After 16 years in esports, Korean VALORANT and Counter-Strike player Kang “solo” Keun-chul has announced his retirement.
solo found quite a bit of success internationally during the 2000s and the Counter-Strike era. As Korean CS died down, and CS:GO replaced Counter-Strike as the big game, solo’s name became an afterthought. Upon switching to VALORANT, though, he proved that his name wasn’t to be forgotten. He helped NUTURN to a third-place finish in VALORANT’s first-ever international tournament, Masters Reykjavik.
According to a follow-up tweet, he’s looking to get into coaching, though he doesn’t have a team lined up just yet.
solo’s long career
solo began his career in esports all the way back in 2005, at just 17 years old. He first made his name known as part of project_kr, who had some very solid finishes against top Chinese competition. He’d stay at the top of the South Korean Counter-Strike scene for years, occasionally picking up big placements as part of teams such as E-STRO and WeMade FOX. He was a major part of teams that kept an otherwise undeveloped country in the Counter-Strike department in the conversation around the top.
As times changed and Counter-Strike turned into CS:GO, solo had to serve his military duty. He came back to a Korean scene in shambles. In 2016, he began playing with MVP PK. They were the only Korean team of note in the scene for many years, and still struggled to achieve anything. He left the organization in early 2019. In 2020, he began playing VALORANT.
Revitalization in VALORANT
Upon switching to VALORANT, solo joined a team called PROPARTY. They were a decent side, unable to challenge Korea’s best, such as Vision Strikers and Cloud9 KR, but solidly top 8. That changed in 2021, though. Along with a rebranding to NUTURN, the roster went on a tear.
NUTURN slowly worked their way to the top of Korea. In VCT Stage 1, they challenged Vision Strikers in the final, ultimately losing 3-2. In Stage 2, they’d finally dethrone them, to claim Korea’s spot at VALORANT’s first international tournament, Masters Reykjavik. In Iceland, they finished third with wins over Sharks Esports and Version1. solo was a massive part of the team’s success.
Stage 3 would see NUTURN start to fall off. The loss of star player Kim “Lakia” Jong-min hurt them a lot. Despite not qualifying for Masters Berlin, they were put in the APAC Last Chance Qualifier, and also signed a young rookie, Yoon “Hyeoni” Hyun-seok. Unfortunately, despite coming in as the favourite, they finished fourth, ending their year.
It seems solo has interest in taking up a coaching role. On NUTURN’s end, after releasing two players prior to solo’s retirement, they only have two left on their roster. These are all things to be figured out in the offseason before VCT 2022.