Flame on joining DAMWON Gaming: “[People said] I should finally retire, or move on as a coach… I did not want to give up being a professional gamer.”

This is a press conference interview with Flame after DAMWON Gaming’s victory over SKT.

This is your first match back in LCK after 35 months. How are you feeling at the moment?

Most of all, it feels good to win.

You have played for NA for a while, and this was your return match to the LCK. How did that feel?

We lost the first game. Before this, I had around nine practice matches with the team and I did not have much field experience, afraid that I was rusty. The decision to perform on the stage again wasn’t easy.

You would also have had a limited time to scrim, etc.

After I joined the team, DAMWON Gaming played against Hanwha Life Esports, which I did not play for. The recent scrims have been split half and half, between me and Nuguri. I’d like to thank the coaching staff for giving me a chance to play today.

You took a break during the first round of the spring split. Can you tell us more about the decision to sign up with DAMWON Gaming?

I spent two years in the NA, and I learned a lot. I am thankful for these experiences, however, I’ve been wanting to return to South Korea. This year, due to personal reasons, I decided to stay in Korea. However, by the time that decision had been made, the transfer market had been closed. I contacted the different teams, even the teams who had a top laner already, saying that I am willing to compete for the starting position. Out of the teams that I had contacted DAMWON Gaming was the most willing to talk to me; they listened to me the most. After in-depth discussions with the team, I naturally came to join with them.

How did it feel to play against SK Telecom T1 for your debut match? Weren’t you nervous?

I was most nervous about the fact I was on a stage again under DAMWON Gaming. I was confident, too. I was focused on doing my best in the given situation, rather than just focusing on the victory itself. And we’ve won after all, which I am immensely thankful to the team for. My teammates played so well besides me. The draft leading up to the plays were great too.

Game three was tough, yet you turned the game around with the Baron steal. When did you become certain that Damwon had the game? Was it the moment you stole the Baron?

I didn’t believe that we were behind even during the early-mid game. I thought that we will be ahead if it went to the late game. We didn’t lose lanes too much – The only thing I was regretful about was losing the Herald and the Dragon at the same time. The moment we took the Baron, I was sure that we’d won. Our team is good at teamfight, we had a good draft, and I knew we’d eventually win it if only I did my part. I may have had inconsistent performance due to shotcalling, but I did my best.

Speaking of the shotcalls, you seem to be a heavy shotcaller for the team.

After I debuted as a professional gamer, I was always a heavy shotcaller in whatever situation I am it. In NA, this has been a little reduced due to the language barrier. The teammates are really good and try to help me around this too. I think the Baron steal was impactful, but that moment happened because the other players around me did so well.

Can you tell us about your resolutions around joining DAMWON Gaming?

I didn’t try to browse the internet during the time I was looking for a new team, however, one cannot help himself. A lot of public reactions were that I should finally retire, or move on as a coach. It’s just something that I have to prove from now on by continuing to show good performance.

Flame, you are a first generation player. While you’ve been away in NA, a lot of players that shared the first generation with you have retired; now only Score remains.

I really supported and wished the best for Ambition and Score. I had also wished the best for MaRin-hyung. Recently, Joker in SANDBOX Gaming has been performing well, and I believe that he is older than me. I also support him. I really want to show good performance so I may show that one can be competitive despite being older as a player.

The fact that you are in a new team, back in Korea, in a position where you have to lead your teammates, is also a challenge. Can you tell us more about the challenges you are facing?

I love playing competitively so much, that I did not want to give up being a professional gamer. However, as I spent time in NA and became older in NA, I started craving for some room for a personal life. Simple things such as my health, or spending time with the family. They used to be my priority, however, I had plenty of time to rest during the offseason, got to spend time with my family. From now, during the split, I hope to fill my days with gaming.


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