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WGL APAC 2015 Season I Finals: KONGDOO’s Cowthief on strategy, superstitions and culture shock

KONGDOO team captain Junhyeop Song (aka ‘KONG_Cowthief’) looked confident as he sat with me after the WGL APAC 2015 Season I Finals pre-match press conference. Armed with a translator and one of the five pairs of sunglasses he’s famous for wearing in competition, we chatted about World of Tanks, Esports and differences in culture between gamers.

Song (above, second from the right and in those aforementioned sunglasses) only plays World of Tanks. Day in. Day out. Unlike other members of KONGDOO, he doesn’t even switch to World of Tanks for a change of pace. Or any other games, for that matter. Formerly of the successful casual team ARETE, Song and several other members of the team went Pro with sponsorship from Korean organisation KONGDOO. Now, the game he loves is something of a second job.

One he thoroughly enjoys.

Whereas last year, Song and his teammates were a little more relaxed, the new sponsorship — combined with a salary provided by Wargaming.net, offered to Gold tier teams — means things are more professional. Formal. Important.

Casual or focused, ARETE or KONGDOO, the team is proven to be quite successful. The champion of the last three consequtive WGL APAC Seasons, Song and his teammates have been hard at work preparing. After explaining the differences between regions and teams, where Song conceded that European and American teams are perhaps more aggressive than in Asia, he concluded that it doesn’t really matter how other teams play. It matters that KONGDOO practice, and hard, as a team, developing strategies and sticking to them.

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That was a bit of the problem that Australians faced, he continued, reminding me that several top 10 World of Tanks Esports teams feature a large number of Australians and New Zealanders. The problem is, those teams don’t work well enough as a single unit, perhaps due to internet, or maybe because said teams are usually comprised of multiple nations. I suppose you’re only as good as your weakest link… or highest ping.

KONGDOO’s move to a pro team, thanks to that recent influx of cash, really helped to work on solidarity and strategy, Song continued. His team might have a small advantage here in Seoul because they had the food they were used to, and the time zone they live within, but in the end it boiled down to knowing what you team can do, and doing it.

As we were about to wrap up, I couldn’t resist; surely, I assumed, Esports and physical sports were nearly identical. Surely, Song had some superstitions he followed ahead of big matches.

I was right. As he spoke in Korean to his translator, he somewhat nervously played with a ring on his right finger. The ring, it turns out, was his lucky charm. Before it was given to him, he bowed out quite early in a Finals match. Since wearing it, he and his team had discovered success after success. He added that he’s definitely wearing it in the Finals tomorrow.

KONGDOO faces off against Caren Tiger tomorrow night in the second match of the evening. For more details, and to stream the match, head here.

Stevivor has been flown to Seoul, South Korea to watch the Wargaming.net League APAC Season I Finals 2015.



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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for close to fifteen years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.