After Edward Gaming destroyed DWG KIA’s Nexus in the League of Legends World Championship final, the Chinese side jumped out of their gaming chairs as confetti fell on their heads. Meanwhile, the South Korean players looked stunned and either sunk into their chairs, took sips of their drinks or watched the celebration across the stage.
No one from DWG KIA made a move until EDG came over to bump fists and thank them for the match. The first player in that line was DWG KIA top laner Kim “Khan” Dong-ha, who just lost his final game as a professional player before starting his mandatory military service.
As EDG were escorted over to the middle of the stage for their trophy ceremony, the broadcast showed one final shot of the Summoner’s Cup with Khan slouching in the background. The moment told a story: the erasure of what would have been a fairy-tale-like ending for Khan and Worlds 2021 had the match gone differently.
But that slouch and sad face were nowhere to be seen minutes after DWG KIA’s loss in the post-game press conference. The team, mid laner Heo “ShowMaker” Su said, wanted to give Khan a proper send-off, one that did not involve a sad or dejected vibe.
“Right after the end of the match, I was a little bit zoned out,” ShowMaker said via a translator, “but I just realized that in everyone’s life you run into failures, and also, this is the very last moment for Khan as a professional player. We all just wanted to enjoy the last moment, so we just decided to have a really fun press conference all together.”
As DWG KIA answered questions about their performance and what went wrong in the final series, the players pointed to Khan’s low points in the five-game thriller with a laugh.
“Looking back at all five games, I think the most frustrating moment was Khan always getting just picked on here and there on the Rift,” DWG KIA’s Jang “Ghost” Yong-jun said via a translator as his team chuckled.
We'll miss you, Khan ❤️ pic.twitter.com/OMlEH1yRG0
— LoL Esports (@lolesports) November 6, 2021
Jokes aside, Khan said he doesn’t feel like his performance in the finals, and the tournament, is something to look back on with sadness. Making it this far with this team at Worlds 2021, and at the 2021 Mid-Season Imitational, is something to be proud of in his eyes. He even tried to direct many of the questions about his performance to his teammates, making sure everyone knew that he would not be at this point without them.
“My teammates also did a fantastic job, and also thank you for just holding me when I was just about to retire, they’re actually the ones who asked me to stay,” Khan said via a translator. “And thank you for bringing me up to the finals.”
Khan started his LoL career at 18 years old and has bounced around Chinese and South Korean teams for his entire tenure. He has gone to MSI and Worlds with three different teams, including SK Telecom T1, Kingzone DragonX and, this year, DWG KIA. Over the years and across his various teams, he said he looks back most fondly at his time on FunPlus Phoenix, but does blame himself for their failure to make an international appearance during his one-year tenure with the team in 2020.
In his final statements to the media, and his fans, Khan gave some advice to younger pros. He laid out his regret for his past actions at international events and called for the next generation to be better than he was after a defeat.
“If you lose after playing on the international stage and you get to this kind of a press conference, it’s not about asking why you played bad, you know? They’re not saying that you are guilty or something like that. You should still feel proud,” Khan said. “You shouldn’t be so depressed out here, because I was the one behaving like that in the past. So I really regret that and I hope you guys don’t do that and you just enjoy and be proud of yourself.”
After his last series as a professional League of Legends player, Khan, now 25 years old, could’ve sunk back. But he wanted a proper sendoff, win or lose, and went into it with positivity that spread to his entire team.
“This will be my very last moment as a professional player,” he said, “so I just wanted to have some fun and enjoy it and be happy.”