Out of all the League of Legends veterans who transitioned from pro player to coach in the LCK, Go “Score” Dong-bin is one of the most successful who is still shaping LoL esports history as we speak.
Leading Gen.G, they’ve won three LCK championships in a row in Summer 2022, Spring 2023, and Summer 2023.
This year, he also had to deal with roster changes in the bot lane after the departure of Worlds 2017 champion Park “Ruler” Jae-hyuk and support Son “Lehends” Si-woo. The organization took a chance on rookie Kim “Peyz” Su-hwan and former Gen.G academy player Yoo “Delight” Hwan-joong as replacements.
Despite what many perceived to be a downgrade in the bot lane, Gen.G defied all odds, sweeping T1 twice in the LCK Spring and Summer grand final to claim the championship. They also finished 3rd-4th place at Worlds 2022 and 4th at MSI 2023.
In an exclusive interview with ONE Esports, Score talks about his personal challenges and unpacks why his coaching philosophy and experience as a pro player have produced results.
Gen.G Score dives deep into what it means to be a coach and how he handles conflict
While the results do speak, taking on a player who hasn’t had experience competing at the highest level in the LCK wasn’t easy. Score identifies this as his greatest challenge this year on a personal and team level.
“We approached this systematically, emphasizing detailed coaching on lane management from the very start,” said Score. “Thankfully, Peyz adapted quickly and efficiently, making the transition much smoother than anticipated.”
Part of the integration process is getting everyone on the same page, where rookies and veterans inevitably view the game differently. Score has discovered an effective way of dealing with differences that’s in line with his coaching style.
“Handling conflict begins with acknowledging that everyone makes mistakes and immediate solutions aren’t always feasible,” he said. “I prefer individual meetings, allowing each player to voice concerns independently before facilitating a group discussion. This preemptive approach prevents negativity from festering, addressing issues while they’re still manageable.”
Even though he has a decade of pro player experience under his belt, resolving such conflict is something he could not fully prepare for when he became a coach.
“The unpredictability of long seasons is a constant challenge. Practice sessions aren’t always straightforward, and unexpected hurdles often disrupt our rhythm,” Score shared. “The toughest part is navigating these issues, from morale setbacks to internal conflicts, requiring comprehensive solutions.”
Clearly, something seems to be working. Score’s coaching style and solutions have shaped the team to become a consistent force ever since he took over, maintaining first and second place positions in the LCK and top four internationally.
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Even before he won his first LCK championship as coach, he wasn’t far off at all. In Spring 2022, Gen.G finished second in the regular season and second at playoffs before proving their might the following year.
As a former pro, he understands very well that “tensions are expected; they’re part and parcel of the game.” He also “operates under the premise that errors are inevitable.” This is why he and his coaching staff prioritize open communication and understanding within the team as they take on the important role of meditators who facilitate “recovery and learning.”
“Consistency comes down to understanding the nature of this team sport, especially during a lengthy season. It’s inevitable for stress to build, so I focus on minimizing it while always keeping an eye on the playoffs and thinking about what we should do then,” Score reflected. “This approach has proven essential in preparing the team mentally and strategically for the challenges ahead.”
While he doesn’t have a coaching mentor right now, he does value all his past interactions with various coaches. He recognizes the unique lessons they’ve offered that shaped his current coaching philosophy.
His biggest influence is retired KT Rolster coach Jeong “Noex” Jae-seung, who was known for his personalized approach to player management. “He taught me the importance of immediate intervention upon sensing discomfort among team members, averting minor issues from escalating,” said Score.
“During my time in the army, I was isolated from distractions. It provided crucial introspection, helping me conceptualize my leadership style,” he added.
That was back in 2021. Score officially booked out in August that year, and made headlines when he signed with Gen.G two months after in November.
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Competing with KT Rolster for the bulk of his pro player career, he has since ignited a new spark with old rivals T1 as head coach of Gen.G. Formerly known as SK Telecom T1, he went against them in countless Telecom Wars in the LCK before Samsung Galaxy made a deep dent at the Worlds 2017 finals.
Samsung rebranded to KSV then Gen.G, who, for the last one a half years, have consistently bested the most dominant organization in LCK history.
“I believe that one of my strengths is being able to lead talents to reach their fullest potential. Rather than me directly making players exert their strengths, I see my strength as pushing them to reach that 100% mark,” said Score, who seems to have found his calling in this leadership role.
“Whenever we go to the LCK split finals, the venues are usually much larger than our regular arenas, and there are a lot of people,” Score added. “Every time we go to such a place, I often feel and think to myself, ‘I’m doing well, I made the right choice becoming a coach.'”
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