No Individuals

I came to North America because I wanted better opportunities to win championships.

It wasn’t going to happen for me in Taiwan; it would never happen if I kept playing there.

At the time, I was asking myself if I should even keep going or whether I should just retire at that point. I had received offers from a few different teams, but there was nothing that really excited me.

And then I got the offer from Immortals.

Well, it wasn’t actually an offer, it was more them asking me if I wanted to try out for the team. I remember feeling surprised, almost shocked, reading through that offer; I didn’t know anyone in North America at the time – how did they know about me?

I wanted to try out for them, but I was in Taiwan. They had actually thought that I was based in Korea when they first asked me, so I told them they had to wait a few days for me to get to the trial – I had to buy a plane ticket first.

After a successful trial, I ended up with Immortals and moved to the USA.

At first, people told me my English was bad. Of course, compared to other Koreans at the time it was quite good, but obviously not compared to native speakers.

My pronunciation was a problem. My teammates would ask me to clarify and repeat what I was saying sometimes… I would say a word like ‘party’ and they would joke and ask me if I was French… to them, I was saying ‘Paris’.

I only really talked to Cody at first. He helped me out a lot when it came to learning English.

When we were in scrims, we would only really say simple phrases; he would lower his English to a grade school level to help me out.

Sure, he made fun of me sometimes, but he taught me a lot. It was thanks to Cody that my English improved a lot and that really helped to make Immortals a great experience.

Partway through the Spring Split, Xmithie and SSong joined us and I started to talk more Korean again with both Flame and SSong.

Things were going great, but then, at the end of that year, I was told that Immortals wasn’t going to be in the NA LCS for the next season.

I was not expecting Immortals to be kicked out of the LCS. I thought we were going to keep playing together. All of a sudden, I didn’t have a team.

I talked with Xmithie and I told him I would follow him wherever he went. So when he joined Team Liquid and asked me to join, of course, I went! Why wouldn’t I!?

After I joined TL with him, we started talking more and more. He became my best friend.

Team Liquid was a good place to be: we had two Korean coaches, a Korean top laner and Pobelter, who is American-Korean.

Playing next to Doublelift, I never felt nervous to be in the spotlight, but I was nervous to disappoint Peter.

If I missed one thing, he would ask me why I missed it. The truth was I didn’t know why I made some of the mistakes I did and that would frustrate him all the time.

My mindset was that I was there to help him shine more, not to shine myself – I was there to make him look great, to help him kill more people and acquire more resources.

I was there for him the best I could be, but I wasn’t good enough to make him the best on the international stage.

I always felt sorry about that. He is the best ADC and I was holding him back.

People criticized me for it. I don’t know why people thought their comments affected me though – I’d read comments like: “Olleh doesn’t know how to take criticism.”

It’s not true. I know I missed that combo. I know I messed up.

I don’t mind people’s comments about my gameplay. You can criticize my gameplay any day of the week, I know I’m not perfect –  but then some people started making personal comments about me as an individual, taking shots at me.

It’s okay to shit on me as a player, but when you talk about me personally, that hurts. Don’t insult me as a human – I was doing my best.

At the end of the 2018 season, I was talking with Steve about maybe joining Team Liquid Academy. During our talks, Golden Guardians contacted me and told me they wanted me to be their starting support. I really had to weigh up my options at that point.

I talked with Xmithie about the decision and he told me that I had to play in LCS.

He told me that if I played in Academy it would be hard for me to come back and I wanted to keep playing as a pro player.

It was sad, but we had to take different paths.

When I joined Golden Guardians, we didn’t really play as a team in the beginning. I think maybe people stopped caring about us as a team after our terrible start; they think that we’re a bottom-tier team and I want us to crush that idea as a team.

Our team is full of humble people. We don’t have any toxic or negative players, and we’re positive we can keep winning – we’re all on that same page. I want this team to succeed, and I feel fortunate to be a part it.

We’re realistic. We won’t be like TL in the short-term, but we want to show that we can improve every week and fix our problems.

I want people to think of Golden Guardians as a team, not a group of individual players.

Instead of hearing people saying that I stepped up or played well, I want to hear people saying that GGS played great as a team.

As odd as it sounds, I want people to say that, individually, we may not be the best, but as a team, we play well together – that’s the kind of team I want to be a part of.

Jeff Yabumoto assisted with the creation of this article.

Image Credit: Riot Games

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