you have your eyes on?
CoreJJ: I’ve watched FunPlus Phoenix win the LPL finals yesterday, and I think that Doinb’s really good. He understands the game on a very deep level, and he knows how to win, so I’m concerned about FPX. I can’t really say for sure for LEC until they finish their finals. Currently, Kingzone and DAMWON are playing against each other, but SKT stomped them so hard that I actually can’t get a read on SKT. For FPX, I’m able to gauge how good they are, but I don’t know how much SKT is going to get better. Griffin was really good during the regular season, but they were disappointing during the finals. If they utilize the long preparation time to get their form back, I believe they’ll do well.
Which team do you think would join TL and C9 as the 3rd seed for NA? (The following interview was held before the Fnatic vs FC Schalke 04 and the CG vs CLG match)
CoreJJ: Even NA fans don’t really know who’s going to win. TSM, CLG, and CG are on par with one another. I personally think that CG and TSM would make it, but I think because TSM had more time to prepare for the gauntlet, TSM has a slight edge over CG.
G2 and Fnatic really battled it out in their last match, but who do you think would win if they meet in the finals?
CoreJJ: Well… G2 might’ve beaten Fnatic in their last match, but it wasn’t decisive. I want to bet on Fnatic, because we lost to them during Rift Rivals. I believe that Fnatic has more depth in their play, while G2 is a bit more vigor and unpredictable.
I know it’s very early to ask this question, but if you were to pick your teams for semis, who are your picks?
CoreJJ: Definitely SKT. I think FPX and G2 would be able to make it as well. I think either Griffin or Fnatic will take the last slot. We’re not a semifinalist team yet, but if we hone ourselves, there’s definitely a chance for us as well.
Other than the jet lag and the fact that Worlds is being held in Europe, are there other reasons why NA teams are going to Europe for bootcamping?
CoreJJ: The fact that Worlds is in Europe is a huge reason. Previously, Korean teams were the top dogs, so no matter where Worlds was, it felt natural to bootcamp in Korea, but after many international events, teams thought that Korean teams weren’t always the answer, and if a team can play well with their own playstyle, teams from any regions can win. Including jet lag issues and what not, I think that’s why teams aren’t going to Korea for bootcamp. If Worlds is held in China or in Korea in the coming years, I think teams will head back to Korea for bootcamp.
Speaking of Korea, have you visited your old Korean team, Gen G?
CoreJJ: I’ve visited Gen G and met some of their players, but only Ruler wasn’t there. Ruler asked me when I’m coming to Korea, but when I actually came back to see him, he went on a vacation. I was confused, and thought to myself that ADCs usually die when their support goes roaming.
What will you do before you head to Europe?
CoreJJ: I’m going to get as much rest as possible, and head to Europe, full of morale.
Any words to your fans?
CoreJJ: As I’m conducting this interview right now, I feel really good that so many fans still support me. Whichever team I’m on overseas, I’ll do well so that my fans will be proud of me.
Can you say something in English for your English fans as well?
CoreJJ: “I’ll prepare well to get out of groups at Worlds, so please don’t worry!”