Ruler reveals he considered retiring before getting an offer from JDG: “I’m too good to quit”

Carver Fisher
JDG Ruler MSI 2023 too good to quit

Dexerto sat down with Ruler after his incredibly close series against T1 at MSI 2023 to catch up with him on how the swap to JDG has gone, whether or not he thinks he’s the best ADC in the world, the difference between “in-game” Ruler and how he is in-person, and his thoughts on retirement.

Though it’s been years since Park ‘Ruler’ Jae-hyuk took his one and only World title in 2017, he’s held onto a crown of his own as arguably the best ADC in the LCK. Though his rivals have had big moments domestically, Ruler kept himself at or near the top for years in the eyes of players, fans, and analysts while other ADCs came and went.

Yet, until 2022 Summer, he never took a domestic title. Worlds 2017 was the only first-place finish he had to his name. Despite him being regarded as one of the best players in the role, the way he finished tournaments never quite lined up. Even his finish with GenG in 2022 was disappointing, with the team getting knocked out before T1 even though they’d beaten them just weeks prior.

That brings us to today. Ruler not only took the LPL title during his very first split playing in China, but he’s carried that strong performance right to MSI 2023.

However, despite his recent success individually and with his team, Ruler was in a fairly introspective mood hot off of beating T1. He even revealed that he thought of retiring at one point, thoughts he’s since pushed aside with regained faith in his own play.

Discovering who the “in-game” Ruler is

For anyone who’s watched Ruler play but has never had the opportunity to sit down to speak with him, it may surprise you to know he’s soft-spoken, humble, and a bit shy. He’s always thankful for those who are supporting him.

Maybe a little too thankful at times.

Joking aside, it’s clear that Ruler values his position and the people who got him there. Even during our interview with him, he took the time to individually thank us and everyone involved in getting the interview set up before leaving. It really is the little things that stand out, and Ruler stands out for all the right reasons.

However, his personality is, in a lot of ways, a departure from that of many other hard carry players that have the same level of success. Players like Uzi, Doublelift, Bin, and Knight are players who know they’re near the top of the world as competitors, and they aren’t afraid to trash-talk the competition.

Strong competitors don’t have to call out their opponent to be great, but they have every right to. In contrast, Ruler is fairly quiet, soft-spoken, and introverted.

Out of the game, that is.

Ruler knows how to turn up the heat when he needs to.

“I think I have two different egos: One is in-game Ruler and one is real-life Ruler.” Ruler explained. “In-game Ruler is very talkative, he’s really aggressive and such an extrovert. In real life, I’m a bit more of an introvert.”

When he’s in a match, Ruler’s personality changes drastically. He’s got a big enough presence to be a leader and carry for his team, but he just keeps that side of him suppressed until he needs it. And, while he doesn’t think that this shift improves his gameplay directly, there are many ways that being such an active communicator has aided him.

The language barrier with his support, Lou ‘Missing’ Yun-Feng, was a struggle he had to overcome, and the fact that he’s so much more extroverted when his head’s in the game has certainly helped him out with overcoming other challenges like the language barrier present on JDG.

Ruler and Missing are one of the strongest bot lane combos in the world

“Trying to get along with Missing… I only spoke Korean. That was the largest pressure I had. But now I can also understand him a bit, and I also speak a bit of Chinese now. It’s getting better.”

The idea that communication is something Ruler’s still working on when JDG look so coordinated already should definitely be scaring some other teams, but Ruler seems to be adjusting well to playing in the LPL. According to him, a move to the LPL had been in the back of his mind for a while.

“I had to think about it for a long time before I decided to move to the LPL. But I was always curious about the LPL style, the players, and the environment. I got this opportunity from JDG with such great team members, so I decided to move.”

Things have worked out well for Ruler all things considered. He got picked up for JDG’s roster, one of the few recent “super teams” that has dished a ton of money for big-name players and had their gamble pay off. They succeeded where other big spenders like Top Esports didn’t domestically.

However, Dexerto’s conversation with Ruler led to him contemplating his illustrious career. He revealed that he was, at one point, considering retiring but ultimately wanted to push himself to be better.

JDG Ruler says he’s “too good to quit”

Dexerto’s conversation with Ruler about his career started with a callback to our interview with Zhao ‘Elk’ Jia-Hao just days prior. Elk spoke about how he was watching Ruler from the sidelines even before he got his big break in the LPL, and we wanted to ask Ruler about the fairly unique privilege of playing alongside players that he directly inspired.

“It’s such a strange thing that players who grew up looking up to me are now playing with me. I’m just thinking, ‘Hmm… Have I been playing too long?’ I feel really thankful that people are impressed and influenced by my play.”

Ruler celebrating with Knight MSI 2023
Ruler celebrating his win over T1 with Knight

This led to the topic of how Ruler feels about being ranked as one of the greatest ADC players of all time. Not only does he have a track record of excellence individually, he’s also carried that track record across the better part of a decade. He still isn’t too sure how to feel about the idea he may be considered the all-time great in the role depending on how he performs this year.

“I’m really glad that I’m getting those compliments and that my effort has paid off, but, at the same time, I’m also curious… Like, am I that good?”

We then circled back to Ruler’s remark about whether or not he’s been playing too long and brought up the topic of retirement. Surprisingly, there was one point where he was considering it.

“It did come across my mind. I was thinking that I’d maybe play another one or two years and then quit. But, at the same time, I just thought, ‘I’m too good to quit.’ (laughs) So, I’ve kept going on.”

Alongside players like Faker, Ruler’s one of the few who has stood the test of time and is actively combatting the notion that older players can’t maintain a high level of performance. While he may have been considering retirement at some point, Ruler made it sound like he’s here to stay.

Upon being asked whether or not he had a message or any pointers to give to Lee ‘Gumayusi’ Min-hyeong after his win over T1, Ruler had this to say: “He’s such a great player. Rather than giving him advice, I’d like to take some from him.”

Ruler and Gumayusi MSI 2023

Ruler expressed that he fully expects to have a rematch with T1 in the Finals, and, though he was pleasantly surprised by how well Delight was playing as GenG’s new support, he didn’t think they’d make it past T1. Turns out, his former team didn’t even stand a chance against BLG.

For either outcome of the match between BLG and T1, Ruler’s in for a rematch. Against BLG, he’d have to replicate their LPL Spring Split win. Against T1, he’d have to run back their recent and very narrow victory.

JDG will have a massive challenge ahead of them either way, but it’s a challenge Ruler is more than ready for.