Earlier this year, KyKy travelled to APEX: not to play with his former team Cloud9, but to trial for EnVyUs as coach. Now he has been signed by the organisation after a successful period coaching the team in Korea, despite EnVy being eliminated in 7th/8th place.
EnVyUs had a lot to live up to after winning the inaugural season of APEX, a feat unheard of in comparable Korean esports, and were one of the favourites coming into the tournament after their strong end to 2016. Unfortunately they seemed to struggle with the patch changes nerfing tank play and promoting dive compositions, limping their way into the playoffs and then failing to win against Lunatic-Hai and Kongdoo Uncia despite relatively close games.
Nevertheless they remain a fantastically talented team and were the only Western roster to reach the playoffs in APEX Season 2. They have recently returned to the US and will be playing in the Rivalcade Rumble alongside Rogue, Selfless, Cloud9, Immortals, LG Evil, and more on April 22nd and 23rd.
I got the opportunity to sit down and pick KyKy’s brains on his role within the team along with EnVy’s run during APEX Season 2. The following is a written interview.
We had an interview with you when you first announced you were trialling for nV - you talked about coaching a championship team being "not much to gain, and everything to lose". EnVy didn't perform as well as they, and you, would hope this season I guess. What was it like being with EnVyUs over APEX?
KyKy: It was definitely a learning experience, and I have a long ways to go to get to where I personally want to be. My main focus during APEX was to come in and establish a working relationship built on trust and respect, and I think that was accomplished. Now that we’re back in familiar territory and using what we learned in Korea, combined with this new and better structure, I believe we will back on top very soon.
How did you find transitioning to a coach from a player? How did it affect your relationship with the existing team and establishing some sort of hierarchy or authority with former competitors?
K: I felt the transition was easy for me, because I have always been more than "just a player" even in Cloud9. It was a little strange at first working with players I had previous friendships with, but everyone was extremely easy to work with and they quickly became receptive of me and what I had to offer in and out of game. I actually believe that because I was a former competitor against them, it allowed them to give me a respect that they wouldn’t normally give.
HULK was always a very ‘captain/coach’ figure within the team it seemed, from snippets in interviews and seeing them interact. He built the team and made key decisions with rosters and roles, etc. How does the structure of the team work now that you are on coach? How are decisions made on who should fill the flex dps role, new comps/strategies, etc?
K: The structure of the team right now, in terms of making decisions, is essentially everyone has equal say in terms of offering input and we typically like to brainstorm and discuss things as a group. I would say that the players have started looking to me to give that "final say" on what and how to move forward from idea to reality. Now that I am finally set up here in Charlotte, I also plan to spend a lot more time taking the initiative to come up with new strategies that can mix in some of the creativity that people came to love about OG C9.
How long have you guys been in the US? What's the practice situation been like since you were eliminated from APEX?
K: Most of us have been in the US for a little less than 2 weeks. We have just been waiting on Taimou's visa before being able to resume practice, which he finally has! Tomorrow will be our first day of practice since our last match in APEX.
That’s a trademark long break! Have you changed anything in particular within the team in terms of practice or how the team works? Do you think you could point to anything yet within the team that you've influenced, or is it still about setting up that relationship at the moment?
K: I have made some pretty dramatic changes to the schedule recently, which hopefully will work out. I would say there’s a few things I have influenced, but most of that is behind the scenes, like helping Mickie learn English, for example.
HarryHook in a recent interview noted that nV were looking to move Mickie to play the projectile DPS for now and potentially bring in a seventh player - is this part of a bigger picture to adapt to cover weaknesses in the roster?
K: I think what Harry said was misinterpreted in the large scale of things. We are considering all options to make the team stronger, while staying united. However, no triggers are close to being pulled at this point in time.
What's the long term goal for you in this team? What kind of an impact do you want to have, and what do you want to see from EnVyUs over 2017?
K: My long term goal is to be recognized as an integral part of the team, by fans and players alike. Right now, the impact I wish to have is to be able to allow players to focus on their game and winning, as well as helping them become healthier people and teammates. 2017 will be a good year as we train and fight hard to get back to the #1 spot we know we deserve.