Esports and competitive gaming demand a particular breed of person and Ronnie "Talespin" DuPree is your titular veteran competitor. Arriving from a rich and successful history in multiple games such as Shootmania, Firefall, Tribes: Ascend and Nosgoth, it made perfect sense that Talespin was going to enter Overwatch and flourish.
Talespin is an architect. No matter the task, he is able to approach a problem and assemble a solution.
As a player with that level of accomplishment, you don’t compile that much experience without having that extra one or two percent that puts you ahead of the pack.
And for his time, he was undisputedly the best Pharah in the competitive scene.
With Team Envy’s prodigal son returning home to don the black and blue once more, the archives must be unlocked to revisit and remind of the history of such an influential player during the pre-Overwatch League era.
Led by Talespin and his cohort, Matt “Coolmatt” Iorio, Team Hubris was the first team that Talespin would call home. It would be here that the world would first learn of the sheer force that he could muster up on any given day. Winning six straight tournaments late into 2015, Talespin made his intention as clear as day; he would not be taken lightly and he was done with being a god of dead games.
As the first large-scale organization Team Envy jumped at the chance to sign upcoming talent to a potentially large-scale esport. This iteration of Team Envy saw the likes of Coolmatt, Warsi Faraaz "Stoop" Waris, Michael "Ras" Penna, and John "Minstrel" Fisher, but sadly after two events, the team disbanded. As the sole remaining member on the team, Talespin was approached by a dominant team in Europe, team IDDQD. Talespin pointed them towards Team Envy brass and a contract was quickly drawn up. Team IDDQD would soon play for Team Envy, but little did we know that a dynasty was being forged before our very eyes.
57-0 was the match win streak that Team Envy managed to maintain throughout the summer of 2016. The streak would be dashed during ESL’s Atlantic Showdown where Rogue would upset the king’s of Overwatch at the time in the fifth and final map. While the 3-4th place was an uncommon occurrence for the boys in blue, Talespin would not be deterred. His steely demeanor was evergreen leading into the next major event, ELEAGUE’s Overwatch Open. Again, Team Envy was unable to match their previous glory and fell at the hands of Misfits, 3-1. Silver was not a color that complimented Talespin, but nonetheless, he persisted forward.
The next stop was Seoul, South Korea for an event that would change the landscape of Team Envy and esports history.
Envy was the Western hopefuls in OGN’s Overwatch APEX league. Like many teams before them, they were not favored and for good reason. Out of their element and pressured, the Team Envy of old was a shell of itself. Going 2-1 in matches and 7-4 in maps to the likes of Lunatic-Hai, CONBOX T6, and Mighty Storm, Team Envy made the playoffs, but things quickly went rotten.
Quietly hinted at during the Group Draw ceremony, rival team Rogue mentioned that the roster was going through some internal turmoil and chose Team Envy in the first round as their opponents. Shortly after the ceremony, it was revealed that Talespin would be leaving the team immediately before playoffs were set to begin and emergency stand-in, Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod, would be substituted as a stand-in.
Following his sudden departure from his tenured team during what would be a pivotal time in the brief history of Overwatch, Talespin went dark. Questioning his teammates' effort and citing mental fatigue, Talespin departed the first season of OGN’s Overwatch APEX and took the time away to refocus himself and search for his next opportunity.
As Talespin took his somber flight home, Team Envy went on to win the entire event and would become the first team in esports history to win on South Korean soil.
Talespin was a part of Team Envy’s storied run from the early beta up until his departure from the team during APEX Season 1. He was the author of the modern day Pharah manifesto and was a leading force into what how we see the hero played today. He was one of the earliest definitions of personal prowess breaking the mold of the more dominant metagame.
There is a reason why they call him “the Aviator.”
The creative use of his signature hero was what captivated the early adopters of Overwatch and while he was mainly a projectile DPS player, he demonstrated a high proficiency on hitscan as well. His intelligent use of Pharah’s Concussive Blast to help him not only traverse the map but also to help reposition himself was paramount. In his heyday, Talespin did start to experiment with the idea of a “low-hanging” Pharah which played on the idea that the closer you are to the target, the easier it is to hit.
Talespin was unparalleled in the sky and some of his unintentional students that have followed the teachings of Talespin’s include Liam "Mangachu" Campbell and Hwang "Fl0w3R" Yeon-oh from XL2 Academy. In an interview conducted by Esports Heaven
, Mangachu touches on how much Talespin impacted his own play. “Oh yeah, [he had] a crazy amount of influence. During the closed beta he was pretty much the only stream I watched when he actually streamed. [I] would watch his POV whenever I could and was always excited to scrim against him.” As one of the top Pharah players at the time, it only makes sense that Mangachu took inspiration from a legend.
As for Fl0w3r, in an interview with OGN Plus, he talks about learning to respect Pharah’s presence from watching Talespin play and how he incorporated certain skills Talespin pioneered into his own play. “I have to mention Talespin who is also my favorite player,” Fl0w3r said. “Talespin actually inspired me to play Pharah more mainly. His Pharah was the pioneer of its kind no matter what the meta was. I saw Talespin's Pharah shutting down Pine's Widowmaker constantly. That's when I felt Pharah is pretty viable when you are good.”
For Talespin, who writes an astounding 57 match win streak and numerous title wins on his professional resume, he now approaches the next step in his career; Overwatch Contenders. His return is less a story of redemption and revival and more a story of arriving in a new environment and reminding the world what you have to offer.
Returning to the only jersey he’s ever known, Talespin faces an abundance of lost time to account for and a certain level of success to maintain. As expectations mount, the newly acquired Team Envy, formerly of EnVision eSports, is young and equally as talented. Securing a 3-4 place finish at the Overwatch Contenders Finals in Poland, the core that now makes up Team Envy are not to be trifled with. It will be up to Talespin to lead by positive example as a veteran in the space and help these young upstarts reach the same respect that the name “Team Envy” deserves. However, putting his teammates aside, Talespin has his own demons to conquer.
While in it’s short history, Overwatch has produced immensely talented players, but Talespin lies within the few elites on the cusp of a distinction many only dreams of, a title that demands equal parts attention and respect. With his return to Team Envy, Talespin is fighting to be called a “legend” once more.
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 Team Envy.