SK Telecom T1 will look to become the first three-time world champion in League of Legends history.
After defeating the ROX Tigers 3-2 on Friday at Madison Square Garden, SKT — the reigning champion — secured a berth in the final against Samsung Galaxy.
Slingshot’s Andrew Kim had a chance to talk to SKT coach Kim “KkOma” Jung-Gyun (in Korean and translated to English) about the win and his legacy in League of Legends’ history.
Andrew Kim: Congratulations on the dramatic win. How do you feel?
Kim “KkOma” Jung-Gyun: It was such a happy victory in a long time. I didn’t have the chance to be this happy as a coach after a game, but I think today is a very happy day for me.
AK: What made today’s match so different for you?
KJG: Each game was so dramatic, and I think we had the heavens looking after us today.
AK: We have to talk about ROX Tigers’ Miss Fortune pick. Was it something that you didn’t expect at all?
KJG: We didn’t expect her at all. After one game we thought we could deal with it, but after the second loss we couldn’t do anything so we banned her.
AK: ROX and SKT have had a long rivalry that usually ended before five games in your favor. Why do you think it came down to the wire?
KJG: I keep mentioning this, but the playing field is getting more and more leveled each time, and each victory is very hard fought and never easy, since we are pros and we live in a pro’s world. Seeing games like this is natural in a sense, I think the game results we had before were more unbelievable.
AK: In a previous interview with Slingshot, you mentioned that you were losing interest due to the pressure you feel as SKT and the expectations from the fans despite changing conditions. Do these moments of happy victories bring your interest?
KJG: Yes. Today’s games were very thrilling to watch, but since I do think that we must win, it is relieving in a sense, and I think being in the position we are in right now is the best possible one that comes with pressure, so we’ll have to work through it. The universal answer is just to win.
AK: Perhaps good or bad luck you got to face ROX in the semis on the same bracket rather than in the finals. Do you think it was better that way?
KJG: Based on the results, yes. We’ll continue to prepare the coming week, but since we made it to the finals after a tough game, I want us to win against whatever team we face and become the center of the tournament. I also hope to become the first team to have two consecutive world championships and set a record that no one can take from us. We will win no matter what.
AK: You have been in worlds multiple times and now you’ll be in the finals three times. If you were to evaluate yourself as a coach, how would you grade yourself?
KJG: If I were to grade myself, I want to call myself the best coach, and although this is something I tell myself, even with the same team members I’ve been working with all of them consistently and produce results, so I think I am the best coach. Especially because this is a very difficult job to continue to do, and when both your and your players’ careers get longer together, it becomes unimaginably difficult to manage them, so all things considered, I think that I am the best coach.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games