Following Team 8's loss to Counter Logic Gaming on Sunday, CaliTrlolz spoke to theScore eSports about his retirement, helping Team 8 avoid relegation and his future plans.
*Note: This interview was conducted on Sunday, July 26 after Team 8’s loss to Counter Logic Gaming.
Before this week, you officially announced that you would be stepping away from the LCS. Do you plan on going back to school?
That is pretty much what I am going to do and that’s why I’m retiring. I’m not retiring because I’m getting kicked out or I’m not going to be as good as any other top laner — it's not like that. I am probably going to be relevant in competitive and could still be Top 5 at least. I am just retiring because I made my own promise to myself and my parents and fans that I would be going back to school in a year after a year of competitive play. So yes, I will be going back to school.
While you stated that you might still be a part of the competitive scene, what do you see yourself doing after school?
After school? Pharmacist or maybe — I don't know — maybe eSports will be developed enough that there is something related with pharmaceutical eSports or something. I dont even know. Aside from pharmacy profession, probably an eSports advocate.
How are you feeling right now with your departure from the LCS on the horizon.
Just sweeter and then bitter. I really appreciate and am happy that I got this opportunity, but I am not heartbroken that I am going back to school because this is what I was expecting of myself. I had enough time in eSports that I won’t regret anything if I look back. If I didn’t get this chance at all, I would probably be thinking back and say why did I waste my youth and not even give up one year for my dream so I am definitely happy with how it turned out despite a rather disappointing split result. I am still happy that I got this opportunity.
You said that this was kind of like your childhood dream come true. When was the moment when you said “I want to be a professional gamer, I want to get involved with eSports.”
I don’t know exactly when. As long as I remember, we had a computer in our house and my favorite thing to do was just play video games and computer games. Me and my big brother always fought for the computer, we just had one. The biggest reason that we fought up until tenth grade was because of one computer we had and then once we got another computer it was like complete peace in the house. I was just really into computer gaming and Korea was really big in StarCraft 1 and I just really look up to those players. Growing up in the culture, it was just so much fun to watch them play and be so amazing at the game. It’s easier to tell in StarCraft how good someone is rather than League. League is more Q, W, E, R, but Starcraft is like “oh you are so like fast with your hands.” Macro, micro and control is all really distinct so I was like “oh when will I ever be able to play like him”.
How do you prepare yourself mentally to play with such a big turning point in your life just ahead of you?
It’s not a surprise for anyone, especially including myself, that I was going to retire regardless if I won Worlds or something. At the time I said that there is a Korean saying that means “leave when you are still being cheered on” and that’s what I wanted to do. Unfortunately we didn't make it any closer there and I just want to be consistent with what I have said and also just follow up with my life goal. Not to get too settled on one thing and just move on. I have already satiated my young desire as a pro gamer.
Looking back on your LCS career, what was your favorite moment or fondest memory? What lessons have you learned in the LCS that you plan to take with you in the future?
I definitely grew up a lot as a person, not just in League skills but rather all the communication and being able to cooperate with eight other dudes in the house. It’s rather rough but I think it just helped me to grow up in the society and work together. So that is definitely a good take up from professional League.
In terms of play, I definitely remember that my favorite tournament was back in May 2014. I played Kha’Zix a lot and it was when the champion was really OP but nobody really realized it and I was the only one spamming it and I think that was my best competitive performance. I single handedly carried and it was really fun to have an audience. Although it wasn’t as big of an audience because it was the amateur scene, it was just a really good feeling to be able to carry. During the LCS, there was one Gragas game that I played and that was exactly how I want to play out the game. Just kaboom like 600 to 0 people and that was a really memorable game.
Outside of the game, just the gifts and memories with the fans. Some of the more distinct fans for Team 8 that really reached out to us, gave us gifts and brownies and cupcakes and cards. It was just so much — it’s really priceless that I would get such great fans. That is something I will definitely miss after I retire.
Team 8 is currently sitting with a precarious hold on seventh. Have you prepared yourself for the possibility of tie breakers or even relegation?
Ya, I am definitely going to play for relegation if we do go for it. It’s, I think, it would be very immature and unfair for the team to just peace-out without having to finish up my duty as a top laner. If there is a better top laner than me that my team would want to play with I would definitely just step out but I don't think that is going to happen any time soon since we don’t have anyone in mind yet. So I will definitely play out until relegation and compete with the team and try to stop them from getting relegated if that needs be.
Do you have any messages for your fans before you leave?
Thank you so much for this priceless opportunity. It’s not only through the petition that you guys dealt for me but rather all the cheerful words and support that you’ve given us that actually kept us going despite some of the few losses this split. I am really grateful for those memories.
This interview was conducted with the assistance of Nicholas Doucet and has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Skye Bui has a passion for dry humor and eSports. Follow blahblahblah on Twitter.