Longzhu Gaming’s top laner Gu “Expession” Bon-taek talked in detail about his decision to take some time off in 2014 after a career with Najin during an interview with Fomos’ Park Sang-jin.
“I didn’t take a break because the game was hard or because I couldn’t get to used to the meta,” he said. “My health got worse, and most of all, my will to play the game disappeared. I guess you can say I lost the desperation. So I decided that I needed time off. It was a decision dangerous in the context of my career. Time off could easily translate to retirement.”
Although Expession was able to take some much needed time off, it wasn’t without its difficulties. Life became difficult without steady income, and his savings was going dry.
“I was living off my savings, but there were more things to spend money on than I thought,” he said. “It came to the point where my monthly budget for food was 70-80,000 won (about $60-$65), and I lived on one meal a day for about six months. I thought this was no way to live. During my time off, I started to think more about League again. But I was worried if there was any team interested in a player that took over one year off.”
Expession would later sign with Longzhu in 2015 after being convinced by head coach Kang Dong-hoon, and he had an unexpected comeback match on June 30 of that year against Rebels Anarchy.
Narrowly avoiding relegation in 2015, Longzhu still struggled greatly at times last year, and Expession said he was determined to stay in League Champions Korea.
“I didn’t want to be relegated after so much hard work,” he said. “If we wanted to not fight in the promotional tournament, we had to win all of our remaining games, and SK Telecom T1 was one of them. The entire team prepared with only beating them in mind. When we got into the game, it played better than practice. It was a moment where I thought, ‘this is what it means to have a hard time losing.'”
Although coming back after such a long absence is no small feat, Expession credits his return to two specific people; coach Park Jeong-seok, previously of Najin e-mFire and current CJ Entus head coach, and Kang, the head coach of Longzhu.
“Coach Park set me on the path of continuing my career,” he said. “Whenever I thought immaturely, he set me straight with good advice. When I wanted time off, he understood and let me. Coach Kang, who gave me another shot, is also a godsend. At the end of my time off, I was a forgotten player. But he thought of me, called me, and helped me through tough times. In 2016 I was thankful to all of the coaches, and I got a lot of energy from them.”
With the rebuilt 2017 roster, Expession hopes to show the fans an improved Longzhu.
“I think we’ll do well if we work hard,” he said. “Although we didn’t do well last season, I think we’ll do well now that we’re working with a united mindset. I want to show the fans our team raising a trophy one day.”