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Twilight—the Many-Faced God

Volamel 2019-05-17 04:02:39

Introduction

  A famous proverb theorizes that people have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to close loved ones. And the third face, you never show anyone. However, those three faces make up one composition. Three faces, but one person. Peopleand by proxyprofessional esports athletes are not exempt from these many facades whether they intentionally don them as masks or not. South Korean native, Lee "Twilight" Jooseok, has been a professional Overwatch player for nearly two-and-a-half years and has, for the most part, laid under the radar, escaping both praise and criticism. Up until he met one particular team in RunAway. Within the last year, Twilight and his team have all undergone a metamorphosis of confidence and skill that has rocketed them to be globally touted as one of the best Overwatch rosters ever assembled. With that praise comes lofty expectations which Twilight has met and even superseded and is now entering the discussion of best at his role. Through the peaks and the valleys of his career thus far, this is a recounting of Twilight’s story, an analysis of his play and an exploration into who Twilight is behind the scenesall viewed from the three different faces he has shown us across the years. Much in the same way the Moon wears many veils, these are the many faces of Twilight.

Twilight—the Many-Faced God

 

“Twilight is the best Zenyatta player in the world.”

Wolf Schröder


Twilight, the Player

  Twilight debuted in 2016 on BK Stars, a team that was founded by famous South Korean broadcaster, Kim “Bokyems” Bo-byeom. One of the team’s earliest showings was during the first offline qualifier for OGN’s Overwatch APEX league, where they battled against teams like EHOME.KR, Rhinos Gaming Wings, and KongDoo Team 1 for a chair on the main stage. Their efforts yielded fruit and BK Stars were among one of the first teams to grace the legendary APEX stage. Twilight and BK Stars trounced their group stage going undefeated over opposition like Team KongDoo Uncia, NRG Esports and MVP Space. With the top seed from the group stage, Twilight found himself in the inaugural season playoffs where BK Stars would continue their match win streak over LW Blue, whom they defeated 3-0. However, their run would end with a 1-3 loss at the hands of Afreeca Freecs Blue in the semi-finals.     After a respectable finish in APEX Season 1, Twilight would depart BK Stars and join the ranks of CONBOX Spirit, a team led by esports veteran Noh "Gamsu" Young-jin. However, the move would result in some disappointing results. During APEX Season 2, CONBOX Spirit struggled early with convincing losses to Cloud 9 and KongDoo Uncia, but managed to pull out an upset win late into the first set of group stage matches against Afreeca Freecs Blue. With a match record of 1-2 and a map differential of -4, CONBOX Spirit fell to relegations. With their spot in APEX on the line, this would mean that CONBOX would play against some of Korea’s best amateur talent to maintain their spot in the league. It’s here where Twilight was able to fully flex how deep his hero pool was. Not only was he an experienced Ana player but he was an early Sombra adopter and had pocket picks that he and CONBOX would utilize from time to time. During his time with CONBOX Spirit, he managed to experiment with Torbjorn, Pharah, and Widowmakerwhich is novel for a support player even years later. While Overwatch APEX Challengers Season 3: Super Week gave us many of the players we know and love today, it also birthed a new iteration of CONBOX, one that would help Twilight climb back into the main event. Proving to be head and shoulders above the amateur league, CONBOX Spirit marched convincingly back into the league with wins over MVP Space and Rhinos Gaming Wings. Death at the hands of his sophomore slump would not be in Twilight’s future. Not only would this be a return to the league, but a return to form.     During APEX Season 3, Twilight and CONBOX Spirit were placed in Group C with LW Blue, MVP Space, and Flash Lux. The collective return of Twilight and CONBOX Spirit would be a positive one with the stable taking key wins over MVP Space and Flash Lux but still managed to take a map off of the top seed in the group, LW Blue. This would be the first time that CONBOX would advance from the first stage of group play. Helping to lead the charge, Twilight relied on his playoff experience from season one with BK Stars. However, CONBOX Spirit would not make their debut in the playoffs. Twilight and his team exited the second phase of group play with a poor match record of 0-2. Their group featured legendary Overwatch teams such as KongDoo Panthera, Lunatic-Hai and LW Blue. Sent home once again, CONBOX Spirit would look for a second chance in the autumn. Unfortunately, there would not be a second chance as Twilight would leave CONBOX Spirit before the start of APEX Season 4. His whereabouts for the next five months was unclear, but in December, Twilight would emerge and enjoy a brief stint with WGS Red for roughly two months before making the move to join RunAway early in 2018. However, the current narrative around RunAway slightly clouds how the team performed with in regards to Twilight’s debut at the Chinese event Overwatch Team Story - Chapter 4. While the team dominated in group play against T1w Esports Club, Team CC, and Lucky Future Zenith (the Chinese iteration, not the Korean one), the team fell prey to a staple Chinese team, LGD Gaming in the quarterfinals 2-3. Moving past this blemish, Twilight, and the team would continue this trend with a strong showing in the group stage of Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 1 only to exit earlier than expected in the playoffs.     Twilight and RunAway would march convincingly into the playoffs of Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 1 as the first seed coming out of Group B with a match record of 4-1. Their late-season issues reared its ugly head again in the quarterfinals with RunAway looking shaky with their win over KongDoo Panthera, 2-3. This was a familiar tendency from RunAway. They always came close to greatness, but could never close the deal. Even with the new additions, which included Twilight, it seemed to be a systemic problem rather than an individual one. Subsequently, RunAway barely missed their third Korean Overwatch final after being upset in the semifinals by X6-Gaming, 1-3. From this point forward, both parties’ fates would change. Twilight and RunAway would finally find their time in the sun. With Twilight’s help, RunAway would enter a golden age. The team would make their third Korean Overwatch final and, for the first time, emerge victorious. And not a month later they enjoy a victory over some of China’s best talent at the NetEase Esports X Tournament. However, their heroic narratives, popularity, and success were not going unnoticed. On November, 29th, 2018 RunAway would announce that the roster, in its entirety, would be signed to the Vancouver Titans for the 2019 season of the Overwatch League. This change in scenery would not phase Twilight and his teammates as they dispatched their opposition leading to a shocking 7-0 match record and only dropping six maps total over five weeks. This success would continue as Twilight and the team blew past both the Boston Uprising and the Seoul Dynasty and treated the world with one of the best matches of Overwatch we’ve seen to date in their final clash with the San Fransisco Shock. Twilight and the Vancouver Titans would emerge from a seven-game barnburner with the stage one title and recognition of the world.     “The player” is the face Twilight shows the world on a daily basis. It’s a cumulative amalgamation of his experience, his history and the future that lays before him. It’s comprised of public information that details both the bad and the good. Twilight, the player, was a diamond in the rough. He was a bright spot for both BK Stars and CONBOX Spirit, but for whatever reason, both teams could never find long-term success. In more recent eras, Twilight has become a brilliant cornerstone of RunAway and has been pivotal in the Vancouver Titans’ golden era.

“Twilight brings both confidence and skill in-game and out of it. He knows he can be the best player in the world and consistently delivers top tier performances which allow us to run our aggressive play style.”

— Harsha Bandi


Twilight, the Rival

  In an insightful interview with InvenGlobal Twilight opened up on where he believes he sits among the hierarchy of the league. “In my position,” Twilight said, “I think JJoNak is my biggest rival. He’s superior compared to other pro players in the league so I consider him as my rival.” However, don’t be fooled by his humble persona. Deep down there is an essence of Twilight that is a cutthroat competitor that yearns to be praised. “Twilight brings both confidence and skill in-game and out of it,” Coach and Director of Operations for the Vancouver Titans, Harsha Bandi explained. “He knows he can be the best player in the world and consistently delivers top tier performances which allow us to run our aggressive play style.”     With that said, I believe Twilight has become—or is in the process of becoming—an unintentional villain of circumstance. Look at the response given when Overwatch League color commentator and analyst, Wolf Schröder, credits him as being the best Zenyatta in the world. Response upon rose tinted response immediately points your attention to the original “best” Zenyatta: New York Excelsior’s, Bang "JJoNak" Sung-hyeon. JJoNak lead the Excelsior to an astounding 34 wins and 6 losses and set the gold standard for what a great team should look like in season one. Compare that narrative to the one that the Vancouver Titans are in the process of writing. The Titans’ approach Overwatch League’s second season as a historic team entering the league with polarizing charm, set to challenge the status quo. The Titans see the gold standard set by the NYXL last season and demand platinum instead. When asked to expand on his comment, Wolf cleared the air on his bold statement. “[Twilight is] fighting for a tough spot for sure, amongst players like JJoNak and Viol2t,” Wolf said. “But I think what stands out for Twilight over others is his versatility. JJoNak is famous for his damage output and his ability to land final blows, but in some ways, he is one-dimensional and defines New York's slower playstyle.” Wolf continued with a brief summation of how he viewed Twilight’s style of support play. “Twilight can play more passively, but also has the potential to aggressively use his ultimate to save Bumper or Seominsoo in situations that [help] them and turn team fights. I feel like JJoNak often follows a recipe for Zenyatta that he thinks is best and relies on mechanical skill to win out. His plays aren't always as good reactionarily as Twilight's. Twilight isn't leaps and bounds ahead of JJoNak by any means, but I think that he is just one step ahead.”     Continuing with the trend of being criminally underrated, Twilight was not among the starters for the Pacific Division for the 2019 All-Star game. To that note, none of the Vancouver Titans were voted in as starters for the Pacific All-Star team. However, Twilight, Bumper, SLIME, and Haksal were voted to fill out the Pacific Division as secondary members. A group of players that have not lost since July 22, 2018, a group of players that boast a 16 match winning streak and a map record of 55-15, and your Stage 1 champions have somehow avoided starting in Overwatch League’s All-Star game. Yes, China has finally received a handful of great representatives to support, so four of the slots can be explained. But having two Seoul Dynasty players voted in is slightly surprising to say the least. It hints at a bigger discussion around how the audience views the game, how teams market their players, how familiar these players are to an audience, and how the audience measures wildly successful teams. Most of these constituents can’t rival Twilight’s recent success and few can rival his longevity. All of these factors slight Twilight as he quietly outperforms most of the league mechanically and statistically. If that is not criminal underrated, I don’t know what is.     In politics, “voter fatigue” is a feeling of disengagement or apathy that a voting district can experience. There are many speculative reasons why this occurs, but experts seem to point towards two interesting conclusions that could help explain why Twilight and the Titans are absent from the starting roster of the All-Star game and, better yet, not talked about as much as they should be. Voters can see issues as uninteresting and in other instances, voters feel their vote will not count or they feel like the election has "already been won,” both proposals could account for this voter apathy. Many traditional sports suffer from these issues as well and now many esports within the last ten years have been afflicted by this “fan fatigue.” Somehow RunAway’s beloved bridesmaid narrative has turned on its head since they’ve entered the league. Before they were the charming underdogs that just needed an extra push to garner their first title and now they’ve somehow become a pillar to the sins of the metagame. If that does not hint at villainy by way of repeated success, I don’t what does. “The rival,” or if you’re feeling jaded, “the villain” is a facade that is more prescribed by the audience. It’s something the community has granted Twilight because he, and his team, have waltzed past many beloved teams and players. To some, he is a usurper, challenging the league’s state of affairs. To others, he and his team are viewed as a physical embodiment of what the fans see as “wrong” with the game currently.

“I challenge people to take a closer look at how Twilight turns fights around and how he helps win some of the closer fights they take.”

Wolf Schröder


Twilight, the Foundation

  Much the same way that someone like Kim "Mano" Dong-gyu or Harrison "Kruise" Pond are the assumed backbones of their respective team’s strategies, I’d argue Twilight, across his career, has been the foundation of every team he’s played alongside. On BK Stars he was the ironclad roleplayer who piloted Ana and allowed for Tracer ace Chae "Bunny" Joon-hyuk and Zarya specialist Shin "BERNAR" Se-won to work their magic. His flexibility unlocked CONBOX, in its many iterations, to play a number of styles ranging from high tempo dive to slow and more methodical deathball compositions. And on RunAway and the Vancouver Titans, Twilight has matured into a mechanical powerhouse with the wit of a genius, capable of so much impact he might be able to win a match by himself. Over the course of his career Twilight has shown to exemplify three particular traits: expert positioning, flexibility, and quick wit. VOD: CONBOX Spirit vs KongDoo Uncia - Lijiang Tower (Night Market) As an early adopter of Sombra, Twilight’s performance in APEX Season 2 catches the eye when talking about his flexibility. Sombra, during this era, was viewed more as a support and was not picked all that often. According to Winston’s Lab, during APEX Season 2, Sombra was picked 1.15% of the time and saw roughly 44 minutes of play in total. To add some context, Symetra, one of Overwatch’s most niche heroes, saw a pick rate of 1.34% with approximately 50 minutes of play time. The only heroes with a lower pick rate then Sombra, were Bastion and Junkrat. During this iteration of the hero, Sombra players embraced their role as an EMP engine, meaning that once she Hacked a health pack, every time an ally was healed by that health pack, she would gain ultimate charge. This results in Sombra charging her ultimate very quickly. For example, during APEX Season 2 the average time to charge an EMP was a blistering 65 seconds. To contrast that, the average time to charge Genji’s Dragon Blade in APEX Season 2 was 97.89 seconds. The average time to charge Ana’s Nano Boost was 92.48 seconds. This is key when realizing that Twilight is controlling the main mega health pack on the approach to the point. Each side has one mega health pack in symmetrical locations, and Twilight has his permanently hacked. This allows for the most amount of healing, the most often, in a safe and defensible area. Outside of his control of the map, on their first fight Twilight Hacks the enemy Roadhog, which reduces the pressure on a majority of CONBOX’s skirmish focused composition. On their second fight, Twilight finds a hack on the enemy Zarya which eliminates a lot of the enemy team’s single target damage mitigation and theoretically should allow them to set up a dive onto a target. What this shows is that Twilight not only had a mind for Sombra, but his level of coordination with his team was ahead of its time for the success he had during this period in his career. VOD: CONBOX Spirit vs KongDoo Uncia - Hanamura Twilight constantly is utilizing his superior positioning to set up crossfires to slow down the enemy’s offense. In map three in their series with KongDoo Uncia, this concept is showcased beautifully. This creative, one fight, snowball style composition is based around the fact that many of the heroes CONBOX Spirit are playing have a good amount of self-sustainability, Soldier 76 has his Biotic Field and Roadhog has his Take a Breather ability. This allows Twilight to flex onto a more utility-focused character like Torbjörn. Twilight is positioned on the high ground overlooking the point, which acts a great secondary turret location once his forward turret eventually dies and a good position to deny a flank from the enemy Tracer. This position also grants great sightlines onto the courtyard and is a defensive chokepoint that Torbjörn would love to funnel people through. Ideally, KongDoo Uncia wants to slowly rotate towards the Torbjörn and force him off the high ground. The problem is that Uncia have opted into a high tempo dive composition that makes that goal a little more difficult. This is also during the era of Torbjörn where he still had the ability to gift his team armor packs to bolster their defenses. This also significantly reduces the enemy Tracer’s damage output due to how many instances of damage her guns have. This forces KongDoo to use the main choke where Twilight and his turret are taking an off angle. A fight victory here would allow Twilight to collect the scrap and dish out a handful of armor packs to his team, which makes the following attack even harder for KongDoo. Unfortunately, things go sideways and CONBOX loses the point quickly. However, CONBOX’s composition truly shows its power on the second point of Hanamura, where many of these same concepts end up paying off. Twilight’s superior positioning creates a crossfire, KongDoo loses their first fight, and Torbjörn creates a defensive snowball of armor. This haunts KongDoo as they struggle to attack point Point B where they narrowly finish the map expending all of their six-minute time bank trying to dislodge Twilight and his team. VOD: CONBOX Spirit vs MVP Space - Oasis (University) This match against MVP Space during OGN’s Overwatch APEX Challengers Season 3: Super Week would be pivotal for CONBOX Spirit’s return to the main event a few weeks later. This key hack in the final seconds of the final sub-map of Control highlights Twilight’s mercurial wit. Following his 3-4 man gopher-esque EMP, Twilight, through the fog of war, identifies that the enemy Zarya has her ultimate available, which could easily turn the tide of the fight with its incredible crowd control capability. Denying the use of Graviton Surge in this instance is imperative because of CONBOX’s compositional choice. In this fight they’ve chosen to run a highly mobile, but very weak composition that is looking for quick skirmishes and is attempting to avoid direct fights. If the enemy Zarya was to use her ultimate to lock down one or two of CONBOX’s admittedly squishy targets, that could translate into kills and momentum could swing MVP’s way. Twilight quickly Hacks the enemy Zarya which will continue to lock her out of using any abilities--most importantly her ultimate. With this continued silence, CONBOX is unthreatened by the enemy Graviton Surge and can clean up with fight with ease. As the series progressed, Twilight continued to enforce his excellence on Sombra with keen precision, so much that commentator Wolf Schröder proclaimed, “Twilight makes this hero look broken!” VOD: CONBOX Spirit vs Afreeca Freecs Blue - Numbani Twilight is the many-faced god for his many facades, but also for the menagerie of heroes that he has at his disposal. For a support player, Twilight’s flexibility is unrivaled and in a match against Afreeca Freecs Blue during APEX Season 2, this is put on paramount display. The composition that CONBOX chose here does two things very well. It dislocates the defending team from the high ground or it forces a quick skirmish for high ground control. And it applies pressure from multiple different angles that ends up corralling the defending team into a narrow hallway, leaving the point difficult to contest. This forces the enemy Reinhardt to solo contest the point as the rest of the team is stuck in the hallway. This sets Twilight up nicely to become the primary win condition. Most of CONBOX isn’t able to do damage once the enemy defenders have collapsed into the hallway. The defenders are fairly safe against a direct attack from either the Tracer or the Genji once they’ve rallied around their Symmetra turrets. This would cause CONBOX’s weak flank heroes to need to funnel down a narrow corridor, into the open arms of a Roadhog and Soldier 76. Knowing this, Twilight peppers them from a distance with Pharah rockets. Once the enemy Reinhardt falls on the point, Twilight knows he’s safe to use his Barrage on the high ground. Why is Twilight free and clear? Because he knows that the next point that his teammates will clear is the high ground that he is contesting. Gamsu leaps right in front of Twilight as he begins the animation of his ultimate and drops a defensive barrier to block any incoming damage. VOD: Vancouver Titans vs Seoul Dynasty - Junkertown At times Twilight shows stellar mechanics and is put in positions where he needs to play at peak performance. And there are times where Twilight is asked to play a more positional game making game-saving calls on the fly to support his team. In a recent match against the Seoul Dynasty, he displays both flawlessly. In the current state of affairs, Overwatch is ruled by a deathball style metagame that excels at clogging up choke points and wasting as much time as possible on objectives. So much so that defending teams on Payload maps will often hold aggressively to maximize the number of team fights per section of the map. Here, the Seoul Dynasty are looking to do just that. They hold a very forward position on Junkertown and are looking for both an early fight and early cart contest. Twilight and the Titans sniff out their greed from miles away and attempt to punish their forward position. Using their respawn advantage, Twilight begins the map on Mei to attempt a quick Ice Wall to separate anyone that might be trying to contest the cart early. Much to his surprise, he separates Seoul’s Reinhardt, their Zarya, and their Brigitte. Another explanation on why Twilight may have led the map with a Mei is given to us by Erik “DoA” Lonnquist. “I mean... hilariously, this is just Twilight basically doing what [ryujehong] does,” DoA said. “Je-hong was the one who ran Mei on attack on Junkertown as well so I feel like this is almost Twilight saying ‘Hey man, guess who’s doing everything better than you now?’” This is, of course, a reference to Seoul Dynasty during season one. Seoul at the time was having difficulty playing what was considered standard on Junkertown, which forced their Zenyatta player, Ryu Je-hong, to play Mei who was considered more of a niche hero. Along these same lines, Twilight had another brilliant save towards the end of the map. The Titans suffer three deaths late into Junkertown’s third point. Their Brigitte and Zarya flop early and their Reinhardt dies later in the engagement. This leaves their Zenyatta, Lucio and D.Va to contest the cart. As the fight continues, the Titans’ D.Va player, Choi "JJANU" Hyeon-Woo, loses his mech suit and is near death. Knowing they’re at a massive respawn disadvantage, Twilight pulls an ace from under his sleeve. After eliminating the enemy Zarya to even the numbers game, he has the presence of mind to use his Transcendence to not only save himself, but he saves JJANU, allows for the Titans to continue controlling the cart, and he buys enough time for his team’s own respawns to trickle in and swing the tide of the fight and allow the Titans to capture the final point. Twilight has shown a brilliant aptitude in roles that both ask him to shine and on roles that put him more in the shadows. However, with his tenure in RunAway and now with the Vancouver Titans, Twilight fuses the two into true adaptability. In one moment he’s taking an off angle with Ana or Zenyatta and in the next, he’s making frame perfect saves allowing his main tank to play his style. “Twilight’s style is adaptable,” Coach and Director of Operations for the Vancouver Titans, Harsha Bandi explained. “He is reliable enough to continually pocket people who need healing, but he also has a great sense of timing and knows when he can get away with aggressive flanks and target enemy carries. This all translates to the Vancouver Titans’ success.     Overwatch League color commentator and analyst, Wolf Schröder echoes this point beautifully in an open examination of Twilight’s in-game style. “I think people like to judge [a] Zenyatta’s skill based on damage being higher than healing or their names showing up in the kill feed,” Wolf said. “Yes, that can define ‘carry’ Zenyatta play, but I like to think there's more to Zenyatta than fragging out. Staying alive, positioning correctly and building Transcendence is what Zenyatta is really about. Kills are a bonus. “JJoNak is great for the eye testyou can see how he does all of those things well,” Wolf continued. “I challenge people to take a closer look at how Twilight turns fights around and how he helps win some of the closer fights they take.” What is more interesting is that this phenomenon that Wolf is talking about is quantifiable. According to Winston’s Lab, during the first stage of Overwatch League season two, the Vancouver Titans won 16.36% of the team fights where they suffered the first death. To put this into context, the average across the league during this time period was 11.15%, which puts Twilight and the Titans as the second best team in the reversal of a team fight. While we cannot give sole credit to Twilight for this amazing statistic, he is the backbone of the team and certainly makes up a good portion of how they are able to turn fights on their head. “The foundation” is a colorless facade. This is the face Twilight shows no one—not out of fear, but humility. A true support doesn’t need to show anyone anything. Twilight shows up, performs his role and reaps what he sows.
As Twilight heads into his third year playing Overwatch professionally, he is quietly making a strong case for being the best flex support in the world. Throughout his fairly tumultuous career he has a brilliance about him that commands attention at every turn. Through a medley of skill and grit, a sense of endearment envelopes him like guard petals on a rose. Through the hundreds of maps, Twilight has fought tooth and nail to reach where he is today--and it’s all been broadcasted, put online for all to see. Twilight, the player, suffered the visceral contrast of both relegation and winning Overwatch Contenders with his family. Twilight, the rival, continues to chase after JJoNak and other top supports in a war fought with skill, in-game results, and public perception. Twilight, the foundation, marches forward, honing his own style and accepting fluid responsibility to what his team needs him to be. After the sun sets on Overwatch, we will always be gifted a brilliant Twilight. His story and different facades speak more to the human condition rather than the singular idea of competition. All three of these faces make up one person, a trilogy of personalities that form one composition, a true many-faced god.
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 All statistics obtained courtesy of Winston’s Lab.com Illustration provided by @harksharks on Twitter
 

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