Will they rise from the ashes?
When Shanghai Dragons (SHD) announced their SHD 3.0 lineup, my eyes rolled thinking, “Not another Korean team!”. Initially, I told my editor that I can’t write on this news without sounding biased but I was told to just write it up, with substantial reasoning.
So I sifted through facts and figures of the players and the teams. Surprise, surprise! SHD has a lot of ground to make up. Notoriously known as the team that have never won a single match (even the preliminaries season matches) during the last Overwatch League 2018 season, SHD aims to prove to the world that they still have a lot on their plate.
Personally, I want SHD to show that the Chinese players are on par with the rest of the pro players. On the surface, the Contenders China scene indicate that they have more to offer; but if you look closely, considering Contenders is the path to pro for each region, it has an abundance of Korean players in the scene. I was hugely disappointed by this issue.
Lucky Future Zenith, the team that has won both Seasons 1 and 2 of Contenders China, has all Koreans for their starters. One of the new SHD recruits, DPS main, Min-seong “diem” Bae was from Lucky Future Zenith. It is worth mentioning that the Contenders Pacific Season 1 Champions was Detonator KR while Season 2 was dominated by Talon Esports; both of which consist of all-Korean rosters.
There is no doubt at all that South Korea have the biggest talent pool in esports. This could be tracked back to their culture of PC bangs and support by the government itself.
For me – an avid fan who watch all kinds of Overwatch matches regardless of level, I would like to see other players from other regions make their name and given a chance as well. Contenders should be the platform for these players.
At the 2018 Overwatch World Cup Bangkok Group Stage, players like Patiphan, Guxue, SHY and Teetawat were able to shine on stage. Patiphan in particular, showed that he can be either a deadly DPS or the unbeatable tank during at World Cup. He was only 15 years old and we hope that he will continue to be given the chance till he is old enough to compete on the biggest stage.
Both Guxue and SHY were from LGD Gaming, who were runners-up in Contenders China Season 2 after losing out to Lucky Future Zenith. SHY showcased his extremely deadly Widowmaker during the World Cup, stopping most teams off their tracks. Guxue on the other hand, was Contenders China Season 2’s MVP. China dominated the Bangkok Group Stage, suffering zero loss. I hoped that SHD would have signed at least both Guxue and SHY to the OWL scene.
But let’s get real. The SHD franchise which is essentially a business entity, wants to win. They need to win. They do not want a 0-41 record and the notorious record should stop at 0-40 and that’s that. They have dabbled with fielding an all-Chinese setup which only led to more losses. We could argue that it was due to bad management but casual fans have been asking, “Is the Chinese scene really that bad?”. As reports suggested midway through last season, these players had to endure a 22 hours of practice which is very questionable to the players mental and physical health.
SHD’s will to win is as fiery as the dragon’s breath and so they went with the Korean teams, with the exception of Diya, the only surviving original SHD players. SHD brought in 4 players from Kongdoo Panthera, the first runner-up of Contenders Korea Season 2. These 4 are extremely strong, both in their gameplay and their stats. They gave Runaway the run (cough!) for their money and it was never an easy task for Runaway to take the champion title from Kongdoo Panthera. I remember watching CoMa (who is also part of SHD now) giving Bumper a living nightmare by constantly booping him off the map.
You don’t need to look at the stats and figures to fathom why SHD opted for these players. They want to come back in Season 2 stronger. To prove to the world that as an organization, they can still do it. A team is not just about the players, but it’s about the whole organization. A lot is at stake, and losing is not a risk that they are willing to take anymore.
Intan a.k.a Megikari is our newest features freelancer at Kakuchopurei.com. When asked how she’d describe herself, she simply put “I can talk about Overwatch & JRPG for hours”. You can also follow her on Twitter at @kiyarie
Additional read: Is There A Problem With Too Many Koreans in the OWL?