I MAY, of the League of Legends Pro League in China, has shocked many with its own amazing Cinderella story. After acquiring the spot of EDward Gaming’s secondary team in the LPL, they managed to finish in third place in the 2016 summer split and in a 3-2 victory, overtook long time veterans Team WE to grab the region’s last ticket to the League of Legends World Championship.
Undoubtedly one of the instrumental parts of I MAY’s success was head coach Son Dae-Young, ex head coach of CJ Entus. With finally making it to the world championships as a head coach for the LPL, he shared some unsavory memories he had while in Korea, writes Daily eSports’ Kang Seong-Gil.
“When I was in Korea, I turned my phone off when we lost games,” he told Daily eSports. “If the article covering it had 400 comments, 300 of them would be bad-mouthing me, so I didn’t bother reading them. Even now I don’t think I’m doing anything different with the players. Personally, I think in an environment like that it doesn’t matter what player or support staff is there. How could a professional play to his full potential if fans berated him like that? It’s an unfortunate circumstance.”
Now on the way to the world championships, Son is certainly living on another level than before. I MAY’s owner apparently told the head coach he was was “his hero,” and Son has rode to the gaming house in the owner’s Rolls Royce Phantom. But the path to worlds was paved with hard work when he tried to teach his new team some old tricks.
“I think game management from (CJ Entus) Blaze was the most fun and easy to win with,” he said. “I think it took me about eight months to teach them that. The worst part is the stress. I’ve started going bald. I used to get so frustrated when I saw them scrim. Regardless, I’m thankful for the players for stepping up and showing progress.”
Another part that the new head coach had to impart to I MAY was the spirit of “never give up,” no matter how bad things looked. It was common for the players to just leave in the middle of practice games when they fell behind.
But the head coach had good reason to believe in his players, as in the world-clinching match against WE in the gauntlet, they managed to make a miracle comeback in Game 5. As I MAY took the last ticket, Son admitted to being emotional.
“I was sweating bullets even though I was in a room with great air conditioning,” he said. “When I saw our team win with the last fight, I felt tears falling from my eyes. I was very thankful for the players who didn’t give up and played until the end. I heard a lot of the Chinese fans were also moved by them. We’ve gotten more fans who believe that ‘you never know what is going to happen with I MAY.’”
With now his first venture into the world championships as a head coach, he said that I MAY will use this opportunity as a stepping stone for this year and the next.
“I cannot describe how happy I am,” he said. “There is a lot of pressure as well, though. Everyone’s been saying how good we are, even though we’re not an incredibly talented team. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t make it out of groups. But even then we can try again. I’ve said that the world championships will be our proving ground, and we will continue to prove ourselves by working towards worlds next year and again the next one. We will use this year’s worlds as a step on the ladder to progress.”