Over the past three years, Hong “Pyosik” Chang-hyeon went through a lot. From a streamer to a professional League of Legends player — Pyosik had to change himself to become more suitable for his position. He may not have been as mature or responsible as he is now, but DRX Pyosik seemed like a seasoned veteran despite having been a pro for only three years.
After the press conference for the LCK teams that reached Worlds, Inven Global met up with Pyosik for a chat. We discussed how he grew since he became a pro gamer and how the process was, as well as his expectations for Worlds 2022.
After many ups and downs, you’ve reached your second World Championship. How do you feel?
I feel nervous since I haven’t been to Worlds last year, but at the same time, I’m excited. When I recall the memories of my first Worlds, I think I was in a good form back then. It was the first time in my life going overseas, and it was fun living in China. There are only good memories left of Worlds for me.
From what I recall, Kindred was a decent meta pick, right?
I think so. I think we played her as a joker card.
You had decent results at Worlds as a rookie. Now that you’ve been pro for three years, how does it feel looking back at your career?
Compared to the first year, my second and third years were quite regretful. I didn’t play that well in my first year, but it was my rookie year, and I was just learning. All I thought was how I could become better and be of help to the team. I believe that effort blossomed at Worlds that year.
After that, I think it was alright until the spring season, but I stumbled a lot during the summer. Afterward, I only showed regretful performances. If I had worked harder, it could have been better.
How has your mindset changed over the three years?
I tried to become good again since I couldn’t give up in the middle. That was all I thought about — doing my best.
The biggest shock for you was probably after your first year, when all your teammates left the team. I remember you showing tears in your stream because I swelled up watching it. How did you overcome that shock?
It was my first team, and since everyone on the team was really good, I really didn’t know what to do when I heard that everyone was leaving. I thought no one would join the team. I was able to maintain my form for a while in the spring, so it was alright, but I started to fall after that point.
Who affected you the most as a professional player over the three years?
I can’t pick just one person. First of all, the person who taught me the most about League of Legends was cvMax. He was my first coach, and he was the one that brought me to the professional scene. I also learned a lot about the game from Deft and how to behave as a professional player. This year, Mowgli joined our team as a coach. Since he’s a former jungler, I learned much about what a jungler should do in a team game — my role, shotcalls, and so on. I would say cvMax, Deft, and Mowgli affected me the most in my career.
When was the most difficult for you? Was it when everyone left? Or was it when you underperformed?
Frankly, this year was difficult, and last year was hard too, but I think my first season was the most difficult. Back then, we had several rookies — or players close to rookies, like Keria or Doran, but Keria was a monster from the beginning, and Doran had some experience in Griffin. I didn’t even know how to play in a team game and didn’t know how scrims went.
I was a player that was good at playing Tekken in LoL — I played LoL like fighting games. Nothing about my plays before was related to the team game. In that situation, learning the team game and building teamwork and synergy was extremely hard.
It must have been even harder since there weren’t any former jungler coaches to teach you.
Yeah. Even what I learned from Deft was about how the junglers he played with played and made shotcalls, but it wasn’t as detailed as what Mowgli teaches me now. I had to teach myself and be enlightened on my own. When I couldn’t do that, I thought about LoL 24/7 to find my own solution.
Since you said you needed to learn a lot on your own, were there any junglers you looked up to when you did?
More than watching others play, I usually learned by playing and trying different things myself in the games. I didn’t really try to watch VODs of other junglers — maybe some pathing tips sometimes. So when Mowgli first joined the team, I really learned a lot from him.
Maybe Kanavi? Kanavi used to come to the team house from time to time. When he did, he criticized me a lot when he watched me play. [Laughs] I learned a thing or two from watching him play back then.
Then what’s the biggest difference between ‘20 Pyosik and ‘22 Pyosik?
I’ve been living a social life since I joined the team, right? I’ve come out of school, so I have gained more responsibility as an adult and learned that things don’t always go my way. [Laughs] When I was a student or streaming, if I didn’t feel like it, I just took a break. But here, I’m a professional. Even when I want to give up, I have to do it. I guess the keyword is responsibility.
How did becoming a pro player affect you? Are you happy that you’ve become a pro gamer?
Honestly, at first, my goal wasn’t to become a pro gamer. I thought of it lightly, as a way of having fun. I still remember my first-ever scrim. I played lightly and kidded around a bit. It was the first scrim after the team was formed. I played as if it was a streamer war, and cvMax gave me a whole lecture for that. I learned the weight I have to bear as a pro player that day.
At first, I didn’t think much about being a pro, but the more I played, the more I came to think that it was a blessing to have become a pro player. I’m really happy that I did. I’m much more responsible now.
At Worlds, you’ll be starting from Play-ins. Are there any teams or junglers that you’d like to face?
I want to meet JD Gaming. As I said earlier, I’m friends with Kanavi. I can say that I even respected him. If I play against him, I think I'd become much more driven to win. It’ll be fun just having him on the other side, on an official stage.
DRX will feature two junglers — you and Juhan. How does having a player compete with you for the starting roster affect you?
Frankly, it eases the pressure a bit. When playing as a pro player, there are times you play well and times that you don’t. Personally, I think I’m not very consistent. In a way, I’m angry at myself that I’m not starting, but at the same time, I’m relieved since someone can take my place when I’m not doing well. It’s complicated. [Laughs]
What are the strengths of you and Juhan?
Since I’ve played longer with the team, I believe I have better teamwork and synergy. As for Juhan, his teamwork may not be as good as mine, but I think he plays more calmly in skirmishes.
When I talked to you in your early days as a pro player, you said you wanted to become a player that fans could approach comfortably. The pandemic might have prevented that, but do you think you’ve become that kind of player?
I remember that. You know, when you meet people you see on TV, it’s hard to approach comfortably, right? Even when there is a celebrity walking by, it’s hard to approach them. I’m not saying that I’m a celeb or anything, though. [Laughs] Still, when I go out, there are a lot of people who recognize me and come around to say hello. Seeing that, I think I’ve succeeded in that matter.
It’s time to wrap up now. Do you have any last comments you’d like to share?
When I went to Worlds two years ago, I played quite well, so I have a lot of good memories. Since I want to make more good memories, I’ll do my best and do well to make more positive memories.