Slingshot’s Andrew Kim talked to Dignitas head coach Park Jae-seok (in Korean and translated to English) during the first week of the North American League Championship Series. The former Oh My God and SBENU coach talked about the crumbling of his former team in South Korea, differences between regions and bringing his philosophy to North America.
Andrew Kim: I’m sure the coaching staff also needs to learn English for communication with the players. Are you also spending time to learn the language?
Park Jae-seok: Oh, of course. I keep trying to learn more. After the games are done, I also do the feedback personally. I can say simple things like “Be careful,” or “Bush check,” simple things like that. For more important things, I take notes on the notepad in the computer, and discuss with the team. The main points are made by coach Kim Jeong-soo, but I also make sure to prepare to say important things.
AK: You mentioned that asking for resources from the team can be a little difficult. Can you go more into detail about something you requested?
PJS: Right now all I can say is that a lot has changed. When I first joined Diginitas, it was a little surprising, but now the owners are really helping us out. It took a couple of days until we had a practice environment, to be honest. But the owners have been very understanding, and the living situation has changed in many ways. If I could say this right now, there are still many things that can be improved. I hope they continue to assist us like they have been so far.
AK: You made your move from SBENU to NA, and despite some troubles with the sponsor, you said that you would assist the players from SBENU to find new teams to your best ability. Do you think you were able to?
PJS: I think I did everything I could.
AK: Your role as a coach for SBENU has been focused on player care. How much have you been able to utilize that in your new team and the new foreign players? Do you talk with them privately and spend personal time with them?
PJS: Yes, we think that is a very important part of what we do. Players often make jokes, and they feel comfortable in sharing what they feel. We joke around with one another. We have been maintaining such relations, but we also make a clear divide between what is business and what isn’t. We’re working to make create a professional mindset when needed, but also feel close and friendly with the team.
AK: What differences have you felt between coaching in Korea and in North America?
PJS: Rather than comparing to Korea, I want to compare it with my experience in China. When I went to coach in China, (the teams) seemed to demand too much too quickly and want to change too many things quickly. I remember having a lot of conflicts (with the team) when I was there. Compared to that now that I am in America, even though we progress slowly, it’s been changing to an atmosphere of the team moving together. The biggest change, and this was the same when I was in Korea, is I love the players. I’m not sweet talking, but the Korean players try to take care of the foreign players, and the foreign players try to take care of the Korean players. It’s just really great to be a part of that. I hope that never changes, and that we can work together to improve.
AK: With the new imports and a new AD Carry, and the mentality you wish to have, what are your goals for 2017?
PJS: First is to make playoffs, to be completely honest. I don’t know what kind of team we’ll be on the way there, but I want to steadily build up to it and be able to go to worlds by the end of summer.
AK: I’m sure you heard the interview that Andy “Reginald” Dinh said about other owners during the series TSM had against Cloud 9. When you hear sentiment like that, what did you feel about it? Do you feel otherwise?
PJS: When we practice with TSM, it’s clear that TSM has the right to say something like that because I think they’re very good. But I think an interview like that is actually good for us, since we saw that interview, and I went to players and talked to them about it individually. That kind of interview can be a sort of good motivation for us when we play against them (in Week 2). I also think that perhaps thinking like that this early into the season might be unadvisable.