Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Team Liquid’s Chae “Piglet” Gwang-jin (in Korean and translated to English) during Week 2 of the North American League Championship Series to talk about his return to North America, reflecting on his career and whether or not he’ll retire if Liquid doesn’t win the LCS.
Andrew Kim: After you made the announcement to return to the regular split, a lot of fans are looking to see what kind of performance you will have with your return. What was the process like leading up to the decision to come back?
Chae “Piglet” Gwang-Jin: Honestly, I was in the process of going to a Korean team, but I was still in talks with Team Liquid, seeing as I was able to talk with different teams. In that process, I heard that they would be getting new players, and that they’d be doing some things differently. I decided to come back to Team Liquid.
AK: In a past interview, Reignover (Kim Ui-jin) said that your determination to win the split was to the point that you were prepared to retire if you don’t win the NA LCS. Were you serious about that?
CGJ: If I don’t win this season, it would be about four years of me not winning anything since my move. Four years isn’t a short time at all, and honestly I’m still thinking about what I said right now, because I’m playing hard in scrims, and I’m teaching the players as much as I can. Unlike before, I’ve been more proactive in teaching my teammates and thinking what I can do to help my team. If I do that much and I still can’t win, I think it’ll be the same no matter what team I go to. I think it’s a 70-30, with my retiring being the 70.
AK: Your team atmosphere was very family-like with you getting along with all of your teammates. Is it safe to say that this was the case even before this point?
CGJ: To be honest, right now I don’t think there are any problems with the team. When it comes to living together or playing, it’s still the stage of helping them out because it seems like they’re not quite used to everything yet. The atmosphere is very good I think, since everyone is improving.
AK: When you say the team right now, does that mean you had problems with the previous iteration?
CGJ: When scrimming and stuff, there were some difficulties, yes.
AK: You are a very popular player, and despite your return, many fan still consider you to be one of the more skilled players in the region, and you are still working to better yourself. How do you maintain the same level of confidence and mental stability?
CGJ: My confidence comes from playing the laning phase and team fights against other teams during scrims. I think I can be confident because I feel that my skills are validated in scrims. Right now, I’m just playing the game and nothing else, so I think I’m maintaining and improving on myself right now.
AK: Your passion for pro gaming is also quite impressive. Where does all of this come from?
CGJ: I don’t really know exactly. I did want to be a pro gamer since a long time ago, so I think that has something to do wit it. I also hate losing, so I think I’m keeping at it, because if you don’t care about losing, you can’t have passion or anything. I think it comes from my want to win.
AK: So you would say your competition is part of your drive?
CGJ: Yes. On the other side, if that disappears, the drive will also drop greatly.
AK: Would you consider your move from the regular season to the Challenger scene (last summer) a moment when your passion was on the downswing?
CGJ: I think my passion was at the same level because when I was in the Challenger scene, it was more fun and I worked harder. The reason I went to Challenger was because I felt that I wouldn’t be able to keep playing in LCS team without my mentality giving out, and even thought that it might even end my gaming career.
AK: With the release of the “Breaking Point,” it was received with a lot of different responses from the fans. Did you have a particular opinion about it?
CGJ: I didn’t give it much mind because even a project like that doesn’t show all of behind the scenes, but a small portion. So I didn’t think it was something worth people to really make judgements based on that. I didn’t care when it came out and when the community feedback came through.
AK: You’ve been in NA for a long time, and I’m sure you must have had moments of fatigue or frustration. What are some of those moments over your NA carrer?
CGJ: Rather than just pointing out one particular instance, I think every year has its own set of very difficult circumstances. Season by season, I have difficulties for each one. I guess looking back, if I had to choose right now, it’s very difficult for me. I always feel like the now is the most difficult.
AK: What are your personal goals for this season?
CGJ: What I want to do is make it to the finals. Winning this split will be a great source of motivation. It would allow me to be a pro gamer for longer, and it’ll feel like I’m getting closer to the goals I ultimately want to reach. I hope we make it to the finals, win it, and I hope my team improves a lot as well. I do believe in them. It may seem like I’m being greedy, but I think it’s better to be greedy for me and the team rather than not to feel so.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot