TOR Neko: "We all have to prove we're not the underdogs."

Se-hyeon "Neko" Park came into our interview with a smile on his face after Toronto’s victory against the Chengdu Hunters in Week 4. With this opportunity for a 1-on-1 interview, I was curious about the differences in team dynamic between the Uprising and Defiant. I got more than what I asked for -- Neko took the opportunity to come clean about his former team.

In this Inven Global interview with Neko, he also went over what kind of training he does to prepare for each match, how he felt about team synergy with his Defiant teammates, and he had something to say to Chris "HuK" Loranger, President of Gaming for the Boston Uprising.

▲ photo by Robert Paul


Toronto has had an up and down Stage 1 so far. What's your approach to each match?

Personally, I don't do any physical gaming training, more like mind training. I imagine situations and try to think about how to go against those situations. It's more about mental training for me.

Mental training is something I haven’t heard before from other players. What kind of mental training do you go through?

For example, whenever I play Mercy, if someone dies, I need to figure out in my head where to jump next. It’s things like having a good perception that make me the player I am today. I try to imagine myself in situations and think ahead.

Do you ever feel tilted after a match? If you do, what kind of mental exercise do you do?

I am never tilted.

Last year, you played for the Boston Uprising. Can you describe the differences in team synergy between Boston and Toronto?

In Boston, unfortunately, the team didn't support me inside and outside of matches. In Toronto, the team treats me like one of the veterans on the team. So, everyone supports me and comes to me for advice. I feel better about myself being with the team.


▲ photo by Robert Paul

Do you think that support from your teammates built your confidence up?

My confidence was never down or anything. I always felt confident in my skills. Before with Boston, they did not care for me or supported me. Here in Toronto, they support me on top of me being confident. It's time to do better and show everyone what I'm made of.

Who's been the most supportive player in your team?

I can’t say there’s one person that’s been most supportive. Pretty much everyone is supportive. We all care about each other and no one is left behind. Since everyone thinks that I'm good, they kind of work around my skills.

Being supportive of each other looks like it is helping everyone do what they need to do to win matches. What else have you guys done to build team synergy?

Not much, to be honest. Everyone speaks Korean, so I think that helps with our synergy plus our communication.

So what do you think is the reason why Toronto is winning matches?

Besides any language barrier, the power ranking for our team is really low. Basically, we're the underdog. There was not much stress going into this season because they didn't expect anything from us. Since there's no pressure, we could probably perform better. That's why I think we've been winning, plus going back to that team synergy. We all have to prove we're not the underdogs.


▲ photo by Sean Costello

I believe that this team is underrated as well. What do you have to prove to all the doubters out there that they need to take notice?

I just want to win. I'm used to being in underdogs teams because of my time in NC Foxes and Boston Uprising last season. I just want to show everyone that I can win.

Following up on that, do you prefer being the underdog?

Not really! Wherever I go, it kind of happens.

In this stage, Toronto is on the verge of qualifying for stage playoffs. How does your experience carry over to this year?

All part from experience, I always feel nervous going into the matches. But, I'm really confident in my skills. I'm going to go in with my confidence and play my best. At the same time, trying to ease nerves as best as possible.

How can your confidence help your team overall?

Since we don't have extra players to swap out, I will probably help them relax more to prevent burn out. Last year, burn out was a huge thing among players and I learned a lot from that. It will be a huge thing as the season progresses.

Will you teach them your mental exercises?

No, that's a secret. [laughs]

So let's pretend that I'm one of your teammates. Before our match, I'm going to feel nervous and be jittery a lot. What kind of advice would you give me before we go on stage?

I actually like feeling nervous. I usually just drink a Monster energy drink before playing to make my heart rate go faster. That adrenaline rush will make me play hard.


▲ photo by Robert Paul

Before we wrap up this interview, is there anything you want to say to the other teams?

There's not much I want to say to the other teams.

Is there anything you want to say to the fans?

Thank you so much for being our fans and cheering for us. Also, the people who rooted for me last year when I was in Boston, I want to give you an extra thanks for the support. For the future, I will try harder to perform better than ever.

Actually, one more thing. I have a quick message for Boston, especially to HuK. I personally do love the players from Boston. I know HuK is a good GM, but be more caring to the players. Or, pay more attention to your players. Thank you.

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