For the full interview with GC Busan Wave, click here.
If you have been following Contenders for the past few weeks, chances are you may have heard of GC Busan Wave. GCB is a group of talented young players that were formerly known as INTRO Wave until recently when they have been sponsored by Game Club Busan in South Korea. This wouldn’t be the first GC Busan in Overwatch history. GCB Wave’s predecessors shocked the community when they were the only team in Overwatch history that would complete Royal Road, a non-stop victory from the amateur scene to the pro. The first GC Busan would include many of the top tier players in the current Overwatch League, such as Overwatch League Final MVP, Profit, and his teammate Gesture and Closer. Like their predecessors, GC Busan Wave entered the scene with a splash, and they are on their way to make a statement that not only they are here to put on a show, but that they have what it takes to be one of the scariest teams in Overwatch.
When GC Busan Wave took on Foxes in King’s Row, there was some confusion regarding their composition. While most of the teams would opt to run Brigitte with a tank heavy composition, GCB decided to come out of the fight with Genji. Considered suboptimal compared to other forms of tank compositions, many weren’t sure of the motive behind these decisions. After a couple of eco-fights, GCB would finally be ready for what they prepared for.
Fielder, who was Ana at the time, was one of the last members to stagger along while the rest of the team pushed on for the third fight. “Ogon po gotovnosti!” said Edison’s Zarya as he collected few members of Foxes into Graviton, followed by the sound of another. But, this one, shot by the Foxes, was eaten by Ritz, the team captain of GCB, and his Defence Matrix. The sound of the Graviton was a cue for AlphaYi to dash in as Genji, while Fielder would Nanoboost him to assist in securing kills. AlphaYi would slash up all the Foxes in the Graviton and then dash into their back line to finish up. It would be a team kill.
▲ Nano Genji back in 2018
This was an image the community has not seen about a year. For fans that have seen this thousands of times in APEX 2, it was a neat historic treat. A forgotten memory that was lost until in July 2018, GCB took them down back to memory lane. It was a fascinating scene as GCB steamrolled through the whole attack with the same composition proving skeptics wrong. What was so beautiful about this was how clean GCB executed each fight. Fielder’s Ana reincarnated past images of Ryujehong when he was the Ana king in APEX 2. Ion’s Reinhardt on second defense showed dominance similar to Kaiser when they were APEX 2 finalists.
“[O]ur motto,” says GCB Wave’s Director, Jun-Hyun Park, “is to not only win games but also to put on a show for our fans.” He believes that there is a lot of fans who are nostalgic about old APEX days and suggested players to play old compositions like “Nano Genji” or “Nano Reaper”. “It is my own personal philosophy,” he laughs. He admitted that asking the team to run old and suboptimal composition puts a lot of pressure on the team. However, Ritz and DayDream both agree that it is, personally, very satisfying for them when they can successfully execute it after hours of practice. It is something the whole team agreed on to put on a show for the fans.
It’s Not Just for Show
GC Busan Wave, however, is not here just to put on a show. They are also here to win. Since their debut in Open Division, they have steadily become a stronger team. Now in Contenders, they were able to go toe-to-toe against the strongest teams in Overwatch. They took Element Mystic, considered one of best teams in Korean Contenders, to map 5 until their final defeat in Ilios. However, GCB was able to end Element Mystic’s winning streak on Hybrid, a map that Element Mystic have not lost once since Season 1.
And fans watched this match in awe, as this new team straight from Open Division beat Element Mystic on King’s Row with a spectacular fashion. It all started off with GCB on attack. They would run the Nano Genji composition again, despite the skepticism of its effectiveness against a strong team like Element Mystic. This was true at first. Getting through point A was difficult and they were nearly fully held by EM. This was due to EM’s incredible ability to prevent AlphaYi (Genji) from charging his ultimate, and it took some time before they were able to Nano Blade into capturing Point A.
One of the highlights of the match was the way GC Busan Wave countered Element Mystic’s defense close to point B. Element Mystic’s plan was about to use the Graviton + Dragon Strike combo. Knowing this, Ritz prepared to deny the combo and the team planned to counter them with a Graviton + Nano Blade of their own. While, Ritz was only able to eat the Dragon Strike, forcing DayDream to pop his Sound Barrier to counter the Graviton, Edison and AlphaYi were able to successfully capture point B with their combo with the help of Fielder’s Nanoboost.
▲ Incredible counter play against Element Mystic to cap Point B.
The precise ordering of teamwork to completely nullify Element Mystic’s plan and to counter with their own was pure art. It was at this moment, GCB started to prove themselves that not only they are an entertaining team to watch but a team that could be scary at its peak.
They went on to face off against 02 Ardeont, Season 1 finalists, and took them to Map 5 until they lost again in Ilios. This is something GCB is proud of. DayDream, main support for GCB, stated that the team’s mood was pretty good after their match against Element Mystic because they thought they played well despite their losses. Taking one of the best team in Korean to Map 5 is not the easiest feat, especially with a collection of new and relatively inexperienced players.
Not a Team without Struggles
However, it wasn’t always easy for the team. Their toughest opponent was Seven. After a crushing defeat in Hanamura, they were unable to shake off their tilt and got fully held in Junkertown. It showed that GCB’s instability as an inexperienced team. Often, GCB always seems to be at a compositional disadvantage, relying mostly on their supreme mechanical skills to push through the objectives. “We have prepared a lot of different compositions. Our strategy is to look at the opponent’s compositions and try to counter it. But, since we used so many different compositions, we haven’t had the time to master any of them. I think we need to start mastering few and prepare for them,” says DayDream. Their strongest and most common composition is dive, which is a composition that has lost its strength through the patches, and because of this their Achille’s Heel has been Pharah. Being unable to successfully counter Ivy’s Pharah, GC Busan Wave was steamrolled through in Map 5 in Ilios against 02 Ardeont.
However, the biggest struggle is one that they face at home. With 4 of the team members still in school, they have a tough choice trying to maintain a balance between a pro gamer’s life and the life of a student. In a country where education is a ‘do-or-die’ priority for young people, it is often very difficult for players to balance between their careers and school and giving up education to pursue pro gaming is a choice that is often not encouraged by many.
“My parents were strongly against it,” says Myung-Heun “JJANGGU” Cho, one of two main tanks of GCB that has not seen a lot of play in Season 2. “However, I told them that this was something I really wanted to do and after that, they tried to support me as much as I can.” As a senior in high school, he had to make some tough choices and sacrifices. “Now that I am in my senior of high school, it’s kind of hard for me to quit school. I have to attend a certain number of classes in order to graduate and I just needed to fill a bit more. And because of that, I couldn’t practice with the team as much.” As a result, JJANGGU had no choice but to stay in Seoul while the rest of the team were practicing in their residence in Busan.
Other players also had difficulties trying to balance between the two. “My parents, for the most part, try their best to support me. Our residence is in Busan, so I go to school in Busan and it’s been hard,” says Ritz. “They wouldn’t let me quit school, and it was really hard practicing until late at night and then waking up in the morning to go to school…I often fell asleep in class,” chuckles Ritz. For Ritz, quitting school would have made his life easier but due to pressure from his parents, he wasn’t able to do so. So, his parents, teachers, principal and the director of GC Busan Wave held a meeting to find a solution for Ritz. “In the end, teachers understood my situation and allowed me to sleep in class,” claims Ritz.
Turning a Wave into a Tsunami
And, it’s not over, yet. Their biggest challenge lies ahead. By being the 4th seed in group B, they will have to face the 1st seed in Group A, Kongdoo Panthera, a team that is currently unbeaten in Season 2. Due to unforeseen circumstances, GCB had to prepare back and forth between Runaway and Kongdoo Panthera. With an unexpected Foxes victory over Seven, GCB had to quickly change their preparation for Runaway until Sunday they had to switch back and prepare for Kongdoo Panthera when MVP swept Element Mystic. This back and forth preparation took away the little time that they had to prepare. “[W]e have to prepare for compositions that we are not fully comfortable with yet and practice… So, for now, my confidence is around 50%.,” continues Ritz.
With their biggest challenge is coming up this week, members of GCB have to reflect on their performances and prepare for what could be their last match of the season. “We have to look back at our matches and reflect. Yes, it’s important to focus on individuals plays, but we also have to focus on, for example, taking certain positions, solving certain puzzles, [etc.]. We need to look back and reflect on our decision-making. For example, ‘because I couldn’t think of this at that moment, we lost the fight or because I did this, we were able to win’, We will try to look back at all the matches and try to fill those gaps and prepare for the playoffs,” says Jae-Hong “Andante” Hwang, a coach for GCB.
The Director of GCB is also aware of the challenges up ahead and asks his fans for understanding, “[w]e have been playing non-stop since April and our players and coaches are really worn out. So, we are currently in an exhausted state and even with that we still try to play our best. But, we are reaching the end of our limit, and we are trying to hold on as long as we can to finish all the way. So, I hope the fans will understand that we are trying our best, and I hope that they can forgive us when we make mistakes here and there. We are also a new team and we haven’t gotten our coordination perfected ye, and there could be problems from time to time. I hope our fans can forgive us when it doesn’t really go our way. I am confident that we can do much better next season and I believe that we can have better results, and I hope our fans would have a good time watching us no matter what the results are this season.”
There’s no doubt that GC Busan Wave entered the scene with a splash with their flashy plays and raw mechanical skills that have caught the attention of many. It is now up to the players and coaches to gather what they have and its talents to forge themselves to not only become a wave but a tsunami that will wreak havoc in Season 2 Playoffs.
Their first playoff match will be against Kongdoo Panthera on Thursday, August 1st @ 2:55 AM PDT.