There’s a lot of love in this environment and things were able to fit quite well so that we were able to win Worlds.
DRX’s miracle run at the 2022 League of Legends World Championship was an incredible team achievement, but also, marked pivotal moments in the careers of each starting player. For jungler Hong "Pyosik" Chang-hyeon, it was redemption after DRX’s 10th place finish in the 2021 League of Legends Champions Korea Summer Split – a finish that led to him being the only player left on the roster last off-season, but just one year later, he has completed the highest level of achievement in League of Legends esports in the third year of his young career.
A few weeks after DRX beat T1 in the finals of Worlds 2022, Pyosik spoke to Factor to reflect on how winning it all had changed his perspective as a pro player, an emotional post-game moment with T1 support Ryu "Keria" Min-seok, and what he thought allowed his team to play to their full potential and lift the Summoner’s Cup.
It’s been two weeks since you lifted the Summoner’s Cup in San Francisco after winning the 2022 World Championship. What have you been up to these past few weeks, and has your perspective changed at all on your Worlds 2022 run now that some time has passed?
After winning Worlds we actually went on a short trip and rolled the team to Las Vegas. I didn’t have a lot of personal time so I haven’t been able to play a lot. There were a lot of interviews and content collaborations happening. Even thought it’s been two weeks, I still can’t believe it. I’m really happy we won Worlds.
Winning a World Championship is the highest level of achievement for a League of Legends esports pro. What does it mean for you to have accomplished this feat early in your career?
It’s my third year as a professional League player and I didn’t think I was going to win Worlds. I didn’t spend a lot of time as a trainee and I made my debut as a starter, so this year, my mindset was focused on learning.
How I was thinking was that next year would be the true beginning for me, and I was thinking that all year, but winning Worlds is quite wonderful. I could be more confident now but I’m not going to be that way about winning awards over progress. There’s a lot of love in this environment and things were able to fit quite well so that we were able to win Worlds.
Throughout Worlds 2022, you gained a lot of international fans not just for your level of play, but for your post-game celebrations, champion impersonations, and general fun-loving nature on stage. What is it that allows you to be so carefree and not succumb to pressure despite playing at the highest competitive level?
I think my personality has a lot to do with how things went inside our team. I didn’t prepare ceremonies and everything, but in the situations with those circumstances, I felt really great. And I think that was reflected and showed in a good way.
We were playing these full best-of-five sets and not getting more nervous; we were getting used to playing those full sets and reverse sweeping to overcome everything. I think that it was a miracle, but also, but by experience a lot of these matches in that way, it lent to our ability to enjoy the moment more than being nervous. We were playing at the highest level, but that’s how we did it.
After winning Worlds and going to shake the T1 players’ hands, you gave your former teammate Keria a hug, which seemed like a sympathetic embrace from an outside perspective. Can you talk a bit more about that moment on stage with Keria?
We had just won Worlds and we were celebrating and feeling really good. At that moment, it didn’t feel like reality, but then the staff came to us and said we had to do our opposing team handshakes with T1. We were shaking hands with T1, and Deft was in front of me. He was hugging Keria and I saw Keria crying.
In that short moment, I thought about whether I should shake his hand or hug him, but when I got to Keria, he just grabbed me kind of hard and was crying really hard. At that time, all the memories from spending time with Keria came to my mind. He really likes to win all the time so I while this was a happy moment for us, it was also a very hard time for Keria.
Has winning Worlds, especially in miraculous fashion as you described earlier, changed the way you view yourself as a pro player?
I met Jankos yesterday because he’s in Korea. I was talking with him and I told him that while I had won, I wasn’t sure it was real. Jankos said, ‘You know, you’ve still got time before the next split, so you have to enjoy this moment.’ I made up my mind after talking to Jankos yesterday that I’m not going to think about the next path for now. I’m just going to enjoy this moment where I am the winner.
Photo: Lance Skundrich/Riot Games
Translation by DRX Assistant Director Leo Sa