There is a coach that goes to foreign tournaments and grabs the mouse, in an attempt to qualify for the event. Not a player-coach, but a coach that's known for his rigorous practice regimens, a coach that has a blueprint for success in Proleague, and has taken his team to the summit multiple times. This is a scene from the Master Coach Park Yong Woon.
After leaving SKT T1, he lead the alliance of foreign teams EG-TL before being handed the leadership at CJ Entus. He created the "big event" of the off-season, getting his players to create the video "CJ Entus-yon Pop". This isn't something easy to do, even in the comparatively free atmosphere of an eSF team.
It seems that he isn't called a Master Coach without reason. Inven asked Coach Park of CJ Entus why he attempted something like this and how the preparation is going for next season.
■ SKT T1's Master Coach Park, after EG-TL, finds a place at CJ Entus.
Q. I'm curious about how you've been recently. Have you been well?
It's been nearly 3 months since I've come to CJ Entus, and I've been spending that time trying to make a lot of changes. There are a lot of changes going on with the various events in SC2, and as someone who's engaged in these events I've spent some time time worrying too. As the coach of CJ Entus, I've invested a significant amount of time sketching out our outline for the next season.
Q. It wasn't long after you joined EG-TL before you left again. Are there anythings you feel regretful about?
Honestly, I felt that there was a lot more to be desired. I didn't spent a lot of time at EG-TL, and because I came in mid-season there wasn't a lot of preparation time. If I think about it now, I feel a lot of regret. I thought about a lot, and I learned a lot too, but most of my efforts were aimed at encouraging the morale of the players.
I definitely feel like there wasn't enough time to get to that next level, but I do think that some results were achieved. EG-TL were having such bad results that the mood was low in the house, so I approached the task with passion, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with the outcome. I think that I did my best in a difficult situation.
Q. After Proleague ended, what led you to being the coach of CJ Entus?
I just got contacted out of the blue. When they asked me to meet at the CJ Entus, I had some sense of what it was. After they made me the offer, I agonised over whether I should stay at EG-TL or go to CJ, but in the end I decided to go to CJ.
Before I became a part of CJ Entus, I thought that the team had a strong personality. They are a weighty, methodical team with a strong practice regimen, and these qualities appealed to me. It make me think"If I went to this team, I could really make a big difference"
Whenever I consider a team, I think about it that way. "Will there be much I can do for the team?". In this aspect, CJ Entus really appealed to me, which is why I decided to join the team.
Q. CJ Entus is a team that was able to win the Hybrid season, but this year their results weren't great. How do you rate the players ability?
They're better than I thought. The players weren't bad. I think that they have a really high potential, but strangely they just haven't been able to win at tournaments. I don't think that it's the highest level out of all the teams, but it was definitely in a position that I could really make an impact. The only problem left for me was, how do I realise their potential? Step by step, I'm doing a lot of different to things in order to try and draw out their potential.
Q. For instance, there are players such Sora who have been labelled as being brilliant rookies. Which players do you think have this kind of potential?
I think that Sora's potential was just starting to explode into view when I joined the team. Despite being a semi-pro, Sora's mentality and attitude is firmly that of a Progamer. Sora is a player with all the tools to be great at the game, and he's a player that has no interests outside of the game. He is focused on winning, and because of that I think he will continue to do well in the future.
If there's one variable, I think players can sometimes go down the wrong path. If the staff can just make sure that that doesn't happen, I think that players can meet the expectations of fans.
Q. There were also players like EffOrt and herO that left us wanting more. How do you bring out the potential of players like this?
After being here for 3 months, the thing that I continually feel is that compared to the skill they show in practice, they are radically underperforming in terms of results. If we take herO for instance, I rate his potential as being extremely high but he's shown no real results in individual leagues or proleague so far and I feel really sorry about that. CJ Entus is yet to produce a Protoss champion. If the first CJ Protoss champion was to appear, I think that it's possible that it would be herO who would do it.
I rate the potential of Bunny and SonGDuri highly as well, but at the moment I think they have to start from basics and build their skills up step by step. Because they don't have strong fundamentals, we see them falter as they hit higher levels of competition. They have a tendency to be unable to overcome their indecision and show their limits, and I think that's something that they need to fix.
Q. How do you think you can awaken a players potential?
I think the most basic thing when it comes to an SC2 player is getting rid of the niggling doubts inside themselves about their choice in game. If players keep having thoughts like "Do I have to keep playing games?" and other insecurities, it doesn't matter how much you practice, none of it gets absorbed into your brain. The goal that I I'm concentrating on at the moment is creating an atmosphere where players are motivated to play Starcraft and feel proud of it.
"Why do you have to work hard? The situation might be as good as it was before, but because of that ths could actually be an opportunity." is something that I've been emphasising to my players. If they've chosen the life of a progamer, they need to be given a reason to believe in the decision they've made. I'm working to create an environment where players are freed up to work hard due to their own motivation.
Q. After you joined SKT, you spent a lot of your effort maintaining and organising the system. You even were given the nickname "Method Park". Are you preparing a new system for CJ as well?
I think that the system is really important. A well designed system can compress 5 hours of work in to 1 hour, freeing up that time to concentrate on other things, which I think has enormous value. I've been thinking and agonising over what kind of system would best suit CJ Entus.
I'm working on improving the systems that I've brought with me, but while thinking about what kind of things that CJ Entus needs, I think there's a need for greater communication. I'm thinking about how systems related to how we communicate can be improved. I can't tell you any specifics, but I think that communicating effectively with players is really important. Staff and Players have to have two-way communication, not one-way, and I'm looking for ways to achieve that.
I often say to players something like "If you just listen and follow me, you can't achieve good results. I can give you the most basic guidelines, and if you follow them at minimum your skills won't deteriorate, but they won't improve either." I think that I need to work on how players can not listen to the coaches. Only then can players accurately state their opinions, and only then I can understand my players correctly.
Q. What was the background behind bringing over trOt from EG-TL?
I didn't plan to bring trOt with me. After I had left, it seemed that he would have more work than ever at EG-TL so I was a bit hesitant to try and bring him over. But when you're looking for talent, you have to look for people you can work with unconditionally.
After we had considered every aspect of what we wanted, we looked for somebody that would be a good fit but even though we looked at a lot of people, there was nobody that was as good a fit as Coach trOt. He had a lot of experience leading EG-TL, his understanding of the game is great, and he had a great rapport with the players.
On top of that, he's hard working so he's a really good with me personally. His skills are a good compliment to the coach we already had, Coach Kwan, so we ended up hiring him.
■ KESPA teams struggling! Making videos, practicing while streaming... we need exposure to survive.
Q. Lately, we've been seeing some unique things from CJ. Public practice, the CJ Entus-yon video etc. What's been happening in the background that led to this content?
I've had these ideas since a long time ago. We need to be more active in engaging with the community. Because my team is a KESPA Corporate team we haven't felt the urgency, but foreign teams take direct communication with fans very seriously. That's the kind of thing that EG does every well. It's something that I've taken away from my time at EG, but it's also something that CJ is pursuing so it worked out well.
Of course, it doesn't mean I can do what ever I want. My opinion just happened to align nicely with front office this time. When I discussed with this a lot of people, I thought "we can do this". Of course, if we swing too much in this direction we'll lose our purpose, so we can't overdo it.
All the CJ players have pretty quiet personalities, so I thought that if I could find some way of making them more active, it would help to build a more united team spirit and even help them with the game. When I thought of that, I decided that I definitely should pursue it. It helped that this off-season was unusually long.
We started off like that, and it went better than I thought it would. Using twitch as the measure, we got over 10,000 views. The foreign community reacted well to it too. I just want you to know that we didn't just do it for fun, we did think about whether it would be effective for the players training as well.
Q. Can you tell us more specifics about the process of making "CJ Entus-yon Pop"?
I floated the idea during Chuseok break. I wrote in the team chat "Lately, songs by Crayon Pop have been stuck in my head, and they're really popular. What do you think about doing a parody video?" and suddenly the chat went silent (laughter). The players weren't that impressed, but when I started to put together the video during Chuseok it started to form a really funny picture. So when we got back, we started work on the video in earnest.
Like I said before, the reaction from the players was just one of being completely unimpressed with the whole thing. I thought "Let's do it anyway!" and even paused their practice schedules so they could practice their dancing. The players worked really hard for me, much harder than I thought they would. Once the dance practice was really underway, there were a lot of players who really enjoyed it too, they just weren't expressing it. There were players who worked hard to really get their charisma across in the video. There wasn't a single player that didn't practice really hard.
After 3 days of practice we thought, that's enough, almost unreasonably quickly and went to the workshop. I think the secretaries were baffled too. Still, I was aware of the time it was taking up and I wanted to minimise the time taken away from practicing for Proleague. Because the players worked so hard, I thought "I could take these players and win Proleague!. They worked together well, and I think we took a lot away from the experience.
You can read the CJ Entus facebook comments and see, but a lot of foreign fans showed interest too. They wrote a lot of nice things too. It had a really positive impact.
Q. It could be viewed as being a little eccentric. Did you have any trepidation about this new?
It's difficult to not feel some trepidation. About 30% of people said that this was just people with idle time. Even though I thought it would be a good idea, I thought people might say "Why is a Coach trying to do something like this?" and worried about that. I even thought about it while we were filming the video.
But the thing that I thought, as a leader, is that I could get to know the players much better through making this video, and that I was sure that there was a lot that we could all take away from the experience, and I was sure enough that I could really push for this to happen. I didn't just make it because I was bored, but because as a Coach I was willing to take full responsibility for it. We didn't make it lightly.
Q. How are the players reacting?
I feel like the players are really excited by it. The CJ players are really positive about making something themselves and broadcasting it, and I can see them enjoy practice a bit more. When they go on Battlenet, there's a lot more people who try to chat with them too. Inside the practice room, there's just endless laughter. It occurs to me that this is the first time in a while that they've felt like people are interested in them.
Q. This sounds like there's a possibility of a sequel.
There's a big possibility. There's so many different things that we've thought about, but I think if we were to attempt everything it'd take at least 3 years. Out of the massive amount of content we could make, we've done about 2% of it, and because my job is to be Coach, the speed of our progress is likely to be very slow.
If making videos was my job, I think I could make a huge amount of videos, but I want to make videos that raises the morale of the players and combine it with the training regime, videos that have that synergy to it. Content that helps the players and helps their training, I want to make that kind of content.
Q. Like the exhibition match with the Japanese players, or the practice match with SKT1 seem to all fit into this context. Can you explain these matches to us?
With the Japan vs CH match, it was a result of two managers, Seo and Kim. After Proleague finished, the off-season was so long that we felt that we needed to give something to the fans to build anticipation for Proleague. The fans don't have any data about the teams. In order to try and build anticipation, we played some friendly matches against Jin Air and SKT T1.
It's definitely true that we feel a bit nervous about revealing our strategies, but lately we've been thinking less like that. Before it was really serious, but lately it's become less so. There are so many streamers now that people say "Will showing public practice really matter?". Maybe in BW, but in SC2 we definitely think that this is more exposure for us for the fans.
Before the emphasis switched, before LoL was the focus, in the days when there were two channels broadcasting BW, we didn't have to worry about anything. Because Starcraft was always the focus. Now, it isn't. Because of that, the frequency of exposure has dropped a lot. If we looked at much exposure each player gets, I think it's only 20% of what it used to be. If you're far from the eye, you become far from the heart, that's what's going to happen. So I thought, let's give my players as much exposure as actively as possible.
■ CJ Entus is preparing for 'Joyful Victories', the next season is going to be a lot of fun
Q. What's the goal for the next season of Proleague?
Since becoming a Coach, I've never said "The goal is making the post-season" or "The goal is 2nd". The goal is always to be champion. If you're the head of the team, regardless of how strong or weak the position of the team, I think you have to say that the goals is to be champion. With EG-TL, I only said the goal was the post-season because I only joined mid-season. And even then, it was a pretty impossible goal.
Q. RorO, Soulkey, Rain and other KESPA player are looking strong at the moment. Could a champion emerge from CJ Entus?
I said this already, but our team has generations of Zerg champions. We have strong Zergs at the moment, but I'd be really happy if we were able to produce a champion for each race. A Protoss winner, Zerg Winner, Terran Winner, one each. In the current climate, I think that a Protoss winner is not a difficult task.
If I can pull up the mood of the team a little more, I think that we can definitely produce a winner. It's often a margin of 1% that determines who makes it to the final. We already have the talent to win, it's just a matter of how to get them there.
From now on, CJ Entus plans to enter many tournaments. This includes the smaller leagues that take place over season. I think out of the KESPA teams, we'll be the most active in the foreign scene. That's the goal of CJ Entus
Q. If winning is the goal, who is the biggest rival in your way?
SKT T1. We did lose in the online friendly, but they played really well. They have high standards, and I felt how high their confidence was. iloveoov, who I used to work with, has a really high potential as a coach. If the staff help iloveoov walk the path of a leader, I think that he could become a really brilliant leader.
iloveoov isn't the type to settle for "realistic" goals, but the type to create something. I think that SKT will be stronger this season than they were last season. iloveoov doesn't lack for experience, so as he works as a coach I'm certain that he'll be able to overcome adversity easily. SKT has a great set of players, and a leader they can believe in, and they have a lot of resources coming from a big organisation, so I'm thinking of them as a rival. Next season, we are determined to not lose to SKT.
Q. Is there a player that you have to watch out for?
There was in BW, but in SC2 there isn't any KESPA player that comes to mind. In BW, there were players that you knew were strong but were still hard to deal with. The key example is Flash. Even though we knew what Flash would do, given the map, weirdly we still couldn't cope with it. But in SC2, I don't think there's anybody with that absolute authority yet. I don't think that player exists. I think we can over come any player with effort.
Q. What kind of Coach do you want to be viewed as by the fans?
Not sure? My hope is that people who see me as a really hard working Coach, the kind of Coach that seems like he'd work really hard no matter what he was doing. That's the kind of image I want. I want fans to say "I think if Coach Park did it, I think he'd work really hard on it". I want to be remembered as that kind of Coach.
Q. Any thoughts to finish off?
Next season, CJ Entus is going to be a lot of fun. The name of team CJ Entus is a portmanteau of Entertainment and Enthusiasm. This is also the motto of my life. I want the team to, like their name, always be entertaining and enthusiastic. I'm going to work hard to show you this as much as possible. We're not just aiming towards victory, but a joyful, prideful victory, and we're going to work day and night to make this happen. I'm asking you all to cheer as hard as you can for us in the future. Thank you!