There are several components to a myth: unique birth, extraordinary talent, hardship and ordeal, helper, and overcoming challenges. Through the epic series of incidents, heroesdevelop themselves and leave behind remarkable achievements.
Recently, a hero in the professional League of Legends scene ended his long chronicle. He was a 1st generation professional LoL player, leading the game to its renaissance, and producing great games which captured the heart of the fans. This hero is Sang-myeon ‘Shy’ Park.
Shy, who made his debut at MiG Frost in 2012, ended his gaming career in 2017 at Rox Tigers. With Shen and Jax as his signature champions, his gaming alias has become synonymous with ‘upright’, thus the creation of a special cheer, ‘this is Shy’. Though we may not see him in the pro-scene again and shout the cheer out, the memories he had presented are still vivid.
His path embodies Shy’s extraordinary talent, hardships he had to go through, and his achievements; a hero’s story indeed.
◆A Kid Extremely Talented at Games
Among his peers who used to go to video arcade, Shy was the best gamer. After being a fan of the Starcraft professional league, his dream was to become a professional gamer. While he would have seemed wild-eyed to his parents when he said “if I practice hard and win in a tournament, I can become a professional gamer”, it was the beginning of his pursuit of gaming career.
Soon, he got to meet LoL. Shy, who was introduced to LoL by a member of an online game guild, soon found his talent in the game. “Platinum was the highest tier at the time, and the minimum rating for platinum was 1,800 or 1,900. I reached the number only after playing a few games, and that’s when I thought I was quite good at it and I could develop fast. But I was too proud of myself and I was caught up in the same rating for quite a while," recalled Shy.
Stepping up to the top of the table, Shy could not make his mind about becoming a pro. After weeks of agonizing, what led Shy to make his mind was the ticket to the LCK finals. He became envious of the players on the stage and set his goal to become a pro gamer.
Opportunity knocked his door quite soon, when a familiar summoner named ‘CloudTemplar’ sent him a friend request and messaged him on the tryout for the team. He eventually joined MiG Frost, with which Shy achieved eye-opening results, and during his times in Azubu Frost the team was the runner-up of LoL World Championship 2012. It was a dream come true.
"I practiced really hard because I wanted to win and was confident with myself. I wanted to be recognized as a good player, and I practiced like mad, but I wasn’t able to show myself in tournaments, and I was given a bad name. I tried harder out of spite, and it finally paid off at Worlds. After Worlds, I felt that I was finally recognized as who I actually was, and was determined to practice even more."
◆Hardships Which Shook Shy From Both Inside and Outside
But after popularity and honor came tough times, which entailed Shy for quite a while. “The stress mainly derived from internal factors in 2013, and external factors in 2014,” recalled Shy.
"When there were brother teams, I had a tough time. Since Blaze’s Ho-jong ‘Flame’ Lee was so good, I was often compared to him. I lost to him quite often during the laning phase, and Frost also lost a lot to Blaze. I was worried that the guys would compare me and Flame, and I lost to him no matter how hard I tried. After he came into the team, I tried really hard to beat him for the whole year. I did improve a lot then too.”
"After then, when the team wasn’t fit enough to compete for the top, people would rate me as the has-been, and that my career is nearing the end. It was devastating to hear comments degrading my achievements. The fact that I tried harder and played better than others hurt me even more when people said that I was freeloaded. It was indeed a difficult time."
Shy confessed that it was then when he first thought of retiring. In 2014, when he wasn’t performing well, the thought of retiring impulsively came to him, and he started to take it seriously in 2016. Shy’s career would have ended in 2016, had it not been Hyeon-jong ‘OnAir’ Kang, who told Shy, “You would be seen as running away if you retire or leave to foreign leagues. You shouldn’t retire with a bad name on you. Retire with the bad name off of you."
Taking OnAir’s advice, Shy spent another year as a player at ROX Tigers, and finally decided to retire last December. While people still tried to dissuade him, he was determined. He also chose to retire quietly.
"In the past, I thought that I would be able to maintain my skills if I focus on my game. But at some point, it came to me that ‘I might not be able to beat other gamers even if I devote myself to the game’. And that’s how I came to think more about retiring."
"How you retire matters a lot for professional gamers. Many have prepared and ended their career really well. But to me, how I should end my career didn’t matter a lot. I was okay with disappearing into the blue. I have zero regrets."
Shy devoted himself to the game until his passion faded away, more splendid and warmly than anyone else. Alongside Shy’s professional career were excellent teachers and outstanding colleagues.
Shy noted Chan-yong ‘Ambition’ Kang as the teammate with the best harmony during his times at CJ Entus, as they had a good time talking with each other, and they hit off. The most memorable teammate was Bo-seong ‘BDD’ Kwak. He seemed to have been impressed by the growth potential of ‘BDD’.
"When he first came into the team, he could only play melee champs like Zed and Yasuo. Despite good physical abilities, it’s really difficult to play in the professional scene without wide champion pool, and so I thought it would be really difficult for him to become a pro unless he practices really hard. But now his champion pool is really wide, and he’s become a great player."
On ROX teammates, Shy commented, “everyone’s really intimate, and that may be because we had to start from scratch", and "it was fun, and they would treat me well because I was the oldest one there. Although I was in the team for only a year, they were, and still are, always nice".
However, what influenced Shy the most would have been the coaches, especially Head Coach Hyeon-jong ‘OnAir’ Kang, who had coached Shy for quite a while, starting from MiG to ROX.
"He is my savior. He helped me enter the pro scene, and I relied a lot on him mentally. He’s a man of great insight, supposedly because he went through hell and high water. I asked lots of questions, and sought advices from him, and his advices helped me a lot in helping me go through tough times. I am so grateful for everything."
Shy went on to mention Dae-young ‘Kezman’ Sohn, commenting that “I relied on Kezman not as a player and a coach, but more like an older and younger brother”. Many have made Shy become who he is, and support Shy as a human being.
◆ Long Remembered Shy
"When I was a player, I used to regret my decision to become one. But as I recall now, I have no regrets left, and it was a very valuable experience. If I go back to the past, I would again decide to become a professional gamer. But only if I time travel with my current thoughts (laughs)."
Shy said that he did not regret playing in and retiring from the professional gaming scene, as he now feels unburdened since he tried harder than anyone else during his prime. However, there is still a small wish; he wants his name on the record, and wants to be remembered by the fans.
"If you look at the history books, the main events are summarized into one line, for instance, the year 1592, the Japanese invasion of Imjin outbreaks, or on June 25th 1950, the Korean War outbreaks. If there was a history book for LoL, I would want my name there, with my achievements, like ‘Shy makes his debut’, and ‘Shy wins the LCK’. I want my career, and my prime to be remembered and noted in the history of LoL."
Shy would definitely be in the history book of LoL, if there was one. He would be noted as the player who led the prosperity of early professional LoL scene, whose playstyle was upright than anyone else, and who could quietly focus on his games. His milestones would be more beautiful than anyone else, even when he left the scene without any regrets.
When the interview was nearing the end, I asked if he had any last comments as usual. Shy would respond warmly, and somewhat archly, as always.
"There are some fans who come to every fanmeet sessions. I am sorry to disappear into the blue, but don’t be too disappointed because I will be streaming. And also, for Head Coach OnAir! I know you said that you will get married once you make it to Worlds, but that shouldn’t be an excuse. Just get married. Get married, and go to Worlds too."
Translated by ROXCrew.
*This translation was provided through a partnership with the ROXGAMING.