Dplus KIA’s bot laner, Kim “Deft” Hyuk-kyu, is a long-time veteran in the world of League of Legends esports.

He left a mark in LoL esports history after DRX secured victory at Worlds 2022, triumphing over League of Legends Champions Korea’s (LCK) T1 in a nail-bitingly close finals with the score, 3-2.

Deft’s esports journey began when he joined MVP Blue as the bot laner in February 2013. The team later transitioned to Samsung Blue, where Deft achieved his first taste of victory in Champions Korea, now LCK, in Spring of 2014.

Since then, he has amassed numerous accolades, including China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL) with Edward Gaming, and the 2015 Mid-Season Invitational.

A veteran, he has also pondered what lies beyond the competitive gaming world. In an exclusive interview with ONE Esports, Deft shared personal insights into his gaming journey and his deep affinity for the natural world revealed a profound connection to nature, and his genuine love for animals.

Deft’s gaming journey started by emulating his older sibling

League of Legends Dplus Kia's Deft post match interview holding a microphone
Credit: Riot Games

Reflecting on his early gaming experiences, he fondly recalled, “I first started playing games, Starcraft, because I was watching my brother playing it.”

Starcraft, a real time strategy game developed by Activision-Blizzard in 1998, was a bestseller. This initial exposure to gaming had ignited Deft’s passion and set him on the path to becoming a professional player.

League of Legends entered Deft’s life during his ninth-grade when he was persuaded by friends, albeit reluctantly. Looking back, Deft admitted that he was not the best player.

“I was the worst player out of my friends, and actually kind of hated playing League of Legends because I was so bad at it,” he said.

However, this initial setback fueled his determination to improve. As he climbed the ranks and saw his progress, his enjoyment of the game grew. It was during the 11th grade when the dream of turning professional took root.

He further dreams of working with nature in his post-retirement years

Dplus KIA bot laner Deft competing at LoL Park
Credit: Riot Games

A veteran who has been competing in esports for close to ten years, Deft was asked about his life after retirement. His response? He wants to be a nature documentary director.

Fame introduced him to both the kindness of fans and the harsh realities of people. This experience, in turn, deepened his connection with nature and animals, offering him a sense of tranquility.

“When I started to become famous, I got to know a lot of good people and I have some of the most amazing fans,” he explained. “However, you learn that people can be scary as well. In a way, that’s why I have been more drawn towards animals and nature.”

However, his love for nature and animals has been part of him ever since he was young. Growing up, Deft was surrounded by animals because his brother had an interest in them.

“When I was younger, my brother raised a lot of animals, so naturally the rest of the family had to help out,” he shared. From hamsters, dogs, and cats to fish, turtles, lizards, and even spiders, their home became a lively menagerie.

Today, Deft’s family house is home to cats, turtles, and lizards. “All three of my cats are Korean Shorthairs,” he said, explaining that they were adopted from the streets of South Korea.

His knowledge about animals goes beyond the bounds of his home.

Alpaca fan sign for Deft during Dplus KIA's game at LCK Summer 2023
Credit: Riot Games

A recent team visit to an aquarium provided a delightful surprise, for his extensive knowledge about the animals had astounded his fellow teammates.

“I am not a professor or anything, but I watch a lot of nature documentaries, so I naturally became knowledgeable,” Deft said humbly.

And about alpacas?

“I actually don’t know much about alpacas”, he laughed. “But I have seen them a few times.”

Despite this limited knowledge, he humorously acknowledged a resemblance between himself and the tranquil creatures. “And I agree that we are alike… not just looks but also personality,” he laughed again. “I am usually calm, but if someone crosses the line, I tend to have a temper as well.”

As for his future endeavors as a nature documentary director, Deft expressed uncertainty about the specific subject matter. “I am not sure what kind of documentary I want to shoot first,” he said, emphasizing the need for further research and exploration as he takes this passion more seriously.

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READ MORE: LCK Summer 2023: Schedule, results, format, where to watch