As an organization that has been prominent in a handful of other esports titles, LGD Gaming is one of the most well known Chinese esports organizations. Compared to their level of success in League of Legends and Dota 2, LGD has not met that same level of equilibrium in Overwatch. Without a major tournament victory to their name, LGD is searching for their chance in the sun. However, there is one unlikely player that consistently gives fuels their pursuit of a title shot.
Zheng "Shy" Yangjie began his career as a support player in 2016 and has been carted around to fit the team’s varying motifs throughout 2017. Now, he has solidified himself as a mainstay of LGD’s offensive arsenal with explosive hitscan prowess coupled with a proficiency in certain projectile heroes. But no matter what, Shy was always ready to adapt and overcome -- at any cost.
After placing the highest out of any Chinese team during Overwatch Team Story Chapter 4 hopes were high as they entered the first season of Overwatch Contenders for 2018 -- and, to their credit, things looked promising. LGD held a commanding lead over Group B, going undefeated and only dropping one map to Team Skadi's Gift. Things went according to plan through the quarter and semifinals where LGD dispatched LinGan e-Sports and the Shanghai Dragon's academy team, Team CC.
“Fatigue is not a word Shy has adopted into his vernacular.”
However, the team hit a brick wall in the grand finals against the South Korean powerhouse, Lucky Future Zenith.
While they were in the argument for being the best Chinese team at the time, they still fell at the hands of Lucky Future Zenith in a grueling five-game series, 2-3. It’s this recurring narrative of just falling short in the last moments that is prominent throughout LGD’s time in Overwatch.
Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 1, 2-3 loss to Lucky Future Zenith.
Overwatch Premier Series 2017 Spring, 3-4 loss to 1246.
Overwatch Team Story Chapter 4, 2-3 loss to X6-Gaming.
After competing for nearly two years, Shy continues forward representing the only team he has ever known.
LGD Gaming has been searching for that added edge to push them past their longstanding plateau. Like a traditional athlete desperate to overcome their own demons, LGD is scrambling for a proverbial “sixth gear” to shift into to mid-match to battle fatigue and give them the confidence they need to abolish their stigma of unfound glory. Playing point, Shy adds that exact element to this seasoned Chinese team.
What is more interesting about LGD’s unmoving anchor is that Shy comes alive late into each map and every match. Fatigue is not a word Shy has adopted into his vernacular. Living up to his moniker Shy seems timid right up until his team needs him the most. Then, in beautiful irony, Shy breaks out the heroics. These lionhearted drives match the aggressive playstyle LGD has adopted leading into the second season of Overwatch Contenders China.
To set the stage, Shy and LGD Gaming entered Overwatch Contenders China Season 2 as vengeful silver medalists and as one of the best teams in China. Week after week, Shy has continued to live up to his namesake during the first four to five minutes of each map and within the last minute of regulation time, Shy enters full bloom.
During Week 1 against Legend Young Beyond, he nearly fought to recapture Lijiang Tower, Gardens in an overtime push against a severe numbers disadvantage and was only stopped by a D.Va Self Destruct. In the same match on King’s Row, he gifts his team an extra minute on the clock with a brilliant kill onto the enemy Genji, which canceled his Dragon Blade which would have easily LGD’s push, stone cold.
During Week 2 against Lucky Future, he led the charge late into the series on Rialto to push the match to a game 5 and ultimately a reverse sweep. His performance here exemplifies his style of extreme endurance. Shy will rarely ever underperform, but when he shines is when the enemy gets overconfident or is fatigued late into a match. It is here where the shark smells blood. From Rialto to the tiebreaker map, Ilios, Shy is a constant thorn in the side of the Lucky Future DPS line. A good majority of the time, Shy is either winning Widowmaker duels, whittling down Lucky Future’s backline with Tracer, or dealing absurd amounts of damage as Hanzo.
A victory for Shy and LGD Gaming during Overwatch Contenders China could change the course of Chinese Overwatch as we know it. Hypothetically, a Contenders title would solidify Shy and his longtime teammates as the best free agents coming out of China leading into 2019. Anything outside of gold this season may result in a missed opportunity to headline alongside the top contenders in Burbank, California on the Overwatch League stage.
6,471 miles away in the hustle and bustle of Shanghai, China esports is quickly becoming incredibly lucrative
. Known for its cultural impact and beautiful skyline, it’s that same skyline that represents the future for LGD and their sixth gear. Riding on the coattails of a disappointing performance in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League, the Shanghai Dragons will likely be on the market for new domestic talent.
Ultimately, Shy is playing for his legacy. He chases mastery to not only further his career but to be immortalized as one of the greatest players in Chinese Overwatch history. And if he continues on this trajectory, he is in prime position to be on the ballot.
Even though LGD has floundered about during their first two weeks of the second season — even though Shy is not the most consistent DPS player in the world, there is hope. If Shy can stay the governor of fatigue for LGD Gaming, they will always be a dangerous challenger to the Overwatch Contenders title.
For his team, Shy is the immovable object graced with unwavering endurance and fortitude. For his adversaries, he is the unbreakable wall the comes alive in the eleventh hour.
LGD Gaming needs Shy because he has the keys to the sixth gear.
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 Banana Culture.