Choi “Locodoco” Yoon-sub may be best known today as the coach of Team SoloMid, the reigning North American LCS champions, but from 2011 through to the end of 2013, he was a professional player whose career spanned two continents. A founding member of TSM, the AD Carry would later play for rivals CLG as their Support. In his native Korea, he was a part of the first Frost line-up, the core of players who would go on to become one of the most successful in history, and later played with other core line-ups which would go on to high OGN finishes.
Over his two year playing career, Locodoco became known as the “Support maker”, as his many of his Supports (MadLife, Mafa, Wolf, GorillA and Gunza) would go on to become some of the most successful and recognisable players at the position in Korea. Despite repeatedly finding himself at the genesis of future greatness, the pattern which followed Locodoco’s career was one of playing a part in the rise of many talents, but being unable to maintain his own composure long enough to enjoy the best part of those journeys along with them, both in terms of his tendency to make critical missplays inside of the game and his self-destructive appetite for internal team conflicts outside of the server.
One of the few South Korean players to be fluent in both English and Korean, Locodoco’s time spent outside of Korea, coupled with his rebelious and forthright personality, ensured he quickly became a star in both the East and the West. Wherever Loco went and whatever he did, fans of League were always intently watching. This is the story of Locodoco, a man out of place and time.
Birth of the first League world traveler
Locodoco was born in South Korea and grew up there. As a young man, he would later spend time in Singapore, where he played DotA and became friendly with Chawy, a legend of the SEA region in both DotA and LoL. Later, Locodoco would move to Texas, USA, where he would attend an art school. Picking up League of Legends, he would become a founding member of Team SoloMid (TSM) in January of 2011. Playing as the AD Carry, his Support player was the Canadian Chaox. Loco would return to Korea, but continue to remain a part of TSM.
Initially, Locodoco had planned to compete at the Season 1 Championship at Dreamhack that Summer, but circumstances aligned to make them no longer a possibility. Instead, he was informed that there would be qualifier for the upcoming World Cyber Games, often considered the Olympics of esports, for his native South Korea. At the time, the best team was Team OP. Since they had already gathered a lot of the talent in the Korean scene, they saw no threat from other teams and had no reason to allow Loco to join their ranks. The ADC would decide to create his own team, since his desire to play in the WCG qualifier was significant.
From a chat channel, Loco got together a group of players that included MaKNooN, HooN and SBS. They would even be called Team Locodoco initially. The team began playing against TSM and CLG, the top North American sides, and progressing in level as they practiced. With their progress came the attention of the OP players who had shunned Loco previously. Sensing that this new line-up may be a threat to their WCG qualification, OP’s Lilac extended an offer to Loco to join Team OP. The 20 year old Locodoco was lured by this temptation and decided to accept their offer.
A knock-on effect of Loco’s departure, since he had been the leader, was that his previous team broke apart, unable to schedule scrimmages and plagued by shot-calling issues. Meanwhile, Locodoco was not integrating himself well into his new team, as his free-spirited nature meant he did not align himself well with the natural hierarchy expected within Korean social units, where the older members must be accorded special respect. Loco would be ejected from the line-up and found himself lacking anywhere else to go, not wanting to crawl back to the former team-mates he had abandoned.
A chance to represent Korea
Faced with the option of returning to schooling, Loco would find a new opportunity, as a player called rjsdndgod (later to be known as woong) contacted him about playing. After duo-queuing, where woong was the Support of Loco in the botlane, Loco’s new friend offered him a spot on his existing team: Uber Darkness. The line-up included Ring Troll, RapidStar and MadLife. The Korean qualifier for the WCG was underway while Loco pondered this offer, with Team OP competing in the same side of the bracket as Extreme Dive Gaming (EDG), which was a line-up made up of the players who had been in Locodoco’s original Korean team.
OP were defeated by EDG and when Loco came to his decision to accept woong’s offer, Uber Darkness had reached the final of the qualifier and the deciding match-up with OP. Qualification into that year’s WCG would require Loco to best the team which had thrown him out. As a condition of accepting his offer to join the team, Loco had demanded that he be allowed to bring in a player of his choosing. woong had agreed and Locodoco had asked for Cornsalad to join, in place of Ring Troll. That move would bring its own controversy, which haunted woong for much of his career, due to the manner in which it was handled.
Locodoco would take on the captain’s role of scheduling the practices and shot-calling in-game. As well as wanting to institute strict scheduling of scrimmages, Loco wanted to meet the other members of the team in person. When he met up with woong, RapidStar and MadLife, he was also introduced to OnAir, who would go on to become the coach of the team. Locodoco’s natural charisma and confidence ensured his influence on the team was significant, as his personality ran counter to the typical social norms expected of a Korean youth and his time spent abroad meant he had both become entirely fluent in English, a relative rarity for many Koreans.
Locodoco been able to leverage that language skill into learning much from the top North American players, who had had their own server for over a year by that point in time, where Korea would not get theirs until the following year. This had put him ahead of the curve in terms of learning the game, relative to his team-mates, and allowed him to take on the role of teacher in some respects. Developing a relationship with OnAir, the team’s progress would be advanced as they put into action a plan to acquire funds to create a professional training environment. OnAir visited the parents of the different members of the line-up, delivering a presentation to them to show the value of esports and the opportunity presented to their sons, then requesting their support in creating a training environment for them.
Some of the parents, notably the wealthy woong’s family, would provide financial support and the team was able to rent a small room, in which they would sleep and practice. All four members of the line-up, except Cornsalad, would move into the room and begin practicing. This practice began to show in the team’s results, as their performances against the top North American teams was favourable. With the likes of EDG and Team OP less able to schedule that level of practice as frequently, Loco’s new team had a competitive advantage.
The final of the World Cyber Games qualifier arrived and Cornsalad carried the first game with a dominating performance. OP tied up the series in the second game and the chance to represent Korea would come down to a deciding game. Cornsalad was known both for his brilliance his flippant nature and went against the pre-planned strategy the team had prepared. Losing the game and the spot, Locodoco’s initial goal had not been accomplished. Cornsalad’s wild-card nature saw him drift away from the team and RapidStar quit the team.
Construction of the ice kingdom
Seeking replacement players, one would come in the form of mask, a friend of woong’s, who had been actively attempting to join the team for some time. The other member to join would be CloudTemplar, a well-known, intelligent and respected player. Thanks to his social nature and age, CloudTemplar was an obvious leadership figure for the new line-up. Locodoco’s knowledge was of value within the boundaries of the game, but CloudTemplar could handle the social component of keeping the team together and moving in the right direction.
The first tournament for this new team was the thisisgame tournament, in which they met MaKNooN’s EDG early on and defeated them with each. In the final, Locodoco would face a rematch with OP and again lose to them. This loss sparked the decision to remove mask and seek a new fifth member. Along with that decision, OnAir was able to bring forwards a plan to add a second line-up to the burgeoning team, to allow them steady domestic practice.
When RapidStar had departed from their previous line-up, he had gone and joined a team containing Reapered (then called FantasyStar). That team featured also featured Ambition and two other players. The latter were jettisoned, due to not being good enough, and Cpt. Jack (then called JackSparrow) and Lustboy would enter the picture. RapidStar rejoined Locodoco’s team as the Mid laner. Eventually, the line-up of the second team was set as Reapered, Ambition, Helios, Cpt. Jack and Lustboy, the line-up which would later become known as Blaze. When those players joined, the team took on the name Maximum impact Gaming (MiG), with each line-up being differentiated by a codename, Locodoco’s being ice and the other fire. Those names would later to be transformed to Frost and Blaze.
Competing again domestically, Locodoco’s new line-up entered the inven tournament, which would also feature EDG, OP and Blaze. Blaze were eliminated early, but Frost reached the final, where they would meet EDG. They would lose the series in controversial fashion, as in three of the games Locodoco got a bug whereby his runes were not working. During the fourth game, down 1:2 in the series, Loco informed an admin of his problem and they told him there would be a remake. When Frost left, EDG, who would later go on to become NaJin, refused to accept the remake and the controversial decision was made to award them the series by only a 2:1 score, despite it being a Bo5 format.
That result not only caused controversy, due to the two team’s being heavy rivals, but also fuelled the personal battle between Locodoco and MaKNooN. As streamers, the two were constantly at odds, with Loco tormenting MaKNooN and antagonising him in various ways. They could not have known it at the time, but both of their careers would be defined by repeated meetings between the two in significant tournament settings.
Maximum impact Gaming Frost
Mid – RapidStar
AD Carry – Locodoco
Support – MadLife
An international victory at home
In January of 2012, OnGameNet, the legendary Korean cable channel which had long hosted the StarLeague, Korea’s premier StarCraft: Brood War tournament, announced the creation of an Invitational tournament for that February. The premise was that two Korean teams would qualify domestically, then meet a top team from North America and China. At the Korean qualifier, Frost defeated StarTale to claim a spot in the Invitational. NaJin bested OP and would occupy the final spot. The two teams joining them at the OGN LoL Invitational would be Counter Logic Gaming, a top North American line-up featuring the likes of HotshotGG, Saintvicious and Doublelift; and World Elite, the best Chinese team.
Frost defeated NaJin in the opener, running a ‘Protect the Loco’ composition, with the leader on Kog’Maw, a hyper-carry. It was the era of AD Carry strength and Locodoco had a team which could put him in a position to win. The second match was against World Elite, who had shocked the world by defeating CLG to win IEM VI Guangzhou towards the end of 2011. WE defeated MiG in an epic close one hour game, with more than sixty kills on the board and WeiXiao, then the Top laner, carry 10/4/17 on Gangplank.
In the final game of the group stage, Locodoco accidentally hit random and ended up drafting Malphite as the Support champion, not a meta pick by any stretch of the imagination. His Support, MadLife, would play valiantly, against CLG’s Blitzcrank-Alistar bottom lane of Doublelift and Chauster. MiG managed to win the game, a shock for CLG, as they were considered one of the best teams in the world. In the final, it would be a rematch with CLG and MiG won 2:0 to take the title. The OnGameNet champion’s pin, famously given to winner of the StarCraft league, would become a cherished possession for Locodoco, who had been a fan of StarCraft earlier in his youth.
The shocking first OGN season
After the Invitational, OnGameNet created an entire season long tournament, dubbed “The Champions”. OGN Champions Spring would begin in late March. Frost were considered favourites to take the title, thanks to their victory in the Invitational. Easily progressing from their group, they would draw NaJin e-mFire, MaKNooN’s team, in the quarter-final. Locodoco, who had instantly established himself as a star name on the OGN broadcasts, due to his penchant for trash-talking and playing up to the cameras, declared that if he lost the series then he would shave his head.
The first game was a comfortable win for Frost, but the series was tied at 1:1 after Loco’s opposing number, Hiro, the ADC of NaJin, carried a key team-fight on Graves, scoring a pentakill. The decider saw Woong hard-carrying early on and RapidStar finishing the job, putting Frost through into the semi-final. Locodoco and his hair would be competing for a spot in the final of the inaugural season of Champions. That would be the last appearance for MaKNooN in that line-up, as NaJin would move him over to a second team for the following season, building an entirely new line-up around his aggressive style of Top lane play.
Frost’s opponent in the semi-final would be Xenics Storm, whose AD Carry was SBS, formerly of the team Locodoco had been a part of initially in Korea and considered one of the better Korean ADCs. The format would now switch to Bo5 (Best-of-five) and Locodoco was set for one of the most stressful tests of his career. Where he had bet his hair on victory in the quarter-final, Loco now claimed he would bet his life on victory in this semi-final, such was his confidence in himself and his team.
The two teams split the first two, with RapidStar carrying the first. The third game was a dominant shut-out victory for Frost, but Xenics fired right back with an easy win of their end, sending the series to a fifth game. The format for OGN Champions meant that the decider was a blind pick, where there would be no banning phase and each team could pick whichever champions they pleased. Both Locodoco and SBS opted to take Graves, but it would Loco who came out on top, securing a key double kill while Frost defended their base, leading to then turning a losing game and winning a spot in the final. Loco celebrated by pretending to shave MadLife’s hair, with his Support, who was famed for a near-robotic calmness and lack of exuberance, simply tolerating Loco’s excited gesture.
In the Grand Final, Frost would meet sister team Blaze. With Blaze considered the “B team”, many expected a clean victory for Frost and the pre-match interview with Locodoco certainly suggested he felt great confidence in his team’s chances. The reality of the match was to entirely change the course of Korean League of Legends history. Reapered (playing as FantasyStar, hard carried the first game on Wukong to immediately put Frost on the back foot headed into the second game.
The second game began well for Loco and Frost, as he went up 2:0 in lane on Varus, thanks to CloudTemplar ganks. At 14 minutes of game-time, Loco was sat on a 3/0/1 score-line and Frost led 5:1 in kills. From there on out, the game would be taken over by Reapered again, whose Jax play was unstoppable. Frost were facing both defeat and a potential clean sweep at the hands of their sister team. The positive omens of the early game of game two were nowhere to be found in the third game, as Blaze dominated and Ambition’s Ryze emphatically sealed the championship victory for Blaze.
In the post-match interview, held in the centre of the stage, Locodoco was visibly shaken, holding back tears. After answering questions in Korean, he switched to English and earnestly promised that Frost would come into the Summer season with much more practice. The crowd cheered and in that moment perhaps he truly believed Frost could return to right the wrongs of that first season. In fact, that would be the last official game he would ever play for Frost. Less than a week after the finals defeat, Locodoco left MiG Frost.
Loco’s botlane partner in Frost was MadLife, the first to truly show-case the play-making potential of the Support position. Prior to MadLife, the position was largely thought of as a ward-bot and mere body-guard to the AD Carry, who represented one of the primary carry roles in the game. MadLife’s innovative use of champions like Blitzcrank and Alistar meant he could create kill opportunities in lane and zone off opponents, who feared his initiations.
While it is difficult to know the extent to which Locodoco played a role in MadLife’s development, not least since the Korean Support has gone on to become one of the very best players, from any position, in the history of the game, MadLife has stated that Locodoco helped him and showed him some things during their early time together. As MadLife grew in stature and Frost continued to establish themselves as one of the world’s elite sides, the legend of Locodoco the Support mentor would grow.
Building a new contender
On the first of June, Locodoco officially joined StarTale, a team who had been eliminated in the group stage of the previous OGN season. For OGN Champions Summer, the team would move Ryu into the Jungle, put 5cean as their Mid laner and brought in Locodoco as their new AD Carry.
Top – Joker (now known as Score)
Jungler – Ryu
Mid – 5cean
ADC – Locodoco
Support – Mafa
Loco’s move to StarTale looked to have been an excellent match, as the team defeated all three of their group stage opponents, including Xenics Storm, semi-finalists of the previous season; Natus Vincere, a European line-up; and CJ Entus. The final game saw Loco send ST into the play-offs with a pentakill on Corki, a sequence he of course celebrated with his usual theatrics in the booth for the cameraman.
StarTale’s opponent in the quarter-final was NaJin Sword, the new second team of the NaJin organisation which had been constructed around the aggressive, dive-heavy playing style of MaKNooN, Loco’s long-time rival. Locodoco expected to be able to eliminate his foe again in the quarter-final, attaching his OGN Invitational pin to his uniform before the match, sending the message that he was a champion. The match StarTale would display was not one worthy of a champion. Game one was a stomp for NaJin, leaving Loco looking dejected. The second game was closer, but PraY, the AD Carry of Sword, would carry his team to victory on Graves, eliminating Loco prior to the final four.
On August 27th, more than three weeks after his OGN elimination, StarTale disbanded and Loco found himself without a team once again. This time, his next move would shock the world. Providing some colour commentary for the Korean Season 2 Regional Qualifier for the World Championship, Loco considered offers from Korean organisations, but would end up returning to North America in an unusual capacity.
When Locodoco arrived at StarTale, Mafa was a very defensive style of Support player, entirely opposite to MadLife in that respect. After playing with the aggressive Locodoco, Mafa would continue to learn and improve. Following Loco’s departure, Mafa would go on to establish himself as one of Korea’s best defensive Supports, with his zenith arriving with KT Bullets’ narrow loss to SK Telecom T1 in the OGN Summer final of 2013, a year after his time with Locodoco.
A Counter Logic move
“I see an immense potential within the team and hope to bring my Korean mindset and work ethic back to North America so that we may perform up to the CLG name in Season 3 and beyond.”
–Locodoco, in a statement on the CLG website (clgaming, 2013)
Despite both broadcast opportunities with OGN and offers from organisations to join and build teams within Korea, Loco would make the trek back to the USA and join Counter Logic Gaming, as their Support player, no less. CLG had fallen from their days of being a contender for the top spot in the world, failing to even reach the final eight of the World Championship. After that disasterous finish on the biggest international stage, the team had removed star Top laner Voyboy and put fading star name, and owner, HotshotGG back up into his original position.
Loco’s arrival was intended to provide them an opportunity to improve the structure of their practice, acquire a true shot-caller and give Doublelift a solid Support player while Chauster moved over to the vacant Jungle position. With Loco having helped develop the masterful MadLife, it was assumed that he had a keen understanding of how the position should be played, in fact that conclusion would come heavily under question during his time with the North Americans.
Counter Logic Gaming Prime
Top – HotshotGG
Jungler – Chauster
Mid – Bigfatlp
ADC – Doublelift
Support – Locodoco
Arriving at the team house, Loco had not accounted for the team’s bizarre streaming schedule, which was set-up to allow them to match the hours of European viewers also. That set of circumstances, combined with his botlane parter, skilled but stubborn AD Carry Doublelift, deciding duo-queuing was unnecessary, saw Loco himself losing motivation and veering into decisions which came at the expense of disciplined practice and application of his talents. Even during his time with CLG, Locodoco did an interview in which he admitted that it had been a mistake to come to North America, that he had done so because he hadn’t wanted to remain in Korea at the time and that CLG did not fit him well, nor the Support position.
The first tournament for Loco with CLG was the MLG Fall Championship in early November of 2012. The team’s first opponent in the upper bracket would be MaKNooN’s NaJin Sword and the team which had beaten Loco in his last official match in Korea now ousted him from the upper bracket here. Again, he was shown up by the performance of PraY, who was establishing himself as the best Korean AD Carry. Loco had even fed first blood to PraY in lane on Lulu in the second game.
In the lower bracket, Doublelift carried them past Curse.NA and through a series against Dignitas. That secured a top four spot and a match with CLG.EU, the sister team of the Prime. Locodoco and Prime took the opener, but CLG.EU’s carries would dominate the rest of the series, with Wickd’s Riven leading the way in the second game and then Froggen’s 18/2/10 Ahri performance sealing victory for the Europeans. The latter game had been a nail-biter, with CLG Prime taking down two inhibitors, but Froggen was not to be denied. CLG Prime were elimianted in fourth place, the highest finish of a North American line-up.
The final fight
At the very end of November, the IGN ProLeague 5 (IPL5) was to be held. Now fondly remembered as the finest international tournament in League history, it drew together the best teams from around the world, though Korea admittedly only received a single spot, which went to Blaze. In the group stage, CLG Prime again lost to CLG.EU, but defeated FeaR to earn a spot in the upper bracket of the play-offs. Miraculously, that second place finish in the group would yield CLG Prime the easiest possible play-off opponent, as they played the winners of Group C, where Curse.EU had upset TSM.
Curse.EU had defeated Moscow Five to win the offline Tales of the Lane tournament in Europe, but had seen their Support player abandon them days before the event, leaving them to have to use Patoy as a ringer, who had never played with the team beyond a couple of scrims. The series pit Doublelift against Creaton, the rising ADC star of Europe. The play of the two would define the course of the games. In the first game, Doublelift closed out a dominant win with his Caitlyn. Creaton’s Ashe carried the second to force a decider. In the third game, which went to 38 minutes and was close throughout, Creaton and Doublelift were both killing each other’s teams. Doublelift would seal the series with a pentakill on Ezreal in the Curse.EU base.
In the upper semi-final, CLG Prime would face FNATIC, who had shocked sister team CLG.EU less than two weeks prior, to win Dreamhack Winter. FNATIC had brought in young ADC star Rekkles and many looked to see how Doublelift would handle the youngster. The American crushed the first game, taking another pentakill to finish the game with his Caitlyn. The second game was close, with CLG having chances to win, but FNATIC coming through and Rekkles showing a strong Ezreal. In the third, Doublelift failed to show up on his patented Vayne and Mid laner xPeke spoiled the ADC-off, crushing on Katarina and putting CLG Prime down into the lower bracket.
In the lower bracket, CLG Prime would face Moscow Five, at one point considered the best team in the world and semi-finalists of the Season 2 World Championship. Much as in the series against FNATIC, CLG Prime began strong. Doublelift’s Ezreal was unstoppable, recording another pentakill and then getting an unofficial pentakill to close the game. The second game was a strong win for the Russians and the third was a crushing defeat for CLG Prime and Locodoco. They had been eliminated in 5th-6th place, but could fall back on the claim that they were still the highest placed North American team, for as much as that was worth. That game would be Loco’s final offline game playing for the team.
An unexpected outcome of Locodoco’s attendance of IPL5 was that his fame extended beyond the world of League of Legends. Taking part in a now infamous interview with TeamLiquid, his blunt and exuberant manner amused and entertained fans from StarCraft2 and other esports games.
During his time with CLG, it became clear that Locodoco was not a good Support player. He could lane, provided he was given one of his small champion pool, typically Nunu or Sona, but he fell apart in team-fights. Paired with one of the strongest AD Carries in the world, in Doublelift, it sometimes felt like the American star succeeded in spite of Loco. CLG was a team which had always been crippled by poor shot-calling, largely due to the stubborn and argumentative nature of their personalities, but those problems would extend beyond Loco’s tenure there.
Back in Korea
Flying back to Korea, Locodoco was in contact with a big Western organisation to potentially create a new team for them, made up of Koreans and to fly over to North America and attempt to qualify for the NA LCS, a new League set-up created by Riot Games. Back on home soil, he was playing with a group of amateur players, with whom he had a skype group and would practice. The line-up would never go on to manifest as a real team, despite containing a truly tantalising mixture of now world famous names. In the end, his contact would decide against sponsoring the team and the different members would accept offers and try-outs with Korean teams. With the team going its separate ways, Locodoco would head into the lion’s den for his next career challenge.
Locodoco’s amateur team
Top – ssumday (joined KT B in February)
Jungle – bengi (joined SK Telecom T1 2 in February)
Mid – dade (joined MVP Ozone in February)
ADC – Locodoco
Support – Mata (joined MVP Ozone in February)
There are no tournament games to be found of Locodoco’s time with Mata, but the amateur player went from being a solo queue star to becoming an OGN champion in his debut season, that Spring. Locodoco and him were close, spending many hours playing together at PC Bangs. Mata would go on to become the greatest Support player in the history of League of Legends, most recently winning the Season 4 World Championship in dominant fashion.
“I learned a lot of fundamental stuff from him. He had just returned from Counter Logic Gaming, so he had a lot of wisdom to offer in terms of the basics. Honestly, it’s not that interesting to hear, but it is helpful to know. For example, for Sona, after you stack your passive twice, if you auto-attack-Q-auto-attack, your Q fires faster.
Back then, I was only an amateur player, so I didn’t pay much attention to the details, and had a lot to learn.”
–Mata, speaking in an interview about his days playing with Locodoco
Joining the old enemy
NaJin were holding try-outs for Shield, the original e-mFire, as differentiated from MaKNooN’s Sword, which had just won OGN Winter. Beating out a number of ADC names who would later go on to play from top Korean teams, he successfully made it through the audition process. All that stood between him and a return to OGN competition was the matter of his rivalry with MaKNooN. It was well known the angst and dislike between the two of them, as well as the competitive wars they had fought against one another. Loco came to an understanding with the coach of NaJin that he was no longer set at odds with MaKNooN and would make efforts to become close to the star Top laner. Locodoco became the starting AD Carry for NaJin Shield.
Top – Expession
Jungler – NoFe
Mid – Save
ADC – Locodoco
Support – a wolf
“every support i play with becomes godlike so no worries about wolf.”
–Locodoco (Reddit, 2013)
In the group stage of OGN Champions Spring 2013, facing Incredible Miracle, Loco began in classic Loco fashion. After his jungler had helped prevent a gank in the botlane, Loco inexplicably turned back and flashed into the enemies on Miss Fortune, performing one of his infamous “locoleaps”, feeding them a kill. He would redeem himself later in the game, carrying a key team-fight and finishing 8/2/8, thanks largely to his positioning for MF’s “Bullet Time” ultimate. In the second game, NaJin were in position to potentially win, but made the decision to split-push and go for inhibitors, seeing Loco taking down the top inhib but losing his entire base to the five man push of IM.
Against KT Rolster B, which featured former team-mates Ryu, Score and Mafa, he was forced to use Vinylcat as a stand-in substitute. Shield would lose their only series of the group stage. Series against ahq.KR and his old team CJ Frost, which still featured all four of his former team-mates, though with Woong now occupying his ADC spot, both went 1:1. In the final series of the group, Loco would face SK Telecom T1 #1, the line-up created around Reapered. This team had won IEM VII Cologne, with Reapered moving the unknown players around like chess pieces, simulataneously hard-carrying from the Top lane. It would be a battle of the two shot-callers who had contested that OGN Spring title the year before, where Reapered’s Blaze had emerged victorious.
The first game was close, with Shield taking it, but Reapered carried on Kha’Zix to tie up the series. Shield progressed to the play-offs, drawn in the quarter-final against the sister team of their previous opponent, facing SK Telecom T1 #2. This team, composed entirely of high Elo solo queue stars and Impact, former Support player of Xenics Storm and now Top laner, had been the talk of the tournament in the group stage, largely thanks to the incredible break-out performance of Mid lane prospect Faker.
In the pre-series trash-talk, Locodoco was in fine form, boisterous as ever. The OGN camera had seemingly always loved him and he had returned its affections. After every single victory or loss in OGN, for his entire career, he would be the first face shot for his team, the lens hoping to capture an animated reaction of joy or despair.
The first game of the series was a convincing victory for SKT, with little of note for Shield. In the second game, Faker’s Jayce unleashed a 14/3/12 stomping on Loco’s Shield. The third game, also won by SKT, saw Piglet’s Caitlyn carry the game, with the SKT ADC sending Locodoco home once more in the quarter-final of OGN. The camera shot of Locodoco was ominously faded into a shot of Piglet, satisfyingly hinting at the arrival of the new generation of Korean AD Carry stars.
Shield benched Loco and brought in Zefa, using the new ADC for the NLB tournament and the AMD-INVEN GamExperience. They would allow Loco one last chance, fielding him for the second series in the OGN Summer group stage, facing SKT again. In the first game, Locodoco displayed fine form on Vayne, not a champion he played in official games, going 6/3/9. Unfortunately, he was matched by a 6/2/9 Piglet performance on Caitlyn and the game was lost. The game had been winnable, with Loco up 5/1/7, only to get caught in Faker’s shock-wave in a key final fight. In the second game, Piglet got Vayne, a champion now synonymous with his name, and stomped 12/1/3. That would be the final official game Loco would play in Korean competition.
Supports: Wolf and GorillA
Wolf is now known as the botlane partner of Bang, with whom he went to the semi-final of OGN Champions Summer and was one game from reaching the final. GorillA is more in line as a true heir to the lineage of Locodoco god-like Supports which included MadLife and Mata. Perhaps the best Support player in Korea, he has played in an OGN final and famously won the Korean Season 4 Regional Qualifier. Known for his Thresh and Janna, GorillA did not play for long with Loco, at least in terms of official games.
On September 2nd, Locodoco left NaJin.
One last dance
Ten days after his NaJin departure, Locodoco joined up with a team led by Woong, his former Top laner from the MiG Frost days. This team would go under the Quantic Gaming banner and relocate to North America, to attempt to qualify for the 2014 NA LCS and make good on the dream that had died earlier the previous year, with his now veritable all-star mix that never came to fruition.
Top – Apple (Woong first)
Jungler – Prime
Mid – SuNo
ADC – Locodoco
Support – Gunza
Initially using Woong as the starting Top laner, stress would cause him to move back into a coaching position, bringing in SuNo to take Apple’s Mid lane spot and putting Apple into the Top lane spot. Upon arriving in North America, the team competed in the ggLA Challenger Arena 5, but lost all their games. After getting acclimbatised they would begin to show the promise that had made them consider moving half-way around the world. In the Amateur League Championship Series they went 16:2 and in the National ESL Pro Series Season VIII they were 13:4. In the first stage qualifier, they went 6:1, with the loss being due to internet problems, to move on to the main qualifier.
When the LCS qualifier arrived, many could reasonably expect Quantic would be competing for a spot in LCS. In the group stage, the team first played and defeated COG, with Locodoco showing off a 9/1/9 Sivir game. Next up was vVv and again Loco came through, ramming past them with a 9/2/10 Jinx performance. Then, disaster struck Quantic down. Their internet connection again caused them problems, as it had done previously, and Quantic would lose the remaining three games and miss out on a Promotion series Bo5 by a single win.
The dream was dead and Locodoco flew back to Korea immediately. On December 30th, he released a vlog stating that he would no longer be a part of esports, instead looking to return to some kind of art school and begin his life outside of gaming. In fact, Loco would go to return to full-time esports as his profession, but in the role of head coach for Team SoloMid, the team he had originally played a role in back in early 2011. That, though, is a story for another day.
Gunza impressed during his time at Quantic, though perhaps not as much as the play of Top laner Apple. Upon returning to Korea, he was brought into the Samsung organisation, but found himself stuck as a substitute. Eventually he received an offer from CJ Entus Blaze, replacing long-time Support Lustboy for the Summer season of 2014.
The Support Maker
Locodoco was originally one of Korea’s best players, one of the first generation of Koreans to build up the scene there and educate the newer players. Over his career, he clearly had an impact and influence on the careers and progression of numerous Supports who are now well known as top level practitioners of the position. In the end, his playing career was marred by an inability to avoid mistakes both inside the server and on a social level outside of it. The fans adored him, the cameras followed him and his career path wound half-way around the world and back again. Say what you will, Locodoco’s career was an interesting one and not likely to be forgotten soon.
Photo credit: inven, dailyesports, fomos, azubu, OnGameNet
Custom artwork by Jenny X (@hyuugaclan on twitter)