“We are tired, the coaches are tired, our whole team is tired. So, I hope you really understand.” – Zheng “ZmjjKK” Yongkang
CHINA – EDward Gaming star player Zheng “ZmjjKK” Yongkang recently shared his thoughts on the team’s underwhelming results towards the end of the year, citing the intense schedule after back-to-back competitions over the past two months leaving little to no time for rest.
“I’ve lost too many times in invitational tournaments,” the 19-year-old expressed his frustration during a livestream.
As the undisputed best team in China for years, EDward Gaming had an incredibly demanding calendar within both the domestic and international stages. The Chinese flag-bearers participated in all three international VALORANT events this year in Sao Paulo, Tokyo, and Los Angeles, along with six domestic tournaments throughout the year.
Of these six Chinese events, four took place in LAN settings in Shanghai, with three happening just in the past two months, during which they clinched victory in all three. And that’s not even counting their participation in two OFF//SEASON events in Seoul, the TEN VALORANT Global Invitational and the AfreecaTV VALORANT League.
This demanding schedule often comes at the expense of the mental well-being of players, especially those who are still relatively young. ZmjjKK put it bluntly, saying, “Do you expect me to maintain a 100% competitive state after playing five offline tournaments in two months? To be honest, if you think you can do it, come and replace me at EDG.”
To put it into perspective, EDward Gaming played a total of 54 official series this year, with 22 of them happening in the last two months alone. This included 10 events from February to December, totaling 135 maps played, not counting their rigid CN-level scrims. In contrast, Pacific rivals Paper Rex participated in only 31 series during the same period across four events, while DRX played 40 series across seven events.
Further expressing his frustration, ZmjjKK talked about the physical toll the schedule has taken on him and his team.“My hand hurts this year, and I’m really tired. I’m really out of form. Honestly, it’s not about my mindset or anything like that. I can really feel that I’m not in good health by playing too many tournaments this year. I had planned to relax and take it easy in the second half of the year, but then there was another tournament, and I had to do them and face criticism. I really wanted to focus on the next game.”
“Do you expect me to maintain a 100% competitive state after playing five offline tournaments in two months? To be honest, if you think you can do it, come and replace me at EDG.”– ZmjjKK
Talking on his recent trip to South Korea for the AfreecaTV VALORANT League, ZmjjKK also admitted that his performance fell short of his usual standards, saying, “You don’t need to tell me that my performance in Korea was poor; I know I didn’t play well.”
EDward Gaming’s journey in the AfreecaTV VALORANT League came to an end with a 5-6th place finish after losing to T1 and Team Liquid, where they couldn’t secure a single map win off of the two. Their only victory came in the decider match of Group B against Fancy United, the lowest-ranked team in the competition. Even in that match, the Vietnamese side gave them a run for their money, managing to take a map off the Chinese powerhouse after four overtimes.
However, ZmjjKK went on to provide more context by clarifying that the team had been heavily dependent on used strategies from their playbook.
The pressure to innovate while coping with fatigue was another point the EDG star touched upon. “During this long competition, we used our old strategies, which others have studied and figured out. We had nothing to say in defense. Then, we try to practice new things, and after that, we get criticized again. What can I do?”
ZmjjKK made it clear that the issue was not related to the team members or coaching staff. He emphasized, “This actually has nothing to do with the coaching staff. We are tired, the coaches are tired, our whole team is tired. So, I hope you really understand.” He went on to mention that it’s now time to take a well-deserved break with the holidays coming. “I hope I can regain that competitive feeling. I believe I can. We finally have a holiday, a rare one. So, let’s just take a complete break during this time.”
Cover photo courtesy of Colin Young-Wolff/Riot Games
As with any translation, there could be slight variations or discrepancies from the original.