Scouted by Dplus KIA’s coaches, he swiftly transitioned from an academy player to a key member of Dplus KIA’s main team.
In just a few years in the professional scene, Canyon secured three LCK titles — LCK Summer 2020, LCK Spring and Summer 2021 — and a 2020 Worlds Championship title.
In an exclusive interview with ONE Esports, Canyon sheds light on his journey to professionalism and why he believes he’s still a cut above the rest.
Canyon’s rise: a jump start into the LCK as Dplus KIA’s jungler
Canyon’s early passions took an unexpected turn, as revealed in a biographical YouTube video by Dplus KIA. Despite childhood dreams of becoming a police officer and a knack for painting, he found himself captivated by video games.
Skipping Taekwondo classes and academic commitments for the allure of the virtual realm proved to be a pivotal choice, for it unveiled his natural aptitude for gaming.
Recalling his beginnings, Canyon shared, “I started playing around grade 5 or 6 because a friend convinced me to play.” However, it was during middle school that he recognized his true potential, reaching the Challenger rank by high school. This realization marked the turning point that solidified his aspiration to become a professional player.
At 17, he relocated to Seoul to chase his dreams. Although parental approval wasn’t easily obtained, he took charge of his own destiny, signing the contract at 18 by himself and solidifying his path as a professional gamer, according to his biographical video.
“One of the Damwon coaching staff added me while I was playing ranked games,” he recalled, and it was at the time he decided to adopt the name “Canyon,” similar to the word “rift.”
Renowned as a jungle prodigy, Canyon’s exceptional skills earned him swift promotion to the main roster shortly after his debut.
However, his journey wasn’t without its hurdles. A lackluster start during his first LCK Spring in 2019 led to his temporary replacement by Son “Punch” Min-hyuk after a 4-game losing streak. And according to the video, this pivotal moment prompted a crucial question from his parents: “What makes you different from all the gamers that want to make it pro?”
Canyon’s response was clear: composure. His unwavering mental strength became his defining trait, allowing him to remain level-headed even in challenging situations.
What sets him apart from other junglers: composure and determination
This attribute proved pivotal after his temporary replacement. Canyon refused to let a dip in performance affect him, focusing solely on his personal growth and improvement.
Canyon’s composed demeanor enabled him to conquer challenges and consistently progress. He devoted extensive hours to the game, often playing for extended periods, refusing to return to his dorm until he felt he had made significant strides, as highlighted in the video. It got to the point that the staff was pleading with him to stop playing and get some rest instead.
With time, Canyon’s comprehension of both macro and micro aspects of the game deepened. He mastered not only the strategic elements but also excelled in individual fights. “I am pretty confident in fights, and one of the reasons why I am strong at fights is that I can predict what the opponent will do very quickly,” he explained in the interview.
Despite his remarkable achievements, Canyon remains remarkably modest. He humbly acknowledged and stated, “I think there are many good junglers out there, and I personally don’t think I have shown to be significantly better than others,” he said.