Team South Korea was the one to be placed 1st in the Overwatch World Cup 2017 finals at the BlizzCon, making it their two consecutive wins at the World Cup. It was hard for them to win every match without losing any set like last year since this year’s teams were remarkably better, but players from Team South Korea managed to pull out great plays in critical moments, eventually winning the tournament.
The players from Team SK went back to their League teams to enjoy a short vacation after the World Cup. We, Inven Global, sought for a chance to talk to the players about the World Cup around when their vacation was over.
Fortunately, we had a chance to interview three players from New York Excelsior, Saebyeolbe, Mano, and Fl0w3R, after their AMA. Following is the interview with them.
Hello! Could you please introduce yourselves before we start?
Fl0w3R: Hello, I am Hwang Yeon ‘Fl0w3R’ Oh who just returned from winning the Overwatch World Cup.
Mano: Hello! I am Dong Gyu ‘Mano’ Kim who played the main tank for the OWWC.
Saebyeolbe: Hello, I am Jong Yeol ‘Saebyeolbe’ Park, the DPS for NYXL.
How have you all been doing after the World Cup?
Mano: All our team members were on vacation until yesterday after we came back home from the World Cup. Today was the day we had to come back to work. I’ve been staying in Busan until now since my home is in Busan, and I must have had a hard time getting used to the jet lag since it really felt like I slept almost all of the time.
Saebyeolbe: I hurt my back when I was trying to carry something heavy, so I had to stay lying down during the entirety of my vacation. I am scheduled to go and see the doctor right after this interview. (Laughs) Watch out for your back, folks.
Fl0w3R: After I returned, I was sick for the first 2 and half days, and as for the rest of my vacation… I stayed resting at home, and then went to hang out with friends for a day.
Mano: I guess all three of us stayed lying down during our vacation. (Laughs)
It’s been almost half a year from when you were selected to play in the OWWC until reaching the actual stage. Was there anything you had difficulty with or felt pressured about during this period?
Saebyeolbe: Members of Team LW didn’t have much of a chance to show our plays after we were selected for the OWWC. That is why what pressured me the most was the possibility of being switched with someone else later. It was a bit of a burden that there were talks of me getting switched with someone else here and there. On the other hand, I don’t think there was anything in particular I found difficult while getting prepared for the tournament.
Fl0w3R: For me, the Exhibition Match against the other Korean teams was the hardest. Winning at the Exhibition Matches would have been something we should be able to do in the first place, and losing would become a problem… The Exhibition Match was indeed burdensome for me.
Mano: I think I was feeling nervous about myself since the only practice I got was at our team house after I transferred to LW Blue from Afreeca Freecs Blue. Even so, I tried to stay focused, thinking I should be showing how hard I’m trying here since I got the opportunity to represent my country. To be frank, I think I only thought about ‘how I can be good’ back then.
Since we’re on the topic of the Exhibition Matches, there was one time your team was crushed by Element Mystic; weren’t you all worried by that back then?
Saebyeolbe: We were caught off guard. We’d been having easy wins until then so we thought it would also be the same and were like, ‘let’s just be done with this real quick and go rest!’. But then, Element Mystic was too good. All of us were like, ‘we are screwed!’ after we lost 2 consecutive sets to them in an instant. My other teammates must have thought the same thing at the time.
We were very surprised; right away, we encouraged each other by saying, ‘let’s just stay focused and get this right’ but it was too late by then.
Mano: I think everyone on my team was the same, but my head was completely filled with thoughts like, ‘What do we do if we lose?’. What we always worried about happened right before we were about to leave for LA. And even that happened after getting easy wins until then…
Was there anything special about the stage at OWWC compared to other stages?
Saebyeolbe: I liked the headset. I personally liked it very much as it fit tightly around my head.
Mano: The stage was designed for the players to be seated round like this with our fans surrounding us. This seemed really good to me.
There were many fans for Team U.S in the audience during the quarterfinals, and it was spectacular how everyone was calling out USA. Meanwhile, there were Korean fans on one side of the audience. I heard them cheering loudly, which was very touching.
Saebyeolbe: Since people all around us were fans of Team U.S., the audience became quiet whenever we scored kills against Team U.S. People would usually call that as quiet as at the library. (Laughs) Those moments felt so good!
Fl0w3R: I said that I’d make LA as quiet as a library during the interview I had right before the departure, and it felt thrilling that we actually managed to do it.
Saebyeolbe: After the 2nd set, everyone went to the toilette while I stayed alone in my seat. Suddenly, a U.S. fan called out to me, saying ‘Hey, Saebyeolbe!’ from the audience. I turned around to see him turning his thumb down and booing. (Laughs) So I returned it to him! Like ‘Booo-!’. But he seemed to like that I reacted to him.
Mano: And things like the makeup were different. They were quickly finished doing our makeup and kept asking us how we want it done at the World Cup. But I just said ‘Okay, okay’ because I couldn’t speak much English. (Laughs) Getting your makeup done takes a really long time in South Korea.
The meta was centered around Mercy during the World Cup; what impact do you think it had on your team?
Saebyeolbe: Honestly, it wasn’t much of a problem for us. We practiced a lot after the patch when we weren’t playing any matches. Actually, the Mercy meta wasn’t such a problem for us since we had 2 DPS players and 1 tank on our team…
But then, there was a bit of a disagreement we had with the players from Lunatic-Hai while we were trying to piece it together. I’m sure there was a bit of debate at first on who would play Mercy and how.
Fl0w3R: I don’t think I felt much of a difference at that point. We had Gambler on our team, who is good at playing Mercy, but ryujehong and tobi seemed to play as good as he does once we got used to them.
Then were there any strategies or hero picks you wanted to use at the World Cup that you didn’t get to use?
Fl0w3R: I think I tried everything I could do… I did want to play Hanzo and Junkrat more. But then, around before and after the World Cup, I was doing great with Widowmaker when I needed to play a sniper. Also, I didn’t get to play Junkrat at all due to circumstances.
Saebyeolbe: Well, as for me… I only play Tracer. It was convenient for me since I only had to be good at playing Tracer.
Mano: For me, it was Reinhardt. I did get to play Reinhardt a bit this time, but I was bummed that it seemed like I didn’t get to show spectacular plays with him.
Many fans complained about not being able to see the interview with their favorite players right after you won the World Cup. Did you also feel that way?
Saebyeolbe: To be honest, I did a little. (Laughs) But I didn’t mind that much. xQc got selected as the MVP back then, and I sincerely congratulated him by applauding since I was personally close to the players from Team Canada. And well, I know I will come and win next year! I can get it then.
Mano: I was very happy that we won so I didn’t think much about it back then, but now that I had time to go over it… It did seem a bit strange. Especially the fact that we were the winning team but had no MVP… (Laughs) I thought Fl0w3R would be the MVP without doubt.
Fl0w3R: Later we learned that the MVP was selected via Twitter. But in the case of my Twitter account, it’s actually kind of complicated, and it seemed that my fans had a hard time since I’ve got numbers in my ID.
Saebyeolbe: xQc’s ID is the easiest. (Laughs). You just got to type in 3 letters, x Q c.
Fl0w3R: I was a bit sad that I didn’t get selected as the MVP, but we got that World Cup trophy. When we held it up, it was so heavy that I thought, ‘How long has it been since I got to hold a trophy?’ I guess these thought made me take the MVP award rather indifferently.
If you were to pick the player that left the biggest impression on you out of the three teams you played against in the World Cup finals, who would it be?
Fl0w3R: For me, it’s aKm.
Saebyeolbe: You got crushed by aKm! (Laughs)
Mano: We were really surprised back then. (Laughs)
Fl0w3R: When we got 2 Pharmercys fighting against each other, I try my best not to get wound up by the opponent Pharmercy. But I kept getting airshot. Usually, I dodge all that and kill enemies on the ground one by one, but I couldn’t do that.
Saebyeolbe: Since SoON was good, I thought he was also good this time, but I was surprised by how Surefour’s Tracer got so much better than at the Qualifiers. And JAKE from Team U.S. was amazing.
Fl0w3R: JAKE’s Junkrat was awesome. I was surprised.
Saebyeolbe: Even more, after JAKE lost to us on the first day, he came in by himself to practice again the next day. That’s when I felt I really wanted to get to know him personally, so I talked to him.
Mano: For me, I’d pick KnOxXx, the main tank for Team France.
Saebyeolbe, you got to play against other Tracer masters such as sinatraa, SoOn, and Surefour; how was it?
Saebyeolbe: I heard that sintraa got flamed for saying something mean about me once. (Laughs)
I felt that SoOn was the best, and then Surefour, and lastly sinatraa. (Laughs)
Fl0w3R, you showed another amazing Widowmaker play; did you plan to play Widowmaker when you were attacking in Hanamura and Watchpoint: Gibraltar?
Fl0w3R: Our team comp was one where I could use Widowmaker. The comp we prepared at first was Genji-Tracer-Winston-D.Va, but it didn’t matter if we played Widowmaker instead of Genji here since that strategy was supposed to be like that.
But then, I don’t know why, but it felt as if I was playing Widowmaker well before and after the World Cup period. So I told them to let me play Widowmaker.
Saebyeolbe: He would ask such things like “Can I please change my pick?” when we are in the middle of playing a match. Then the rest of us would change our picks to go along with him.
The tanks from each team were spectacular in the World Cup; if you were to compare yourself with the players from the World Cup, where do you think you’d be in the rankings?
Mano: At this World Cup, I’d say… 1st. (Laughs). Only among the main tanks.
It must have been hard for you to truly enjoy Blizzcon due to preparing for the OWWC finals; how did it feel to be there in person?
Mano: The cinematic trailers were revealed while we were waiting to play in the match. At the time, it featured Reinhardt, my favorite hero, and it felt totally different watching it there on the spot with the fans. I heard fans cheering and I totally got the chills watching it in person. I’d say it was really different watching it in person compared to watching it on-screen at home.
Fl0w3R: I liked how it was festive wherever I went. People recognized me when I went around in my uniform and asked me to take pictures with them.
Moira, the new support hero, was revealed at BlizzCon. You can actually play her on the PTR; what are your thoughts about the new hero?
Saebyeolbe: She seemed really strong! I think she feels similar to when Ana was released. She’d probably be ridiculously strong then get nerfed little by little. I think all new heroes have been like that. Doomfist was also totally OP.
Fl0w3R: But not for Orisa.
Saebyeolbe: Uh… Well, she’s… (Laughs)
Mano: I played her on PTR during the vacation and thought that the character itself is very refreshing. It seemed like she was good in efficiency, but not good enough. As for whether the meta will change or not, I guess we’ll have to see and play her ourselves in the competitive games on the live server.
Mercy’s Resurrect cast time got nerfed on the PTR. How do you think this change will influence the meta in the future?
Fl0w3R: It seemed as if Mercy lost her wings completely.
Saebyeolbe: Of course, she got her wings cut off. If your ally got killed in a team fight, you could fly over and resurrect him and return to safety right away. You won’t be able to do that anymore.
Mano: If you want to resurrect someone, I think you’d be able to resurrect allies that got killed for no reason at the back of the defensive line.
I think this is what many fans would be curious about- since Fl0w3R didn’t get to play in the league due to the age limit, where will you be staying?
Fl0w3R: I do feel sad that I didn’t get to play this year due to the age limit. But then, what can I do about it? (Laughs)
NYXL will be recruiting for a 2nd team soon. I don’t think members can be revealed yet, but it will be released soon. It is made up of truly capable players, and I think I’d be playing in the Contenders League in that team for some time.
Saebyeolbe: What, you know the members that we don’t even know?
Fl0w3R: It was decided just this morning.
As for SBB and Mano, you’ll be playing for NYXL for real soon; what do you personally think about the team logo, colour, and uniform?
Saebyeolbe: The uniform is really neat. Even other people say Houston’s is the best, and NY’s the next best. I like it too, although the logo isn’t as good. (Laughs) Looks like some kind of optical illusion to me.
Mano: I… like everything, including the logo.
Saebyeolbe: Oh, you rascal ! (Laughs)
Mano: I really like New York- everything about it. (Laughs)
In the case of NYXL, the numbers for your uniforms were revealed along with the roster; what is the number for each member, and could you please tell us why you chose that number?
Mano: I chose number 7 since 7 is lucky, as everyone knows. That is why I always liked the number 7.
It’s just that I hope a miracle happens when I’m playing in the match. For example, our team losing by 2-0 then managing to do a reverse sweep when I am sent in to play in the game? (Laughs)
Saebyeolbe: I chose number 9. It’s a number that has to do with my girlfriend.
Fl0w3R: I chose number 8, but it’s been reserved since I’m not playing in the league yet.
Saebyeolbe: What… (Laughs) You are not a league player yet, why do you get to choose a number?!
Do you think you will be able to pull off living abroad? Is there anything you’re worried about?
Mano: I’m a bit worried about my English skills, but I guess I’ll have to go and learn. (Laughs) Other than that, there are several things I’m worried about, but I don’t think I won’t be doing well there.
Saebyeolbe: I think I’ll be fine there. My English isn’t that great, but I’m learning it as I speak whatever I can. I think I should be doing similarly for other things as well.
Fl0w3R: I don’t think there was anything I found very difficult when we went to Poland and the U.S. I think that is why I don’t have anything I’m worried about that much.
NYXL completed their roster recently. Is there anyone we should keep our eyes on among the new members?
Mano: I think you should keep your eyes on ArK and Libero. I played a bit with them, and they were really good. They have decent skills and good mental attitude as well.
Saebyeolbe: Mano thought of ArK and Libero, but me and Fl0w3R think it’d be JjoNak. He.. actually isn’t a bad guy at all. (Laughs) He has good skills, too.
Please love our JjoNak. I’ll fix his attitude myself! (Laughs) I’m good at this sort of thing since I used to be a jock. I’ll do a good job of fixing him up, so there’s no need to worry about him at all.
What are your thoughts on the Overwatch League and its future?
Mano: I think it will be successful enough. First, the investors are real professionals. I don’t think they would have made investments if the Overwatch League didn’t have any potential. I can trust them.
Besides, I heard that we had great viewership from all over the world for the Overwatch World Cup from the quarterfinals to the finals. This makes it seem like it does have a potential.
Saebyeolbe: Each team got a $ 20 mil investment, they wouldn’t fail, would they? (Laughs) I think everything will turn out well.
Fl0w3R: I don’t think the League would fail that easily, seeing how much money was invested in it. Seeing how player welfare is good shows that the League is trying to take care of even the smallest things.
Mano: The player welfare is good in the League, right? Pays good salary, too, and that massage chair as well… (Laughs) Then they’d have a good circulating player pool with the players from the 2nd division trying hard to get into the League. As a result, the level of the pro scene would rise as well, making the League more worth watching for the fans.
The roster for the League teams was finalized last week. Which team do you think is especially threatening, if any of them are?
Saebyeolbe: I’d pick Seoul Dynasty. We’ve suffered so much from them…
Mano: I’d pick Dallas, London, and Seoul. I think these three teams are the most threatening. I don’t know for the rest.
Fl0w3R: I still think we are the best team.
Saebyeolbe: Wait… You are not one of us yet! (Laughs) You won’t be playing in the first season. You’d be playing in the Contenders. You should be talking about that.
(After being attacked by Fl0w3R) Alright, alright. (Laughs) That’s right. There is no other team better than us!
How was this year for you all? We’d love to hear your aspirations for next year as well.
Mano: I think this year was the year I truly had the chance to grow.
I’d been on a winning team until we were crushed by Lunatic-Hai back when I was still in Afreeca Freecs Blue. I was in a slump back then. I got flamed a lot, so I was very depressed, and then I got the chance to play in a tournament when I got selected for Team South Korea. That was when I truly thought I should definitely do well. That was the reason I think it was the year I could become better internally.
Being chosen to represent South Korea was a really lucky chance for me. I wouldn’t have any chance at all if I didn’t get picked. It was a relief that I could finish this year by showing good performance as a representative.
But then, I shouldn’t become too arrogant and should keep trying hard with a learning attitude next year. Then I’ll be able to deliver good performances again.
Saebyeolbe: That was long. (Laughs) As for me… Honestly, I was basically jobless this year. I didn’t make much money, so it was not much different from being jobless. But I was very glad that I got to make myself known as a player for Team South Korea almost at the end of the year and got to play in NYXL.
My skills did help me come this far, but I also think I got help from several aspects of my environment. There was the support I got from my fans, and OGN, and my teammates who were with me during the tournament, and I got picked for the OWWC team, and we got to win. Thanks to everything, I was able to stay engaged.
My goal for next year is to play well in the League. I would like to show my fans how hard I will try next year just like I did this year, and I should.
Fl0w3R: I got to play in the regular season for APEX this year, but I couldn’t play properly due to my injury. But then, I was glad that I could end this year well with the World Cup.
I’ll be crushing the Contenders next year, and preparing to play in the Overwatch League the year after.
Is there anything you didn’t get to talk about but would like to say before we end our interview?
Mano: First, I’d like to sincerely thank our National Committees. I’d especially like to thank YongBongTang from the National Committee. He gave me a lot of advice when I was in a slump, and shared many comforting words. Also, I’d like to thank the coaching staff on NYXL for their great coaching and teaching.
Not only that, I’d like to thank my fans for rooting for me even when I wasn’t doing great. I’ll try to repay their kindness with a better performance next year.
Saebyeolbe: I’d also like to thank the National Committees for giving me a chance like this… And I’d like to thank my own skills. For letting me come this far? (Laughs) I’d also like to thank everyone who is trying hard in this same eSports industry. I’m thankful for my skills the most though… Alright, it would be my own skills on top, then the National Committees, and then next would be my colleagues in the field.
And as for my fans, I’d like to say… please remember that pro gamers are human, too. This has hurt me always. We, too, are humans and we, too, make mistakes and feel hurt, but the fact that we play games well seems to make us get flamed so much for even one small mistake. I’d be grateful if fans could be a little bit more sympathetic about such things.
Of course, I won’t be making any mistakes! (Laughs)
Fl0w3R: I’d also like to first thank my fans and the National Committee for getting me selected to represent South Korea. I feel happy that it seemed I could show good performance at the World Cup, thanks to them. I’d appreciate their support in the future.
And also… I don’t know what’s wrong with my hand, but it always hurt. I don’t know if it’s my muscles, but it hurts whenever I use my hand even a little. This is the reason I can’t play for a long time, even when I should be practicing hard… I hope that I’ll be able to get this fixed next year.