The Heartwarming Tale of Mickie
We know Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod to be the bubbly little brother figure of the Dallas Fuel, but to other Thai esports fans, they know him as “P.Mick.” Known for his jovial banter and smile inducing antics, Mickie never retained any spite or ill intent when playing around, just harmless jabs placed within the team’s atmosphere to lighten the mood. With that positive attitude and growth focused mindset, you can make a serious impact on people's lives, and that is what Mickie continues to do to this very day. He just wants the fans, and more importantly his team, to smile and be happy.
However, things were not always so easy for the Thai native.
In an heartwarming interview with JSL Global Media, Mickie opens up about his life before becoming a superstar in the Overwatch League and the face of positivity for the Dallas Fuel. At the age of nine, his father tragically passed away - leaving himself, his sister and his mother alone. However, his mother insisted on keeping Mickie’s way of life intact. His hobbies included traveling to the gaming shop near his childhood home and immersing himself in games. Imagine a young Mickie sat in his small room focused on playing Contra, that same patented smile unwavering in the face of uncertainty. Things looked bleak for young Mickie, but his hope for a brighter tomorrow was relentless. At that same gaming shop, he would find one of his first jobs and win his first few tournaments. While maintaining high marks in school, Mickie continued to hone his craft and stoke the competitive fire that would allow him to travel the world over.
At the age of 14, Mickie traveled to South Korea to compete in a rhythm game called “Audition” after qualifying as the second in the country. This began his hunt to become the best. At 16 he joined and were successful Point Blank team. Like many Overwatch professional players, Mickie came from a background in another first-person shooter (FPS) called Point Blank. In 2015 he came out of retirement to play for his team, DEFINITE GZ-GAMING, one last time and won the Point Blank International Championship held in Indonesia. Not only did he and his five teammates split the prize purse of $50,000, but Mickie was also crowned MVP of the event. This sustained his passion for years, but there was still something missing. Shortly after, he would become one of the first Thai nationals to compete in a world-class esports team in a game called “Overwatch.”
Emerging from the fog of a hectic and middling regular season of OGN’s Overwatch APEX inaugural season, one of the best western teams in the world at the time, Team Envyus needed someone to step in after losing a long time DPS star, Ronnie "Talespin" DuPree. This left the team eager to find a sixth player. This opening would be filled in the form Mickie, a starry-eyed
Mickie was a former member of the Thai team “Team WeedTime” and was first scouted after competing in the 2016 Overwatch World Cup where he and Team Thailand placed 9-12th. The late support player for Team Envyus, Dennis "INTERNETHULK" Hawelka was said to have picked him out of the crowd of applicants solely based on his overwhelmingly positive attitude and prowess in the game.
Mickie’s entrance into one of the most illustrious Overwatch teams for its time period was an interesting one. Envyus were in dire straits after an emergency roster swap, and Mickie was brought into the team as a stand-in during Season 1 of APEX. His unlikely heroic story continues where a patch change shifted the metagame, where D.Va would now be very favored and this would play directly into Mickie’s hero pool. With an unlikely synergy with main tank Christian "cocco" Jonsson and himself, they managed to swing what many people assumed was a lost season in something for the history books.
This would mark the start of the Cinderella story of APEX Season 1, where Envyus would go on to upset their European rivals, Rogue, KongDoo Uncia and then demolish Afreeca Freecs Blue in the Grand Final. They would then fly back to the US. to compete in MLG Las Vegas 2016 where they won convincingly with only a few days time to practice in between the two events. As they competed in MLG Las Vegas, technically speaking, Mickie was still a stand-in and was unsure if Envyus wanted him to become a tenured member of the team. After their win at MLG Las Vegas founder and owner of Team Envyus, Mike “Hastr0” Rufail, would join the team in celebrating on stage and publicly announce that he was, in fact, going to sign Mickie to the roster. With the consistent performances Mickie had shown during APEX Season 1 and now at MLG Las Vegas on such short notice, how could you not sign him? The humble reserve player had a contract in hand.
He had done it. Mickie was a progamer.
MLG Vegas was a resounding success, but APEX Season 2 loomed over them. Mickie and the team took the invitation to return back to South Korea and defend their title. Team Envyus stood atop a sheer mountain and at the base, 12 South Korean teams, and 3 western teams were anxiously waiting for their chance to climb to the top. As for Envyus, Season 2 did not go as expected. Missing their mark, Envyus exited the tournament at 5-8th place falling in the second round of the group stage. APEX Season 3 fared better results with a 4th place finish, but still placing a bit outside where many people expected them to end.
Overwatch Contenders 2017 Season 1 would be the next conquest for Team Envyus and Mickie. They reunited with their dominant ways during Overwatch Contenders 2017 Season 1 with a strong victory going 9-0 in the tournament as a whole and only dropping 4 maps in the entirety of the event. This would be the final event Mickie would technically play under the Team Envyus banner as they would be rebranded as the Dallas Fuel, as they transitioned into the Overwatch League.
The Dallas Fuel was set by many to be easily a playoff caliber team for the first stage of the Overwatch League. Mickie and co. struggled out of the gates in stage one going 3-7 in matches and 14-3-25 (wins/ties/loss) in maps. With his time within Team Envyus, Mickie has taken on a more vocal and emotional leader within his team. During their stage two match against the LA Valiant, the team's communication was taking a turn for the worse. In an open mic segment, Mickie had reminded his teammates to take a step back and remember to play around the objective and touch the payload. “Guys we have to call.” Reminding each player they played a key role in strategy and that communication is the framework of said strategy. Mickie continued, “Effect when you touch you have to call. If you're not going to touch, you say it. If you say nothing we’re lost. We have to call.”
From a struggling family to becoming an integral member of the Dallas Fuel, Mickie is a brilliant light of positivity. His keystone role within the Dallas Fuel not only is incredibly important for the team as a whole but is applicable anywhere. This leadership skill set mixed with his overwhelming work ethic and urge to make people smile makes him infinitely employable. One quote that sums Mickie up in his entirety is something he said directly after winning APEX Season 1. He was asked who he thought was the MVP of their grand finals match against Afreeca Freecs. “No one is MVP.” He said sternly, his trademark smile suppressed, “We have good teamwork. That is why we win.”
That’s just who Mickie is.
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