PSG Talon have flown under the radar at MSI 2022 among all the other big storylines. Mid laner Park ‘Bay’ Jun-byeong is fine with that. The former LCK player is warming up for the three-way playoffs race — a challenge he sees as totally “winnable.”
The community sentiment around PSG Talon at MSI 2022 when the tournament kicked off was pretty dire. They lost star Korean import Kim ‘River’ Dong-woo in the off-season along with PCS hero Huang ‘Maple’ Yi-Tang. Their replacements didn’t inspire much confidence.
Both Lee ‘Juhan’ Ju-han and Bay came from LCK Challengers, part of the Nongshim roster that came third in CL Summer 2021. Juhan was untested at the top flight, and Bay found himself wallowing in the second-tier, benched after just one LCK split earlier that year.
When they lost their opening games to Brazil’s RED Canids, the alarm bells were ringing. However, the side composed themselves to escape Group B by the skin of their teeth with a 3-3 record and have a chance at pushing for another Top 4 berth in the Rumble Stage.
For Bay, it’s been a slow burn, but the team is finally showing their true selves.
“Compared to our first game, I think we’re slowly showing our potential,” he told Dexerto. “As we get more comfortable on stage and show off our prime performance, we’ll be considered one of the stronger teams.
“[My stage nerves are] definitely getting better. I’m not necessarily becoming super confident, but every day I’m taking baby steps and slowly feeling more comfortable on stage.”
A break-even day to kick off the Rumble Stage, including a key win against playoffs rival Saigon Buffalo, was good enough for now.
The concerns around the team have not been alleviated completely, sure, but Bay isn’t oblivious to the sentiment. The former LCK mid laner said as much with some harsh criticism on his own play.
“We won, but not because I was playing well. I’m not feeling super great about that, but I hope I can come back stronger after we go to the drawing board and get rid of all of our mistakes,” he said.
“In the Saigon game, after we got the Baron, we were supposed to push through the Inhibitor turret, but I overextended and got picked off. We were letting them dictate the tempo and equalize the tempo.
“Even in the T1 game, there were so many players where I should have gone in and trusted my execution, so I feel kind of bummed out.”
He did admit though that it was maybe a bit natural to not back himself as much in the T1 game. It was his first time playing against Lee ‘Faker’ Sang-hyeok on stage — when he played T1 previously in the LCK, they were using Lee ‘Clozer’ Ju-hyeon as their mid laner.
The challenge presented by that wasn’t scary, but it was still nerve-wracking.
“This is my first time playing against him offline on stage, and there were so many fans out there in the crowd. I was kind of nervous, but it wasn’t frightening — I was excited for that.”
Adjusting to the PCS
For Bay, after a couple of years bouncing around from team to team with no future locked in, being shipped off to Hong Kong to play for PSG Talon was not originally his intention.
There was a bit of culture shock for the Korean mid laner — both in real life and also in-game.
“Initially, I was not a big fan of living in Hong Kong, but the more I adapted to the new environment I kind of like it. It’s getting better and better,” he said.
“First off it was the weather and the food being different. Same with listening to Chinese being used in a conversation, but now I’m used to that.
“In the LCK, once you make a mistake, your opponents will punish it immediately and snowball off it so fast. It’s not the same pace in the PCS and they don’t capitalize as much, but what they do is fight a lot.”
There was also a bit of surprise at how he ended up here. While staying in the Korean ecosystem was an option, there are also plenty more opportunities overseas for a 20-year-old star from League’s spiritual homeland trying to make a career for themselves.
Bay is hardly the first player to make such a jump, but it’s not something you plan for.
“I didn’t expect this kind of outcome because my situation changed every second of last year. It was impossible to predict where I would end up.
However, what the experience has netted him is a chance to prove himself at an international event. He can try and silence the doubters who downplayed him following a mediocre 2021 and show that PSG Talon were more than just River and Maple.
It starts with MSI 2022, getting experience in front of bigger crowds. But ultimately, his future is ultimately dependent on himself individually playing well.
“I got to learn about the experience of having to play in front of a big crowd and the pressure and nerves that come with that. With this experience, it’s going to help me play better everywhere,” he explained.
“I’m definitely thinking of returning to the LCK, but it’s only going to be possible if I perform well.”
The best way of doing that? Making sure PSG Talon qualify for the MSI 2022 Knockout Stage. Many are considering it a three-horse race between Saigon Buffalo, Evil Geniuses, and the PCS representative.
There’s pressure, but Bay knows the challenge is only going to do wonders for how pundits see him as a player.
“It’s going to be us, Buffalo, and Evil Geniuses fighting for the final spot in the Knockout Stage. It’s pretty winnable though, and I can’t wait for the challenge.”