Legendary Korean support player Hong “MadLife” Min-gi talked about his mental state after his team, CJ Entus, was relegated from League Champions Korea in an interview with Fomos’ Park Sang-jin, and how responsible he felt for the disappointing result.
“I couldn’t think of anything,” he said. “My self-esteem crumbled, and I felt like my head was going to explode if I tried to face the reality of relegation. So I just slept the entire day (we got relegated). After I woke up I thought hard about a lot of things. ‘It’s such a humiliating thing to be relegated as a pro gamer, so should I quit? What would have it been like if I made a different decision? What should I tell the younger players?’ I got mad, disappointed, but I think it all happened because of my shortcomings.”
The frustration was built over a long period of time, and as the oldest player on his team, responsibility was thrust upon MadLife as a leader, and although there was glimmer of hope, it all came crashing down.
Although his move to Gold Coin United, a North American Challenger team, might as come as a surprise to many, MadLife said he thought of leaving CJ at the end of 2015. But responsibility convinced him to stay, as his newest teammates Kwak “BDD” Bo-seong and Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun were about to be the eligible age for pro play in 2016.
“I couldn’t leave because I thought it would have wasted the time I’ve spent working with the younger players, as well as their time spent practicing,” he said. “So I decided to stay behind to work with (BDD and Ghost).”
His move to NA was fueled by a couple of factors; his age and a need for something new. MadLife has been with CJ the majority of his career, and perhaps the summer split signaled a need for change.
“I wanted to think of the team as well, but considering my age, I also wanted to experience something new before it’s too late,” he said. “I wanted to play in a league that’s not in Korea, and I needed something I could do at my age. The younger players I worked with also said they were looking to go their separate ways, and I wished to do so as well. I considered retiring as a player, but I changed my mind after the All-Stars voting. I didn’t want to end my career this way. I didn’t want to go out with the line, ‘retiring after team gets relegated.’”
MadLife actually had a serious concern regarding finding a new team, and he said as rumors of his alleged retirement started to circulate, interested teams would diminish in number. He was in talks with NA’s Gold Coin United, and as the team offered him a spot, he took it as a catalyst of his need to change.
“Although it’s disappointing that I couldn’t perform well, I don’t regret choosing to stay in CJ,” he said. “I hope all the players I worked with find success. It was a tough year, but I don’t think it was all losses. Also I want to thank the fans who came to the arena to cheer for me and send me encouraging words on social media, as well as those fans who can’t come to arenas or see all of my games but still keep me in their thoughts in their lives. I’ve been the recipient of a lot of love since my debut, and I will work hard to show good performances in NA.”
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games