Captain of the Red Lantern: Fleta’s Mad Life
Kim “Fleta” Byung-Seon, of team Flash Lux, is stuck.
Stuck on a team that is better suited for southern blues rather than poppy upbeat tunes. Browbeaten and caught in the mud, OGN’s APEX Season 3 loops the same old song for this quintessential “Red Lantern” team. This theme of “Red Lantern” refers to a lantern that train conductors would hang out on the last portion of a passenger train to keep track if any of the segments of the train became unhitched. This then spawned multiple awards being given out to those who finish in last in the Alaskan Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race and in the prestigious cycling event, the Tour De France.
With even the quickest eye-test, Fleta is a visible outlier on the team. However, he has shown to be a bit of an unknown quantity, as of late. At times being inconsistent with his performances, most recently Flash Lux was completely thrashed around at the hands of MVP Space, 3-0. They looked to and counted on Fleta to be their “skeleton key” to greatness and grandeur. Yes, Fleta is the air within Flash Lux’s life vest, but you cannot expect a life vest to keep you afloat with breeze blocks cementing you to the ocean floor.
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"Fleta has a high potential to carry when given the chance and can put [out] a burst of damage, so we tried to give him the most space possible." - Flash Lux, Veil
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It seems — at least to me — that the team lacks direction rather than raw mechanical skill. The call to swap from dive to mirroring MVP’s Phara-Mercy combo was a bit too slow, this coupled with the tempo from MVP’s three man Resurrection was enough to win them the first point of Control. Kisu compared to his counterpart Undine is just outclassed in terms of Mercy play. When you have back to back three man Resurrections from Undine compared to Kisu choose to solo Resurrect, Modern right as he is about to respawn spells either communication errors or personal misplays. Now, we cannot place all the blame on Kisu, but this just supports either a lack of direction and key decision making either on an individual level on or the leader which from an early interview from InvenGlobal, points towards Weeso. These themes and trends continue on through the series and they just seem to fumble over themselves which results in the odd 3-0 loss to MVP Space.
Even with these facts in mind, you cannot take away the fact that Flash Lux have maintained their APEX slot. After every season, pundits and experts alike carry the remark that “this will be the strongest APEX Season to date,” and Flash Lux has remained afloat. That being said, Fleta holds his own weight against some of the best teams coming out of South Korea. Don’t let his team fool you, his statistics are quite respectable. Playing five collective heroes at a professional level in the current landscape is a relatively good arsenal to break out against an opponent at any given time. Some of this better heroes, however, include Phara, Genji and Roadhog.
All lights are green with Fleta’s Phara, but it’s hard for him to show his true potential when his team is running against the wind. When it comes to Genji he carries a lot of the weight with having a solid 34% of his team’s kills. In comparison to his fellow Genji’s he is considerably better at scoring “first blood” on the enemy team, boasting a 21.5% first blood rate. Even Fleta’s Tracer looks to have potential. Now I must admit, the sample size for this is a bit small (approximately around 3-5 matches), but the fact remains that within those matches he racked up 37.8% of his team’s kills, which is the best in the league.
Another thing to note is that Fleta was Flash Lux’s flex-tank player in Season 1, 2 and even coming into Super Week of Season 3. He played Zarya and Roadhog and left the DPS roles up to his teammates at the time. It seems like he is definitely more suited for a DPS role and as Season 3 continues, we should see Fleta really start to grow into that role a bit more. With his rather large hero pool, we easily could see Fleta adapt to a new metagame if one should present itself. The idea of adaptability and flexibility is something that is underexplored and is invaluable to an Overwatch roster.
While their stories are not directly comparable, Fleta’s downtrodden story compares with another Korean figurehead from another game, Hong "MadLife" Min Gi. And with the story of MadLife, you cannot ignore his duo partner from 2013-2015, Seon "Space" Ho San. MadLife had it all. Emily Rand, formerly of The Score Esports, now at Yahoo Esports, had this succinct quote about the support legend in 2016: “MadLife stepped up and dragged the carcass of CJ Entus for as long as he could in the spring season, and even with their summer ending in relegation, his achievements and effort deserve recognition. He wasn’t the best support of the year, but he’s definitely an all-star.”  Space, on the other hand, was someone who, in a way, never lived up to his partner's glory. MadLife was hailed, at his peak, as one of the best support around. Whereas, Space was someone who held him back, begrudgingly holding the mantle and ownership of “Space Prison.” It is to say that Fleta is to MadLife as Space is to a majority of the Flash Lux roster.
Imagine the lengths Fleta might be able to really take a team if they were to scout him. Take a team like KongDoo Uncia — having similar veterans like DNCE, Butcher and Bubbly at his back would surely be a great fit. Not only would KongDoo Uncia bring players of similar skill together, but the ability to be fostered within a sister-team atmosphere is something that would be highly beneficial for any professional player and especially for someone of Fleta’s caliber. What if oxo, Fury, and Umtae joined forces with Fleta to catapult Rhinos Gaming Wings into a playoff caliber team? Either of those options would be a polarizing yet career defining journey for Fleta.
That or Flash Lux could undergo another restructuring and possibly come out of the deal with some rookie talent that really allows Fleta and company to show us how bright they can shine. Unfortunately, Fleta is seemingly stuck in his own form of “Space Prison.”
Fleta and Flash Lux still have a chance, albeit small, to make it out of their group in APEX Season 3. They compete closely with a powerhouse in LuxuryWatch Blue, my darkhorse pick of the tournament in CONBOX Spirit and a rising MVP Space. If Fleta and Flash Lux can pull themselves up by the bootstraps, they could easily make an upset or two.
Fleta’s story thus far is more akin to a mercenary or gun-for-hire: someone who would rather remain in their comfort zone rather than someone who cares for the thrill of “big game” hunts. It is obvious that he stands out from the rest of his team and this will undoubtedly cause him to garner more attention. Is it possible that Fleta also has to make the tough decision that has been going around the Overwatch round table of late? We’ve seen team’s like Afreeca Freecs Blue start to really catch fire and seem to be coming back to an upward trajectory. The same sentiment goes for CONBOX Spirit, who’ve started to step up to the plate with their own unique flair and style. The question remains: can Flash Lux do the same? Fleta stands on the horizon of hard choices. If a team scouted Fleta, would he leave his compatriots behind to pursue greater ventures or would he see his team to their most full blossom?
In the race to reach APEX Season 3’s finish line, our last place contestant shines cherry red. Even with a flat tire, Fleta’s feet are racing to try and keep up with the rest of the pack. The trail leads them through steep rocky passes and sticky quagmires alike. Everytime without fail, Fleta and crew seem unphased by their surroundings as they continue to push forward. As his bike slowly starts to crumble and degenerate beneath him, Fleta brakes and heaves the cycle onto his back. This apropos analogy not only depicts but explains Fleta’s role within Flash Lux and what he is to the team.
With Fleta at the helm, can Flash Lux break into the middle of the pack or will he be subject to another Red Lantern finish?
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLG’s of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at @Volamel.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment and OGN.