As the 2016 season came to a close, arguably three AD Carries carved the claim of best in League Champions Korea into equal parts. One was SK Telecom T1’s two time world champion Bae “Bang” Jun-sik, another was the ROX Tigers’ Kim “PraY” Jong-in, and the last was KT Rolster’s No “Arrow” Dong-hyun.
Arrow made a splash with Xenics Storm as a master Draven player, drawing bans from opponents. After he moved to KT Rolster, Arrow showed a solid come back performance against Samsung Galaxy Blue in the finals of the the 2014 League Champions Korea summer split, bringing himself back against Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu by winning small skirmishes for small advantages as Deft just continued to farm.
His most popular story is the “protect the Kogmaw” composition KT pulled out against the KOO Tigers in 2015’s LCK summer split, where KT was beaten back for 45 minutes, unable to even go into the allied jungle, gave up five dragon stacks as well as two inhibitors, and was on the brink of defeat. But Arrow’s Kogmaw came back to single handedly destroy the Tigers and take the win for his team after 50 minutes of one-sided domination.
This event, famously referred to as the “full marks college exam Kogmaw,” described a story of the entire team funneling resources into Arrow, like parents would do in rearing their children to become successful. It was also a performance that perfectly encapsulated the potential of Arrow at the time, as he showcased breathtaking positioning and proved that he was also a player capable of carrying the team on his back when he is given the proper tools, although he himself doesn’t seem to give too much mind of how he is perceived in that sense.
He’s taken that nature with him to North America, as he’s joined a Phoenix 1 team that has surprised many at the start of this year’s North American League Championship Series.
“If I do well, I get compliments, and if I just play without making any notable plays, that’s how it goes,” he said in an interview with Slingshot. “I don’t care about who takes the spotlight, and I didn’t feel (like someone is taking the spotlight away from me).”
Although he was one of the weaker elements of KT in 2015’s spring split, his development as a top talent came in steady steps from 2015’s summer to the 2016 season as well. His weaknesses of lower CS numbers and late game carry ability showed an improvement in the 2016 spring split, as many fans identified Arrow as the player who never failed to produce one player’s worth of weight in the team.
His worth as a player would continue to grow as he made a name for himself as one of the best Jhin players in the LCK, playing a large part in taking down SKT with a reverse sweep as Jhin in all three games in the semifinals of last summer’s playoffs. His champion choice also reflects his nature as a player as well: a solid player who would rather win the game with his team instead of carrying it himself.
“Rather than trying to play by myself, I try to play with the team,” he said. “I guess it’s like a ‘teamwork’ style.”
This statement might raise a few eyebrows, but that is the central theme of Arrow’s career. Arrow was never known as a player who makes insane individual plays, though he also had his moments of brilliance. Arrow was one of the most consistent ADC’s in the LCK, but without the celebration like some of his former teammates such as Kim “Ssumday” Chan-ho and Song “Rookie” Eui-jin. Arrow’s story is one of an unsung hero, a player who finds solace in supporting his team.
Arrow’s personality can show where this supportive mindset comes from. Lee “Piccaboo” Jong-beom went on record and said that Arrow is always good at understanding and receiving feedback, and other teammates such as Score and Song “Fly” Yong-joon have spoken highly of Arrow’s personality as a very “friendly teammate” in interviews with the media. Still maintaining good relations with his old head coach Lee Ji-hoon on Twitter, it seems that there is a fountain of evidence attesting to his friendliness.
His bright personality and ability to connect with his fans was well known in Korea, as pictures of him in facial masks have been making the rounds on Twitter. Fans can look forward to this interaction in NA as well, as he was capable of conversational English, as seen in an interview during 2015’s worlds without a translator, later saying in an interview with the Korean eSports Association that he studied English hard during high school. It is no wonder, then, why he could’ve been a hot commodity for English-speaking teams.
This is proving to be true according to Phoenix1 general manager Chad “History Teacher” Smeltz, who describes Arrow just as past teammates have.
“His attitude and personality both in and out of game has been incredibly team oriented, and I think he’ll fit in quite well as the split develops,” he told Slingshot.
Although confident in his abilities, Arrow is also aware of the way people have graded his performances, and one of his goals with his move to NA will be to not only maintain his top form but also add in some new tricks up his sleeves as well.
Arrow is no stranger to change, as he shared a lane with four different supports in his career in Korea. However this is the largest change Arrow is attempting yet, and it will be certainly interesting to see how much farther a large heart can take this particular player.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games