“The biggest reason was that I needed to change. I thought that if my environment changes, I’ll change as well. As a pro gamer, everyone wants to be better at the game. I made this decision because I wanted to change for the better.”
He’s a 21 year old pro gamer in his 5th year of his career. Han ‘Peanut’ Wang-ho still looks very young, but he’s now a seasoned veteran in the industry. On the 22nd (KST), it was announced that Peanut will be transferring to LGD in China. After 5 years in the LCK, he now faces a new challenge in the LPL.
To be honest, 2019 was a very hard year for Peanut. Although he transferred to Gen.G Esports with much hype and attention, he fell into a slump. Not only was he considered to be in his worst form in his career by critics, the team barely managed to avoid Relegations. Although he was on the incline after some time, he ended this year in 6th place of the LCK standings, and failed to make it to the Worlds stage for the second year in a row.
“During the past year, I’ve experienced what it really feels like to be in a slump. However, I’ve learned a lot as well. Although I should never be in a slump ever again, if I do, I’ll have less of a hard time than before. The one thing I regret the most about it is definitely the results. I feel very sorry towards my fans. Not only them, but towards my coaching staff and teammates as well.
Gen.G has rebuilt their roster year, and just by looking at their roster, I feel that they’ll do really well next year. Wouldn’t anybody think the same? I hope that I’ll get to meet them at Worlds next year, and to do that, I obviously need to do well myself (laughter).”
As stated before, Peanut believes that going overseas is a turning point in his pro gaming career. Leaving the LCK after 5 years, he believes that putting himself in a completely new environment will stimulate a great change in himself.
For Peanut, going overseas was ‘something that he needs to do’. He always thought that he needed to play somewhere overseas was a necessity as a pro gamer, and felt it was the right time to make it a reality. So why did Peanut choose the LPL out of many other regions, and why LGD out of the many LPL teams?
“First, I thought about going overseas after my contract with Gen.G ended. I already made up my mind in heading overseas for the upcoming year, so I’ve flat out declined all domestic offers. In that sense, I think the contracting process was swift. The offer came in right after my contract ended on Nov. 18th, and I’ve decided to go to LGD after only a few days.
I’ve barely considered Europe at all. I thought that since they were doing well by themselves as a region, they weren’t really looking for imports. That’s why I thought about either NA or China. After much consideration, the biggest reason why I chose LGD was that they seemed to really want me. Also, it seemed like a team that would really respect my opinions.
I chose LGD not because of its region, but because of its values as a team. Honestly, during the FA season, there’s a lot of offers that come in, but some teams are very eager, while others are not. I’ve joined every single team that was very eager to pick me up, and since I’ve played terribly this year, that aspect felt a bit more touching.”
As a pro gamer, it’s not easy to go overseas, because you’re forced to live overseas. From cultural differences to language, food, and environment, everything is new, and you can sometimes get homesick as well.
Also, the fact that you can be forgotten by your domestic fans is something that every pro gamer fears. So how does Peanut think about all these obstacles? His solution was simple. Just dive straight into it, since worrying about it won’t change a thing.
“Simply put, I don’t have any fears about going overseas. Earlier this year, I went to Switzerland for vacation, and I felt that it would totally be okay for me to live overseas. That’s why I was able to make this decision with more confidence.
I speak absolutely zero Mandarin. I’m also obviously worried about the food as well. I’ve heard stories about how hard things will be if you don’t like the food. However, I absolutely love Hot Pot. I’ll be able to have lots of Hot Pot, so I’m excited (laughter). Worst comes to worst, I can always search for Korean restaurants.
Worrying about it won’t change a thing, so I’m going to stay positive and face the obstacles head on. The two languages I always wanted to learn were English and Mandarin. Since I’m young, it’s a good chance to learn Mandarin. New experiences and challenges are always good.
On whether or not I’ll be forgotten by the fans, I’m always worried about such a thing happening. Because my job garners attention in nature, I’m always asked what I want to do after my career as a pro gamer ends. I didn’t really think about it much during the early days of my career, but seeing my fellow players retire one by one, I started to think about such things.
I’ve thought about whether or not I can live without the attention that I get from the fans, and the thought of it really scares me. It really scared me, especially this year, so that’s why I was even more grateful for the love and attention from the fans. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank them, and I hope they’ll continue to support me when I’m in the LPL.
Peanut is a star player with many eyes and attention on him. For such players, the feedback from the fans come really fast. While much praise and honor comes from great performances, slumps can bring forth criticism that can sometimes even cross the line, and many memes in relation to that player are born.
This year, Peanut has a lot of the aforementioned. From the slump in Spring to slowly regaining his form in the Summer, there has been much criticism and praise. He’s even been called the ‘Nut Sin’, a nickname that’s been trending across many communities. Amongst the much criticism and praise this year, Peanut thinks they’re all just ‘fun’ and talked about the evaluation and memes from the fans.
“I think it’s really fun. People around me are worried, but I think it’s a good thing. Memes are forms of entertainment, and it motivates me to work even harder. It’s natural for everyone to be praised. If I played well, there wouldn’t have been any criticism. I worked harder in Spring from all the criticism, and because of it, I played better during the Summer split.
As long as it’s not any criticism or slander that crosses the line, it’s one of the things that fans of the LoL esports scene can enjoy. Gen.G actually filed a lawsuit against those who wrote negative comments online about our players. I found out about it through articles online, but since I barely read any comments online, I didn’t really care much about it.
However, I’ve coincidentally came across a blog post regarding the lawsuit, and I’ve read how negative the comment was. I wondered why Gen. G decided to go as far as filing a lawsuit against them, and it was really bad. I couldn’t even finish reading the whole thing. I think that it’s something all pros are going through.”
“A way to relieve stress? Exercising really helped me this year. I’ve started working out during my SKT days, but even up until last year, I’ve always worked out for the purpose of keeping myself in shape, not to relieve stress. I’ve worked out to keep up my stamina for my work. However, this year, I think I relieved a lot of stress by working out.
I’m not the type to get advice or consult with those around me. I’ll only go as far as asking questions when I want to know something. Even then, I tend to talk to the Head Coach about such things. However, this year, there’s one person that I’ve asked for advice, and that’s Pray.
Before Pray returned to the LCK, I was in a slump during Spring, and before I knew it, I was talking to myself. For example, I would look at myself in the mirror and say ‘You have to step up, Wang-ho’, and refer to myself in 3rd person. That’s why I went to Pray and told him, ‘I think I’m going crazy, bro’ (laughter). He responded that he also had the same experience in the past, so I learned that things like that can happen. I remember laughing a lot back then.”
We moved on to have a deeper conversation about the 2020 season with LGD. LGD is a team with a deep history in the LPL. For domestic fans, the team’s known for housing imp and Acorn (now known as Cheonju).
2019 has been a rough year for LGD as well. Although the sole Korean import for the team, Kramer, has performed well, it was not enough for them. During the regular season in the LPL, they’ve placed 11th place in Spring, and 14th place in the Summer. Since then, they’ve acquired Peanut and Coach ZanDarC from KT Rolster in preparation for 2020.
For Peanut, who’s been a part of many teams in the LCK, it’s his first time working with Coach ZanDarc. For ZanDarC, this year has been the worst in his career. We’ve asked Peanut about how he felt to be working with him in a direct fashion. Although he awkwardly laughed, he was very honest about his answer.
“I’ve also had a rough year in 2019, so… (laughter) I think rumors are just rumors. It’s not like I’ve directly experienced him, you know. I’m the type to trust in my direct experiences, rather than having outside influences affect me. In that regard, I’m currently not worried at all.
After I signed the contract, I immediately contacted ZanDarc to say hello and to say, ‘Let’s do our best’. Since then, we’ve been in contact to talk about which direction the team should go. I’ve always said hello to him during matches in the LCK, so there was never any awkwardness between us. As two fellow Koreans going overseas to China, he’s someone that I can rely on. Being a veteran in the LoL esports scene definitely helps.
I’m also somewhat acquainted with Kramer as well. Although we’re not super close, we’ve had conversations here and there, whether it’s during profile shoots or matches. We talk about teams, and talk about when he’s coming to or leaving Korea. I’m headed to China for a few days, but I heard that Kramer won’t be around because of the LPL All-Stars event.
I think that as a pro gamer, playing in the LPL will be an incredible experience. Although I’ve scrimmed against Chinese teams, I now get to play against other LPL teams in the league itself. I’m curious about whether or not these teams will be the same as they are in scrims. They play really aggressively in scrims, and I’m curious to see whether or not I’ll adjust well in matches.
During the first time I was at the peak of my career, the in-game meta was all about aggressive skirmishes and teamfights. So, perhaps I’ll try playing as how I played back then. I’ve never even made any attempts, so it doesn’t make sense to say that I’m not confident. I want to say that I am, and I hope I play well.”
Finally, we asked him about his resolution for 2020. Peanut talked about his realistic, and his final goals. He wants to first lead the team into the playoffs, and as a long-term goal, he hopes punch one of LPL's tickets to Worlds. Lastly, he wanted to thank the domestic fans, and the Chinese fans that he’ll be meeting in the near future.
“Since the team’s been at the very bottom of the standings, my initial goal is to lead the team into the playoffs. Although I’d definitely love to win the finals, my realistic goal is the playoffs. My end goal is definitely making it to Worlds. Since it’s held in China next year, it would hold that much more meaning. I’ve heard that Worlds in 2020 is going to be massive, so I definitely want to be a part of it.
As always, I really want to thank the fans for their support. As a pro gamer, I’ve been able to come so far because of their love and support, and I was able to play better because of them. Although they won’t see me in the LCK, if there’s any opportunities to interact with them, I’ll be eager to take them. I also want to host a fan meet one day.
Many foreign fans have welcomed me after it’s been announced that I’ll be joining LGD. I’ve really felt the support during my streams or global events, so I’ve always been grateful and felt reassured. Now that I’m part of the LPL, I hope that I’ll be able to directly experience such love and support.
Next year, I’ll show you a better version of myself, with better results in the league, by continuing to be the Peanut that always works hard. Thank you!”