theScore esports first interviewed Lee "Heart" Gwanhyung when he became LGD Gaming's new head coach after a long career as a professional player. Following a difficult early spring split, LGD Gaming finished the regular season strong, and spoke to theScore esports about the team's improvements and how he has adapted to his new role.
I read in another interview that you felt LGD Gaming wouldn’t perform well initially because the mentality of the team wasn’t very good. How did the team’s attitude improve?
I talked to the players after our poor performances. I told them that the performances at the beginning were not that important. In order to turn their mentalities around, I made sure to keep talking with each of the players until the situation improved.
Going into this split, did you have any expectations for coaching that you discovered were wrong over time or was there a behavior you felt you had to change?
I don’t feel that there is that large of a difference between my expectations and what I am doing now. I’ve previously had some coaching-related duties on teams I was playing for in the past, so I had a reasonable idea of what it would be like. I feel the most important thing about coaching is mutual trust between the coach and the players.
I’ve noticed that LGD Gaming, especially the solo laners, will often revert to comfort picks in certain situations. These picks may not be popular in the meta at the time at which they are picked. How collaborative is the draft between you and the players, and who makes the call on the pick?
Before the matches, I’ll research what kinds of compositions I want the team to play. I will tell my players about this before the competitions and during the drafts. During competitions, we discuss this a lot and decide. That’s generally how it goes.
pyl said that, at times, after practice you will give certain players more individual attention. How do you balance time between players in these 1-on-1 sessions?
Whoever seems to need more work or more individual attention in scrims, I will prioritize talking to them.
Other coaches who are also ex-pros have said that they sometimes have trouble separating their own playstyle from their player’s style. When you have a disagreement with pyl on how the support role should be played, for example with itemization or ward placement, how do you resolve this?
We will discuss it together and come to an agreement.
LGD have experimented with three different junglers this split. What made you decide to stick with Eimy in the most recent games?
Eimy’s playstyle is most suited to what our team needs right now. Because our team has very aggressive top, middle, and ADC, so we wanted a jungler who is stable, and Eimy is very stable.
At recent international events, LGD players have said “we didn’t prepare enough” or “we didn’t understand the patch,” so a lot of criticism fell to coaching staff. Since LGD are now performing again and MSI is approaching, should LGD qualify for an international event this year, what are some pressures you will feel as their new coach?
I think that we’ll have to focus on each of the individual players’ understanding and level. As long as each individual player meets my standards, then this is what I’ll aim for.
In the LPL, the rounds of the playoffs are all in one week except for the final. When you played in Champions Korea, there would be one or two weeks between each round. How does this affect the preparation for matches?
Back in Korea, because we had a lot of time to prepare for each match, I think it resulted in a higher standard of competition in the region. Here in China, because we have less time to prepare in between rounds, we usually can only focus on a few specific things. If we discover some detail that we think will be good for the competition as a whole, we’ll prepare for that. The way that the Chinese teams and the Korean teams practice is also affected because we become used to much shorter practice time in China.
Last year, other Chinese teams commented on LGD’s attitude in scrims. Some have said LGD don’t take scrims very seriously. Do you think LGD’s focus in scrims has improved this year?
When I watch LGD’s games now, I feel they have a more defined identity compared to earlier in this split. How would you describe LGD’s playstyle now?
It’s a secret.
As a final question, do you have any expectations for LGD in the coming playoffs matches?
The greater your expectations, the greater your disappointment, so I don’t really want to have expectations.
Translation assistance provided by LGD Gaming staff.
Kelsey Moser is a staff writer for theScore esports. You can follow her on Twitter.