Doh Jae-Wook: "I am happy I can leave while smiling"
The poet Lee Hyong-Gi wrote in his poem "Falling Blossoms", "How beautiful the sight of one who knows it's time to leave." Saying goodbye is sad, but if you must do it, choosing the right time will allow you to do so gracefully.
Among entertainers, those who retired and whose fans desperately wanted to see return are perhaps remembered most fondly. Also for athletes, some of the most memorable are those who ended their careers even though they could have achieved more.
However, for e-sports these cases are not as common. Some who stood at the top were disgraced and forced to leave the sport, while most others saw their skill level drop and became has-beens who sat on the bench.
When SK Telecon's Doh Jae-Wook (BeSt) announced his retirement, fans were probably surprised for this reason. His skill had not bottomed out, on the contrary, just previously he had played in the Proleague playoffs, winning against STX's Lee Shin-Hyong (Bogus/INnoVation) who was widely considered the best player at the time, so news of his retirement was difficult for fans to receive.
A standout player, the news of Doh Jae-Wook's entrance into military service was a shock to our staff as well. At SK Telecom and in e-sports in general, he was a player who brought joy to the fans even beyond his results. Perhaps for that reason, we were not quite prepared to send him off.
Why would he choose to enter the military now? Choosing military service over the fans who wished to see him play again, please listen to Doh Jae-Wook's truthful story.
Truly a professional
If you asked fans or industry insiders to describe Doh Jae-Wook, they would describe him as "a fun player, a talkative player." It is difficult to think of him as a serious person. In broadcasts, he would always be quick-witted and bold in his behavior which brought joy to the fans.
However, Doh Jae-Wook was perhaps one of the most serious and proud progamers. It was the true character that people did not see. He was objective, analytic, and greatly hated to lose.
When asked why he was retiring when he was just beginning to show promise, he answered honestly, "I felt that I had achieved the skill I was capable of." His response is different from those who became overconfident because of results and could not evaluate themselves objectively.
"I had no reason to continue being a progamer. Even continuing for one or two more years, I felt it would not be enough to reach the top. The thought that you can achieve anything with just hard work isn't quite true. No matter how hard you try, sometimes some things don't work out. At that time, being honest with yourself and stopping is a brave thing to do."
We could not understand what he was saying. Just previously, he had taken out the best player, STX's Lee Shin-Hyong. However, he said, "Because of that win, I felt even stronger about retiring."
"When analyzing progamers using data and statistics, there are clear advantages of one over another, but nobody is invulnerable to losing. But when I beat Lee Shin-Hyong, many people called it a 'miracle'. Already they did not consider me a pro. If the spectators don't recognize me as a pro, I think it is a good decision to leave."
Doh Jae-Wook confessed that he was most angry during this time in his progaming career. When he was matched with Lee Shin-Hyong, the opposing team's ace, many people chalked it up as an automatic win, and he could barely contain his rage. Based on his public persona, we would have expected him to just laugh it off, but Doh Jae-Wook was a much more serious progamer than we believed.
"What progamer plays in order to lose? Dismissing a match as an automatic loss is one of the most humiliating insults we can receive. It devalues all of the work that the player makes toward that one match. As an e-sports progamer I had a lot of pride but hearing that made it feel like they were disregarding all of my efforts until then and that made me angry. I went out to prove that it would not be a walkover or a miracle, but the result of my own hard work."
Knowing that entertaining the fans was an important part of being a progamer, Doh Jae-wook always showed us his cheerful side. But hearing this story it is clear that he has a strong competitive spirit.
That incident cemented his belief that "now is the time to leave." Thinking that the point where fans did not consider him a professional to be the right time to stop, Doh Jae-Wook made the decision to retire and enter the military.
A progaming career without regrets: "I was happy"
We asked Doh Jae-wook what his most joyful moment as a progamer was. Perhaps it was when he reverse swept in the Starleague semifinals to reach his first final, or when his team won the Proleague.
However, his answer was unexpected. With an honest expression he told us, "every moment was joyful." Among all of the progamers we have interviewed until now, it was our first time hearing an answer like this.
"If I had not become a progamer, how would things have gone? I probably would just be a normal person getting through day by day. I was able to receive such affection from so many people and live so happily because I was a progamer. Even just eating with my teammates, I was so happy."
The ever-joyful Doh Jae-Wook, but he must have also had difficult times. What could be his most painful memory? This time he also gave an extraordinary answer. He said the six straight losses immediately after his debut were his most difficult time.
"When I lost 0-3 in the Starleague finals, surprisingly it was not that difficult for me. I was sorry toward my parents but I was not suffering nor did I want to stop being a progamer. To even stand on the Starleague finals stage that I had dreamed of made me so happy. But when I lost six straight games after my debut, it was so difficult I thought I wanted to die."
He sometimes thought of running away in the night. Since he was not a well-known progamer and did not have a contract with the team, he believed that if escaped in the early morning and hid away somewhere, no one would find him.
But miraculously, while Doh Jae-Wook had these thoughts of running away, he got his first win. With the unforgettable thrill of that time, he stopped his thoughts of escape and resolved to walk the path of a progamer.
There were many ups and downs, but being a progamer was Doh Jae-Wook's unavoidable destiny. For him, feeling so much happiness in every moment in his career, retiring must not have been an easy decision. However, he told us that since he was so happy, "I want to leave amongst the applause."
"Honestly I haven't thought much about what I will do after military service. Nevertheless, I made the decision to retire because I didn't want to mar my happy memories as a progamer. I did not want to be a washed up player who people would consider it a miracle if I won. I want to happily keep remembering my joyful times as a progamer."
Doh Jae-Wook, so proud of being a progamer and wishing to exit gracefully. We could feel how much love and pride he had for his career. Finally seeing his serious side after all this time, it really felt like it was the end, and we were not sure how to take it.
However, we think that Doh Jae-Wook's fans should no longer be sad. We could see that he was leaving with a smile, full of joy and without regrets. We can now also see him off with a smile.
"I wish for the fans to also only keep happy memories of me. No matter what happens I will always be proud of having been a progamer. When I am released I hope that e-sports will have developed further. To the fans and e-sports industry workers, please continue working hard. Thank you to my fans, once again. For someone as flawed as myself, to receive such overflowing love from you all, I am truly thankful."
Keeping a smile even until the final moment and seeing him leave full of joyful memories, we thought of "Falling Blossoms" once again. For Doh Jae-Wook who was sure it was his time to leave, the sight of his departure was beautiful, and he will continue to remain in our memories.
Original Article by Lee So-Ra firstname.lastname@example.org