He took his headset off to a noisy roar, to a thousand superb shrieks, to a call of common enjoyment that swelled over a counter and done it shake roughly as many as his hands.
Kim “Birdring” Ji-hyuk looked during his monitor, afterwards during a crowd, afterwards behind during his monitor. It still review “MATCH COMPLETE.” So it was true. They had won. Kongdoo Panthera had done it to a OGN Overwatch APEX Season 3 finals.
Something prohibited welled adult in his eyes. He wiped it divided with both hands.
To his right, Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung lay prosaic on his chair, backrest slammed back, eyes sealed and hands orderly folded, sanctimonious to omit all a ruckus. He hadn’t even worried to take his headset off.
“Don’t speak to me,” Fissure pronounced in his common artistic deadpan. “I’m tired.”
Blinking behind tears, Birdring smiled.
Leaving League behind
Before Overwatch, Birdring’s life was dedicated to League of Legends. He dreamt of apropos a veteran gamer, and like many wannabes, poured all his time and heart into solo reserve in a hopes of being noticed. But distinct most, he went a step serve and built a repute on not one though 3 servers: Korea, Japan, and China.
His dual additional miles incited out to be good value it. After reaching Challenger in Japan and China, offers started rolling in from both countries. But there was a snag: He wasn’t 17 yet.
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“I felt dejected,” he said. “I was all prepared to go, though a age extent prevented me from personification in any [LCS-affiliated] matches. And there was unequivocally zero we could do though wait.”
Disheartened, Birdring motionless to take some time off from League until he could indeed join a team. And it happened to be that right when he did, a glossy new AAA title, Overwatch, was holding South Korea by storm. Bored and carrying small softened to do, a still-to-be-17 trainee motionless to give a latest disturb a spin, and was now hooked. He couldn’t trust how fun a diversion was. Within weeks, he was piloting heroes some-more mostly than champions.
But while League solemnly faded from his mind, his dreams did not, nor did his work ethic. He still wanted to turn a veteran gamer some-more than anything. Setting his mind to a new though informed grind, Birdring rocketed adult a Overwatch ranked ladder and done a name for himself during a tip turn of nonetheless another game. He also assimilated an pledge organisation to start personification competitively.
Later that year when Kongdoo Company announced tryouts, a crony urged him to apply. He did. And among a organisation of 40 applicants, he was selected.
It seemed as if he had finally done it. Living in a organisation residence was fun and exciting. Working with 11 other teammates from all walks of life was eye-opening. Most importantly, a organization’s solid support was permitting him to usually combine on improvement.
Everything about his new life felt great.
In OGN Overwatch APEX’s initial season, Birdring’s team, Kongdoo Uncia, valid itself as one of a best in a world. Despite being flustered in a initial compare opposite BK Stars (an pledge patrol cobbled together by a streamer), Uncia shortly bounced behind and pumped out a fibre of sweeps to allege all a approach to a semifinals. Although a story finished there during a hands of EnVyUs, who would go on to win a whole tournament, a 3-2 compare was intensely tighten and left no doubts per Uncia’s strength.
That wasn’t adequate for Birdring, however. In his words, Season 1 was merely bearable; his organisation competence have done a low run, though for him it hadn’t been low enough. He wasn’t assured with his particular performance, either. Fans who remember his standout games on McCree and Roadhog would be confused, though again, for him, it hadn’t been good enough.
Still, it was many softened than what followed in Season 2.
At a outset, all looked fine. Kongdoo had tinkered with a dual rosters over a offseason, creation a few transfers and purpose swaps, and it seemed to have benefited both. Uncia done a earnest start to a season, as did a sister team, Panthera. Hype mounted as they tore by their groups undefeated. Some fans even started arguing that Kongdoo’s dual squads would shortly turn close unbeatable by organizations though a sister organisation setup.
But things immediately fell detached once a contest changed into a knockout stage. Both teams finished adult dropping out in their quarterfinal decider matches, aged weaknesses exploited and new ones exposed. Between a two, Uncia’s improved was distant some-more devastating.
Uncia’s fortitude had always been a teamwork; behind in a prime, few teams in a universe could compare Uncia’s supernatural ultimate government or amount targeting in teamfights. But all of that had evaporated. In a 3-0 quarterfinal detriment to Lunatic-Hai, Uncia looked not like one organisation of six, though rather 3 unassociated groups brought together around in-client matchmaking. Kim “DNCE” Se-yong competence as good have been personification solo reserve for how divided he was from a rest of his team. Birdring and Yoo “Lucid” Jun-seo managed to work in sync, though usually with any other. The relapse was disastrous.
“Season 2 was a unequivocally tough time for me,” Birdring said. “I was indeed ostensible to join Panthera right during a commencement of Season 2, though since we had been one of Uncia’s pillars, it was motionless we stay with them one additional deteriorate and give it one final go. It didn’t work out unequivocally well. we was intensely stressed out, partly during my play, though mostly during a results.”
When a subsequent off-season rolled around, Birdring was changed to Panthera.
When his send to Panthera was initial announced, many approaching Birdring and Kim “Rascal” Dong-joon to form one a world’s many versatile DPS duos. That incited out to be true. Much reduction expected, however, was usually how widespread of a actor a former would become. Soon after a dual started personification together, it was transparent that would be a team’s ace player. Birdring tore rivalry teams detached with distant larger certainty than he ever displayed on Uncia.
“I felt released after a move,” Birdring explained. “On Uncia, we always played with a slight burden. As one of a cornerstones of a team, we felt as if we could never [afford to] disaster up. It was a weight on my chest. But on Panthera, there’s reduction pressure; we can rest on other good players like Rascal and Fissure to [share] a load.”
Birdring has always hexed a illusory favourite pool for a DPS player. He himself calls his assumed coherence “a present from God.” But as a tradeoff, his lift roof — how many particular impact he could have on a diversion — had always been reduce than that of luminary specialists such as Kim “EFFECT” Hyeon (Tracer) or Lee “Whoru” Seung-jun (Genji).
This season, however, even that obstacle is fading. In Panthera’s semifinals opposite EnVyUs, Birdring put out one of a best big-match Tracer performances of all time — opposite EFFECT, no reduction — and led his organisation to a purify 4-0 sweep. Both a Korean and English OGN commentators had no necessity of regard for his brilliance. After a game, EnVyUs’s Timo “Taimou” Kettunen hailed Birdring as a best DPS actor in a world.
Still an underdog
So far, Overwatch APEX Season 3 has been Birdring’s season. It has been a buildup to a consummate of his personal odyssey, an refreshing takeoff of a pretentious talent unshackled during last. Now usually one array lies between him and undying glory. But it will be his hardest.
Like in many team-based Blizzard titles, rival gameplay in Overwatch essentially revolves around how tanks and healers set adult and respond to situations. In a Korean region, where tactical play and teamwork are given top priority, this concentration is accentuated. And this is because many Korean experts trust Lunatic-Hai to be a favorites in a final.
Kongdoo Panthera competence have softened massively over this season, though Lunatic-Hai’s tanks and healers are distant and divided a best in a world, and their stream form looks untouchable. And nonetheless Panthera will have a advantage in a DPS matchup, Kim “EscA” In-jae’s new world-class Sombra play opposite Afreeca Freecs Blue suggests that many of his before failings were due to being forced on Tracer. When all things are considered, Birdring unequivocally is a usually actor on his organisation that is definitely softened than his Lunatic-Hai counterpart.
And so Birdring has again turn a cornerstone. He will again have to arise adult and quarrel leading notwithstanding carrying a weight of a team’s destiny dire down on his heart. But this time, he says, he’s OK. He’s finally prepared to understanding with it.
“I no longer have any fear. The finals will be tough, though we feel confident.”