Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with eUnited’s two newest players, Lee “GBM” Chang-seok and Choi “DanDy” In-kyu before they begin play in the North American Challenger Series for League of Legends.
Andrew Kim: How did you come to the decision of playing with a North American Challenger team?
Lee “GBM” Chang-seok: As for me, after switching to the jungler and as I played it, I thought I could do a good job playing in the mid lane again so I switched back. While I was looking for a new team, I really wanted to go to a team that was good. A team with good native talent, and a good Korean talent that would go with me, so to that end I think I decided to come here considering all of that.
Choi “DanDy” In-kyu: For me, after some time in China, I wanted to go to play in a good practice and playing environment. I also really wanted to come to North America, so when I came across eUnited during my search. I thought they were good in terms of player treatment, the gaming house looked good, and I thought the roster would be fine since GBM will be with me. (laughs) That’s how I joined.
AK: I’m sure you guys were doing searches in Korea and looking for teams in your home region as well. Did you look for opportunities in both regions? Did you just look in NA?
LCS: I did think about possibly going to a Korean team, but I found the environment in North America to be a lot better, and that there is a gap between the regions in terms of economics with Korean teams. It’s not like there’s a lot of space in the Korean leagues either. Considering a lot of things I thought coming to NA would be the right choice.
CIK: I agree with him.
AK: For GBM, you did play briefly in NA with NRG and then with Vitality in Europe. With your decision to then move to a NA challenger team, did you not really want to move to a Korean team after your time overseas?
LCS: I mean unless it was SKT or something, I didn’t feel a large need to go back to Korea. Of course SKT has no reason to pick me up. I think that I can promote this team to the LCS, and even after that I think it’s a team that can rank high up in the LCS so I decided to come here. I don’t really miss Korea. I like NA more. I think NA fits me better.
AK: For DanDy, it’s my understanding that you left Vici Gaming last winter. What did you do between that time and May?
CIK: I can’t remember because I feel like I just wasted a lot of time but I played a lot of different games, met up with friends, spent time with family, had food that I wanted to eat, and played a lot of games.
AK: Again to the both you, I’m sure you know that you aren’t the only Korean players coming to the NA challenger scene. Gold Coin United for instance signed MadLife (Hong Min-ki) and Fly (Song Yong-jun). Could you share your opinions as to why they’re going to challenger teams rather than LCS caliber ones?
LCS: It’s my understanding that this is the last chance for Challenger teams to be able to qualify for the LCS, so the teams are really investing in it. I think that a lot of the Challenger tier teams are upping their investments because they have a small window now, and it’ll be hard to qualify if you don’t increase the monetary investment as well. I personally think that because there aren’t any chances left for now, the teams are going all-in.
CIK: I think that though it is the Challenger league in NA, I think they offer better player treatment and a better environment, which is why the players would want to come here.
AK: Do you find it that even though it’s the secondary league it has that vast of a gap between Korean teams in terms of treatment?
CIK: I’ve been playing in Korea since I was in MVP, and there could have been some teams that didn’t necessarily treat their players very well. Here, even though it’s Challenger, it’s a satisfactory environment to play in.
AK: This is for GBM, you’ve been playing EU, NA, and KR, and you said that you like NA the most. What is it about NA that you like so much?
LCS: First off I love the weather here. I think NA has the best weather. I don’t really thrive in cold weather, so I’m under threat of extinction if I go to Korea. (laughs). There’s also a positive in being able to learn English, and working with a wider variety of people is a type of new challenge that I really enjoy.
AK: For DanDy, you’re a player with an enviable title of a world champion. Do you feel a type of pressure that it lies on you to make sure the eUnited team makes it to the LCS because of that title?
CIK: Of course there is some pressure, but I didn’t do that well in China, so I’m playing with the mindset to put my ego aside and try again from the bottom up.
AK: A lot of Korean players have been coming to NA, with examples like Flame (Lee Ho-jong), Ssumday (Kim Chan-ho) and LirA (Nam Tae-yoo) among others. But the evaluations of these players are rather harsh saying that they do not perform as well as they do in Korea. There are exceptions like Impact (Jeong Eon-young), but not many examples like him exist. What are your opinions on this trend of thinking?
LCS: The biggest problem, I think, is communication. After that, no matter how good the Korean players are, if the other three don’t carry their weight, you just can’t carry all that by yourself. Honestly there have been cases where teams effectively bring Korean players to carry the team, but the other three players are also crucial in making that happen. As for communication, I think it’s a big problem that it doesn’t happen as much as it should. I think the Korean players have to come to foreign regions with some understanding of English before signing over.
CIK: I also think language and communication are large problems. There is also a need of faith between players. I also think that cultural differences can act as barriers to success.
AK: Are you guys not worried about English or Culture Shock?
LCS: I’m OK with English but I am worried about DanDy just a bit (laughs). I’m sure he’ll take care of himself, though. I believe that even with a sturdy two-Korean roster, the other three do need to play reliably for success.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games/illustration by Slingshot