Esports Heaven caught up with Lee "Heen
" Seung Gon, former MVP player and TI7 winning coach with Team Liquid. In this interview, Heen speaks about his time at Liquid and the various phases they went through, his current role at Shadow.gg -- an analytics firm and much more.
Hi Heen. Kindly introduce yourself to our readers.
I'm Heen, former player for MVP and former coach to Liquid.
Lets go back a little bit. Before coaching Liquid, you were a part of the famous MVP line up. Why did you discontinue playing as a pro? What made you come to that decision?
I think a lot of my decision to quit playing came down to my lack of motivation. Even though there are plenty of Koreans still in the scene, trying to create an all-Korean roster can only be done in so many ways and we weren't mature enough to work out our differences. I guess I didn't believe in myself nor the team enough to think that we'd one day win or do well enough at TI.
Under your coaching and guidance, Team Liquid achieved the most in a short span of two years than they did in entirety of their existence in Dota 2. How did you get recruited at TL? Take us through your mindset when you decided to finally take up the job?
I wasn't looking for a coaching position when I joined Liquid. It was a fortunate coincidence that they were in search of a coach and I was available. I believe it was my connection to Jerax and Blitz that connected me to the team even though I had no prior affiliation with Europe. I traveled to the 1st Epicenter as a tryout coach, we won and we shook hands.
As a coach, what were your core responsibilities? In which ways did you contribute towards the team?
The main responsibilities I had was acting as the relational bridge between all the players, including the captain so that everyone gets on the same page regarding strategy and game vision.
It's a tough position to coach players with such high levels of skills compared to your own so, often my opinions were draft or team oriented rather than micromanagement and improving efficiency.
Your first TI with Liquid was short lived as the team failed to perform upto the mark. How did you handle this tough loss, especially Kuroky, who took almost seven years to achieve his dream, before winning TI7.
We were definitely one of the favorites coming into TI6 but looking back, we lost a lot of our confidence for emotional reasons rather than rational ones through failure.
TI is a tournament that tests more than your skill as a team. It pressures the team on a mental level, and we were too tense throughout the entire tournament.
There is nothing you can say to a team that gets knocked out of TI below their expectations. We were sad and full of regrets. I don't think we took it particularly well or poorly. Most teams would have had similar reactions in our position.
As history has it, TL won TI7 but after the departure of Jerax and Fata. How did that situation go?
To be honest, I wasn't involved in the situation really. We all went home after TI, and didn't have much contact with each other for some time and I learned that Jerax and FATA had left the team.
Winning TI7. Describe that moment.
The road to the finals was more exciting than the moment we won it. No matter how good you are, most people think of winning TI as a dream more than a goal.
As we went on our lower bracket run and improved our form, we knew not only were we getting closer to winning TI but that we were deserving of it.
So when we won it was more of a rewarding, grateful moment towards each other and the work we put in than pure excitement as many people would imagine.
You have joined Shadow.gg as of now. Why did you decide to join this org? Moreover, what exactly is Shadow.gg and what is it that you do over there?
After TI, I wanted to stay in Korea for some time. Being part of a team is synonymous with spending the majority of your year abroad. Since I'm a consultant, I could work from home and that was probably the biggest appeal compared to coaching.
They make an analytics platform for professional teams in CSGO, LoL and most recently DotA. As someone who has the competitive experience that they cannot possible have had, I'm the guy that tells them what I think is a good direction for them to take so that it helps the teams using it.
Give us an example, for say, in Dota 2. With what would you approach a team to join you?
One of the key concepts of Shadow is that you can save a lot of time when it comes to analyzing potential opponents and working on your own team's flaws.
For example, you can see a team's warding patterns on a single page without going through all the replays. Sometimes, the value you get from thoroughly watching a replay is undeniable but there are times, especially during a tournament when time is scarce resource and you need to a recap of things faster and more conveniently.
Basically it lets you keep track of players, teams, trends etc. easier at the top level. There are other features that are less obvious when you think of analytics but I'm not sure I'm allowed to go into too much detail. In any case, any competitive team can request a free demo.
Coming to current affairs, Secret, VP and EG have already secured their TI9 invites. Team Liquid, on the other hand, is looking a bit stagnant. They crashed out of DreamLeague Major in the lower bracket even though it was a bo1. What do you think Liquid needs to change to shake up things a little bit?
Obviously, Liquid have been disadvantaged in terms of the 'race to DPC points' as they've missed out on the 1st Major and played with a stand-in in the second one.
They were looking really good in the 2 LANs that they've won this season. And MDL was fairly recent too so I did not expect them to get last place in Dreamleague.
I know they were capable of doing much better but shit happens and a team may lose confidence or become confused in the heat of the tournament. If you look at TI7, even though we were in really good form, we lost a few games and we were close to being knocked out of the tournament at 12th place.
It took several series to find our true form. I expect them to pick themselves up and prove that they're a tier 1 team by the DPC season's end.
So from constant travelling for work to being home and being able to work in a relaxed manner., you seem to have it all. Would you consider being an analyst or commentator if and when offered?
Analyst, probably not since I know nothing of it. Commentator, maybe. I'm not naturally talented at it but I think I can make up for it with research and knowledge about teams.
What would you like to say to anyone trying to make in esports, especially Dota 2 in any capacity?
I'd say you need to have passion before thinking too far ahead about a career. Most of anyone in the DotA scene did not have a job until enough popularity and demand allowed for them to exist.
It's also something I regret since as I said before, I lost a lot of that 'pure' passion leading up to my quitting as a player, being too conscious of whether or not I could succeed.
Alright, that's a wrap Heen. Anything you'd like to say?
Nothing in particular. Can't think of something genuine I'd like to say or shout out.
If you would like to know more about my work, you can follow me at KarY.
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Headline image courtesy: Team Liquid