After a close match against the Houston Outlaws on Friday, we sat down with NYXL’s Big Boss, Do-hyeon “Pine” Kim, to talk about his struggles to maintain a positive mentality, his growth through the season, and the team’s focus on something entirely new.
So we’re approaching the end of the season, and it’s definitely been a crazy one. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in these past six months?
So before the Overwatch League started,and I was in APEX, things weren’t systematically organized. Back then, when things didn’t go well in game, I would struggle psychologically- and that effects your play too, of course. It’s been really hard to keep my mentality healthy. After the Overwatch League started, though, now that we have actual salaries and are living in a really good environment thanks to NYXL, I feel I need to be a little more professional in my approach regarding my play. I guess in summary, I’d say I’ve gotten a lot better in terms of managing my mental health. I’ve learned to be patient, professional, and considerate of that.
Before OWL started, I wasn’t really a good player- both mechanically or professionally. I wasn’t as good then as I am now, and I was a little lazy. I didn’t go to sleep on time or get up on time, but I’ve gotten a lot better about that.
Establishing structure and support for mental health has been a major talking point for all Overwatch League teams- who on the team is the most active proponent of making sure you get to bed on time, eat right, etc?
Our head coach Pavane forms the schedule for us in terms of meetings and scrims, but the onus of showing up on time is on us individually. No one wakes us up or anything like that- we’re in charge of ourselves.
There was a brief period where you took a break specifically for your mental health, which was a pretty high profile decision that a lot of people supported. What was the moment where you realized that you needed to take a second to step away from the game? How did the team help you with that decision?
So that rest wasn’t 100% my decision. The coaches can all tell when players are doing well or doing poorly, so they approached me first and said “Why don’t you take some time off and get your mind right,” and I agreed. Everyone was supportive of me, of course, but the most important part of a rest like that is wanting to get better yourself. That’s the most important thing- I really wanted to get better, so I worked really hard on my mentality and any psychological problems I had. It was mostly a process I worked on by myself, but the coaches definitely helped me a lot too.
So I’ve been asking around a lot about teams’ structures in terms of practice. Many teams are focusing on fundamentals and playing basic, sound Overwatch, and others will also try and supplement a player or players to make big plays as needed for the team. Which of those would you say NYXL is more like?
It’s more about the fundamentals for us. We try to focus on good teamwork and stuff like that, but we know when it’s appropriate to take a chance on high-risk, high-reward plays. We try to be a fundamentally strong team, but we know how to balance those two sides, I think.
This might be a hot-bed question for New York right now, but a lot of people want to know. Is NYXL giving these games their maximum effort right now, or are they saving their energy for playoffs? And if you are giving these games your full effort, what has the struggle been lately compared to prior stages that were as close as you could get to perfect?
The short of it is, we are trying our best. BUT, things are a little different for us right now. We’re looking at things in the long term- not the next match, or the stage finals- we’re looking at the playoffs, the Grand Finals. For instance, we didn’t really prepare at all for the Outlaws- not that much, anyway. Right now we’re looking for a new color, you could say- a new concept or idea to center our strategies around for the playoffs. When we’re playing, we’re trying our best to win, but backstage we’re focusing on the fundamentals we’ll need for playoffs.
So that way you can show up to the playoffs with something entirely new, and just take everyone by surprise, essentially?
Exactly. While we did lose a lot this stage, and it might look like we’re struggling, these losses just help us see our weaknesses more clearly. We’re not down about those losses at all- we’re glad that they’re giving us the chance to improve a lot.
So what’s the team’s general prep plan for playoffs, then? Beyond working on the new color of the team- are you analyzing other teams that you’ll be facing, reflecting more heavily on your own performances, etc? And are you going to take any time off between now and Season playoffs, or is it all grind all the time?
Well, I can’t tell you that much… what I can say is that we’re just working on that new concept for the team. We are taking some time off after this stage. When we’re at work, we give it 100%, but when we have some time off, we do the same. That way we’re fully prepared for our playoff matches.
Looking at resting a bit more, what are your plans for the off-season?
Nothing really’s set right now- no one knows what we’l be doing after Season playoffs. We’re all just too focused on trying to win this thing. We’re not thinking about anything else.
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Featured Photo Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment