Letters for the Future Fan - BK Stars
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 team or organization that is long past your time. Something that is timeless in their story and their purpose. Something 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 the community has come from and to act as a Rolodex of info on just who these teams were so that their legacy might continue to live on through you; the reader. Now, sit back and prepare for a brief history lesson or a trip down memory lane.
OGN’s Overwatch APEX league was, for many people, their entrance and genesis into competitive Overwatch, both as a fans and a players. One of the most under appreciated teams during their stay within Overwatch has to be BK Stars. What they did was modest, but notable, and what they’ve done for the future of Overwatch is quite impressive if you think closely on it.
This is the shining story of BK Stars.
BK Stars was founded by famous South Korean broadcasder, Bo-byeom “Bokyems” Kim. One of their earliest showings was during the Overwatch APEX Season 1 Offline Qualifier #1, where they competed against teams like Rhinos Gaming Wings, EHOME.KR, and KongDoo Panthera (at the time called KongDoo Team 1). BK Stars managed to defeat LW Blue during the tournament, but they had played a best of three tie-break to qualify for APEX Season 1 against Team GH2. Carrying the moniker of “five good players and Bokyems,” BK Stars leader and founder quickly removed himself from the starting lineup after qualifying for APEX Season 1. Instead of Bokyems at DPS, BK Stars had Joon-hyuk "Bunny" Chae and Do-hyeon "DoHyeon" Kim for APEX Season 1.
With a rejuvenated DPS line, BK Stars made a respectable run through APEX Season 1. With a 3-0 match record and a 9-2 maps score, BK Stars commandingly took the first seed in Group B with notable wins over KongDoo Uncia (3-2) and western hopefuls NRG Esports (3-0). In a rematch from the offline qualifiers, BK Stars would first face off against LW Blue, whom they handily defeated, 3-0. Sadly, BK Stars was no match for a young Afreeca Freecs Blue led by future Houston Outlaws members coach Tae-yeong "TaiRong" Kim and Won-hyeop "ArHaN" Jeong. BK Stars would settle for 3-4th place alongside KongDoo Uncia. This would mean they would keep their spot within APEX and would not have to qualify again for APEX Season 2.
A young Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee playing for BK Stars, circa 2017.
With a new season brought new members and changes to the BK Stars roster. First, was the acquisition of a coach. Se-hwi "NamedHwi" Go was a notable South Korean caster who transitioned into a coaching role first with BK Stars. His addition to the team brought along Chae “Prove” Ho-jin at support, Kyung-bo "Alarm" Kim, and, a name that is all too familiar to us now, Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee. BK Stars were placed into Group A with APEX Season 1 champions, Team Envyus and with APEX Challenger Season 2 winners, Meta Athena. With two incredibly tough opponents, BK Stars dramatic took a hit in their placings compared to their first season. During APEX Season 2, BK Stars ended in the first round of group play with a 1-2 match record and going 4-6 in maps. They placed 9-12th, but remained in APEX.
APEX Season 3 came with its own changes and shuffles for BK Stars, most notably bringing in
Ham “Tarpon” Eun-sang, but this would not change much in the long run. Seated into Group D with former opponents Team Envyus and Meta Athena, BK Stars had, essentially, a repeat season going 1-2 in match record and 4-7 in map score. After three APEX Seasons, the BK Stars had one last streak across a midnight blue sky before they would fizzle out into the void of obscurity. Shortly after their 3-0 defeat at the hand sof Team Envyus on May 30th, BK Stars disbanded.
BK Stars preparing their next map choice, circa 2017.
Where are they now?
For their time, BK Stars had amazing eyes for talent, recruiting young players like Alarm, Carpe and Bunny. Bokyems’ trust in coach NamedHwi was also instrumental in the success of BK Stars and the future success of many of its players.
Team Captain Young-bin "TwinkI" Lim would find success after BK Stars as a coach and now coaches for two Japanese Contenders teams AKIHABARA ENCOUNT NG and Naturals Hokkaido.
NamedHwi and Carpe would find their way together again on the FaZe Clan roster as coach and player respectively. Later, they would be recruited to join and become staple members of the Philadelphia Fusion Overwatch League franchise.
Bunny would join Lunatic-Hai #2, which was the sister team to the widely successful Lunatic-Hai. He would participate in the Overwatch League first with the Seoul Dynasty, but during the Stage 3 roster shuffle he would be traded to the Los Angeles Valiant.
Main tank, Tarpon changed his name to “Oberon” and played with the Flash Lux organization. After the team faced inner turmoil, he found a home on MVP Space and now currently is playing with them in Contenders Korea 2018.
Support player, Alarm would join Bunny in Lunatic-Hai #2 and find success. After the Lunatic-Hai organization released their players, he was recruited to join the Philadelphia Fusion’s academy team, Fusion University.
Long time flex tank for BK Stars, Se-won "BERNAR" Shin sadly has not found the success of his former teammates. He went quiet after his time within BK Stars and has resurfaced with the Contenders Korea 2018 team, WGS Laurels Nine.
Shortly after APEX Season 1, Lee "Twilight" Joo Seok left the team and joined up with the CONBOX organization. He would find middeling amounts of success as a support player that specialized himself in playing Sombra. Those talents and creativity bore fruit when RunAway recruited him as their newest support player for Contenders Korea 2018.
As for Do-hyeon "DoHyeon" Kim, he joined Lunatic-Hai #2 after BK Stars. Shortly after the team disbanded. He never made a reappearance on a top team and to my knowledge is a still currently a free agent.
Oddly enough without BK Stars, the Philadelphia Fusion might never had made their run through Overwatch League Season 1, Stage 2. Bunny might never had the chance to prove himself on a large stage and might still be in Korea slogging away. A similar opportunity echoes itself for everyone who played with BK Stars.What made BK Stars’ story so interesting is that they have remained one of the best feeder teams that came out of South Korea during the APEX era of Overwatch. Many successful players and community members trace their competitive roots back to BK Stars and other small unknown Korean teams that have been lost to the annals of time.
See You Space Cowboy…
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs 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