Four years ago this month, KT Wiz was celebrating a 5 percent winning percentage, a feat that at least five of the KBO’s 10 teams have achieved.
KT head coach Lee Kang-cheol recently met with reporters on the field and reminisced about the final game of the 2019 season in his first year in charge. KT ended the regular season with 71 wins, two draws, and sixth place with a 7-0 win at Suwon Samsung Electronics on September 29, the final game of the season. Despite falling two games short of the fifth-place NC and failing to qualify for the fall baseball season, KT celebrated its first five-win season in front of its home fans after the game.
“After the final game of the season, the club told me I had to come out on the field and grab a microphone in front of the fans. When I asked them what they wanted me to say since we didn’t make it to the postseason, they said it was to celebrate our first 5 percent winning percentage. We were that team. I was a little embarrassed,” he says, laughing.
True to the commander’s words, KT was the youngest club in the KBO, where even a 5 percent win rate has meaning. Since joining the first team in 2015, the team has finished in the bottom half of the standings: 10th (52 wins, 1 draw, 91 losses), 10th (53 wins, 2 draws, 89 losses), 10th (50 wins, 94 losses), and 9th (59 wins, 3 draws, 82 losses). Although competent coaches such as Cho Bum-hyun and Kim Jin-wook took the helm of the club, they may have succeeded in settling the first team and developing new talent, but they were unable to achieve results.
In October 2018, KT hired Lee, a former Doosan head coach, as its third head coach for a total of 1.2 billion won over three years. At the time, KT said, “We are pleased to announce the appointment of Lee Kang-chul as the third head coach to renew the team’s atmosphere and lead it to a new leap forward. He is the right person who can not only provide proven leadership for many years, but also improve the team’s constitution and inspire the will to win.”
KT began to live up to its name with the appointment of Lee Kang-cheol. Under Lee’s leadership, the winning DNA required for a powerhouse team was instilled, and rapid growth was achieved under a systematic mounding system and thorough managed baseball. As a result, the team finished the season in 6th place in the first year, fighting for the top 5 with the NC for the first time. 토토사이트
After experiencing a tight standings battle for the first time, KT players grew even more in Lee Kang-chul-ho’s second year. Despite a shaky start to the season, they showed their teamwork and organizational skills in each game, finishing second in the regular season (81 wins, 1 draw, 62 losses). Although they met Dusan in the playoffs and fell to their knees with a 1-3 loss, it was also a valuable experience for them. It was enough for Lee to re-sign with the team for a three-year contract totaling 2 billion won.
The 2021 season finally saw the fruits of Lee’s labor after two years of trial and error. With the league’s strongest starting lineup of Despine-Cuevas-Go Young-pyo-Young-pyo-So Hyung-joon-Bae Jae-sung, which Lee had been working on since camp, and a must-win lineup of Joo Kwon, Park Si-young, Lee Dae-eun, and Kim Jae-yoon, the team topped the regular season via tiebreaker, seven years after joining the first team in 2015, and defeated autumn powerhouse Doosan in the Korean Series to win the overall title.