One must seize their chance at achieving their dream. For some, it means winning Worlds. For Ruin it means going to Worlds and beating Smeb.
Now that he has finally made it to the EU LCS, Ashley Kang spoke with the EU LCS Rookie about his two years in European Challenger, getting relegated with SK Gaming and about his hopes and dreams.
Hi Ruin! Really nice to meet you. How does it feel to finally play in the EU LCS?
I’ve been playing in the EU Challenger Series for the last two years, picturing myself playing in the top tier competition one day. So this is a dream coming true; finally making it, getting to show more of myself to the fans.
Many fans did not expect Giants to do so well. Many power rankings even predicted Giants Gaming to place 10th. What do you attribute Giants Gaming’s strong performance to?
We’ve practised hard as a team, and I’m grateful our results reflect this. We grinded and nailed down a specific playstyle that would work for us. We go halves in the early game and try to win the game in the late game in teamfights.
However, if we only settle in a specific playstyle, it’s easy to be countered or be swept away in a meta change. It’s time for us to start mastering other playstyles as a team. Hopefully, you’ll see a more versatile Giants Gaming in the upcoming weeks.
Gnar, in general, seems to be your go-to pick and you seem to show an amazing performance whenever you pick Gnar. What are your thoughts on Gnar as champion?
I think Gnar is a versatile champion; you can play him aggressively or defensively, depending on your situation. It’s an all-round pick.
Also, it is a champion that helps with the teamfights that I often pick for the team. Finally, it’s a champion that I have confidence in playing and doing well.
“I remember every moment in SK Gaming vividly…When we got relegated and the team disbanded, we cried in the rain”
There has been very little information about your life previous to you joining SK Gaming.
I never imagined myself becoming a professional gamer. I was just any other university student in Korea. I took a gap year and was spending a lot of my free time on League of Legends. Soon, I was Challenger in Korean SoloQ. I think my highest ranking was 50th place at some point.
At that time, SK Gaming’s SuNo, a close hyung of mine, approached me. He suggested that I try out for SK Gaming’s top lane position. It sounded like a fun opportunity that would get me some experience in Europe, so I said yes.
Arriving in SK Gaming and Europe for the first time in your life, what was most memorable to you during your first days in Europe?
Everything. I remember every day vividly. Being introduced to Europe was a culture shock, and I was quickly making friends with all my new teammates in SK Gaming. I still keep in touch with all of them.
SuNo hyung loved to travel, and when he wanted to go on a trip, I’d jump in with him, exploring nearby attractions. I especially remember getting awed by Cologne’s cathedral.
What’s the most memorable moment for you as a professional player?
I think it has to be the day SK Gaming was relegated from EU CS. Outside of the games, the members of SK Gaming were best friends; but when it came to the games themselves, I was the critic of the team, pushing the team with harsh feedback. Looking back, I sometimes regret it.
At the EU CS 2016 Summer Qualifiers, we lost our last match against Team Forge and failed to re-qualify. After the match finished, Vardags walked towards me. He said…“Sorry.”
I could feel the tears coming, but I pushed it down and told him that we should go out; have some fun on our last day.
Then we walked out of the stadium, and it was raining outside. I couldn’t hold it down any longer and tears were streaming down my face. Everything was crashing down on me; regrets for all the things I’ve said to my teammates, frustration at our loss at the finals, grief at the end of this iteration of SK Gaming. Not just me, but all the teammates – Everyone was crying in the rain.
“I’m still friends with all members of Team Vitality, and I banter with them…revenge against Team Vitality next time will be sweet indeed”
During mid-season last year, four members of Giants Gaming – Jiizuke, Minitroupax, Gilius, and Jactroll – left to join Team Vitality. Can you give us more details about this move?
They were great friends and we had some amazing chemistry together. I had been dreaming of going to EU LCS together as a team; the five of us would tell each other that if we could make it to EU LCS together, we’d be a Playoffs material. Then…My friends…! (Laughs)
If I say the move wasn’t regretful I would be lying. However, I understand that in Europe players move around a lot and the concept of loyalty is less strong there. Also, I met new teammates and made new friends as a result of that move, so it’s not that bad.
Were you also contacted by Team Vitality?
The top laner of Team Vitality is a staple playmaker for the team. Also, I had a contract to stick with Giants Gaming during that time. So I wasn’t approached by Vitality.
You were recently able to go against your former teammates in your match against Team Vitality. What are your thoughts about your defeat against them?
I had lots of fun playing against Team Vitality. Yet at the same time, there also was a sense of rivalry, as I desperately wanted to win against them. It’s a pity that I didn’t get to beat them.
Do you still keep in touch with your ex-Giants Gaming teammates?
We’re all very close. Jiizuke, Minitroupax, Gilius, Jactroll; every one is my good friend. We catch up over a dinner, we banter about each other’s teams. The move hasn’t impacted our friendship at all.
You are scheduled to go against Team Vitality again in EU LCS.
Of course! I’ll crush their top laner the next time we face each other. Please write this down in the interview. (Laughs) Maybe that will make my dear friends miss me a bit more.
“I dream of crushing Team Vitality, going to Worlds, and then solo-killing Smeb on the Worlds stage”
Is there any player out there you personally look up to as a fellow professional player?
Smeb. I think he’s really good. I’ve been keeping up with his plays since his ROX Tigers days.
I’d love to lane against him one day – At Worlds. I’ll hopefully, make it to Worlds someday, right? (Laughs)
Do you watch LCK games and get inspired by top-tier top laners there, such as Smeb and Khan?
Kingzone DragonX Khan recently picked Riven and landed himself a Pentakill. All top laners dream of locking in Yasuo or Riven on a big stage, but few ever get to. Watching Khan not only lock in Riven but carry with the champion, I was surprised and envious. Living every top laner’s dream.
Do you have any goals as a professional player, either in this split or in years to come?
Solo killing Smeb? (Laughs) Playoffs is a goal this split.
I’ll go to Playoffs; defeat Vitality 3-0; go to Worlds; meet Smeb at Worlds and get a solo kill. That sounds like the ultimate dream. Yeah, let’s go with that.
Any last words to your fans?
I’ve finally made it to the EU LCS. Thank you for all the fans who have supported me and the team so far. I’ll continue to try to show the best performance I can.
Any last words to Smeb?
I believe we’re the same age so I can call you by name. Smeb: I’ll see you at Worlds.