한국 번역본은 여기에서 보실 수 있습니다.
I used to wonder who Deft was.
Like, who he really was?
You see, me and Deft are different. To me, he is an identity I created. He represents the most idealistic version of a player. He’s like a machine. When I would get down on myself, when results wouldn’t go my way … I would become Deft, and I would just push myself. I’d practice nonstop, scrim nonstop, solo queue nonstop. Early in my career, I used to follow that routine. And Deft almost completely overtook my life. I was no longer Kim Hyeok-gyu. I was just Deft.
I lost myself. I lost the kid who fell in love with League of Legends.
And I missed that kid. That kid was emotional. He wasn’t afraid to feel things. His mind wandered. That kid dreamed. But Deft was hypercompetitive. He didn’t have emotions. And over time, this … gap just grew between the two, and it kept getting bigger and bigger. It caused me a lot of stress and suffering. And that led me to moments where I felt like giving up.
But I don’t have to tell you that I didn’t give up.
You know what happened this year.
And can I share something with you?
I’m still not giving up. I’m not done yet. I’m coming back next year.
I’d like to tell you why.
I can’t lie, when I saw the inhibitor respawn against EDG … I just couldn’t believe it. I’d never experienced anything like that before in my entire career. I’ve seen clips on YouTube of something similar. But to have it happen … at worlds … in the quarterfinals … against that team? I didn’t know what to say or think. I asked myself, Am I really not meant to win? But between that loss and the next game, I realized it wasn’t just bad luck. It was bad play. It was my fault. I could have done better to end that game. It shouldn’t have been that close. There was no luck involved. There was just me and my team. And in a way, that set me free. I didn’t feel bad for myself. I felt empowered. And we played that game really well until the end. This sounds crazy … but I almost knew we would win the series after that.
That day was my birthday, too.
And usually, I just spend that day alone in my room after losing at worlds. But this year I got to spend it with all my friends and fans in New York after we beat EDG. I remember standing on stage, looking out at everyone cheering for us, for me … and I thought, The world is so big, there are so many people — but today, I am the happiest person.
I let myself be emotional. And though I had felt the gap between Deft and Hyeok-gyu closing over the last few seasons, at that moment, I felt that they had almost become one. I felt like there was balance between the two. And I felt that anything was possible for our team.
I was no longer Kim Hyeok-gyu. I was just Deft.- Deft
Against Gen.G in the semifinal, I had complete belief in us. Our record against them during the year wasn’t good. But it didn’t matter to us. We were not the same team. We knew how good they were, though. And for me personally, I knew them well. I had played with Chovy and Doran before. They were friends of mine.
That week in Atlanta, I had this realization about my journey this year: I was meeting all of these important people from my past. In a way, I was coming face-to-face with so many of my own failures.
For instance, in the regional qualifier in September, I played against Rascal and Cuzz who I’d played with on Kingzone many years ago. Then I met my friends on EDG in the quarterfinals, the round that we always lost in. And in the semis it was the same thing with Gen.G. So many of these players had been on my journey with me for so long. It was hard to face them, but it felt important. I carried that feeling with me all the way to San Francisco.
I allowed myself to feel during the week of the finals. I knew that this run was special, that there were so many dramatic and pivotal moments and that it might be my last series ever. I didn’t know if I’d be coming back. I tried not to think about it. But I didn’t hide from it either, if that makes sense.
I had never been to finals as a player, but in 2014 I went to support Samsung White in Seoul because I was on Samsung Blue. We had lost to them in the semis 3–0. And I remember how upset I was — how frustrated I was that it wasn’t me who was on that stage. I thought back to that moment a few weeks ago in San Francisco. Standing across from T1, hearing the crowd go crazy during the opening ceremony … I thought, I’m finally here. I was a little emotional for a few seconds, but I reminded myself to pull it together and focus up.
My journey had brought me to one of my closest friends: Min-seok. Even though I had only played with Keria for a year, he means so much to me. In 2020, he would always tell me: I’m going to make sure we win worlds for you. And so to face him in the finals … it was emotional. But we both knew the deal. We had dreamed of this moment our whole lives.
Maybe I had dreamed just a little bit longer.
Those five games … I will remember them for as long as I live. It was a very challenging series. But I think the difference was the path we had been on all year — our team had developed this special skill. I can only describe it as a will to survive. We just refused to die. We had been through so much the entire season, the entire tournament. There was nothing T1 could do to us to shake us. We just had to play how we knew we could and it would be enough.
I give so much credit to my teammates. They all improved a lot during the tournament, and their ability to absorb feedback, to make changes on the fly — it was incredible. I’ve never been part of a team that could do that at such a high level before.
And our coaches, they were outstanding. Their understanding of draft and the opposition was very strong. I remember, in the prep room right before Game 5 of the finals, coach Ssong came up to me to discuss leaving Caitlyn open. On red side, we had almost always banned her and didn’t want to give her over to blue side. Varus had been very important all series, and we felt that T1 might not be prepared to answer the question we were posing to them. When the coach asked me about this, I hesitated a bit, but he looked me in the eyes and said, “Just trust me. I will take full responsibility, no matter what.”
I will remember that moment forever.
His belief in himself, in us — that’s who we were. Everyone doubted us all year. Every round people thought we would lose. But we knew who we were.
This year was so special…. I had the most fun of my entire life.- Deft
That fifth game … It felt like the ultimate test. I remember when Gumayusi stole that Baron…. There was this second of silence between all of us. And I had that thought again: Am I really not meant to win? But then I remembered that there was no such thing as luck. There was only us. And we’ve been through worse. We all took that second, and I remember telling them that it was O.K. and that we could still win. There was no panic in any of my teammates' voices. Just calm — just focus.
And a few minutes later we were hitting their nexus.
As the game was ending, it didn’t even really dawn on me that we were about to win worlds. It felt like any other moment — like I was playing the game I had always played, doing what I always do. But with the final few hits, I heard the crowd, and I heard my teammates….
And I realized I was a world champion.
Even now I have a hard time explaining what it means. I felt pure joy. I know the happiness I felt was even greater because of everything that had come before. I had wanted this moment so desperately for so long that to finally achieve it — it just meant everything to me. I remember so many days being frustrated with myself, disliking playing League, getting into unhealthy cycles. And the last couple of years, I’ve realized it’s O.K. for me to take a breather. I’m human. That’s helped me reignite my passion. I understand now that all those ups and downs of my career, the close calls, the failures … they all led me to this moment. They made me into the person I am today.
They made me into a champion.
I know I would not be able to say those words if it weren’t for my family, for my teammates, for my coaches and all the team’s staff.
One of the reasons I decided to return to DRX earlier this year was because I felt that my previous performance in the team had not been great, and I wanted to replace those memories with new ones. I’m glad that I was able to do that. I would like to thank all the staff at DRX who helped me overcome many obstacles this year.
When I was injured, when I felt burnt out — my friends, family, and teammates were always there for me. No matter how much criticism I faced, they always believed in me. All the messages I received when I got home from ex-teammates and friends, they just made my heart feel full.
And to my fans: Thank you so much.
It’s funny, when I was playing well in my career, sometimes their support felt like a burden, to tell you the truth. Like these expectations I had to meet. But when I wasn’t doing well, and they were still there, still sending me positive messages and cheering me on? That’s what stopped me from giving up. We were all on this path together. My journey was theirs — theirs was mine. I hope I made you proud.
And I hope I showed some people that no matter what you have been through, no matter how difficult the path forward is: Keep going. The hardships you might face along the journey will just make achieving your goal feel even greater.
And if I’m being honest? This year was so special…. I had the most fun of my entire life.
I found what I had been looking for.
I found peace.
I found myself.
And with a grateful heart, I would like to stay and make more happy memories with my teammates and fans, to continue this journey. I can say now that I will be able to walk away from League with no regrets one day.
But it is not that day yet.
See you soon.