Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Cloud9’s Jeon “Ray” Ji-won during Week 2 of the North American League of Legends Championship Series. They talked (in Korean and translated to English) about Cloud9’s Week 2 rebound, maintaining mental stability and learning from Jeong “Impact” Eon-Young.
Andrew Kim: First off I want to congratulate you. You lost both matches last week but you managed to come back with a clean 2-0 today. Do you feel like you’ve avoided a larger misfortune by going through one of a lesser degree last week?
Jeon “Ray” Ji-won: It was still quite the misfortune. Those were the matches that I did the worst on the team. I personally think that we lost those matches because of me, so I felt very guilty. I’ve never been that down on myself before so it was tough and stressful, but after we lost I had very good feedback with the rest of the team and I was able to understand what problems I had. I think it was an opportunity for us to improve as a team. It was still very tough, but it ended well.
AK: It feels like you take responsibility quite heavily…
JJW: Yes, my personality is one to think about the other teammates rather than myself, and I’m conscious of other people’s thoughts. I did feel a very heavy amount of guilt.
AK: Dealing with those moments is part of maintaining your mental stability as a player, so do you have someone on the team that helps you with that recovery or something you do to recover?
JJW: I think there was a lot of help within the team, and that was very good for me. The team owner Jack (Etienne) is a good person, so he was able to give me good feedback. He’s always supporting me from behind the scenes, telling me that he believes in me. So I’m always thankful for him. I’ve been down in the dumps since the most recent preseason. I started getting homesick, so I wasn’t at my best and was constantly feeling down. My ups and downs were too dramatic, which impacted the team. I was honestly a hindrance of sorts to the team. Lately, though, good things are happening, the game is becoming more fun, and I think I’ve gotten closer with the team recently. I think it’s good inside and out now, so I can play the game with a comfortable mind.
AK: One champion that is tied to you is Jarvan IV. What does he mean to you?
JJW: When I first played in China, he was a champion that kept seeing play because he was quite popular in the region. I don’t know about it right now, but champions like Jarvan, Lee Sin in particular was very contested. When you first go to a new region, you need to have yourself known so I practiced a lot of Jarvan. You can’t use Lee Sin in the top lane. It was (possible) before, but he was nerfed so he can’t lane, and the role of jungle has been attached to him for a very long time. Whenever my team was in a tough spot, I would carry my team with Jarvan. When I was with EDG, I pulled out my Jarvan to win lane. During my time in China, it does seem a bit too much in hindsight, (but) I had a nickname that was attached to Jarvan. I can’t remember what it was exactly, but it had to do something with “King.” Given my history, he’s a very dear champion to me. I’ve kept up in practice so I’m using him a lot now, too.
AK: A lot of stories around you are often tied with Impact, painting you as a kind of a teacher-student relationship. To me it seems more like brothers, and I want to know what kind of picture would you paint of your relationship with him?
JJW: When people think of Impact, they think of his career. He was one of the first members of SK Telecom T1, the strongest team to this day. He’s won a bunch, and he even won worlds, which is the goal of every professional. He’s gotten everything a professional can achieve. He even won LCK. Because of his track record, I felt this large distance between me and him. My career was weaker, the team knew how good Impact is, and because I had the mindset to learn from him, I had a lot of pressure on me. I still have that thirst for knowledge under his tutelage, and I think that I can also measure up to him if I work hard enough. Now I’m not feeling too uncomfortable, and I follow him like a younger brother would his older sibling.
AK: Your streams usually have a pretty high viewership consistently. It’s kind of weird to think that a Korean speaker to have this much success in an English streaming platform, so why do you think you have such a following?
JJW: I don’t know. Even when I was in China, I wasn’t a starting player. I streamed back then as well, and my viewership wasn’t bad, either. I don’t exactly know why, though, because I would classify myself as a boring streamer. I thought hard why people would want to come see my stream, and it’s kind of surprising to me too because there’s not much to see. Why would people watch the stream of a boring person? But there are some people who think the small phrases I say here and there are quite funny. I also like memes a lot, so I’ve learned to use meme language in my streams so I think people find that entertaining. Other than that, I also avoid playing tanks during streams. I only tend to play champions with a high skill floor, that can make flashy plays. I feel like playing a tank during stream is boring since nothing really happens. Of course, those who want to learn the role might want to watch, but it is very boring to do it all the time. I think the viewers like to see my mechanics at play. I also try to communicate with the viewers as much as I can. It can help me learn English quickly, and it’s really been a lot of help. There are also happenings and fun things around, so I guess people like to see that.
AK: Being in the U.S., I’m sure you met a lot of people that helped you build the career you have today. You said that Jack always looks out for you and that you’ve gotten close with your team. Who would be someone you met in North America who means a lot to your career here?
JJW: I’m always thankful for all my teammates, and I have a lot to learn from them. I’m also always thankful to my former teammates at Apex. I’m thankful to all of them because they’ve all helped me in one way or another. The person I’m the most thankful for is our coach, Reapered (Bok Han-kyu), and Impact, because those two have great careers and are always judged well by people. I feel like I’m learning a lot from them not only in-game, but also in my life based on their experiences, things that I don’t know about yet. I’m very happy that the atmosphere is one of a brotherhood, and it’s very helpful. I also want to say that I’m very thankful for Jack, too. Last week I didn’t play well at all and even had the wrong attitude. I didn’t know what to do because I couldn’t keep my emotions in check or focus on my game play. I almost got on the wrong foot with my teammates as well. Jack stepped between that, told me that I am the best and that I can do better. There was always next week, and not to worry about what happened. I couldn’t help but feel energized because if I was the owner, I wouldn’t have gone that far. The players are being paid to play, and if they just lose like that I would not feel good as an owner. I was very thankful for that and I think that was the secret behind my good performance against Phoenix1 today. If it wasn’t for Jack, I wouldn’t even be here or play for his team. Thank you.
AK: You are a person who’s eager to continuously get better, let it be winning, performing better, whatever. What is the point where you feel you would feel satisfied?
JJW: Winning worlds. I don’t have a tournament win under my belt, so the current goal is to win the NA LCS, especially since we barely lost the spring split. I want to win this split no matter what, and my final goal is to win worlds. Even if it’s not a win soon, I want to work hard to perform well at worlds. As a pro you want to win worlds down the line, and that’s the same for everyone. I want to keep playing thinking that I can make that happen.
AK: With the wide variety of top laners in NA, is there a particular player that you have fun going up against?
JJW: I think it’s fun no matter who I go up against, since everyone’s so good. They’re all talented players so I think the games are fun because you don’t know what’s going to happen. I can’t pick just one player, but rather I like the dynamic right now because I want to beat all of them, one laner at a time.
Cover photo courtesy of Riot Games