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Coach Park Interview

Heart of the Swarm! Will Coach Park signal the rebirth of EG-TL?

The post-season legend from last season returns! Former SK Telecom T1 coach Park Yong Woon has returned as the coach of EG-TL. EG has announced on their homepage, “EG-Liquid names Coach Park as new Head Coach,” and Coach Park himself has publicly stated that he hopes to become the new pylon for EG-TL. (The reporter obviously means coach, but he uses the word for pylon.)

Though Korean fans were initially baffled by the news, they were still glad to hear he would return to the SCII scene. Coach Park has been on POS, MBCGame, and finally to SK Telecom T1, succeeding wherever he coaches, but fans are wondering what kind of magic he can bring to the currently 8th and last place team, EG-TL.

(Interview starts now)

Q: Coach Park! It’s been a while. I would first like to hear exactly when you entered EG-TL.

A: Hello, it has been a while hasn’t it? It’s a pleasure. I am the new head coach of EG-TL, Park Yong Woon. Actually, it’s only been about 10 days since the decision was made. Serious negotiations only started about 3 weeks ago. I spoke with the head and CEO Alex quite often and after the decision was made, much preparation was had. I thought it would be detrimental if I were to just go headlong into it, so I took the time to think about where I could bring about the most change. I especially thought about whether or not I could bring results. You could say I took the time to calculate everything? I received help in many ways from many people and made my decision. Alex really seems to believe in me, so I’m already eager to go to work.

Q: You were an advisor for SK Telecom T1 until you became head coach for EG-TL. What kind of processes did you have to go through?

A: SK actually helped me a lot. To be exact, President Oh Kyung Shik helped me quite a bit. Recently I felt I needed to learn English, so I went to Philippines to do so. After that I was supposed to focus on the SK Telecom T1 League of Legends team. But because the field I was about to enter was so different from the field I have been working in, it bothered me. You know how people have their ambition, so I had thoughts that my past experiences would be somewhat wasted. So when I voiced these sentiments, he helped me and in turn, I think the results turned out wonderfully.

Q: You probably had a world of opportunity in front of you, but why did you choose EG-TL?

A: I’ve always wanted to coach a foreign team, even when I was at SK Telecom T1. So in preparation, I even hired tutors to verse myself in English. You know how I became an advisor, correct? To be honest, I wasn’t too happy with it. Only for an instant of course (laughs). So when this path opened up for me I thought, “This must be a heaven-sent opportunity.” Immediately after, I went to the Philippines to improve my English and even started working out to prepare. I took a little time off and it was very rewarding. During the process, I also came up with a lot of ideas. So when I was looking around for a foreign team and found EG-TL, I decided to take this opportunity to use my experiences.

Q: Even on the SK Planet Proleague Media Day (don’t ask, I have no idea) people thought EG-TL as a strong contender. But to be straight, they did not live up to the hype. Why do you think this is so?

A: I would first like to say that their record seems appropriate. You don’t think so? I researched/investigated the team for 10 days or so and I concluded that this was the only possible outcome. The problem has nothing to do with the players themselves, but the infrastructure of the team itself. They have a poor environment compared to those of other teams. They cannot focus solely on Proleague, they have to travel to foreign tournaments, they have mandatory streaming obligations, as well as a lacking coaching staff, making it difficult to organize the team well. There are foreign players, and there are too many players to make practice smoothly (not 100% on this translation). Coach Kim Sung Hwan (Hwanni) must have been very frustrated. Although the players have much value to their names, because of these factors the current results were inevitable.

Q: Now that you know the problem, how will you go about fixing it? What changes will you bring?

A: Hmm…I’m still giving a lot of thought to it. Truthfully, I am not sure yet. But one thing is sure: it is impossible to completely fix the problem. I am approaching with the goal of minimizing all harmful factors. For example, I’ve been thinking about how to solve the streaming problem for 2 days. There is the danger of showing their full strength to the public, but if they do not their salaries are cut and must give up a portion of their winnings so…I’m still thinking about it. I’ve actually changed the streaming schedule a bit. Before it seemed as though the players were streaming whenever they had free time, but now I have them all stream at the same time. I also changed it so that they stream in the morning. This way the streams will be more accessible to the foreign fans. The response has been great. The players used to stream into the night, resulting in insufficient rest and poor condition the next morning. This was a big problem. Having them stream in the morning is beneficial in many ways. First, it is a way to warm up their fingers. Second, it’s a good way to fill their stream requirements. Third, their full strength will not be shown. Though there probably will be fans who will wake up early to watch as well (laughs). Fans would have to wait for stream announcements to watch the players, essentially being in the dark. But now that they all have a fixed schedule, viewers can simply wait for the streams to start at a certain time. This will increase viewership, increase player income, and provide a little fun for the players streaming together. One by one, I am approaching this problem step by step.

Q: Since this is a foreign team, there are occasions where you are unable to use key players due to foreign tournaments. It’s something that you’re not used to, what do you think of it?

A: You’re right, there will be times where we won’t be at full strength and forced to change up our rotation. It seems a bit unfair seeing how no other team has this problem (laughs), but I think there is some charm to this. The same way I am trying to improve the streaming schedule, I feel I can turn this into something great as well. This attracts me very much. It kind of feels like solving a homework problem? It’s definitely a challenge.

Q: What do think is most important when running a team?

A: Coming to EG-TL the thing that worried me the most was how to schedule their days, especially since there would be Koreans and foreigners under the same roof. It worried me a lot. But as I met and talked with the players, I found I could apply my past experiences here as well. There was nothing different. I had no need to worry because they were all still gamers with the pro mentality. What I think is most important is their daily life. One’s individual rhythm is incredibly important. No matter how hard you practice, if you practice until 4 or 5 in the morning and feel dead tired the next morning or sleep in, I think that is a sign of a bad gamer. If you are a pro, you should know how to control yourself. You must learn to stop and recover when needed. I will not allow any action that destroys one’s rhythm. Currently, I am making the players go to bed and wake up early. They are chastised if they are caught up after 2am (laughs). I am also teaching them the habit to self-check their daily life. How long they slept, how much they practice is all being checked. This is all pro mentality in my opinion. You do not just sleep to sleep or practice to practice. You must know just how much sleep you need to be 100%. To know oneself, that is what a pro is. (I love this quote btw.) I am working to teach them this mentality.

Q: What do you think is the reason for the lack of results?

A: It is as many have already guessed. They don’t hold Proleague preparation as their top priority. Their potential is enormous. You can’t blame them for this either as their environment is different. A pro’s worth is measured by their earnings and whatnot, so teams have geared their players towards focusing on Proleague. Starting with incentives to raises for Proleague standards. But our team gains more from winning outside tournaments. It’s hard to raise a team camaraderie. To make this a team a true team is my role.

Q: What do you think is EG-TL’s biggest problem right now?

A: We need Terrans (laughs). We really don’t have any Terrans. Other than Yoon Young Suh (Taeja) we don’t have anyone. Terran looks very strong in Heart of the Swarm, so the problem is even bigger. I am still thinking of how to solve this.

Q: Do you think you’ll have a hard time leading such a nationally diverse team?

A: I won’t be able to communicate effectively with them. The language barrier is obvious. Other than that I don’t think we will have any major problems. I get along with foreigners pretty well. I look forward to befriending ‘ThorZaIN’ Marcus Eklof and ‘Stephano’ Ilyes Satouri and many others.

Q: The most important question! I would like to ask of your English skills? How was your time in the Philippines?

A: You can’t be perfect, you know? (laughs) What I learned in the Philippines was to speak with confidence. Every word with confidence. It helped a lot. But my grammar is still a bit shaky, so I’ve already gone through four grammar textbooks. I think I’ve improved a bit (laughs). I’m still much better than when I used to be. There won’t be any big translation issues, but I’m still worried (laughs). But I will have Coach Kim Sung Hwan (Hwanni) close by so I will try to learn much from him.

Q: When you were officially taken in, what did the team head say?

A: The first thing I remember was, “Great!” Then it was, “Impressed!” It was a great response (laughs). What I am most grateful to Alex is his trust in me. Jokingly I said to him, “Even if you can’t trust your family, you can trust me. You have to gamble your trust in me.” He continued to give me his full trust. No matter what I would suggest, he would take it. He makes my work worthwhile. “When I first spoke to Alex, I sent him my entire analysis of EG and improvement plans. He was very surprised about that. Outside of Korea, Head coach is regarded similar to a team manager. He said that he did not expect me to think about the team this much, and since then, whatever I say, he gives me his full trust. Of course, I will repay his trust with results.”

Q: How have you divided the coaching staff’s roles?

A: Coach Park Sung Jin and I will take care of the team, as usual. He will essentially be my assistant. Coach Kim Sung Hwan will be general coach, dealing with foreign players or working with me in communications to discuss the growth of this team in the right direction. This way I can direct my full attention to coaching the team.

Q: The 4th round of Proleague isn’t far off, what are your thoughts on Heart of the Swarm?

A: I haven’t been able to play a lot. It’s my first time after the closed beta. I have discussed with the players and Terran seems to be very strong. That is why I am worried, as there are too few Terrans on the team. But I do have an issue with the Ignite Thrusters (laughs). I used to think it would be fun to put boosters on Brood War Dropships but this is real. But the boosters in HotS are a little different than what I imagined. They should use energy, or become more vulnerable when using them, something like that. There has to be a risk, but there are none, so it’s no fun when players can infinitely use them. To make the game more enjoyable, there has to be some escape to that, but there are none, which is disappointing. Maybe if there was something like Scourge, but as of now it’s a bit lacking. They can definitely make it more exciting. Other than that, it’s a very fun game. It’s better than ‘Wings of Liberty.” But looking at player’s responses, I think they are correct in calling it “Terrancraft.” (laughs)

Q: What is EG-TL’s goal for the second half of the season?

A: Well, we have to recover. We have a big goal. Looking at the numbers though, it may be impossible (laughs). EG-TL’s goal is to enter the playoffs. Though through calculations, it is a very impossible number. To enter the playoffs, EG-TL must win 14 of their next 21 games. We have to play like the 1st place Woongjin Stars to have a place in the playoffs. To be honest, it is a very hard goal. But after talking with the players, and with Alex as well, the consensus I hear is, “We can still do it.” Though it will be a difficult path, I believe it will be the time of my life. But I do hope that luck and miracles help us (laughs).

Q: You have been labeled as a legend due to your ability. What do you think your chances are in reaching the post-season as you did last year?

A: I am here because I believe it is possible. If EG-TL doesn’t make the playoffs, it will be disappointing to break my streak (laughs), but to continue my ambition, I accept this challenge. I’ve always loved challenges. If everything was laid out for me, where’s the fun in that? I will give it my all.

Q: Before we go, say something to the fans!

A: Firstly, to both the Korean and foreign fans. To the Korean fans I ask you to embrace our players. They are having a hard time. Embrace them, cheer for them, and we will work towards the playoffs. We need momentum. If not, I don’t think we will be able to, so cheer for us! To the foreign fans I would like to voice my thinks. When the announcement was made on EG’s front page, I read many of the comments. I never imagined the amount of support you gave me. Thank you so much. It was very moving. I will return the favor, I will not forget your support. I will do my best.

Lastly, I would like to address the two geniuses of EG. Alex! I want to tell you that your voice is really great. Thank you so much. I believe we will be very good partners. I heard the team coordinator Cody is getting married soon. Congratulations! I hope to continue to inform you of what is going on. Please cheer for us!

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