KT Rolster’s new mid laner Heo “Pawn” Won-seok talked in detail about his reasoning behind his return to Korea in an interview with Fomos’ Park Sang-jin.
After EDward Gaming placed second in the League of Legends Pro League spring split, the team advised Pawn to take some time off to rest his nagging back injury during the summer, putting Lee “Scout” Ye-chan in his place for this year’s League of Legends World Championship. EDG lost in the quarterfinals, and Pawn decided to return home.
“The current situation is very different from when I moved to China after winning the 2014 world championships,” he said. “Right now, Korean teams also offer proper compensation that match the player’s skill. I am satisfied right now. Also, the only trophy I’m missing is one for League Champions Korea. I won the League of Legends Pro League, the Mid-Season Invitational, and world championship, but not LCK yet. Winning the LCK is a very important title so I really want to win it.”
After Pawn joined EDG in 2014, he won the 2015 LPL spring split and placed first in the Mid-Season Invitational, but he had to step down for a while because of complications with his back. The disc problem would continue to plague Pawn’s career throughout the year and trickle into this one.
“My back started to hurt after MSI,” he said. “And then it got worse. You have to undergo surgery or self-healing for disc problems, and if you choose surgery, a gap in your career appears. Getting used to things once returning might be difficult, and retirement might be a consideration as well. Because of that I wasn’t able to play during the summer often.”
The now famous phrase, “EDG needs me,” featured in Pawn’s entry for LoL Esports’ top 20 list, didn’t come from him, and he gave more insight to what actually happened.
“I also want to mention that I didn’t say ‘EDG needs me,’” he said. “At the time I was taking a break because of complications other than my back. Another player played the match but it got tied up 2-2, so I ended up playing the last game myself.”
With complications with his back and a drop in performance, Pawn seriously considered going back to Korea last year, but he said fan support helped him stay in China for one more year.
“The start (of 2015) was fine, but the end of the season didn’t go as well as I thought,” he said. “Anyone would get homesick when things get tough and I was no different. But because the Chinese fans were so supportive of me in 2015, I decided to stay for one more season. I was a foreign mercenary in China, but the fans supported me there as much as the Korean fans supported me in Korea.”
KT will be going into the spring season with a high expectations due to it’s impressive lineup, and Pawn shares the high opinions that many fans have.
“I’ve never been on a team with (Song “Smeb” Kyung-ho), but when I faced him as a member of EDG, I felt that he was a very good player because once he got ahead in lane, the game almost got unsalvageable,” he said. “Since I consider him a world class top laner, I’m very happy to be able to play with him. The same goes for (Go “Score” Dong-bin). I think that he’s one of the best junglers in Korea next to (Han “Peanut” Wang-ho). I don’t remember seeing (Score) falling behind in the summer split. (Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu) used to be very quiet, but because EDG had a system where everyone talked without a main shot-caller, he became much more vocal. (Cho “Mata” Se-hyeong) if course is still a world-class support player. His mechanics have suffered a bit, but his brain is still one of the best. I practiced with him once, and it turned out better than I thought so I think I’ll have no trouble working with the team.”
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games.