During the past week, I had the chance to interview the Dota/HoN/LoL legend Jaehyung “Chu8″ Park about his experiences with eSports as it has grown. After stints as a professional player in Dota 1, Heroes of Newerth and League Of Legends, Chu is now turning his sights to the realm of Dota 2 as he streams the ladder climb necessary to reach pro player status. I talked to him about his decisions to leave LoL, as well as what its been like to see MOBA eSports grow over the past decade.
What was your start in MOBA gaming?
Well, I started by playing dota back in the days, around time when Dota allstars was getting more and more popular. This was almost 10 years ago, so this makes me quite an old fart in the world of MOBA.
What was your first experience of eSports and competitive gaming like?
E-sports in early doto was very shallow. Almost everything was run by community, hardly profitable for organizers and players alike, and not many good players / teams around at the time who were willing to commit time and effort into perfecting their strategies. All in all, it was something you participated out of passion alone.
My first experience of eSports, particularly the competitive gaming in dota was nothing but just that. Do it out of love, do it for the love.
How do you feel eSports has evolved since those early days?
I feel that eSports has grown out of such proportion that if it were to be a person, he’d need a longitude and a latitude to find his a**hole. The games have evolved, the players have evolved, perception and acceptance towards gaming in general has evolved, and naturally so, eSports just grew. I am very happy to see eSports in the current form, and excited to think that it will only get bigger as the newer generation of gaming population becomes working class. The more money in games, the more widely accepted it will become around the globe, and perhaps one day we as a human civilization might get to a point where we invade other planets to challenge them to a gaming duel.
Moving on from early DOTA/HoN, when did you start playing LoL and why did you start?
Around the time I decided to quit HoN, I was already exposed to LoL, which I’d tried for few weeks purely out of curiosity. When I decided to start playing a lot of LoL, it was sort of a challenge for me. I wanted to see how much I can learn about the game, how good I can get, and how far I can get with the game. And it was a pretty fun experience, as is learning any new game for me. I’m a big ass nerd who constantly needs to try out new games as their hype builds up, I just have to beat it. That’s my style. It was just unfortunate that when I was really into LoL and tried out the competitive scene, it was extremely disappointing. The depth and level of gameplay I loved so much while playing Dota/HoN was just not there. I absolutely could not get into it. And this was the time I should’ve just left LoL altogether.
However, I decided to stick with it for the purpose of streaming it for fun, to provide entertainment, then came the halt in my self-improvement as a competitive player. I probably should’ve moved to Dota2 by this time, but I didn’t enjoy the closed beta experience I’ve had with Dota2, and HoN was just a no-return zone for me. So I just stuck around with LoL for way longer than I should’ve.
What was it specifically about the LoL gameplay experience & competitive scene at the time that you didn’t like?
Competitive LoL games back in Season 1 were extremely boring, there was very little space to make plays with outplaying and superior gameplay, and me trying to learn to support (while I was playing with TSM) did not help as well. After this experience, I became super disappointed and went on to play a whole array of other games out there, most of them being single player games.
So then what made you decide to make a return to LoL last year with Team8 in the challenger scene?
That was the time I realized I was wasting my talent and time as a gamer, but since I was already pretty good with LoL, I decided to give it the last go. Honestly, in Team8, our team was not bad at all. We improved a lot in a small timespan during the gaming house experience while in the USA, and were able to perform well vs strong teams at the time. But a few unfortunate circumstances, mainly the poor management of the team and sudden departure of a core player from the team made it so that I don’t feel like playing League anymore. That was it. Back to the beaverland I go at that point.
Why did you choose to play hearthstone and Dota2 full time after that, and how has the transition been?
Basically, Hearthstone has been my off-time game, and I fully enjoyed it. And since I wasn’t really sure which game to play at the time, it was the best choice for me to play/stream. To be honest, full-time hearthstone was one of the best experiences I’ve had while streaming, as it was super relaxing and allowed me to interact with viewers in a way I was not able to with other games.
Dota2 was a different story. I was talking to my close friend March who is currently playing under MVP in Korea, and as he was participating in the TI4 wildcard rounds, I was naturally looking into TI4 in general. Then I saw so many familiar names, such a big prize pool, and Mapo in the hero pool. That was it. That was my calling right there. So I am going with it. TI5 here I come.
What struggles have you ran into making the transition from LoL to Dota2?
A lot of people seem to not understand the struggle in the transition between high level Dota and high level LoL. The struggle, quite simply put, is real. Most of the habits you grow and develop during LoL, are pretty damn useless for dota, and vise versa. Think of it as swimming across the Pacific Ocean. Yeah it is possible, just takes a long time to get to the goal, and if you want to go back, guess what you have to swim across again. I am strictly talking at a high level gaming here, doesn’t apply as much for small timer MMR / ELO.
Personally for me, the biggest obstacle was to deal with game knowledge conflict in my head, after jumping from Dota to HoN, to LoL, to HoN, to back to LoL, to Dota2 now.
As a 10 year veteran of the MOBA eSports scene, what would you say to people wanting to get into esports?
I get quite a few people coming to me and telling me that they want to get into the competitive scene. I always tell them, set your priorities straight. It is almost always not worth it to commit to gaming when you aren’t already super duper good at it, im talking about 5 digit MMR.. but can’t get there because queue time too long and boring, so only 7k MMR kind of good. As for LoL, more like 5 accounts in Challenger and working on 6th sort of good.
Otherwise, finish your goddamn school! Don’t have gaming as a Plan A, but rather a Plan B. If you really really want to pursue gaming, if your heart pumps up every time you drink your enemy’s blood and sweat and again, you are as good at the game as I said earlier, then talk it through with your parents, with your loved ones, and with yourself. Show them that you got what it takes, and gaming scene is big enough to be worthwhile for you.
Thanks a lot to Chu8 for the interview. You can check out his website, facebook and watch his stream on twitch at the following links.