Interview with CJ Entus Coach – “I don’t think a Korean team would win all games at Worlds. That’s a very dangerous thought.”

Hello, could you introduce yourself to everyone?

Hi, my name is Gang Hyun-Jong and I’m the coach of CJ Entus.

Let’s go to our first question, what’s the team’s normal schedule?

Well.. We usually wake up around 10 AM, and eat our breakfast. We start practicing around noon, and it goes up until about 5PM. Then we eat our dinner, which goes on for 2 hours. Our afternoon practice goes from 7PM to 12PM. We eat our night snack, and then do our last night practice and end it around 2AM.

What’s your coaching style like? Strict? Friendly?

I think… I’m a friendly kind of coach. Most of the people around us are aware of this, but none of the team members talk to me in a formal way. They usually call me ‘coach-hyung’ rather than ‘coach-nim.’ We do like to talk and discuss freely about the game as often as possible. I think that fits my style.

What do you think is the most important trait for a coach to have?

I’m not exactly sure about 1v1 games like SC2, but for LoL, I think the coach really should help the team develop teamwork. All five players need to work together like part of one body. Eyes, nose, ears, brains… and so on. That’s why I believe the team’s cooperation is the most important thing a coach should work on.

Did you have any hardships? Challenges to overcome?

Not really. At least not until now with CJ Entus.

How do you motivate your team to constantly improve and strive to become better? How do you provide that goal?

Like I said before, I talk a lot with them. The one thing that I emphasize over and over is to look up to players like SC2’s Im Yo-Hwan, who took both fame and popularity due to his skill. And because this is our first attempt in a team game like LoL, we are experimenting with creating the family-like environment.

In all games, you can lose. How do you help the team cope with the loss?

I don’t know if the other coaches do the same as me, but I always give them one advice before the game. “It’s okay to lose. BUT, only a loss with learning is accepted. If you’ve lost because you were full of yourself, and made mistakes, it’s not okay.” Say you’re a team that will go on for 10 years. There will be games that you will win, and the ones you’ll lose. When you lose, you just have to think for yourself, ‘This must be one of those losing games.” We will talk about the game, learn from the game, and improve our game.

What do you think is the most important aspect in creating that teamwork?

I like to have the players talk to each other as often as possible. Like I said a while ago, my goal is to create the family-like environment. For that to happen, everyone needs to understand how others are feeling in different moments. That’s how it works as one body. If one person’s having a hard time, then the other person has to work a bit more to cover for the teammate. That’s why I like to have the players communicate thoroughly, as well as sleeping in the same dorm.

Then for that teamwork, are there any other activities than just LoL?

For one, CJ supports us in many ways. We might go to a workshop, we might exercise together, and many other things.

When the team practices, which aspect of the game do you focus on? Such as communication, mechanics, or strategy?

When I first met CJ Entus Blaze and Frost, I primarily focused on the communication. Communication as in call making most of the time. I still think that it’s the most important aspect of the game. It may be a very basic focus, but everyone has to be thinking the same thing for this game to work. When four are thinking one thing and one is thinking another, both sides have to explain their situations ASAP and work out the best decision.

I heard this over some other coaches. There was a time to analyze WE’s replay, and apparently they watched it 5 times over focusing on each lane. A normal person would watch it like normal game, but do you, as a coach, have a special way of watching a replay?

I try to watch it with the teammates. Sometimes I would watch it by myself, but if it’s a tournament game, then we try to watch it together. If I have something I don’t know, then I would ask the laner for the respective role. When you watch it on a VoD instead of a replay, you have to watch what they show you. It creates questions like ‘Why did he decide to do that? How is he investing his resources? What mastery would he be using?’ It’s true that no matter how hard I study the game, I’m still have less knowledge than the players. Players usually know the correct answer. And by answering those questions, the players get to rethink the answer.

The other players around the world look to Korea to take insight in new strategies. As a coach yourself, do you have a way of learning new strategies from the other regions?

When Frost started playing, they were on NA server. They played against players from teams like TSM and CLG. We scrimmed against them and learned very quickly. They very quick to pickup these things because they think about all the reasons behind each decisions. By doing this, we learned the strategies and improved it to fit to the Korean meta. We picked up WE and IG the hybrid Kennen build. Because in the Chinese meta, they used a lot of AD Kennen. When we learned that we could use a hybrid build with the release of the hybrid penetration runes. So when you rethink the very basic aspects of the game, you come up with something new. It’s better to have six people thinking than one.

With the new patch, the turret’s damage and defense increased. Do you think it will affect the 2v1 laneswap?

I’m not sure. The laners don’t have a problem with it. As a coach, I think the season 2 was the most exciting. Because the junglers could take oracles and create the map pressure. It allowed the junglers to roam and gank more effectively. In this season 3 meta, the junglers are basically backups. It’s very hard to dive turrets and make things happen. But it’s true that there are new user friendly items like sightstone. But with those items, the competitive players are making a very mistake-less game. It won’t be the same in regular games, but in the competitive scene, it’s very hard to comeback from a loss in laning phase. I believe in this season, everyone stepped up his game to make that mistake-less game. That’s why I believe that the season 2 was most exciting and hope that items such as sightstone would either get nerfed or deleted. It’s great that the support players can affect the game more, but I hope that in season 4, the junglers can affect the game more and create variables.

Next question, did you ever tell a player not to play a champion?

It’s true that all players have different personalities. There are aggressive ones and there are defensive ones. And there are always the OP champions that leads the meta. Rather than looking for those OP champions, we try to help the players find the champions that fits them. That’s the job for coaches like us.

Do you believe that a game can be decided at the picks/bans phase?

Since the NA times, I believed that picks/bans were 50% of the game. There was a team composition in season 1 where players would create something with Yorick and Cassiopeia. Their advantages were that they had very great late game potential and could take down Baron Nashor very fast. When Cassiopeia was very popular, it was known that when he was alive, he could do crazy amount of damage. But it ended when he died. To extend this duration, we thought of Yorick to synergize. We tried to create these synergies quite often, and I think Cassiopeia and Yorick worked for us very well. Long time ago, TSM’s Reginald and Rapidstar played together a lot. And we got our idea from that.

CJ is known for being good in picks and bans. What kind of strategies do you have? Do you throw target bans? Or OP champ bans? Or teamcomp counter champs?

I think we do all three. There are some that players think of, and some that coaches think of. I think all three are important though. That’s why we think the game’s 50% is picks and bans.

Let’s go to a global scale question. Do you keep up with other region’s scene such as NA/EU/China?

Yes, even though not all, we try to watch most of them.

Then when you compare those teams to the Korean teams, do you see a difference in skill?

How should I say this… It’s true that those players from around the world are very good indeed. But when you compare the foreign teams that are good and bad, I think they lack the comradeship that I talked about before. It’s true that there are teams like this in Korea too. For instance, when you look to win your lane only, you can miss out on teamfights. But when you also look forward to teamfights only, then you might lose the laning phase. I think if the teams thought about this more, then they could improve greatly. I still think that all other regions have the possibilities to play better.

The teams around the world do not have the coaching staff. If they did, do you think they would be playing better?

I think that would depend on the coach. Because I believe the coaching style should differ depending on the region. For NA, that has very unique playstyle for each players, it’s the matter of how you synchronize them. For EU, I would focus on picks and bans. I really think it would depend on the region.

Which team do you think is very good in NA/EU?

Umm.. I think they’re all good. TSM, CLG, CRS, and C9. Collegiate teams are great too. It’s not weird for any team to win or lose. I don’t think a Korean team would win all games even in WCS. That’s a very dangerous thought.

You’re right, it’s WCS soon. What do you think about that?

I think a Korean team has a high chance. We have 3 slots available. But still, we got a second place in season 2. There are always variables like that we have to be careful about.

Are you scrimming against other teams around the world at the moment?

Not for NA. The ping issue is harder to overcome. Unless we go on an international tournament, it’ll be harder to play against them. Right now we’re playing against Asian teams, and recently we’ve played against Gamania Bears very often. I heard they won against TPA too. So TPA got knocked out of WCS but personally, I’m a bit disappointed. I wanted a Korean team to beat them.

Do you have anyone that you might want to bring over to CJ Entus from other regions?

Can I go by positions?

Yes you can.

This is apart from being a coach. I’m choosing who I like. For top, I would use PDD. I really want to try coaching him. For jungle, SaintVicious because he’s similar to CT. For mid, I want to use Alex_Ich. I’ve talked with him before and he seems like an interesting player. For ADC, I would like Doublelift. And for support, ED_ward. If it was an AllStar, I would choose this. And maybe Ocelote for backup. I think those kinds of players are very necessary. The ones that can create the mood and give off great aura. I was really intrigued talking to Ocelote before. I’m a fan of his.

You know how MVP Ozone’s coach danced after winning the OGN? Would you do that?

Hmm I think I would be crying rather than dancing. I would think about it when I actually win it.

Thanks, could you end it with a comment?

I know that there are many fans around the world for CJ Entus. We are going to try our best to respond to that support, and even though we didn’t make it to the World Championship, we will do our best next season.

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Artist and Korean translator for Cloth5. I love working to get out more information on the OGN scene. Madlife is God.

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