Han “Peanut” Wang-Ho is undoubtedly one of the most popular players in League Champions Korea.
His popularity comes in part because of his at times outlandish interviews and willingness to say anything, even if it borders on cockiness. But Peanut’s overflowing confidence is rather manufactured in a sense, and interviews apparently still make him feel awkward, writes Fomos’ Son Chang-Sik.
“This year’s (interviews) are very similar to last years, but I still have that awkward feeling,” he told Fomos. “I think I’m just feeling great because I’m being told that I’m playing very well. I’ve always thought that interviews were quite boring, so I make it a point to say gutsy things. But it’s not like I can maintain this form forever, so I’m trying to think before I say something.”
Contrary to popular belief, Peanut confesses that he has a rather bashful personality, and to those who don’t know him, he said that he “might come across as fake.”
“I get along really well with those who know me, but I am shy in front of strangers,” he said. “During the spring split, I had to sing ‘Lies’ by Big Bang, and I remember thinking why I, a pro gamer, had to sing in front of a crowd. But it’s a fond memory now. I’m also very bashful when I’m doing shoots. I think it’s because I want to be known through my skill more than anything.”
With the consistent performances in the jungle as Nidalee in particular, Peanut has rocketed up as one of the core members of the Tigers’ roster, worthy of rubbing shoulders with legendary players such as Song “Smeb” Kyung-Ho and Kim “PraY” Jong-In. As per his interview persona, Peanut views such praise as right on the money.
“I don’t think (the fans) are wrong,” he said. “Personally I think I’ve reached some sort of enlightenment about the game. When I made my debut on the ROX roster, I was commonly known as ‘the jungler that sucked when he was at Najin,’ and I definitely didn’t play well back then. I still have a lot to work on, but I do think I’ve had great growth since then.”
Peanut has said before that he was very jealous of rival SK Telecom T1’s veteran jungler Bae “Bengi” Seong-Ung, especially because of the number of LCK victories and two world championships. This would have only made the loss to SKT in the spring split hurt more, but Peanut looks at it with a much more mature perspective.
“(Lee “Faker” Sang-Hyeok) was playing very well during the spring split, and I also fell behind (Kang “Blank” Seon-Gu) in the jungle as well,” he said. “Everything I try to say just feels like I’m making excuses, and I think it’s because I didn’t perform. After the finals, the coaching staff and the team told me that we can get them next split.”
With another finals with SKT looking very likely, as the two teams are atop the standings, Peanut gives his team as it is right now a “50/50” chance to take down SKT, with no outstanding advantage for either side. Apart from Bengi, Peanut has a laundry list of junglers he admires, almost fueling his growth as a top tier jungler.
“I think smart players are better than skilled ones,” he said. “So my mindset changes when I go up against (KT Rolster’s Ko “Score” Dong-Bin). I also think (Samsung Galaxy’s Kang “Ambition” Chan-Yong), (the Afreeca Freecs’ Nam “LirA” Tae-Yu), and (the Jin Air Green Wings’ Park “Winged” Tae-Jin) are incredible players.”
With another shot at taking first for a season of LCK, Peanut and the ROX Tigers are ambitious not only to take their first season victories but also look towards their participation at the world championships this year. Peanut said he wants to become more than just a good player on a good team, and revealed that his true goal is not just victory.
“If you’re a professional gamer, wanting to win worlds is expected of you,” he said. “When you say League of Legends, you think of Faker, and I want to one day represent something as a player. I have a very strong drive to make 2016 the year of the ROX Tigers.”