After New York Excelsior's defeat against the San Francisco Shock to qualify for this year's grand finals, NYXL's captain Jong-ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park held his head high upon entering the interview room. He still had a smile on his face, although I can quickly tell he was somber after the loss. Throughout our interview, he was open on sharing his thoughts about what he said to his teammate Flow3r during the last map, and how his leadership changed NYXL in the playoffs.
First of all, your team put up a great effort against the Shock. How did they play comparatively to the Vancouver Titans?
As we were playing the match, we felt that this truly is the Shock. I thought that they were really good. But, even while they’re going to the Grand Finals, I don’t think it’ll end easily for either team. I feel that both teams will play fiercely to the end.
Heading into this match, what did you have to prepare for going against the Shock and who did you have to focus on?
For this match, we were very cautious towards sinatraa. We worked on using our ultimates efficiently and having synergy with our ults.
Why was it so hard to stop sinatraa in this match?
For starters, the Shock players’ strategy is to give a lot of resources to sinatraa. Throughout the match, the team allowed sinatraa to easily move around and stay healthy on Doomfist.
Going into these playoffs, how did your leadership help the team to where they are today?
I’ve been a pro gamer for a long time, and I’ve worked with these players for a long time. I’ve been a starter, and I’ve also been on the bench.
I always tell my other players about all the situations we’ve overcome. I remind them about those old memories during the match to alleviate their stress. I’ll go and give them a high-five, or give them massages.
I try to give the other players a lot of ‘eye-contact’ to look out for them during the games.
I spoke with many of your teammates about your presence on the team, and they love you being on the stage with them. What kind of differences do you see in this team in the playoffs compared to the regular season?
In season 1, I started a lot with the team. But in season 2, I had a bit of a gap period, where I couldn’t really match with my teammates and I took a bit of a break. As the metagame changed, I got to participate in this meta to play Reaper.
When I rejoined the players on stage, I think our synergy and playstyle lined up again. I think that the team’s memory of playing with me on stage were finally found again. I’m so happy and I’m happy that my teammates are happy.
How would you compare this New York team to last year?
Last season, we didn’t get to go to the grand finals. This season, we didn’t get to either, but I think we’re still growing. I feel like I’ve said this too many times, but I think that we’ll be able to go to the grand finals next year.
Today was your last match in the Blizzard Arena. What are your thoughts about that?
It was very nice to go back on stage once more to interact with my fans and being able to play alongside my teammates for the last time here.
What was your favorite moment here in the Blizzard Arena?
I’ll miss the Blizzard staff and the fans! They are the most memorable and I’m so grateful for everyone. The staff would cheer for us behind the scenes and the fans would come back to the arena multiple times to cheer for us. I’m so grateful to feel that support from them.
In between maps, we could see you talking to your teammates. In the end, they would all be smiling. I want to know what kind of things you’re telling them so they’re not tilted heading into the next map.
Sometimes I’ll stand up and tell them to look at my face. Sometimes, I’ll go to give them high fives. I’m just having our usual conversations so they don’t feel that it’s not a high-stress situation.
In the last map of this match Rialto, we saw Flow3r on the verge of crying, then we saw you hold his hand and say something. Can you tell me what you said to him?
I was very sorry towards Flow3r. He’s a player that starts for that map specifically, but we had slipped in the match, down 3-0, and that heavy burden was placed onto Flow3r.
He got on stage, his hands were trembling, and I held his hand and told him,
“It’s okay. It’s because of my mistakes that we’re losing. We’re sorry that we put you in this situation. You can do well, so don’t shake, and we can do this.”
Moving forward, what’s your prediction in the Grand Finals between the Titans and the Shock?
I don’t know who’s going to win, but since both teams are very good, I think it’ll be a 4-3. I don’t know who will win, but it’s going to go all the way to the end.
One last thing, thank you for talking to not only me but to the fans out there as well. Is there anything you would love to say to all your fans, who have stuck by you all this time through this season and these playoffs?
First and foremost, I want to tell our fans that I am sorry. I’m sorry to the fans, I’m sorry to my family, and I’m sorry to my teammates. Thank you for joining us in being affiliated with the New York team by cheering for us, by looking out for us, even just for having an interest in us.
Next year, I hope that instead of feeling sorry, we can show you better performances that we can all be happy together.
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