My Way


한국 번역본은 여기에서 보실 수 있습니다.

Before Game 4 of the LCK Spring Split finals against Gen.G. Our entire team was battling symptoms of Covid-19, but somehow I was still feeling fine. Everyone was doing their best to keep their energy up. We were one game from winning — one game from a perfect spring season, 18–0. There was a lot of coughing and exhaustion, but we all knew how close we were to our goal.

I remember Oner said, “One more. One more and we can rest.”

Our whole team — our whole org — had worked so hard all spring and now there was not only another great team standing in our way, but sickness, too.

Faker said, “It’s just any other game. Be yourselves."

I remember this moment because that night after we’d won, after we had accomplished our goals, I thought about the path I had taken to get to that point.

I think many fans, they see a player onstage and they think something about the player and their lives that may not entirely be true. They may think everything was always easy for them, or that they were always good at the game.

It’s not always this way.

Gumayusi | League of Legends | Fighting | The Players' Tribune

There is one thing you should know about me before we begin: I believe in myself.

I have always believed in myself.

I remember in 2019, I had just become a trainee with T1, and I wanted to prove myself to the org and earn a spot on the LCK team. So for a month straight, I basically played solo queue nonstop. Every day, I would wake up at noon, and then play until three or four in the morning — only stopping to get food or go to the bathroom.

It was so incredibly exhausting. But I knew that, if I was going to really make it as a professional, I needed to take my game to another level.

Anyone who has played solo queue for even a few hours knows how mentally challenging it can be. But 12 hours a day? For a month? I became very tied to the results. My mood would change based on how I did each day. I would try to go outside and get some fresh air and take breaks, but I felt like I was wasting time if I wasn’t improving.

When I was younger, I didn’t really follow pro play at all. I just loved the game. But a few years before kkOma recruited me to join T1, I hit top 10 on the Korean server and I started to realize there was an opportunity to make a life out of this. And when I got to T1, I started to see this whole world that was available to me. I saw how players like Faker and Teddy carried themselves, and the experiences they got to have — and I wanted that for myself. That’s why I was so motivated to play and improve whenever I could.

And I knew I could become good enough.

Anything I set my mind to, I can accomplish.

When I was in the ninth grade, during winter vacation, my dad sat me down and gave me an ultimatum: One month to hit challenger, or I have to give up on LoL.

My brother is a professional StarCraft player, so my parents had a pretty good understanding of what it took to make it in eSports. And my dad knew that, even at my young age, I had to show that I was capable of becoming great.

At the end of the month, I hit challenger. I showed my dad, and from that point on, he believed in me, too.

I feel like the steps I’ve taken, they’ve all led to me becoming a great ADC in the LCK.

Gumayusi | League of Legends | Fighting | The Players' Tribune

That’s why I went to Joe Marsh, the T1 CEO, while I was on the T1 Challengers team in 2020 and told him I believed I could beat anyone, and that I wanted to play in the LCK. But we had great players on our team, and it was difficult to earn a spot over them. I understood Joe’s position, but I wanted to play. I think lots of people in Korea knew I could play at the highest level, too. And around that time was when I started hearing about other teams wanting to sign me to play in the LCK.

That was an important moment of decision for me.

There was a part of me that thought about what it might be like to go somewhere else.

I talked to my family a lot about it — about the good and the bad that could come from joining a different org.

But there’s a story I like. It’s from the Records of the Three Kingdoms, about a character named Liu Bei. One chilly autumn morning, Liu Bei encounters an old lady by a stream. She yells, “How am I supposed to cross this turbulent stream by myself? Shouldn’t a young man like yourself carry me across?” Liu Bei reluctantly gives in to her request, carrying her on his back across the stream. However, when they get to the other side, she tells him that she has forgotten her bag, and insists Liu Bei make another trip with her. Despite this cumbersome request, Liu bei agrees. Once all her demands are met, she asks, “How come you chose to make the second trip? Why did you not refuse?”

Liu Bei calmly answers, “Because the second trip is what made all the difference. Had I refused, my efforts from the first trip would have been rendered meaningless. But by making the second trip, now your gratitude towards me has doubled.” 

For me, T1 is the first team I chose.

When I entered the world of pro gaming, I had lots of options. I could have chosen a few different teams. But in the end, I decided to remain with T1, because I knew the choice to stay would make all the difference. By being faithful to my first team, I hoped that all my hard work would not be rendered meaningless, but rather come back to me doubled. I hoped to accomplish what I had set out to do: win titles and international events with T1.

Gumayusi | League of Legends | Fighting | The Players' Tribune

That’s why last fall at Worlds in Iceland hurt so much. To lose to DWG KIA in Game 5 of the semifinals was really hard to accept. I was proud of myself for even getting to that point, of course, but there was a lot of sadness around our team after the loss. Playing for T1 means expectations. We all understand that. And we want to fulfill them as badly as anyone.

What happened in Iceland, I think it motivated us coming into this spring. We have a lot more familiarity with one another, too. There were a lot of changes to the roster last year and that made it a bit harder to get into rhythm. But now I look at our team and I feel like we’re on the same page most of the time, and that’s one of our biggest strengths. We try to move as one.

I don’t know if we ever thought that 18–0 was possible before the split began, but to accomplish something like that … it was an experience we’ll all be able to look back on one day with so many great memories.

The T1 fans made the spring season so special. Their support means a lot to me. I never thought of myself as someone who could have fans like the ones that cheer me on now. That type of love, it’s very special.

I want to repay their support with success here in Busan.

And I’d be lying if I said we weren’t also dreaming of going to NA for Worlds.

But for now our focus is on MSI.

We know the task ahead is difficult.

But my journey — all of our journeys — started a long time ago. And it is our responsibility to finish them.