Translated from Korean, originally posted to Naver.com: http://sports.news.naver.com/esports/news/read.nhn?oid=442&aid=0000070663
By Chang-sik Son & Hee-un Yoo
In 2015, many Korean players found places in foreign teams, and yet still failed to challenge strong names like SKT T1 and Samsung Galaxy. However, Worlds 2017 proved that there was some closing of “the gap” between Korea and the rest of the world, notably by the LPL’s Royal Never Give Up who rolled an all-chinese roster, and Team WE, who recovered from their slump to get to their first semifinals in 5 years.
Homme took the wheel at WE and immediately showed off his coaching prowess. The importance of solid coaching staff was immediately evident – his guidance allowed Jin “Mystic” Seong-jun to flower his budding potential, and Su “xiye” Han-Wei to show a mature performance well above the expected level of a rookie. Let’s hear how Coach Homme has transformed WE.
You’ve been in China for awhile – how have you been?
I’ve been working in China for a long time. It does take more effort getting good results in a new environment, so I’ve been very busy. I didn’t have many chances to tell fans what I was up to because of it.
How were your results in China?
I was in charge of VG and LGD in China starting from 2015. LGD was able to get to Worlds, but VG was very much middle of the pack – I wouldn’t call it good, and I have some regrets there. This year, I moved to WE and won LPL and got to the semis in Worlds.
It can’t be easy being the coach for two teams.
LGD had Gu “imp” Seung-bin, as well as other great players. VG, to put it bluntly, were on an amateur level. It was only thanks to Dandy and Mata that we could get 4th in the first season. LPL was done two games at a time, but we never really lost the entire set, even though VG was the worst team on paper. We would always make it into a draw. Dandy and Mata were a big help in that. Some say they didn’t do well in China, but I disagree with that. I watched them closer than anybody else.
I heard you learned a lot in China.
Coaching two teams at once was a crazy idea. But when I first started, I was confident I could get them both wins. I was just really confident after winning worlds, but I learned that coaching really was a hard job. Finding new players and coming up with macro that fits the team style… if I didn’t have that hard experience, it would have been difficult to get a good result at WE.
There were rumors about conflict between you and Mata.
Yeah, they’re just rumors. I think it’s good for coaches and players to be honest about their thoughts and feeling. I make the process, they make the result. We are basically all leading the team together, and that means we must share our thoughts. I think the Chinese fans may have mistook our intense debates for arguing.
How were the Korean players you lead in China?
Mata and Dandy did well left alone, so we talked about filling the team’s needs rather than guide them on the mechanical side. Mystic is really good, but he lets the opponent poke him easily when he cses. That’s the one thing he needs to work on. Zero has a lot of potential. If he adds effort into it, he will have good performance consistently.
What is the difference between Chinese and Korean players?
The culture. Koreans are so competitive, raised in a extremely fierce society. China, on the other hand, don’t seem used to competition. So, I don’t think there will be short term results gained from recruiting Koreans or coaching staff.
You have achieved success as head coach both in Korea and China. What is your secret?
Nothing really on the Korean side. I was just busy trying to not give up. Everyone is desperate like me. I think that’s one of the main reasons Korea is so strong. Another factor of success was just meeting talented players.
In China, I faced some bitter events as I was focusing on profit. I think I was arrogant in that regard. Using that as reference, I considered the team’s pros and cons, the players, and their potential. Focusing on the later rather than the now was the reason for success.
What were the pros of WE?
They were always strong in late game. The problem is that they won’t do anything in the early game. I couldn’t understand how they were so strong late game with their weak early game. I felt they could be truly strong if I polished their early game.
So why didn’t you sign again with WE?
Health issues were the biggest. I also feel that after pouring everything into WE, staying there expecting better performance from me would just be greed. I achieved my goal, so time to go to another team with different challenges.
What teams do you want to coach, then?
Personally, I want to coach IG. In LCK, teams like KT seem to be nice. I was really sad as a fan that I couldn’t see such a great team in Worlds. These are just personal wishes- I haven’t contacted any team.
What were the reasons for the Chinese teams’ stellar performance at Worlds?
A big thing was that the coaching staff brought in the Korean system, and the players being accustomed to the Chinese culture. I think the Chinese players aren’t mechanically behind the Korean players. But, it is harder for them to win a series because their teamwork isn’t there yet. When you see them play a Korean team you have that gut instinct: ‘this is gonna be rough’.
There are a lot of opinions that the Ardent Censer meta was the reason behind Chinese teams being victorious.
I find that hard to agree with. That means that Chinese adcs are better than Korean adcs. I don’t think Ardent Censer boosted China’s strengths, I think it limited Korea’s strengths. If Korean teams could do multiple macro plays before Censer, I would say that the Censer narrowed it down to just one.
There was definitely some difficulties, but the result is that the Koreans won..
I mean, basically the Korean teams are better. To be honest, until the quarterfinals, the Chinese teams looked better. However, the Korean teams improve over the course of the tournament and create new meta.
So they are top in the world, but what more is needed for Korean teams to improve?
I am Korean too, so I have a lot of faith in our team. But Korean teams need to keep an eye on the foreign meta as well. We won’t be losing to foreign teams easily for now. But I think Korean teams can show what the fans expect if they prepare the new meta instead of creating it over the course of the tournament.
Who is a player you would want to personally teach?
I would want to teach Rookie. You can see from the jungler’s movement that he talks a lot. His briefing skills and mechanics are great, but I feel the trophy has been eluding him for some time. I want to work with all the players I haven’t worked with before in Korea.
What about Uzi?
Hmm… would there be a coach that could ‘control’ Uzi?
Do you have specific plans on your future?
Even if its not this season, if I go back to Korea then I will certainly prepare to adapt to the Korean environment, and I’m thinking of continuing the coaching life working in China, if there are teams that want me. I want to look for teams with challenge on my mind.
Lastly, what’s the best coach in your opinion?
Fans have grown a better eye for looking at games so I agree with their criticisms for a team for the most part. The ban pick phase, however, is both done by the players and the coaching staff. The coach’s skills show in his ability for his ‘plan B’. If his best composition theory falls apart, he needs to make a decision whether to trust the players one more time, or decide that they need to try something different.
Players may be good at the game, but many sports that have coaches, like go or soccer, often have a third person view more accurate. Our job as leader is to observe and guide. I think the best coach uses these data to improve the players.