Welcome to Wizard University: A Lesson from the Overwatch League's Finest

I have been a fan of Hyeong-seok "WizardHyeong" Kim ever since the New York Excelsior released his "Origins" video back in March of this year. I thought that I could relate to him. Like him, I grew up in a tough environment and my past has not always been very easy.

But most of all, I along with others respected him for being the coach/analyst for New York Excelsior, a team that dominated Season 1 of the Overwatch League. I have always wondered how it felt to be coached by the best, and when he opened Wizard University, a platform where Overwatch enthusiasts can be coached by WizardHyeong himself, I decided to contact him.



About WizardHyeong

But, first we should talk a little bit about WizardHyeong.

WizardHyeong was born and raised in South Korea. He started his coaching career when a friend of his asked him to coach for a Tespa (university level) team in California State University - Long Beach. He enjoyed the experience so much he thought that this was something he wanted to do.

“I want to make an impact in this world, and through teaching, I think I can make a difference,” says Wizard. It wasn’t long until he started to look for positions offered by pro teams. It was first Spylce, then Team Solo-Mid, where he brought Effect into North America for the first time, and Gale Force Esports, where he would work with current Outlaws players like Muma, Clockwork, Bani and Boink.

For Wizard, North American teams did not exactly work out because at this time, large numbers of NA teams began to drop out of the scene due to the steep fee prices for the Overwatch League. 
Then, he tried to focus mostly on streaming, and he started to get offers from various teams.

“I was offered a lot of money, probably the most a coach can ask for,” says Wizard. However, he couldn’t find anything that interested him until LW Blue, now the core of New York Excelsior, approached him.


He knew this was the team that he wanted to work for, despite being offered not a single penny for his work. He knew this was where he would grow as a coach and this was where his legacy would begin.

With NYXL, WizardHyeong and Pavane were able to dominate the whole season (until their eventual fall in the playoffs). 
Now, he is the Head Coach for Washington DC, a new expansion team for the second season of Overwatch League.


The Lesson

When I sat down at Wizard's desk to receive my first lesson, I was a bit intimidated, to say the least. After all, this was the person who told JJonak, the MVP of Season 1 of Overwatch League, what he was doing wrong. You need to have a deep knowledge of the game and respect to get that kind of recognition from the best players of the League.

However, this is not what I felt through his guidance. Yes, he was honest (and sometimes hilariously brutal) but at the same time, he was very empathetic. I could feel that he really wanted me to improve.

Video Submission for WizardHyeong’s Coaching

For him, coaching is all about respect. You have to earn your respect from players and coaches. “Overwatch is a game where there is more than one way of winning games,” says Wizard.

And players require a bit of convincing to believe that a coach's way could be the better way. 
Wizard believes that “coaches have to present facts and logic” to convince players where they need to improve.

He noticed a terrible habit of mine -- I didn’t utilize my jumps. In fact, he told me, that I used one jump per Primal Rage. “That’s pretty legendary,” jokes Wizard. It is something almost unheard of and it needs to be fixed immediately.

I also, on average, focused less on support than other players. He compared me with Overwatch League players, such as Muma, to show how badly behind I was compared to players that are the best in the world. 
It is one thing to tell me I need to fix something just because I should but another when there are facts presented in front of your eyes comparing you with some of the best.

Ethan (left) and WizardHyeong (right) discuss the former's Winston play.

Another point that was extremely helpful was that he was willing to listen to your reasoning. WizardHyeong is a top 100 player that coached NYXL and I am just a Platinum tank, but instead of trying to push his agenda against me, he was always willing to listen to my reasoning. If he felt that your planning and reasoning was good, despite its failures, then he would be sure to take note of it and accept your reasoning.

For example, on the last push towards point B of Temple of Anubis, I opted to choose Orisa to block the incoming fire from enemy Bastion and retaliate from range. This would be an odd choice from a pro player’s perspective.

My reasoning is that, at Platinum, the coordination is not good enough to counter a Bastion so the only chance of countering him was to shield his fire for at least few seconds to kill him really quickly. Orisa’s gun might have a wide firing spread but it can be powerful against a stationary target.

After a bit of confusion, Wizard was able to see its success and admit its Platinum reasoning.

I thought that was refreshing because most coaching involves only an hour-long explanation of why I am absolutely terrible. Whether I am terrible or not, Wizard made sure to walk through the thought processes behind decisions rather than only discuss the outcome, ensuring that his students are making the best decisions they can (even though those decisions might not be correct at the highest levels of play). 

After an hour of embarrassment, WizardHyeong wrote me a quick score sheet. As a surprise to no one, my final score was a 38%. The score sheet was a good summary of the lesson. WizardHyeong gave brutal (but fair) assessments and did not hesitate to point out mistakes and bad habits.

But it was never meant to hurt, but to open the eyes of the student and he always made sure it was an objective advice with numbers, facts, and logic. When he liked what you did, he would point that as well.

Ethan's final score sheet.

A couple of months later, I am still in Platinum -- but this is across all roles, including support and damage (where I was gold and silver respectively). By learning to notice bad habits and not being afraid to trust my own thought process, I have learned to appreciate the game at a broader level. “Just think,” WizardHyeong says. To him, thinking and making decisions (even if that may be wrong) is better than no thinking.

Next, Inven Global sat down with WizardHyeong to discuss his career, his coaching philosophy, the upcoming Overwatch League season, his Torbjorn one-trick account, and more.


Disclaimer: This lesson with Wizard University was paid for solely by the author of this article, and there was no intention of promoting or endorsing Wizard University or WizardHyeong’s coaching services.

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