by pubbanana (Guest Writer)
TeamLiquid: Final Edits
It's nine o'clock on a Saturday
The regular crowd shuffles in.
There's an old man sitting next to me
Makin' love to his tonic and gin ...
February, 1999. Kyung-nam PC room frequented by the 486 clan.
Two 18 year olds are fighting for their first treasure: a 2:2 trophy.
To the left is Kim Sang Hoon, ID S.E.S486.
To the right is Kang Do Kyung, ID H.O.T486.
Both named after pop bands and marked with a clan tag which signifies the phrase 'sa rang hae' (4, 8, and 6 being the number of strokes it takes to write each respective Hangul letter), they're intensely concentrated together within the same battle. But it happens to be for quite different motivations.
Minerals and gas are no longer solely used for creating buildings and units. They're creating a memory which will be recalled 7 years later by one of the two members of the winning team as one of the warmest moments in his life.
Holding their first trophy, Sang Hoon can only think about how he can survive by doing this with his life.
Do Kyung can only think about how he can survive without doing this with his life.
Now, John at the bar is a friend of mine
He gets me my drinks for free.
And he's quick with a joke or to light up your smoke
But there's someplace that he'd rather be ...
November 11, 1981. Pusan, Gyeongsangnam-do.
A baby with a face as round as the moon is born. His love of attention is only matched by his unmitigated love of sweets and fried foods. His name is Kang Do Kyung.
He was passionate about computers from a very young age and dreamed of having a career as a computer programmer. After tagging along with his friends to a PC room during his senior year, he found a new dream to follow with his mouse and keyboard.
Attending school from 7 in the morning until 9 in the evening and then studying until midnight, the rest of his early morning hours were spent with StarCraft. He convinced Sang Hoon to once again pair up with him so that they could conquer a new frontier: Seoul. Not particularly keen on making the trip due to worries over school, he initially refused. But the 1999 Sports Seoul World Game Championship was calling both of them.
H.O.T and S.E.S came in 2nd place in the 2:2 portion of the tournament. Kim Seul Ki (known by the ID SoulKey for which the SK Terran style is named after) and his Protoss partner came in first. All Do Kyung could see was a future of tournaments and StarCraft.
All Sang Hoon could see was the giant 22% tax taken out of their prize money.
The rest of Do Kyung's school year was spent playing online qualifiers for the BattleTop tournaments. He actually had done rather decently as a 1:1 player. He came in third place in the first BattleTop, trailing [z-zone]Byun and KimDongWoo and caught the eye of future HanBit manager Lee Jae Kyun. His guild, which was called SM (StarCraft Mania), was made up entirely of Pusan-based gamers who were thought to be inferior in skill to Seoul gamers at the time. They shocked everyone by making it into the top 4 of the next two BattleTop Guild Tournaments with a line-up of H.O.T, S.E.S, and FlyToTheSky.
But the team tournaments were losing favor with organizers and sponsors.
His team was willing to write out his will for him then and there when he qualified for the APGL (Asia Professional Gamers League). Not only did it contain both Byun and KimDongWoo, but also Kim Dae Kun (also known as St. Eagle, Father of Mechanic Terran) and Jo Jung Hyun (V-Gundam). Do Kyung tried to slip into the groove of 1:1 by practicing with St. Eagle before the tournament.
He didn't lose a single game.
During the round of 8, things were evenly split between 4 Terrans and 4 Zergs. All Do Kyung could hear from his fellow Zergs were things like “Ugh! Bunker!” or “Ugh! Dropship!”. But Do Kyung prevailed and captured third place behind V-Gundam and St. Eagle. The other Zerg players began to see a hero within those three letters of H, O, and T.
But all his team could see was the same 22% tax being taken from their prize once again.
Growing increasingly disillusioned with the prospect of progaming, H.O.T asked S.E.S to partner up with him once again for one final 2:2 tournament. For all he knew, it could be the last one ever to be held for the rest of time. He was basically right. The two boys from Pusan swept SK Telecom's TTL Game School Tournament in the 2:2 portion. Kim Sang Hoon took his half of the winnings and the rest of his savings and left to go to university.
But H.O.T would look over into the 1:1 hall and see someone who would become his fellow pioneer in progaming. Someone who was also going against society's prejudices and sacrificing everything for what he loved.
His name was Lim Yo Hwan.
He says, "Bill, I believe this is killing me."
As the smile ran away from his face
"Well I'm sure that I could be a movie star,
If I could get out of this place ...”
Spring, 2000. Seoul.
The SM team, banded together under coach Lee Jae Kyun, had made the move to Seoul. The move couldn't have been more joyous as two of Jae Kyun's boys were sitting in the finals of their first tournament in Seoul. The SBS Seoul PKO World Festival closed with H.O.T defeating Garimto 2-1.
Seoul brought new opportunities, the most appealing of which was the first Starleague. The Hanaro Telecommunications Tooniverse Starleague had only one player which H.O.T had never played against before: Guillaume Patry. But the qualification process was almost enough to make him quit progaming for the rest of his life. From early in the morning until early into the next morning, qualification matches were played non-stop. Then, by sheer coincidence, Do Kyung had to face team mate Dong Soo in the round of 32. Just like in their last tournament, H.O.T defeated Garimto yet again. Pushing these thoughts aside, he concentrated only on Guillaume.
Do Kyung had made it. The finals between himself and Guillaume were being held in an almost comically small studio with ridiculously bad lighting. Through the fatigue he had to endure just to qualify and the stress he had swallow by having to eliminate his own team mates (and thus effectively reducing their chances to feed themselves), he played with everything he had to give.
But it wasn't enough.
And he didn't even get a trophy.
Shortly after the tournament, H.O.T was a genuine superstar. A film crew for a TV station decided to visit the SM team house to film a documentary about progame teams. The team was so poor, they had no food. With embarrassment written all over him, Coach Jae Kyun began to try and boil some ramen to eat while the TV crew filmed it for all of the world to see. This was the kind of life a professional game team offered.
Do Kyung helplessly watched their ramen boil on a stove which continually switched on and off because they were too poor to pay their gas bill. In the years to come, he will look back on this memory and laugh.
But for now, there are no smiles.
Sing us a song, you're the piano man
Sing us a song tonight.
Well, we're all in the mood for a melody
And you've got us feelin' alright.
He was ready to end it all when he was eliminated from the Freechal Starleague.
However, Kim Dong Soo had things taken care of.
It was his first Starleague and he already had three problems to worry about. 1) Two ghosts from the SM team who knew his style were awaiting him (S.E.S and FlyToTheSky), 2) His nerves were outrageous when he was sitting on the stage, and 3) As much as he wanted get back at Do Kyung for beating him the finals and eliminating him in the group stages, he had to avenge him and their team first.
The Farmer Toss Kim Dong Soo grasped the Starleague trophy that Kang Do Kyung couldn't with a 3-0 win over Bong Jun Ku.
During the next Starleague, it would be SM_ToYa Park Yong Wook (also known as Kingdom, the Devil Toss) who would turn the tide in their team's favor. Showing a strong performance against both Guillaume Patry and Lim Yo Hwan, HanBit decided to sponsor the team he was on and let Lee Jae Kyun coach them.
May, 2001. The HanBit Stars are born. With a proper sponsorship and training facility, Kang Do Kyung was finally able to calm his emotions which were hindering his performance for so long.
The Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation's new game channel had no idea what was about to hit them. The King of Team Play had transformed into one of the fiercest Zerg players in the world.
The Zerg Lord had finally arrived.
The KPGA Tours were the infant MBCGame's attempt at establishing e-Sports leagues on their new channel. Without showing his face on TV for almost one year, Do Kyung tore through Charisma Terran Han Woong Ryul (ArtOfHan), Pretty Boy Choi In Kyu (ChRh), Noble Terran Kim Jung Min (TheMarine) and several other top progamers who were now in one centralized, seasonal league.
2001 KPGA Tour September 1st Place.
2001 KPGA Tour October 3rd Place.
2001 KPGA Tour November 2nd Place.
Though he failed to qualify for any leagues, Kim Dong Soo would still get his chance to get back at Do Kyung. They had made it to the finals of the CNGL Invitational StarCraft League (beating such names as SlayerS_`BoxeR` and Byun). The desperation which clung to them during their previous appearances in the finals of StarCraft tournaments was completely absent this time around as was evident by a Random vs Random final.
Do Kyung didn't know how to play TvT and graciously accepted 2nd place.
And during one instance where salary problems showed their ugly faces due to HanBit Soft's inexperience in managing anything other than software sales, the Stars found themselves penniless.
Until Do Kyung pulled $500 out of his pocket and handed it to his coach to feed everyone.
Now that he was a fully licensed professional gamer recognized by KeSPA, that horrendous double-digit tax was dramatically reduced from his tournament winnings.
Lee Jae Kyun accepted his gift and excused himself. His eyes were filled with tears, but his head contained only one thought:
“Kang Do Kyung will surely be a friend for the rest of my life.”
It's a pretty good crowd for a Saturday
And the manager gives me a smile
'Cause he knows that it's me they've been comin' to see
To forget about life for a while ...
HanBit Soft dominated progaming.
Do Kyung wasn't doing all the work by himself anymore. Things had changed.
SKY 2001 Starleague Kim Dong Soo 1st Place.
SKY 2002 Starleague Park Jung Seok 1st Place.
Pepsi Twist KPGA Tour Park Jung Seok 2nd Place.
NATE 2002 Starleague Byun Kil Sup 1st Place (Kang Do Kyung 2nd Place).
KPGA K-TEC Winner's Championship Kang Do Kyung 4th Place.
GhemTV Starleague Season 2 Kang Do Kyung 1st Place (Park Kyung Rak 2nd Place).
GhemTV Starleague Season 3 Kang Do Kyung 2nd Place.
2002 was the most glorious year of the HanBit Stars. They were considered inferior with their dark skin and thick accents, but these kids from Pusan had conquered the progaming world.
They were ready for a new challenge. That challenge was the Proleague. When OGN announced the creation of the 2003 KTF EVER Proleague, a team based league with both 1:1 and 2:2 matches, Lee Jae Kyun knew exactly how to engineer a new victory on a new stage. He had a plan to help the King of Team Play reclaim his throne and lead their team to the finals.
He knew recruiting new players for 2:2 would be difficult because 2:2 tournaments had died out in popularity. He would use the newer players for 1:1 and asked H.O.T to shift his focus back to 2:2 with Reach. They were the only two players who were raised on 2:2 matches. Reach was from the Oops guild, an almost exclusively 2:2 guild, and was so talented, his seniors worked part-time jobs to pay his PC room subscription so that he could practice. The formula worked beautifully.
H.O.T and Reach finished the Proleague season with 10 wins and 2 losses and a 2nd place finish. His meeting with Lim Yo Hwan in the final wasn't unlike their first meeting: Do Kyung sweeping 2:2 and Yo Hwan sweeping 1:1. However, H.O.T had achieved a darling-like status among the fans which Boxer couldn't match.
H.O.T was an MC.
Whatever Boxer could do with a mouse, H.O.T could do better with a microphone. He was born to be in the spotlight. Maybe he outgrew his taste for sweets, but his love for attention was still strong.
CU@Battle.net, VVVic, I Love PS2, you name it, he was co-hosting it. It was during this point in his career that he stopped producing results in the individual leagues and started focusing mainly on team play as the Proleague proved to be taking up more and more time of the proteams. And also, the MC career is known to have disastrous effects on progamers. After Nah Kyung Bo (JunioR), Jang Jin Nam (JinNam), Jang Jin Su (JinSu), Jun Tae Kyu (ZeuS), and Kim Jung Min (TheMarine) started hosting shows on the game channels, they all fell into deep slumps or retired completely.
But unlike the previous progamers mentioned, everyone loved Do Kyung in a way they didn't love any other gamer. It didn't matter if he was playing or speaking. He was the one they all wanted to see.
And the piano, it sounds like a carnival
And the microphone smells like a beer
And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar
And say, "Man, what are you doin' here?"
The Real Madrid of e-Sports themselves, KTF, tore apart the greatest 2:2 team ever to exist. When Park Jung Seok left HanBit for KTF, he had one last night of drinking with Do Kyung, Yong Wook, and Dong Soo.
All Do Kyung could do was cry and thank him. He had lived some of his most glorious days because Jung Seok was sitting beside him.
A very cold, stark reality was setting in when Do Kyung waved goodbye to Jung Seok. His days as a progamer were nearing their end. With a bronze medal from the Neowiz Pmang Proleague, he turned his sights to Protoss user Park Young Min (ID: Autumn) because he had every intention to once again lead the HanBit team to another medal.
... and because Park Young Min was the only Protoss player left on the team.
However, he refused to force Autumn to practice when he had individual leagues to worry about. He wasn't that selfish. Though he was posting good results with Autumn, he didn't like playing 2:2 as much as he used to. Something was just missing.
Perhaps he needed a fresh approach? He pulled both Nah Do Hyun (Silent_Control) and Kim Sun Ki (SunNy) aside and practiced up to 40 2:2 games with them. But it just wasn't the same without Jung Seok.
Do Kyung voluntarily withdrew his name from the 1:1 roster during the SKY Proleague Round 1. He knew those days were over.
He still posted a very impressive record of 10 wins and 2 losses with Autumn and 1 win apiece with Silent_Control and SunNy. He watched HanBit win both the Round 1 and Grand Final. These, he says, were the best moments of his life as a progamer.
With an 84% 2:2 win rate (21 wins, 4 losses), the original King of Team Play, the Zerg Lord, and HanBit Stars captain since 2001 resigned himself from most progaming duties. He was selflessly letting the newer players take over the team he loved so much and never dared to turn his back on.
When Do Kyung finally retired and went to the Air Force, his fans had told him to make a personal announcement, rather than just a published article announcement. He sat down with his fan cafe and discussed his plans to retire over a meal. But he was so upset, he couldn't even eat. He also couldn't pick a new captain to leave his team with. He stayed with HanBit as a coach up until the day of his deployment.
Do Kyung's progaming days weren't over quite yet. The King of Team Play posted a few wins during his player days on Air Force ACE. However, during an interview after a win over MBCGame Hero, Do Kyung didn't make a single comment about his win. He simply congratulated Choi In Kyu (ChRh) on his win against Kim Taek Yong (Bisu) and wished his fans at his fan cafe a happy 7th anniversary. When he was asked to comment on his 2:2 win with SunNy, he simply said “It was just like being back in HanBit.”
His role as a player coach became more and more important. His former HanBit team mates were the easiest to work with and stubborn, hard-headed Sung Hak Seung (MuMyung) was the most difficult. Nevertheless, he coached his team proudly. He even said he fought his urges to celebrate with all of everything he had within him.
“I'm a military man, so I have to act like one. I wish I was still on HanBit, just so I could celebrate like they do.”
He had no qualms with the team's record at all. The team wasn't allowed to discuss how many hours of practice time they were actually given. Do Kyung simply told the fans that it was enough and for them not to worry.
They didn't worry. But he did. Once again, his progaming career was coming to a close.
When his military service was over, he was asked if his urge to return as a 1:1 player on a proteam had ever returned. He responded that it had never left him.
“Of course, I have no plans to return to a proteam as a 1:1 player. I'm not that selfish.”
This answer absolutely tore my heart out when I first read it. Kang Do Kyung was perhaps the most thoughtful, unselfish person I've ever seen. He treated the team's problems as if they were his own. Not once did he ever let the team suffer if it were within his means to help it.
Because he couldn't imagine doing anything else.
KTF accepted to hire him. He will begin the new Proleague season coaching the MagicNs.
He says, "Son, can you play me a memory?
I'm not really sure how it goes
But it's sad and it's sweet and I knew it complete
When I wore a younger man's clothes ...”
Goodbye, Kang Do Kyung.