We sat down with Joon-hyuk “Bunny” Chae, star DPS player for the LA Valiant, to talk about going home, prepping for playoffs, and surviving in the Overwatch League. Note: Bunny’s responses have been professionally translated and edited for clarity.
So I noticed (on Hanamura especially) that you were winning the 1v1 against BABYBAY pretty consistently. What allowed you to do that?
On King’s Row, I was a little too nervous going in. I was overthinking it. After we got full held, though, I switched my mindset to “Well, I’m just gonna calm down, I’m gonna play my game. I’m gonna make my own decisions and do what I think is right. Once I did that, I was able to keep the level of tension you need to have in a Widow duel, and I was much more comfortable since I was moving at my own pace. I could play the way I usually do.
It’s been a pretty crazy season- what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since day 1? What’s something you would change about your season, or keep the same?
I’m happy that I was able to move away from being perceived as a Tracer one-trick thanks to this really dominant Widow meta that we’re in. I’m also glad that I took the opportunity to learn English in a very focused way so I can communicate really well with my teammates.
Speaking of communication- a key point in Overwatch- is there anything you still struggle to describe or express with your team when you’re in a game?
At the very start, the language barrier was definitely there. I had a hard time understanding anything the team was saying, but now I think I’m at about 70 or 80 percent. I’m also at a point where I’m comfortable asking my teammates about what they’re trying to say, or what they mean if there’s something I don’t understand.
Does the team use primarily one language (English/Korean,) or a mix of the two? Does it depend on who’s playing?
Right now it’s a bit of a mix, specifically when it comes to communicating with Fate. There’s a little bit of Korean there, but for the rest of the team it’s all English.
What has been the Valiant’s secret to maintaining (and increasing) their success this stage, despite all the big changes to the meta? What kept the Valiant viable?
I think it’s about the synergy between the coaching staff coming up with good ideas on strategic feedback with the team, the direction from [Head Coach Byung Chul “MBC” Moon,] and the fact that all the players are willing to improve and work hard to do well in the Overwatch League.
And speaking of coaching, what is it about Moon’s coaching process that makes him such a good fit? What clicks there?
So, Moon is normally a very kind person, but when it comes to the game he’s also very strict. He knows his stuff, and that knowledge allows him to be a very effective coach.
After Stage playoffs, you’ll almost immediately have to start prepping for the Season playoffs in New York. Is there going to be any break period for you guys, or are you going to get right to work? What’s the focus there?
I feel- personally- that since we clinched the bye in the semifinals for the Season playoffs, I want to work hard to make sure that no other team can catch up to where we are. Once we do that, we’ll have some great games in the semifinals, and again in the Grand Finals.
Once those playoffs are done, do you have any plans for the off-season?
My plan is hopefully to just go home after Season playoffs are done. I want to relax and have a nice vacation.
There’s been a lot of talk, too, about other Korean players wanting that same thing- they’re homesick, essentially, which is completely understandable after living here in LA for so long. How prevalent is that desire to go home for Korean players? Is everyone ready to buy their ticket home?
So obviously, every Korean player has friends and family back home that they want to go see. It’s not like they’re dying to go home, or that it’s driving them crazy or anything- it would just be nice to see those friends and family again. Everyone wants to go see those friends and family for a bit, and then come back. Those same people have had very positive experiences here in LA, too.
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Featured Photo Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment