Letters for the Future Fan - Libero
Dear fan of the future,
I am unsure who is dominating the Overwatch esports ecosystem when you read this, or who is quickly climbing the rungs of the competitive ladder, but I write to you today about a player that is long past your time. A player that is timeless in their story and their purpose. A player that unrelentingly dared you to challenge your perception of the current landscape of Overwatch and had the courage to chase their dreams. These are my letters from the past to help educate people on where this community has come from and to understand just who these teams where, so that their legacy will continue to live on through you, the reader. Now, sit back, and prepare for either a brief history lesson or a trip down memory lane.
Meet “the CEO”, the “Korean Swiss-army knife”, and #10 for the New York Excelsior; Kim "Libero" Hye Sung.
As I started to dip my toes in the proverbial Overwatch water, I stumbled across a match in the South Korean amateur scene between Rhinos Gaming Titan and a team called Meta Athena; I was entranced. Their creative use of Mei’s Ice wall, their use of Sombra, and their chess-like movements—it all captured my attention. But there was one player who commanded my focus be placed on him.
His namesake is mostly attributed to the position played in Volleyball and Soccer, and it’s not too far off what “role” he plays in Overwatch. First it was his Mei, which most people know him for. Then, he impressed me on Hanzo, of all heroes. The team had a way of using Libero’s Hanzo sparingly, but enough to make it a consistent threat. After continuing to watch this team compete, it seemed like I was adding more and more heroes to this list.
Since his genesis into OGN’s APEX League, Libero has been a stand out player. When I tell you that he can play, and probably has played, most heroes in a professional setting, I mean it. His strength comes from his oddly large hero pool and his ability to be the catalyst for each team he has played for.
Originally, Libero played for a small team called UW Quix. One of their first tournaments together went a bit less than ideal, taking an early loss to Team Pandemonium in the Overwatch Power League - Preseason. Next, they competed at the VSL Overwatch Korea: Season 1 and took home second place. This roster would then reform under the name Quix X, keeping Libero as a central figure and adding a star Zarya player that went by the name of, Hoon. The core of both of the Quix rosters would slowly be shaped and molded by adding Sayaplayer, JaeTwo, Kris, and EFFECT. After winning under the Meta banner during the Chinese online cup, the MyTh Cup Season 1, this roster would become the core roster that would challenge some of South Korea’s best teams, Meta Athena.
Libero and team Quix X compete in the Overwatch Power League - Preseason.
This team quickly exploded out of the gate during APEX Challenger Season 2, where Meta Athena would go on an uncontested 11-0 win streak through the online portion qualifying as the first seed leading into the Super Week promotional tournament only dropping 5 maps. Super Week provided little challenge to the rising team as they improved their record to 13-0 and qualified for APEX Season 2 - all with Libero at the helm.
Libero would lead the core of the roster that many now remember as Meta Athena, the team that roared through OGN APEX Season 2 on a 21 match win streak that ended at the hands of the eventual winners, Lunatic-Hai. During the legendary run through APEX Season 2 for Meta Athena, Libero was one of the masterminds behind Meta Athena’s many Mei boost strategies. This ingenious tactic was the crux of Meta Athena’s success at working around the Reinhardt centric metagame at the time.
Libero’s main strength comes from his diverse hero pool, but the ability to flex to off tank if need be. He not only is a top tier DPS player, but he was the leader of offensive stats for D.Va for a long time and has proven himself as a serious threat in the off-tank role. With 20 minutes or more of play time on Reaper, Mei, Genji, D.Va, Roadhog, Pharah, Soldier 76, and Tracer, Libero is the quintessential jack of all trades. Former Starcraft Brood War professional player and OGN Caster, Kim Jung-min believed that the ace of Meta Athena was Libero. During a live stream in Season 2 of OGN’s APEX League, he elaborates and explains that he believes that Libero is the catalyst of Meta Athena and in manys ways, he is the ‘TviQ of Meta Athena.’
Libero constantly switched heroes depending on the necessity, and his wide hero pool allows the whole team to be versatile with their strategy. He has received so much recognition that he has earn himself the nickname, “the CEO.” In a past OGN APEX broadcast, APEX caster, Wolf Schroder, explained to us why, “We have so many fans in the studio for Libero, his nickname being ‘CEO’ in Korea, because he ‘owns the rights to all of the heroes’.”
“The most exciting playmaker in competitive Overwatch hasn't even graduated high school yet.” Tyler Erzberger from ESPN Esports quote succinctly wraps up Libero’s story with a nice satin bow, but it doesn’t end there. Finding a player who has played two key roles incredibly well, is equally hard to find. He has led Meta Athena to their cinderella story run in APEX Season 2 as their off-tank and their flex DPS. After his departure from the Meta organization early this October, one of the most dynamic players in Overwatch is on the free market. As such a valuable player, it should be no surprise to you that Libero has joined the New York Excelsior.
New York’s number 10 is an important representation of a style of play becoming “fluid.” When Bruce Lee famously said “become water my friend,” I’m not sure Libero was even born, and yet, it’s like he was born with that mantra baked into his psyche. If there is a hole, Libero fills it. Without question, without any thought. He views it as something that just needs to be done— strictly business.
As I write this, the New York Excelsior prepares for their Overwatch League Preseason games. One of their many star players, Libero quietly sits sharpening and honing his arsenal of heroes at his disposal in an almost selfless fashion.
Because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if he is the star, if he gets any attention or what role he plays, what matters most to Libero is winning games of Overwatch, and that is exactly what he and New York Excelsior intend to do.
Godspeed to Libero and “ever upward”,
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
Statistics courtesy of @Winston’s Lab.