Tactical has always been considered one of NA’s best prospects. He attended Scouting Grounds in 2018, for example, and earned himself a trophy for being a top-five prospect.

He eventually joined TSM’s Academy team for the 2019 Spring Split and went on to lead the league in kills, had a 50 percent first blood rate, and put up some great damage numbers in his debut in the pro scene, according to League stats site Oracle’s Elixir.

This new year—and new team—brought a ton of challenges for Tactical. At the start of his time with Liquid, he quickly realized that simply going through the motions in Academy wouldn’t be enough to reach his true goal: a spot on an LCS roster.

“At the beginning of the year on Team Liquid Academy, I realized that I wasn’t going to get anywhere if I kind of just did my thing,” Tactical told Dot Esports. “I had to actually work hard—I remember it was a click in my head, [and] I just started working harder and I tried every day with no excuses.”

The start of 2020 was rough for Liquid fans, though. They watched as multiple issues tore down a team that had just won four LCS titles in a row, from Broxah’s visa troubles to motivation problems. As a result, when Doublelift came down with an illness before week six of the 2020 Spring Split, Tactical was subbed in with no expectations and plenty of room to prove his worth.

After a brilliant debut that saw him take down TSM with great two-vs-two play and aggressive decision-making, people saw a brief shimmer of light shine from the last-minute bottom lane substitution. And after Liquid finished the season in ninth place, it was clear that a drastic shift had to be made—a shift that saw Tactical finally fit himself into the shoes of one of the most iconic players in LCS history.

“When I first started in the beginning of the season, I didn’t know how anything was gonna end up, so I tried not to give myself any expectations,” Tactical said. “I just wanted to see how it went, and then just keep going off that. It turned out pretty well so far, but I’d say like maybe six months ago, I would not have expected anything to become like this.”

In a pre-Summer Split interview with Korizon’s Ashley Kang, for example, the 26-year-old said Tactical reminded him of when he first met legendary LCK marksman Ruler back with Samsung Galaxy.

“It was like back with Ruler—I could feel that he is so good at his role, I could feel it with my body,” CoreJJ said. “What Tactical showed at the Spring Split was a tiny fraction of [his true potential]. If I assume he turns up to his true potential at the Summer Split, he’ll become a bot laner that can hold his ground in any region around the world.”