RadoN's rosters is a series dedicated to thought experiments regarding potential rosters, roster moves and etc. This entry is a follow up on me revisiting Meta Athena's twenty Bo5s winning streak throughout APEX S2 and the prior season of OGN's underleague, APEX Challenger. In it I theorize a roster that would utilize Hoon's potential to its maximum.
Throughout the last year of Overwatch, Choi "Hoon" Jae Hoon has been one one of the more polarizing and interesting players. When performing at his peak he is one of the few players whose impact is so significant that he can seemingly overcome the game's design and carry on his own. However, akin to a well-written anime character, he has a weakness to match his incredible upside. When the metagame doesn't allow him to pick Zarya, he is the epitome of an average pro and performs at a level substantially below what anyone considered a superstar should be at.
There are two ways to view players such as him when theorizing a team in which they'd be a good fit. Either as a roleplayer who has a niche that the team can have as an ace up its sleeve, or as a flawed star whom the squad should be built around to maximize his output, make the most out of his strengths and mitigate the opportunity to exploit his deficiencies. As indicated by the title, due to Hoon consistently performing at an absurdly high level during Meta's twenty Bo5s winning streak he is -- at least in the author's opinion -- one of the few players whom a team should be built around, even with such a glaring flaw in his game.
But before we get to who exactly I've selected to compliment the star-Zarya and cover for his weaknesses, let's go over qualities that I had in mind when picking them. Hoon's most notable weakness is well-known and already mentioned above, the inability to impact the game on other characters in the same way he does on Zarya. To make up for that I'll be selecting a number of versatile players who'll be able to perform at a consistent level, regardless of what heroes are favored by the current patch. He'll also need one more aggressive playmaker to accompany him take away part of the focus opponents will place on him. One of the problems with Meta was that the team's main tanks couldn't be relied upon when they went for pro-active plays and Kris, who helped with that, couldn't have as much impact from the position of a Lucio player. This meant that the team was at times lacking someone to take some of the attention off of Hoon. Another issue with Meta past their initial success was notably its flex supports getting picked off considerably more than other teams' even after the roster changes. Since Hoon's own approach to the game was one of the primary influences on the team's playstyle, it is likely that the same problem will manifest itself again. As a result, I'll be looking for players who can assist with keeping the backline safe, or supports whose strengths include being able to stay alive.
Author’s note: as the thought exercise is meant to result in a team that could be realistically called “Hoon's team” and have him as the focal point and centerpiece of the action, I've avoided making the squad an all-star squad that would probably be overall stronger lineup due to the caliber of players. While a number of the players I've skilled are highly skilled, they also are, or have been, great at being the secondary or tertiary carry on their teams.
The following players affect the style -- or as Koreans call it, the color -- of the team to a significant degree. And while they are far from pure roleplayers and will bear the responsibility of carrying more than their own weight, they will not be the go-to receiver of the lion's share of resources and attention, who is Hoon in this case. Instead, their task is to provide stable performances, creating space for the squad's primary carry or carries.
birdring and Libero - over the course of the last few APEX seasons, London Spitfire's (formerly KongDoo) star has become one of the best players in Korea and some would even argue the true MVP of APEX S3, even though Panthera lost the final. Fans have seen him grow from a capable but reactive player, who'd mostly follow up on his teammates' plays, into one of the best dealers when it comes to putting pressure on the opponents and staying alive at the same time. This strength has been developed due to his intelligent approach to the game. Mechanically -- even though birdring can certainly hold his own against the best -- he's not as flashy as the likes of Haksal, EFFECT, Fl0w3R and Recry. However, he's also never in a position where he needs to execute a fancy play or hit multiple tough shots in a row to save a teamfight or himself. He's also seemingly invulnerable to metagame changes. As of late, just like most hitscan dealers, he's amassed hours on Tracer, but in the past he's excelled on Roadhog, Reaper, Soldier 76, McCree, Widowmaker and played a number of other picks at a more than serviceable level when his team has needed him to.
Similarly, Libero -- often referred to as Korean Overwatch's Swiss Army Knife -- is largely unmatched in the whole professional scene, when it comes to versatility. The Korean has already played more than half of Overwatch's roster in professional matches and despite the young age has impressed by prioritizing winning as a team and playing smart over pulling off highlight-worthy plays. Libero being able to switch heroes whenever needed and adjust Meta's compositions to fit better against what their opponents are doing was one of the reasons for the team's success throughout APEX S2. This, combined with his already built-up chemistry with Hoon, makes him a perfect fit for the squad. Additionally to his consistent output and adaptability, Libero is also one of the better D.Va player in the world, especially when it comes to stats, and has the pocket pick of Hanzo. Even though he hasn't shown too much of the archer at the professional level, it has caused utter devastation when he's elected to pull it out. Outside of that he's had difficulty putting the team on his back and hard-carrying compared to the elite dealers, but -- as that won't be required of him on this roster and he'll have stronger players around him -- he'll be a great fit as the team's projectile DPS regardless.
While the two's versatility will not make up for Hoon's lack thereof it will certainly help secure any compositional advantage possible from the damage dealer positions and allow the squad to pull off tank-heavy compositions, should those make a comeback. At the same time, their comparatively more reactive approaches will balance out Hoon's tendency for aggression. Libero in particular would have to take on a more defensive role and be tasked with peeling for the rest of the backline when needed, akin to what zunba has done in the past for Lunatic-Hai. This will be a slight change for him, but won't be anything he hasn't shown himself more than capable of doing. birdring's job would remain similar to what he's been doing for KongDoo throughout the last few season of APEX, apply pressure, create picks when possible and stay alive so he can continue pestering the opponents.
Fissure - just like his teammate birdring, London Spitfire's main tank has also grown tremendously since his debut in APEX as he is now one of the best players in the position. His aggressive play has gotten much more consistent, even though every so often he still fumbles in a manner that causes viewers to raise their eyebrows. However, with Hoon as another aggressive playmaker and someone to draw the bulk of opponents attention, this will likely be even less of an issue on this squad than it's been in the past. With Libero being the one tasked to protect the supports, Fissure joining Hoon on the aggressive end won't create as many problems in the backline. Additionally, he's shown himself able to put up strong performances on both Winston and Reinhardt so his hero pool won't be a problem, should the metagame shift back in favor of the former crusader. Other tank players have showcased better play on certain picks and overall, but in terms of aggression and versatility, Fissure is the best.
These players fill a supportive role, regardless of their positions. Even though heroes have somewhat defined roles within tactics, those are by no means final and different individuals' talents allow them to utilize character's strengths and abilities in different manners. For example, whereas Hoon has mastered the aggressive Zarya and destroy opponents at high energy, zunba's play on the pink-haired bodybuilder for Lunatic-Hai will more often than not be him defending his teammates and fending off opponents.
Gambler and Luna - as this is a fantasy team and it's not been that long since Gambler and Luna ‘retired', I'm going to cheat a little bit and bring back the former LW Blue duo as the team's supports. They were certainly not the best at their respective position, but what they’ll offer to ‘Team Hoon’ is stable and consistent performances due to their somewhat passive playstyle. With the team already having two playmakers in the tank positions and birdring to apply additional pressure, that won't be a problem. However, their ability to stay alive continuously, which they've shown time and again in APEX and IEM, will be beneficial in this team as Hoon's past teams have had trouble keeping their supports alive.
Just like the rest of the players, the two are able to perform on just about any character played in their positions and Luna has had success flexing on Soldier 76. Additionally, they offer experience of playing at the highest level and more importantly leadership. During their time in LW Blue, Gambler was the primary shotcaller for what was one of the smartest teams and Luna was the captain, due to his previous experience in League of Legends. Unlike the rest of the listed players, Hoon included, Luna and Gambler have also had success on the big stages when they won IEM Gyeonggi over Lunatic-Hai. While this may not seem like much, especially due to the event's size, sports and esports have shown that veterans' savvy and experience in winning are valuable to any team with championship hopes.
So, what could we expect of this team in terms of results?
It is hard to imagine this team will be able to play at the level required to outperform the top Overwatch League teams, or compare to past APEX champions, if Zarya is out of the metagame. While Hoon's play on the pink-haired bodybuilder is more impressive than EVERMORE's Roadhog, the latter's time with Panthera showed how difficult it can be to shoehorn a pick, especially when opponents prepare for it in advance. The versatility from the rest of the squad's members should help build balanced compositions that make sense, but it won't make up for Hoon's lack thereof. As such, squads who can match 'Team Hoon' in terms of firepower and tactics would have an obvious advantage over them when Zarya isn't a strong pick within the meta. In the past, we've seen him at times take a more supportive approach to his Zarya play, most notably when paired with Libero's Hanzo, but whether he'll be able to do it consistently is a mystery at this point. If he can indeed transition into a role of a playmaker who doesn't require as much resources, when his pick isn't favored by the patch, the squad could crack a top 6 ranking worldwide.
Should the patches swing in Hoon's favor, the team could be -- at least in my obviously biased opinion -- a strong contender for the position of best in the world.
(Photo credits: OGN)
Disclaimer : The following article was written freely based on the author's opinion, and it may not necessarily represent Inven Global's editorial stance.
About the author:
Hello readers, I go by the ID RadoN! I’ve been following different games within the esports industry ever since finding out about it in 2009. The titles that I follow closely for the time being are Overwatch, CS:GO and Quake, while occasionally dabbling in some other games as well. If you wish to reach out, follow future content, or simply know more about my thoughts on esports and gaming, you can find me on twitter at @RadoNonfire.