Volamel's Viewpoint: Constellations - Exploring the Influence of Star Power
A cluster of stars in a recognizable pattern that is usually named after its form or identified with a mythological figure is considered a “constellation”, something we all see when we look up at the heavens. While modern astronomers divide the sky into eighty-eight constellations, all with defined boundaries and regions, Overwatch esports has started their own stellar nursery, breeding some of the most enigmatic plays that shock and awe viewers. As spectators, we can start to divide our own sky into defined sections, all representing a specific amazing play and their respective player.
Filled with wonder and a form of prestige, each fledgling Overwatch constellation has a history — a short story that begs to be told each time an unsuspecting star struck viewer catches fire in their eyes. Lets not get too ahead of ourselves; to have a “star play”, you have to first have a “star player”.
That means someone who always seems to come in at the perfect moment and can turn the volume to eleven. Someone who goes above and beyond expectations and can push their own boundaries. These are players who you cannot afford to ignore. While their “A” game is terrifying, their “B, C and D” games are consistently strong and demand respect.
We are not even half way through 2017 and this year has had plenty of spectacular plays and all-star performances. In no particular order, here are the few who have started to lay claim to the heavens.
When you talk about highlight reels and all star players, you cannot deny that Timo "Taimou" Kettunen has been, in many different ways, quite the firecracker. In a match where the backs of Team Enyvus were up against the wall, Taimou breaks the glass case around his trusty pocket pick; Widowmaker.
Consistently challenging and outplaying his opponents with his sheer impeccable aim, Taimou throughout this whole series, has built a strong case for the single hardest carry in a game. These clips could easily top a professional highlight reel montage, but what is frightening is the scope of how many headshots there were in one series. Not only is he the Ace for the team, but Taimou is also the shot caller for the team. Having that raw mechanical aim, while also trying to lead your team into battle is something rare that many players cannot simply cannot accomplish.
Taimou seemingly approaches life, just as he approaches the game. At times, he can be a bit sharp, but it's that stark honesty that the fans love. During an interview with Yahoo Esports at MLG Vegas 2016, Taimou talks about the road to the finals and what his expectations were coming into Las Vegas.  “ ...it was a horrible, horrible trip here. And I felt like if I don’t win this tournament... like during the whole trip — [it] was going to be in vain.
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“Like I said on Twitter, I was going to win this tournament no matter what... and that’s what I did.”
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Not only is he an all-star marksmen, but his Roadhog play from last Season of OGN’s APEX League was something special. Taimou not only creates space with Roadhog, but punishes poor positioning and found his own openings with aggression solo pushes. With his track record of clutch plays, you can bet Taimou and Team Envyus will be coming back to North America with a vengeance. Looking up at the stars in the night sky, the first constellation that jumps out at the forefront is the Big Dipper, or Ursa Major. Usually depicted as a large bear in mythology, I tie this constellation to Taimou for his huge impact within his team and his larger than life popularity. Everyone knows Taimou, just as everyone knows Ursa Major, but, be warned — you do not want to provoke this bear.
Creator of the now famous “Circus Boost” on Dorado, Kim "Libero" Hye Sung is the Korean-Swiss Army Knife for team Meta Athena. Libero, as a player, is the definition of having a “hero ocean”. He’s seemingly able to play anything he wants, when he wants. His team, Meta Athena, puts full faith in his abilities and his vast hero pool.
Often, Libero sticks to his wheelhouse in D.va, creating space for his teammates to move about with advantage. But, there are times where Libero must answer the call of duty, and play more carry oriented heroes like Hanzo or Genji. In this clip, he shows how impactful a skilled Hanzo can really be, almost killing the entire enemy team... by himself.
In this match versus MVP Infinity, Libero and Meta Athena break out their trump card on King’s Row and put Libero onto Hanzo. Known for their creative takes on the metagame, Meta Athena have a large gambit of tricks at their disposal. What is important to take away here is that as the enemy team takes the high ground they engage. If Libero does not hit that final arrow onto the Soldier 76, his Tactical Visor could have put a large enough dent into Meta Athena’s offense to nullify their reversal.
Climbing up from the Challenger League, which is Korea’s not-so amatuer Overwatch league, with a twenty-one game winning streak, Meta Athena were slated to become legends. Sadly, they fell at the hands of finalists Lunatic-Hai in a nail biting set, 2-3. In an interview with Inven Global, Libero left us this cryptic clue when it comes to future star players and where we may find them:
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“We climbed all the way here from [the] Challenger [league]. APEX Challengers is never a low-tier league, and the quality of play there can sometimes even be higher than APEX itself.”
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Libero rarely ever disappoints. Not only is his aim amazing, he is also famous for some insanely creative Sombra plays on Dorado and Hanamura, as well as his training regiment with Hanzo. To compare Libero with someone from the west, you could easily draw comparisons to a player like TviQ. Both share huge hero pools and can step up and be the all star threat that their respective teams needs.
Libero and Meta Athena exit APEX Season 2 in fourth place, right behind LW Blue. Coming from the amateur scene and riding an incredible 21 game winning streak into a fourth place finish at your first LAN is something to be proud of. This is easily the genesis for Libero and Meta Athena as a whole, next season you can bet your bottom dollar they will come out with some creativity and flair. Libero and the constellation of Sagittarius share many things in common. One of which includes the mysterious “Sagittarius A” star, which many astronomers believe a black hole may lurk. With Libero and Meta Athena improving by the day, can Libero evolve into his own version of a black hole? His legend is one that is rising very quickly.
The Bravery of Hercules
At the helm of LuxuryWatch Blue’s (LW Blue) DPS duo is Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong Ryeol. After LW Blue’s dominant performance at IEM Gyeonggi, they were easy favorites for APEX Season 2 and did make quite the deep run, snatching third place away from Meta Athena. Ever the fan favorite, Saebyeolbe not only creates space for his team, but he also can hard carry games when it is asked of him.
Known from his fantastic performances APEX Season 1 and IEM Gyeonggi on Tracer and Roadhog, Saebyeolbe is the catalyst to allow LW Blue to make impact plays. With an average of 0.47 KDA across Soldier 76, Tracer and Roadhog Saebyeolbe lands amongst the top 15% of players. This sheer deathmatch power coupled with teammates Fl0w3r and janus, LW Blue is one stellar team.
In this Route 66 game versus KongDoo Panthera, Saebyeolbe goes on an absolute tear, thrashing about the entire offensive round for LW Blue. Hook after hook, you could swear you were watching Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics sink three-point shots. Saebyeolbe puts on an absolute clinic on how to flank around the enemy team as Roadhog hunting for unsuspecting Ana’s and Lucio’s. Saebyeolbe sneaks around while also playing within his boundaries, never stepping offsides leaving himself open for punishment and this helps him find impact kills, constantly.
When you think of Roadhog, your mind might wander towards another player; EVERMORE. In an interview with Inven Global, Saebyeolbe mentions the world renown Roadhog player as a role model and figure head that he used to improve. “I changed my role to tank as I joined LW Blue and I started playing Roadhog. I learned a lot from EVERMORE’s videos.
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"I cut out his weaknesses and streamlined the advantages to make it more suitable for me.”
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“Adapt and overcome” seemed to be the theme Saebyeol and his team has adopted. LW Blue lost one of the better sets of the year in a reverse sweep at the hands of EVERMORE and KongDoo Panthera. Saebyeolbe and LW Blue evolved again and took their revenge in the following week. Easily one of the most entertaining players in South Korea at the moment, Saebyeolbe is making his case to sit amongst legends in the coming years.
Adaptation also is a theme with the constellation in question here. Hercules defeated and completed his twelve labors, which included defeating the Nemean Lion and capturing the hound of the underworld, Cerberus. Each of the twelve tasks were different and could easily represent the playoffs where LW Blue had some missteps, but adapted to close out a strong season with a third place finish.
From his dominant performance during Season 2 APEX League, Ryu "KAISER" Sang Hoon has made a case for himself as potentially the best Reinhardt in the world. KAISER stands as one of the most aggressive Reinhardts as well, wielding his hammer more than protecting his team with his shield. With such a large stylistic choice in mind, KAISER and his team, RunAway, drafted strategies with his aggression in mind and advanced through their playoff bracket against all odds. With an absolute barnburner of a grand final, RunAway took home the silver medal this season; however, this does not take away from his huge impact for his team.
Easily an insanely strong frontline anchor for his team, KAISER consistently out performs his peers in Korea on Reinhardt. KAISER not only has himself to count on but a solid team in RunAway which features Genji all-star, Haksal. Often he finds himself behind enemy lines often able to sack the enemy team his a clutch Charge or his spectacular Fire Strike accuracy. However, the synergy between KAISER and his DPS lineup is the key for finding game winning Earthshatters.
Many of the plays that esports stars make are muscle memory and comes from them acting completely on their instincts. At times, KAISER is able to sniff out any form of weakness with the other Reinhardt and finds his own openings. Here we see that synergy that was talked about before really shine through. Haksal injures the enemy Reinhardt, which forces him to turn and hold Haksal at a higher priority than KAISER. This turns the enemy Reinhardt shield, which allows KAISER to hit one of the biggest Earthshatters ever. KAISER saw the opening Haksal gave him and pulled the trigger, clutching game five and securing their finals birth.
Recently, KAISER did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) where he talks about some of his thought process, or lack thereof, when in a high pressure game:
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“I should say 90% of my Reinhardt is unconscious [or] instinctive because I don't even remember what I did.”
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He goes on to say: “Whenever I see myself in [the Play of the Game], I am like "how the F@#$ did I do that?" Yes, I play with 90% instinct, 5% thinking about the game, 5% thinking about my last meal.” Lacking some of the infrastructure that is famous to the region, KAISER is a potentially amazing talent that is begging to be unlocked. If KAISER can raise his Winston to a level that could rival Miro or Butcher, we could have a serious tank-carry on our hands.
For me, KAISER embodies the constellation Orion. He stands on the frontline of the team fights, with his club in hand ready to charge into anyone who stands in his wake. Never getting into his own head, his instinct guide him to completing any task his team tosses his way.
These are only a handful of possible star players and some of their amazing plays. Many amazing players have yet to climb the rungs of the ladder and reach the professional level. With more and more Overwatch League information seeping out weekly, we could see brand new players amongst some of the greats. For now, these five players and their respective plays grace the sky as constellation of Overwatch.
Written by: @Volamel
Images courtesy of NASA/hubblesite CC-BY 3.0, Blizzard Entertainment and OGN
Inven Global Interview with Libero: