Like a Bullet Train — GC Busan’s Influence on Modern Overwatch and the London Spitfire

Volamel 2018-08-03 05:53:06
  Late into 2017 during the final stretch of the APEX era of Overwatch, we saw the birth of GC Busan, a team whom no one saw coming, but everyone will remember as the last APEX champion and an integral half of what makes up the championship winning team of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League, the London Spitfire. With a year's worth of fantastic achievements, multiple future Hall of Fame inductees, and with multiple players now scattered throughout many of North America’s amateur teams, it is safe to say that GC Busan is one of the most influential teams in Overwatch’s short history. The train to Busan departed its homely station in Busan, South Korea during the Road to APEX promotional tournament which GC Busan won without dropping a single map. This gifted them massive momentum leading into APEX Challenger Season 4 where they would perform incredibly well and only drop an occasion map and set to then rivals, LW Red. Shortly after qualifying for the main APEX tournament, the team would part ways with long support player Jang “ReungReung” Woo-Yeong and added Jung "Closer" Won-Sik and Sung "WooHyaL" Seung-Hyun to their roster.   During their debut, you may remember many pundits and analysts, including myself, graded GC Busan as a “solid fundamental based team” and “easily forgettable” as APEX Challengers Season 4 reached its climax. However, GC Busan massively leveled up during the second phase of group play in APEX Season 4 and managed to defeat the reigning champions, Lunatic-Hai, twice after suffering a game five loss to RunAway. During the semifinals against C9 KongDoo, GC Busan dismantled the promising roster, 4-0 and would defeat RunAway in a rematch from the second group stage in the grand final. The core of GC Busan has all walked the royal road and have never looked back. Climbing through the South Korean amateur scene into an APEX title reign is a feat on its own, but GC Busan would immediately travel to China to compete in APAC 2017 and cruise with weeks of practice on a new patch and trounce RunAway in another best of seven. But the train to Busan does not stop there, the London Spitfire would sign a large majority of the GC Busan team and enter the Overwatch League with one of the most powerful rosters in Overwatch history. That potential seemed to ignite as they emerged with the Overwatch League Stage 1 playoff title in hand. To add to their achievements, the only dip in performance for the GC Busan core happened during their run with the London Spitfire in Stage 3 and Stage 4 of the Overwatch League. To put this factoid into a more edible format, the GC Busan core only managed to place outside of top three, twice, within a year's worth of competition. Following their poor performance during Stage 3 and 4 and issues fielding a consistent roster, a majority of the boy’s from Busan would end up being put on the team’s inactivity list and subsequently released. Even with the team’s lofty achievements, most of the GC Busan narrative has been driven by its players. Sung "WooHyaL" Seung-Hyun for his time as the team's bulletproof D.Va player was a pivotal member in terms of GC Busan’s defense. During GC Busan’s rise to fame, D.Va was more of a mitigator of damage and was much more defensive in nature -- it also helped that WooHyaL was everywhere. It felt as if he had an isometric view of the map and complete mastery over the spatial awareness between his hero, the enemy, and on the battlefield. He set the pace for how D.Va was conceptualized for the next few months after GC Busan’s rise and was constantly used as an example of an oppressively defensive D.Va player in such a Tracer dominated metagame. While WooHyaL was signed to the London Spitfire, he was subsequently let go from the team on June 18th, 2018 and currently plays with the NYXL academy team, XL2 Academy. Accompanying WooHyaL on the frontlines as the main tank, Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee has consistently been a force to be reckoned with. Surprisingly enough, Gesture had a colorful history as a professional League of Legends player in Japan, played under the name “Corn” and played for Rascal Jester and 7th heaven. Adding more context to this small bit of trivia, Gesture played the role of Jungler, which excels and is graded by how much coordination a player has with his teammates -- which explains the legend that Gesture has built for himself working in tandem with a certain DPS player. While his play in professional League of Legends was short-lived, those same skills transferred over in spades with his DPS partner Park "Profit" Joon-Yeong. People tend to forget about how dominant Profit has been since GC Busan’s amazing run through the APEX Season 4 playoff bracket. Profit and Gesture literally wrote the manual on how to dive correctly and dictated the discussion on Winston and Tracer synergy. With the coordination between the two of them, on top of their world-class skill, Profit and Gesture will both go down in the history books as one of the most dominant and influential duos in Overwatch history. Let us not forget Profit’s ability to flex onto Genji after having very little official playtime -- in the grand final of APEX Season 4 against RunAway -- and performing incredibly well on the cyborg ninja. Not to mention, that he’s repeated this feat during the grand finals of the Overwatch League with Mei, Hanzo, and Brigitte. With how much he alone has impacted the team it’s impossible to ignore a player of this caliber. To put their legend into perspective, GC Busan arguable has surpassed the legend of Lunatic-Hai’s repeat major victories during APEX Seasons 2 and 3 with their own triumphant tales during APEX Season 4 and during APAC 2017. APEX Season 4 will always have an asterisk over it seeing how one of the top teams, LW Blue, dropped out to better prepare for the Overwatch League, but APAC 2017 on the other hand nearly makes up for that disparity in how quickly GC Busan had to adapt to a new patch and a new metagame. What really seals the deal is their performance during the Overwatch League Stage 1 grand finals. You would be correct in saying that this was not only the roster of GC Busan playing as they had players like Kim "birdring" Ji-Hyeok and Choi "Bdosin" Seung-Tae from KongDoo Panthera playing alongside them. However, the London Spitfire used a majority of the team to reach this point and constantly flexed off of their starting six players to reach the grand final and trounce the Houston Outlaws and reverse sweep the New York Excelsior. Even looking at their track record of the support staff members, GC Busan has housed multiple Overwatch League coaches, one of which has a history as a former professional player. Coach Kim “Jfeel” Jeong-Min was formerly a professional Heroes of the Storm player and played under MVP Sky and RAVE HOTS and now coaches the London Spitfire along with former GC Busan coach Park "changgoon" Chang-Geun. The former head coach of GC Busan, Lee "Hocury" Ho-Cheol was signed by the Seoul Dynasty as the Overwatch League began and now has been promoted internally to General Manager of the Seoul Dynasty. With that being said, this makes a very convincing case to say that GC Busan is one of the most influential teams in Overwatch history. Throughout the Overwatch League playoffs and even during the grand final, their depth of experience was on full display. One of the biggest criticism of the London Spitfire’s return to form has been their consistency. Can the team stay glued together and still manage to cooperate with one another? Can birdring stay on form? If Gesture if forced to play Reinhardt, can he hold his own? There were many questions answered after the first best of five on Friday -- the legendary train from Busan was not only fully functional, but it seemed as good as new. London expertly dissected their opponents' unwillingness to play more mobile compositions and met them head-on with smothering pressure onto Philadelphia's Widowmaker. Without diving into dull and contrive analysis, the London Spitfire looked like a well-oiled machine in the grand finals of the Overwatch League and some aspect or percentage of that success is due to the work that GC Busan has done to develop not only star players, but to align themselves with great support staff. And for a team with such a diverse and beautiful story to quickly reposition and regroup in the final minutes of the 23rd hour, could you ask for a better finish for the inaugural season of the Overwatch League? The London Spitfire will continue to stand on the shoulders of GC Busan’s legend and reach for new heights as they look to defend their title in the second season of the Overwatch League. While the train to Busan might have a fresh coat of blue and orange paint and is now shuttling Londoner’s across Europe, you can rest assured that the old bullet train to Busan will always hold the memories and achievements of the GC Busan core. From their royal road to their string of successful tournament showings, GC Busan will undoubtedly be inducted into the competitive Overwatch folklore and the future Hall of Fame. ________ 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.

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