To the Next Level: CoreJJ Comes to Elevate NA

February 02 2019
For CoreJJ, improvement has always been a goal. Looking at his history, it’s been a reality too. Over the course of his career, CoreJJ has changed roles and crossed oceans. Within all those changes, the point of consistency was improvement: CoreJJ almost always managed to find a way to reach the next level.

Always Improving



Even at the start of his career, when his name was just Core and he played AD carry, he was finding ways to reach his next level.

CoreJJ began his career 6 years ago as an AD carry on a team called Beggars. CoreJJ’s first challenge was to qualify for the Champions League in Korea. On Beggars, he managed to push through a qualifier bracket of teams from all over Korea, but ultimately failed to qualify. Beggars lost 0-2 to SKT T2 in the last round of the bracket.

CoreJJ wasn’t finished. In 2014 He joined up with Bigfile Miracle, playing with Huhi of CLG fame and Beast of Snake Esports fame. This time, his team climbed up the qualifying bracket and made it into the summer split of the Champions League. Unfortunately, the team never managed to break into the playoffs and ultimately lost its sponsorship and disbanded.

After Bigfile Miracle, CoreJJ’s next move was to NA where he played on Team Dignitas. Like before, CoreJJ’s story here would not be one of instant success, but gradual improvement. Dignitas had a rough start to 2015, falling to 9th place in the LCS and narrowly avoiding relegation to the Challenger Series. CoreJJ stayed with the team and sure enough, they made a big step up. In the Summer Split of 2015, they secured a playoff spot. The victory was short-lived, as an aggressive and red-hot Team Impulse 3-0’d them in the first round.

At this point, it would have been easy to write off CoreJJ — and some did. He had yet to make it to the finals in any tournament or regional series. Still, he always found a way to the next level. That focus on growth was about to pay massive dividends.

CoreJJ returned to Korea and joined Samsung Galaxy, eventually role-swapping to support. The rest is a history most League players and fans know. Samsung Galaxy gradually improved in 2016, going from 6th in Spring to 4th in Summer to 1st in the 2016 playoffs and then to Grand Finals of Worlds. In 2017 they would win Worlds.

In 2018, when Gen.G fell in the Groups Stage of Worlds, CoreJJ had taken his first step backwards in 5 years. That’s despite Gen.G doing what many teams dream of doing by winning their region’s finals and going to Worlds!

[image loading]




CoreJJ: “[2018] is the only year in which I couldn’t improve, so I decided [to take] another option for improving.”

Why do you think it was hard to improve last year?

CoreJJ: "[...] I played three years in the same team. [...] I want to refresh myself because I saw my limit at Worlds. I thought about retirement. Should I retire? Better than retirement or streaming, I decided to try some other options, as a new player. I wanna be like a new player. I wanna be a rookie.”


[image loading]


Bringing Team Liquid to the next level



CoreJJ’s history means a lot, given NA’s own history. NA is no stranger to the fix-it import, the overseas superstar sent over to whip a team into shape, the international champion who promises to put North America on the map.

In NA, imports have had mixed success. Players like Impact, Jensen, and Bjergsen have made the region their home and placed highly within it. Players like P1noy, Ninja, and Maknoon had short, unsuccessful stays.

The longstanding criticisms of the solo queue environment in NA raise a question: do imports keep improving NA or does NA keep imports from improving? CoreJJ is the answer to the question. If there is any player who knows how to improve, it’s him.

CoreJJ’s story isn’t so much about raw talent and star power (though he certainly has both) as it is about improvement and mindset — reaching the next level. For Team Liquid, there could be nothing more ideal.

Fans and players alike were calling Team Liquid stacked last year. Being stacked with talent makes a big difference, but it doesn’t always get you where you want to go.

Mindset gets you there



Mindset is the difference maker. Most professional players, and any top player, has winning on the mind. The road to the Summoner’s Cup is paved with ambition and drive. Mindset determines the path they take and how far they go down that road.

There may be nothing more central to CoreJJ’s mindset than improving. In fact, the word shows up in just about all of his interviews.

In an interview with Inven, CoreJJ said that he went to NA “in order to force that next step in improvement.” In an interview with ESPN, CoreJJ believed he and Doublelift were united in the fact that their “performances seem to be improving with age.” In Team Liquid’s own recent Squad video, CoreJJ put it in even clearer terms, saying, “You know, [the] most important thing is, I knew he [Doublelift] was good but he was improving. I just want to [be] improving also.”

It’s no coincidence that CoreJJ went from not qualifying for Korea’s big stage, to holding up the Summoner’s Cup on the Worlds stage. It was the work of a very intentional mindset.



It should be crystal clear by now that a big part of CoreJJ’s mindset is improvement, but that isn’t the only part. CoreJJ also has a strong sense of the way a team should operate in League of Legends.

CoreJJ makes his focus on team mentality clear across interviews from all points in his career. In an interview with Travis Gafford during his time in Dignitas, CoreJJ talks more about his team than himself, breaking down the playstyles of his junglers, going over how they should support Kiwikid’s aggressive playmaking, and talking optimistically about how the team could improve.

In the same Inven interview, CoreJJ says that he didn’t leave just to fuel his own growth, but Ruler’s as well, forcing them both to not be complacent. In the same ESPN interview, CoreJJ says that the potential he saw in the whole Team Liquid roster drew him in. In an interview for our own website, CoreJJ said, “the most important thing when going to another region is to maintain a comfortable atmosphere while also making sure you are approachable to your teammates.”

Doublelift has also talked about CoreJJ’s team first focus. For Squad, Doublelift said, “the main thing I’ve been learning from Core is how bot lane can influence mid,” and in an interview with Travis Gafford he said, “his [CoreJJ’s] leadership is really good. The way I see it is he must have been either one of the main voices or the main voice on Gen.G […] Core’s intuition is really good.”

Even CoreJJ’s highlight reels shows what kind of player he is. It isn’t full of Rakan engages or Zyra 1v1’s as much as it’s full of map rotations, team fight plays, and mechanically perfect Tahm Kench saves.

Elevating NA



CoreJJ is a unique breed of player as a whole. Though he is an aggressive, mechanically strong player, his principle strength is as a teammate. CoreJJ is a player that knows how to get himself and others to the next level.

This is a player with incredible mechanics and even more incredible intangibles. The future is always uncertain and anything can happen, but you can feel safe betting on CoreJJ to improve himself and his team.



This is a player that called his shot early and said he would be one of the best back when he was on a faltering Dignitas. Don’t sleep on him now that’s he been to Worlds three times running. Look for CoreJJ to elevate Team Liquid and to bring NA to the next level.

[image loading]




What do you think you add to the team?

CoreJJ: “I wanna bring NA an international trophy — that’s why I’m here. I could be not at the top level now, but by the end, I’m gonna be, we’re gonna be at the top level.”



zzzzzzzzzzzzFor CoreJJ, improvement has always been a goal. Looking at his history, it’s been a reality too. Over the course of his career, CoreJJ has changed roles and crossed oceans. Within all those changes, the point of consistency was improvement: CoreJJ almost always managed to find a way to reach the next level.

Always Improving



Even at the start of his career, when his name was just Core and he played AD carry, he was finding ways to reach his next level.

CoreJJ began his career 6 years ago as an AD carry on a team called Beggars. CoreJJ’s first challenge was to qualify for the Champions League in Korea. On Beggars, he managed to push through a qualifier bracket of teams from all over Korea, but ultimately failed to qualify. Beggars lost 0-2 to SKT T2 in the last round of the bracket.

CoreJJ wasn’t finished. In 2014 He joined up with Bigfile Miracle, playing with Huhi of CLG fame and Beast of Snake Esports fame. This time, his team climbed up the qualifying bracket and made it into the summer split of the Champions League. Unfortunately, the team never managed to break into the playoffs and ultimately lost its sponsorship and disbanded.

After Bigfile Miracle, CoreJJ’s next move was to NA where he played on Team Dignitas. Like before, CoreJJ’s story here would not be one of instant success, but gradual improvement. Dignitas had a rough start to 2015, falling to 9th place in the LCS and narrowly avoiding relegation to the Challenger Series. CoreJJ stayed with the team and sure enough, they made a big step up. In the Summer Split of 2015, they secured a playoff spot. The victory was short-lived, as an aggressive and red-hot Team Impulse 3-0’d them in the first round.

At this point, it would have been easy to write off CoreJJ — and some did. He had yet to make it to the finals in any tournament or regional series. Still, he always found a way to the next level. That focus on growth was about to pay massive dividends.

CoreJJ returned to Korea and joined Samsung Galaxy, eventually role-swapping to support. The rest is a history most League players and fans know. Samsung Galaxy gradually improved in 2016, going from 6th in Spring to 4th in Summer to 1st in the 2016 playoffs and then to Grand Finals of Worlds. In 2017 they would win Worlds.

In 2018, when Gen.G fell in the Groups Stage of Worlds, CoreJJ had taken his first step backwards in 5 years. That’s despite Gen.G doing what many teams dream of doing by winning their region’s finals and going to Worlds!

[image loading]




CoreJJ: “[2018] is the only year in which I couldn’t improve, so I decided [to take] another option for improving.”

Why do you think it was hard to improve last year?

CoreJJ: "[...] I played three years in the same team. [...] I want to refresh myself because I saw my limit at Worlds. I thought about retirement. Should I retire? Better than retirement or streaming, I decided to try some other options, as a new player. I wanna be like a new player. I wanna be a rookie.”


[image loading]


Bringing Team Liquid to the next level



CoreJJ’s history means a lot, given NA’s own history. NA is no stranger to the fix-it import, the overseas superstar sent over to whip a team into shape, the international champion who promises to put North America on the map.

In NA, imports have had mixed success. Players like Impact, Jensen, and Bjergsen have made the region their home and placed highly within it. Players like P1noy, Ninja, and Maknoon had short, unsuccessful stays.

The longstanding criticisms of the solo queue environment in NA raise a question: do imports keep improving NA or does NA keep imports from improving? CoreJJ is the answer to the question. If there is any player who knows how to improve, it’s him.

CoreJJ’s story isn’t so much about raw talent and star power (though he certainly has both) as it is about improvement and mindset — reaching the next level. For Team Liquid, there could be nothing more ideal.

Fans and players alike were calling Team Liquid stacked last year. Being stacked with talent makes a big difference, but it doesn’t always get you where you want to go.

Mindset gets you there



Mindset is the difference maker. Most professional players, and any top player, has winning on the mind. The road to the Summoner’s Cup is paved with ambition and drive. Mindset determines the path they take and how far they go down that road.

There may be nothing more central to CoreJJ’s mindset than improving. In fact, the word shows up in just about all of his interviews.

In an interview with Inven, CoreJJ said that he went to NA “in order to force that next step in improvement.” In an interview with ESPN, CoreJJ believed he and Doublelift were united in the fact that their “performances seem to be improving with age.” In Team Liquid’s own recent Squad video, CoreJJ put it in even clearer terms, saying, “You know, [the] most important thing is, I knew he [Doublelift] was good but he was improving. I just want to [be] improving also.”

It’s no coincidence that CoreJJ went from not qualifying for Korea’s big stage, to holding up the Summoner’s Cup on the Worlds stage. It was the work of a very intentional mindset.



It should be crystal clear by now that a big part of CoreJJ’s mindset is improvement, but that isn’t the only part. CoreJJ also has a strong sense of the way a team should operate in League of Legends.

CoreJJ makes his focus on team mentality clear across interviews from all points in his career. In an interview with Travis Gafford during his time in Dignitas, CoreJJ talks more about his team than himself, breaking down the playstyles of his junglers, going over how they should support Kiwikid’s aggressive playmaking, and talking optimistically about how the team could improve.

In the same Inven interview, CoreJJ says that he didn’t leave just to fuel his own growth, but Ruler’s as well, forcing them both to not be complacent. In the same ESPN interview, CoreJJ says that the potential he saw in the whole Team Liquid roster drew him in. In an interview for our own website, CoreJJ said, “the most important thing when going to another region is to maintain a comfortable atmosphere while also making sure you are approachable to your teammates.”

Doublelift has also talked about CoreJJ’s team first focus. For Squad, Doublelift said, “the main thing I’ve been learning from Core is how bot lane can influence mid,” and in an interview with Travis Gafford he said, “his [CoreJJ’s] leadership is really good. The way I see it is he must have been either one of the main voices or the main voice on Gen.G […] Core’s intuition is really good.”

Even CoreJJ’s highlight reels shows what kind of player he is. It isn’t full of Rakan engages or Zyra 1v1’s as much as it’s full of map rotations, team fight plays, and mechanically perfect Tahm Kench saves.

Elevating NA



CoreJJ is a unique breed of player as a whole. Though he is an aggressive, mechanically strong player, his principle strength is as a teammate. CoreJJ is a player that knows how to get himself and others to the next level.

This is a player with incredible mechanics and even more incredible intangibles. The future is always uncertain and anything can happen, but you can feel safe betting on CoreJJ to improve himself and his team.



This is a player that called his shot early and said he would be one of the best back when he was on a faltering Dignitas. Don’t sleep on him now that’s he been to Worlds three times running. Look for CoreJJ to elevate Team Liquid and to bring NA to the next level.

[image loading]




What do you think you add to the team?

CoreJJ: “I wanna bring NA an international trophy — that’s why I’m here. I could be not at the top level now, but by the end, I’m gonna be, we’re gonna be at the top level.”








Writer // Austin Ryan
Chinese Translator // Vikki Wu
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