Rascal and Birdring from KongDoo Panthera began their career as pro gamer because they were boys who loved playing games. Although being a pro kept them from enjoying games as much as they used to, they began as the 1st generation of pro gamers for Overwatch, and continue to walk that path now. What kept them inspired? The answer is that they had something they wanted to accomplish with their team at the tournament, an ambition way beyond their simple desire to enjoy games as children. It also didn’t hurt that they have teammates whom they trust. They say that their concern for their teammates comes before their desire to carry a game alone. This may seem a bit odd, since DPS players tend to revel in the spotlight. And yet, here are two players who instead revel in the light provided by their team, Rascal and Birdring.
Please introduce yourselves to Inven gamers. How did you get your nicknames?
Birdring: Hello! I am Ji Hyuk ‘Birdring’ Kim, DPS for KongDoo Panthera. I’ve watched Seagull’s streams since Overwatch came out. I wanted a nickname that has to do with a bird like Seagull, so I tried to combine words with ‘bird’ and came up with ‘ring’, which sounded best.
Rascal: I’m Dong Jun ‘Rascal’ Kim. Back when I came up with this nickname, I didn’t think I would become a pro gamer. I took ‘악동’ (Ak-dong) from my favorite band, ‘악동 뮤지션 (Ak-dong Musician),’ which means ‘Rascal’.
Please tell us what you think of one another, since fans view you as an unbeatable dynamic duo.
Birdring: I’ve been on Team KongDoo Panthera for two seasons, and he is someone I want to play with as a DPS. I can play comfortably, more than with anyone else, when we play together.
Rascal: Same here! He is someone I would like to play with for a long time.
Synergy between DPS must be important; what kind of synergy do you think is important for the DPS on the team?
Rascal: You need to look out for each other. If each DPS tries to carry the game all by himself, the game tends to not go well. For example, there are certain situations in which Birdring can deal damage easily as Tracer. And it’s my job to create those opportunities. However, I can’t help but feel the need to carry by myself when I’m playing with strangers (Did Birdring also feel that way?) He may not have (Laughs).
Birdring: I don’t know for sure since I haven’t played with other DPS aside from the ones in Team KongDoo, but it’s true that i’m more at ease when playing with Rascal.
Yeong Min ‘Curious’ Lee played in the recent matches instead of you two. Could you possibly tell us the reason?
Birdring: He is a great player. I think he was sent to play more actively ever since the Group Stage in order to lessen the burden that comes from playing in tournaments.
Rascal: Curious does have his own playstyle- sometimes there are strengths and weaknesses between players. I believe Curious will be able to counter in matches that seem like a game of rock-paper-scissors, although he hasn't shown his own play style yet.
Birdring, you played Tracer most when playing with Rascal, but played other Heros when Curious was sent to play with you. Is there any difference in your play style when playing with Curious?
Birdring: My role was to play Heroes with hit-scan abilities, and Rascal played Heroes with projectiles. Curious’ role is similar to mine. I’d adjust to his playstyle when playing as the Curious-Birdring duo, since I have experience from playing Rascal’s role back in KongDoo Uncia.
Rascal: Honestly, I thought Curious was cute when we were playing together. Seeing him be so nervous reminds me of when I was still a rookie. He usually plays far better than he does in tournaments. That is why I try to lessen his burden so that he can get used to the pressure instead of demanding that he play better in-game.
Fans praise Birdring’s Tracer and Rascal’s Doomfist whenever there is a matchup. If you were to introduce your main Heroes, what would you say they are?
Birdring: I don’t think I have my own special playstyle. All I do is inflict damage on enemies, and cut off their healers. What I’m good at is absorbing other players’ strengths. I watched many great pro gamers like saebyeolbe when I first practiced Tracer. Having these various strengths assembled together seems to bring positive results.
Rascal: First, Birdring’s aim is definitely good. For me, I would think, ‘I should get inside and kill off my targets, even if that means I’ll die,’ whenever I play Doomfist. Doomfist has so many mobility skills so he can quickly regroup with teammates. My team will have the advantage If I manage to kill even one enemy before I die. I tend not to back off and go deep into the enemy lines.
It is said that the DPS in KongDoo Panthera have a different Hero pool compared to others, from Hanzo to Widowmaker. What advantages does having a wide Hero pool provide?
Birdring: In our case, Rascal and I never get our picks mixed up. For other teams, there have been cases where a certain player had to play Tracer but got his pick messed up, so other players on the team had to change their Heroes twice.
Rascal: It’s very hard to ask a player to play certain Heroes when they can’t actually play them well, but we can easily ask each other to switch.
Since the talk about the Hero pool got out, could you tell us if you have any Heroes you don’t play in tournaments but still feel confident playing?
Birdring: I’d like to play Roadhog, since I remember having a good time with him in the past; I feel confident, too.
Rascal: Personally, I feel confident about playing sub-healer Heroes like Ana or Zeyatta. In fact, I am a hidden Mercy master. I played her when I heard the news about the Mercy patch, and I found that I played her better than I expected.
While Doomfist was considered OP in the Group Stage, the countermeasures with Pharmercy or McCree came out. Things have changed since the 2nd Group Stage; what is your take on Doomfist and the current balance?
Rascal: The new patch was applied around the 2nd Group Stage in APEX- Doomfist got nerfed, while Junkrat and a bunch of other Heroes got buffed. I think this nerf is too severe since there are countermeasures against Doomfist going around nowadays. I think he should be buffed again.
Birdring: I think it’s hard to play Doomfist as well since Junkrat and Pharmercy could be played as countermeasures ever since the new patch.
So what teams do you think will have a greater advantage from the 2nd Group Stage onward?
Rascal: I think a team that can thoroughly handle the basic comp will be at an advantage. I mean, teams that can handle counter comps, just like playing rock-paper-scissors, will have a somewhat bigger advantage over others.
Birdring: I think teams that can make the best use of the balance patch will have the upper hand. I expect a wider variety of picks to be made in the Playoffs. Personally, I hope D.Va will get nerfed further soon.
We’re curious about the game balance overall. Do you think the game is getting balanced, seeing as Heroes that weren’t played much before are now buffed?
Rascal: I think it is becoming more and more balanced. If OP Heroes got nerfed to balance the game before, it feels like weaker Heroes are getting more picks and wins with their buffs now.
It must have been really disappointing to lose by just one round in the Finals. How did you feel back then?
Birdring: Back then, I was full of regrets. I thought I should have practiced even more after we were placed 2nd. I was somewhat nervous because the Finals were different than our usual matchups, but I feel that I’d have overcome that if I got more practice done. Although I do feel that I’ll be less nervous when we make it to the Finals again next time.
Rascal: I personally think everyone did their best, although there were some things that needed to be worked on outside the game. For example, when Birdring told our team we should practice more, we couldn’t stay together as one and everyone just scattered. There are things I am sorry for in regards to my teammates, and I will try to avoid making similar mistakes this season.
But your results for each season are getting better! In what way do you think you’re improving, either as a team or as individuals?
Birdring: Our teamwork definitely got better, if we were to compare it to how it was back when I had just joined KongDoo Panthera.
Rascal: Yeah, our teamwork definitely got better. Before, we used to put blame on each other a lot. But now that we are closer to each other, I think we’re at a stage where we can take in feedback and adjust our plays to others’. Wakawaka said, “Now that we’ve been playing together for a long time, I know where other healers like Bdosin or Luffy are without looking.” I also heard that our healers have each other’s backs now.
I personally think there were many chances for me to show my strength and make some nice plays. I myself think that I have a wide Hero pool and am great at ‘copying’ good gameplay. It takes me 2 hours to successfully learn a play or tactic that other players take 20 hours to learn. I think these things, one by one, helped me get better results.
Some said that KongDoo Panthera was favored to win last season since Whoru from Lunatic-Hai and Janus from LW Blue were no longer playing. What is your take on this season?
Rascal: Honestly, I don’t think we would have had different results even if those two players were playing last season. And I don’t think there is any reason for us not to win even if these players are back this season. I’m looking forward to playing in the Finals once more.
APEX teams will be playing in the Overwatch League. How do you feel about that?
Rascal: I think it’s sad that there is a possibility of not being able to play with your old teammates if you join the Overwatch League. A new team would have to be made so that you could join the league; unexpected things could happen even if you get to join with your old team. I don’t want us to be separated and boost other teams since I feel confident that our team is already good.
Birdring: It would be great if we could join the league. It surely will be a chance for us to get better treatment.
I am sure you’d also feel disappointed about not being able to play in the Overwatch World Cup.
Birdring: I wasn’t looking forward to playing in the Overwatch World Cup. I found it burdensome being compared with other players when people in the Overwatch community would say, “Why wasn’t Birdring picked?”
Rascal: I may have been on the list, but I don’t think I was in a position to be picked for certain. I just took the news rather calmly when I heard that I didn’t make it. It would have been nice if I got to play in the Overwatch World Cup. I am sure that I could display more entertaining matchups than any other DPS could.
We’d like to know how you two became pro gamers. Weren’t your families against it?
Birdring: I started playing games after I saw my older brother playing when I was little. I could only play games when he stopped playing. I even enjoyed him telling me, “You just need to press 3 and 4,” when we were playing RPG games. Then I started to think that I wanted to become a pro gamer before I went to highschool. I thought maybe I could practice during the time I spend going to classes at school, then I quit school and started to prepare for my pro gamer career.
Fortunately, my parents were supportive. They put their trust in me even when I told them I’m quitting school. I made a promise with my dad that I would make my debut as a pro gamer in a year, and I think that made me try even harder.
Rascal: Hearing that makes me feel a bit bad because that was what I did to my own little brother. I played games a lot since I was little, although I didn’t think I’d have a career in gaming. My school grades weren’t bad at the college preparatory high school I went.
Then, Overwatch came out in my early senior year, and it seemed really fun. I couldn’t really focus on my studies from then on. It was when I had to decide if I wanted to study more and go to a college or focus on playing the game. After I had an honest talk with my parents, I was able to focus on playing the game. My parents told me, “It’s okay for you to do what you want, but let’s have it as your career.” That was right when KongDoo was looking for new pro gamers, and I was the candidate they were looking for so I got to join the team. That was how I began my career as a pro gamer. My parents were a bit sad that I couldn’t graduate high school with 2 weeks of school days left.
Is there a special reason for you two to keep on playing Overwatch when there is a big change in the Overwatch pro scene?
Rascal: I’d be playing a different game if Overwatch was completely ruined. However, I’m staying because it’s a popular game and I can play well. I may have started this career with my interest for games, but you can’t keep on playing games only for fun when you become a pro.
Birdring: I started out as a pro gamer because the life of a pro gamer seemed like so much fun. But then it was hard to see only the fun aspect of the game when I actually became a pro, although I have found enjoyment when playing in the tournaments nowadays. I think the process of preparing for the tournament and playing on the stage works for me.
There were many amazing things and things I had to learn when I first became a pro. Then at one point, there were many hard moments for me. I was unable to do certain things in and outside the game once I became a pro. I had to adjust to everyone, whether they were older or younger than me, since this was a team-based game. My personality changed a lot after becoming a pro. There are many things I have to sacrifice in order to play as a pro.
Now that you’re evaluated as almost the best DPS, is there anything more each of you would like to aim for as pros?
Birdring: I’d like to have the most wins in Overwatch. Just like Faker from League of Legends.
Rascal: If Birdring is aiming for the most wins, then I’m aiming for the highest salary. This is actually something I started because I like games; it’s not that I only like money, but it’s more about being able to play games without having to worry about it. I’d like to set all my gears on RPG games with the money I get from winning, when I no longer have to worry about it.
If there’s anything else you’d like to add, please feel free!
Birdring: I don’t know what my worth is yet, although there are many people in the Overwatch communities who think highly of me. I will try harder so that I came live up to being a pro gamer.
Rascal: There’s something I wanted tell my team after we won at the APEX Finals last season. I wanted to thank Fissure for being such a great shot caller. As for Void, he honestly seemed as if he was not serious about being a pro gamer since he liked to hang out with his friends a lot. But then, I was surprised by how he tries so hard to cope with the team life and work together as a team. I want to thank Wakawaka, one of the early members of KongDoo Panthera, for staying with the team so far. Bdosin and Curious, who are new to the team, did well to adapt to the team. Birdring and I have been DPS partners for two seasons now; others say Birdring was able to carry because I helped him, but I believe that my ability was able to see the light of day because Birdring was so good in the first place.
We are the ones who know best about our own teammates. I hope my teammates will go on doing as well as they are now, without being shaken by what others say about us.