Last January, two legendary players, Go “Esther” Jeong-wan and Cha “Pio” Seung-hoon, retired from competitive PUBG. Each a star in their own right, Esther was a founding member of Gen.G, while Pio became the driving force behind the team immediately after his acquisition. Their trophy shelf is as heavy as their legacy.
Last month, PUBG published KRAFTON held a retirement ceremony for the two decorated players, bidding them farewell. This interview was taken during that ceremony.
How did you feel after announcing your retirement?
Pio: My teammates, including my former teammates, were sad. But they did encourage me on heading into the second stage of my life. Right now, I’m happy.
Esther: I felt good since Gen.G were thoughtful in so many ways. They also held a retirement ceremony for me, maybe because I was on the team for so long.
What have you been up to after retiring?
Pio: I just play PUBG, eat, stream, play other games, and just get along with fans. At first, I streamed PUBG almost every day for 14 hours, but now, I’ve been trying other game content. I get on Youtube and talk to subscribers, watch other games, and wrap up the day.
How did the people around you react when you announced that you’ll be retiring?
Pio: When I told my parents that I want to retire, at first my father said that I should try a bit more, but now, he respects my decision and cheers for me. As for my mother, she was always like, “Do as you wish”, “Isn’t it best to be not stressed out?” I think she always has faith in me, whatever I do.
Esther: Since I didn’t even stream, fans asked what I’m up to, and what I’ll be doing. My parents also told me that I worked hard, but they asked what I’ll be doing now. You know, when I first told my parents that I want to become a professional gamer, they scolded me. I was able to try out as a pro gamer because my brother convinced them.
When I did well, get good results, and won prize money, they were happy for me and cheered for me. Now that I’ve retired, my parents have been curious about what I’ll be doing. For now, I’m going to take a break, and I told them not to worry because I can do well on my own.
Why and when did you decide to retire?
Pio: I was kind of exhausted emotionally, so I think I wanted to rest. I used to be quick-tempered and got angry often, but after I became a PUBG pro player, my personality changed. I became more considerate since I had to be the in-game leader, and needed to think about how my teammates would react when I said something.
In that situation, I thought that I should prepare for my next stage before I have to do my military service. I need to lay the groundwork for my second stage, which is streaming. I thought people might forget about me if I leave for two years while I’m a pro player.
Esther: I think I’ve accomplished more than enough as a PUBG pro player. I’ve won domestic tournaments, Asian championships, and international championships, so I’m happy. I wanted to finish my professional career in Gen.G, as a Gen.G player, so I decided to retire.
It’s true that you’ve accomplished a lot, but don’t you have any regrets?
Esther: I’d be lying if I said I had no regrets. There are a lot more regrets than when I left to become a pro player for a different game last year. Still, I think I’m able to leave with a smiling face since I’ve accomplished a lot during my PUBG career.
Do you remember when Gen.G first gave you an offer to be a pro player? How did you feel?
Pio: I wanted to enter tournaments with close friends, but the distance was too far and it cost a lot of money. The only way for me was to become a pro player. I tried out for a team and that’s how I first started. I moved teams twice after that, and in the end, it was Gen.G who picked me up. I’m happy that I’m able to conclude this journey in such a good team as Gen.G.
What’s the most memorable moment for you in your PUBG career?
Pio: There weren’t that many super plays or 1v4s for me. It was mostly unilaterally killing or assassinating. I think I’ve been playing consistently, so all games are memorable for me. I miss raising the trophy, and I miss the days when I got excited about winning the chicken dinner. I may have become a pro player to feel that emotion, but I don’t get as excited anymore. If I had to pick one moment, I think it’s when I raised the PGC trophy.
Esther: I’ve always dreamt of becoming a pro gamer, so I remember the moment when I first became one. I have so many golden memories. Back then, most of the streaming content was about PUBG. One of those streams praised me that I’m a very good player. I got to meet great teammates as well, so there are so many good memories of playing as a PUBG pro player in my heart.
The most memorable moment for me is the end of PGC in 2019. A lot of videos are on Youtube of that moment. The ultimate goal for any pro player is to win the championship, and that was the tournament where I became No.1 in the world, so that’s the most memorable moment for me.
What was the best part of being a pro PUBG player?
Pio: I’m who I am now since I became a PUBG pro player, so I think PUBG esports made me. I’m really grateful for that. I was able to enter many international tournaments through PUBG esports, and I experienced many things that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t play PUBG. Besides that, a lot of people recognize me when I go out to eat or drink. There were many fun things in daily life that happened as well.
Esther: First, I’m thankful that there are many fans that recognize me. If I hadn’t become a PUBG player, I would have been just another passer-by. I’m really thankful to the fans for liking me. I won an international championship because PUBG existed. I was happy with everything about PUBG.
Is there any advice for young prospects who dream to become pro gamers?
Pio: In PUBG, confidence is everything. If you were to join a pro team and get feedback, you need to accept that and fix whatever it is and play confidently again. For me, I fixed whatever it was that I accepted, but about things that I didn’t, I clashed a lot and had many discussions about them.
Still, having those discussions is positive to the team, if you can come to a conclusion and resolve any conflicts there. If you have any grudges, you can’t get good results in competitions. I think you need to fight and say what you want to say if necessary, but relieve everything after that fight, like the 2019 Gen.G.
Esther: This game is a mental game. You have to have a solid mentality. Giving and accepting feedback is important, but it’s also crucial to keep each others’ mentalities positive.
Will you be playing PUBG after you retire?
Pio: I’m still playing PUBG. In fact, I’ve been streaming 14 hours a day. I do want to play other games too, but there aren’t any games as fun as PUBG yet. [laughs]
What are your plans after retirement?
Esther: I haven’t thought of it yet. I’ll probably decide after resting a while. I wouldn’t be able to play as a pro player anymore because of my age, so I guess I’ll become an esports coach or stream. I specialize in communicating with PUBG fans, you know. [laughs]
What does PUBG mean to you?
Pio: It’s a game that made me who I am. I’m really thankful. I became famous thanks to PUBG and I’m living how I am through this game. It’s a game that I love, and a game that I’d like to continue to love.
Esther: As I mentioned earlier, my dream was to become a pro gamer, and PUBG made that dream come true. You can also achieve your dream, so keep up the hard work!
Any last comments to the fans?
Pio: Thank you for cheering for me whether or not I was doing well. I’ve been streaming a lot, so I’ll look forward to communicating with you.
Esther: I was able to be here because you were there. Thank you for always cheering for me. I’m not sure what I’ll be doing next, but hopefully, see you there! Bye!