At 2017 New Year’s Eve, Kang “Cpt Jack” Hyung-woo announced that he’ll be taking a hiatus from the professional scene. Cpt Jack is one of the oldest players in LCK, having first debuted in 2011 and reigned as Korea’s best AD carry for some time at the infancy of LCK, 2012-2013.
His knack for surviving through teamfights with Cleanse or QSS birthed the “Ctp Jack” meme, now eternalized in the League vocab along with “Insec Kick”, “Madlife Grab” and “Flame Horizon”. When a player uses Cleanse/QSS/Spell Shield to defer a CC so quickly that it looks like the champion never stopped moving, the act is referred to as Cpt Jack.
Ashley Kang caught up with Cpt Jack himself to see how the former AD carry, coach, and commentator has been spending his break. In his first English interview, Cpt Jack talks about his new-found interest in streaming with Madlife; his time in CJ Blaze, Jin Air, and Longzhu Gaming; and what the man himself thinks of the Cpt Jack meme.
“I was losing interest…I was trying different things, such as coaching and casting, but nothing seemed to spark my interest”
First, could you please introduce yourself to the world?
Oh…So I’m saying hello to my Western fans, right? I don’t even know what to say.
My name is Kang “Cpt Jack” Hyung-woo, I’ve been playing League since Season 1. Until last year, I’ve been a professional player and a coach; this year, I’ve translated into a professional streamer on Twitch. I’m doing well.
Earlier this year, you announced on Twitter that you’d be taking a break from the professional scene. Could you please tell us more about that?
The biggest reason (for me taking a hiatus) was because I was losing interest. Last year I was trying different things, such as coaching and casting; but nothing seemed to spark my interest as much as playing the game professionally so I thought I’d take the time off to find my passion again.
And how have you been spending the break so far?
I’m just taking it easy; I’m streaming and making appearances in a few vlogs and programs. Recently, I’ve been getting more and more subscribers which I’ve been really happy about.
And an increase in donations, I hope…(Laughs)
(Laughs) Yeah! Getting on stream every day is kind of an effort too. You have to consider it as your job.
I’m hoping that you’re getting more free time compared to your professional gamer days; to do the things you’ve always wanted to.
As a gamer, I like all kinds of games. Been getting to play all different sorts of games: World of Warcraft…
In your streams, you’ve been duoing with Madlife almost every day.
Madlife…Is also on a sort of a hiatus at the moment. So our hours work out and we get to stream together. That being said, Madlife has been talking about wanting to get back into the professional scene again. The last time I’ve talked to him, he was in contact with some foreign teams.
If Madlife is still a free agent, when this interview goes out, I hope this interview reaches out to Western teams; Get in touch with Madlife.
We promise to make a headline out of it. Madlife is a Free Agent.
Madlife keeps saying that he wants to be a professional, a lot of things seem to be on his mind. Something I’ve come to realize during this break – Your life as a professional is limited, you should do it for as long as you possibly can. In saying that, I wish Madlife the best of luck.
Cpt Jack’s early days: “My most memorable moment on CJ Blaze is the quarterfinals against KT Bullets…I picked Vayne and ‘tumbled’ my heart out”
We have to talk about CJ Blaze days, where you first made your name.
That really is…a long time ago (Laughs)
How did you first debut as a professional gamer?
I think I was lucky in several ways…First of all, I was introduced to League from very early on, and I became good at playing League quicker than everyone else. I started playing when I was on the NA server, and I still remember all the English terms. “No mana”, “brb”, “MIA”. It was fun even during that time.
Then the Korean server launched. And because I’ve already been playing for a while during that time, I was quickly ranked high. There was a competition, and I entered…I remember that I did very well in it. This was at the infancy of League in Korea, where all the teams were forming, and MIG, one of these teams, contacted me.
At the time, professional gaming was just up-and-coming. It was such a rare profession, and I thought that whatever experience I got from it would be useful later in life.
If you were to never have become a professional gamer, what would Kang Hyung-woo be doing?
Initially, my dream was to become a game developer, and I was learning how to program, write C++…Not necessarily because I liked programming, but because I wanted to make games. So even if I didn’t become a professional gamer I would be working somewhere in the gaming industry.
What’s the most memorable moment during your time in CJ Blaze?
The match against KT Bullets. (HOT6 Champions Summer Quarterfinals). The best-of-5 itself, we eventually lost…But I picked Vayne and “tumbled” my heart out, showed everything I possibly could. After the game, the crowd was chanting “Cpt Jack! Cpt Jack!”. That really stuck in my mind.
As an AD carry who has played through different ages of LCK, you’ve been matched with many different supports. Is there any support player that particularly stands out for you?
Chei, who was my support at Jin Air Greenwings. Chei was just an easy person to talk to, we shared a same sense of humor. He was a fun dong-saeng (Younger brother) to hang out with, and that also permeated to our chemistry in-game.
Madlife, also, I have to mention because he is skillfully a top-notch player. He’s so good at making clean plays. I think Madlife still has the skills to play in the professional scene.
Cpt Jack on 2016 Longzhu Gaming: “We were all renowned players…We all had our pride, and it wasn’t easy for one side to budge on their ego.”
After your time in CJ, you moved to Jin Air (Stealth) Greenwings then Longzhu Gaming. This was the period in LCK where a lot of players were moving to China; the “Korean exodus” so to speak. Did you also get some offers from around the world?
Yes, of course, I was contacted by foreign teams. A few Chinese teams had contacted me and I did seriously consider that possibility.
At the time of Korean exodus, I wasn’t rated highly among the AD carries in Korea. So the offers that I got weren’t overwhelmingly good. So I leaned towards staying in Korea.
Speaking of Longzhu Gaming; when the roster for the team was announced in 2016, Korean fans were very excited. At the beginning of the Season, the team was even dubbed “The Dream Team”.
Flame, Expession, Chaser, Coco, Frozen, you…
That…was the case.
Contrary to expectations, Longzhu Gaming didn’t do well in the standings, going as low as 8th place in Spring Split.
Yeah. I’m guessing you’d like dibs on the inside story on what went down within the team?
A lesson I’ve learned during my time in Longzhu Gaming: No matter how great the individual players are at what they do, they will never reach their full potential if there is no chemistry between the players.
Some might say the team’s balance fell apart – the structural balance between the players. Individually, we were all great players; mechanically superior. However, every player approaches the game differently, given the greatness the one has.
We were all renowned players, who were the best in our respective positions at some point in time. Each player already had a fixed idea about how we wanted to approach the game. We all had our pride, and it wasn’t easy for one side to budge on their ego.
Too many hours were spent on overcoming our differences, and it wasn’t an easy period for anyone. Our standing, naturally, began to decline.
I see. Was there a main shotcaller within Longzhu Gaming?
We had too many roster changes in Longzhu Gaming during my time (Laughs) so the main shotcaller also changed every time.
I do remember the jungle and the mid leading the calls.
Longzhu Gaming, after all these years, is finally doing well. They won 2017 Summer Split, and continue to do well under the new name Kingzone DragonX. Do you feel any nostalgia or support when you think about your old team?
Nope, none at all. (Laughs)
I’m sorry, but really, I have none at all. That time in Longzhu Gaming was so stressful, that I took a break from it all, becoming a caster on Summer Split. There is that, and also the roster has completely changed. It’s a different team than the one that I had played with.
However, I do support Kingzone because of PraY and GorillA. Especially PraY. He’s one of the very few AD carries who began to play around the same time as me, and it’s so impressive to see him consistently do well.
We came to the subject of your time as a caster a few times. In 2016, you took a hiatus from Longzhu Gaming to cast in SPOTV. Do you see yourself casting again?
No, that’s a career I’d never get back to.
To give more explanation…I always loved communicating with the LCK fans. I’d be invited to talk shows or vlogs and I’d absolutely enjoy providing entertainment and information to my fans. From that line of logic, I thought I’d enjoy casting too.
However, casting turned out to be a very different experience from my expectations. I didn’t turn out to be a good public speaker. I had spent 20 years playing games in front of a monitor. Then, I was put on the caster’s seat, and all the issues came up: Pronunciation, articulation, improvisation; I was a tier below a beginner.
I put in a lot of effort to improve my skills as a public speaker, but it wasn’t a skill that could be mastered within a short period of time. My days as a caster was also a stressful time for me.
Sounds like you won’t be returning to casting anytime soon.
Yes. I’d like to apologize to the LCK fans who had to listen to my commentary during that short time. (Laughs)
Discussing Cpt Jack memes with Cpt Jack: “I’m happy to be remembered, to know that I’ve left some mark in the history of League”
Do you know that your name is a bit of a meme in the English community, particularly won Reddit?
No, I did not know that!
When someone cleanses or uses QSS instantly after their champion is CC’d, we call it “Cpt Jack.”
I never knew that. So they still say my name…
If someone pulls off a move like that, the Twitch chat is spammed with “Cpt Jack” and even the English-speaking LCK casters will sometimes say that name.
(Laughs) Twitch chat is so funny sometimes. No, this is the first time I’ve been told about this. I guess I was pretty good at these QSS, back in the day (Laughs)
This actually feels good. “Cpt Jack” meme is not really a thing in Korea, so I would never have known.
Any words to the global audience who are still calling out Cpt Jack in Twitch chat and Reddit whenever someone cleanses fast enough?
Thank you for remembering me in some way or form. I just extremely appreciate it. I have never been that active outside Korea, so I thought I’d be all but forgotten. I’m happy to be remembered, to know that I’ve left some mark in the history of League…I feel proud. Thank you.
On Reddit, a Redditor made a “dream team” made out of players that have a move/action named after them. Flame top, InSec jungle, xPeke mid, Cpt Jack adc, Madlife sup. How would you rate such a team?
I’d say it’s a solid mid-tier (LCK or NA?). The professional LCK scene is so competitive now, so in LCK, I’d say we’d be in relegations. (Laughs) Every year, the competition gets fiercer and the players are better than the year before. My skills have rusted. I’ve been feeling my age lately, I can’t react-Cleanse as fast as before (Laughs)
Thank you for your time, Cpt Jack! Would you consider breaking your hiatus and returning to the professional scene?
If it’s an offer from a very good team?
To be honest, last year, I was in discussion with a few foreign teams. I wanted to try out as coach in NA but those discussions broke down…Because of my English (Laughs). Now more than ever, we are seeing more Korean players and coaches move overseas. When teams try to pick up a player or a coach, they prefer someone that can speak even a little bit of English. Perhaps things are a little late for me.
Unless you are amazingly skillful, like Faker-tier, they’d rather pick a player that can communicate with the team.
Also, I have to do the Military service soon…
League of Legends World Championships will be held in Korea this year. Do you have any plans around Worlds?
I don’t have any specific schedule booked. Definitely no guest casting for me! I see myself going to the last few matches or the Finals as a member of the audience.