WhoRU, Killing Asterisks, And What Does Legacy Mean?

Volamel 2023-09-28 09:04:52

One last call, the final train for the evening is preparing to embark. On that train sits Overwatch legend Lee "WhoRU" Seung-jun. It is an undeniable fact to call the young man a world champion, however, it has been over six years since his last premier final appearance.  In what is shaping up to be the final Overwatch League season, can he return to the spotlight in the most unlikely circumstances? Is this the final chance to get back his narrative?  One last call for passengers.  The train will now be departing.  

Asterisks & Missing The Train

  Spring, as a season, tends to showcase new beginnings and while it wasn't technically a rookie debut, the world would forgive you if you thought otherwise.  Taking his first steps onto the global stage alongside fan favourites, Lunatic-Hai, WhoRU shouldered lofty expectations and potential.  This team kept coming in earshot of victory but could ever catch the melody. Silver blood was something they fought against and, weirdly enough, WhoRU would help them expunge that curse for good.  The then 15-year-old DPS prodigy was a development player intended to play behind starters Lee "LEETAEJUN" Tae-jun and Kim "EscA" In-jae. However, when the former was "ousted" from the professional Overwatch sphere, WhoRU took his stead.  Which, all things considered, was always going to happen.  Both because WhoRU was incredibly talented and also because his signature hero was being thrust into the Overwatch metagame.  April 8th would see WhoRU and Lunatic-Hai earn their first title at OGN's Overwatch APEX league after coming so close in months past.  A significant factor in that nail-biting finish was WhoRU's jaw-dropping Genji performance against a legend of both the game and the hero, Kim "Haksal" Hyo-jong.  With the Overwatch world excited to see the pair defend their title, WhoRU would be notably absent from the starting lineup 'A star one minute and benched the next' is never a line of reasoning that seems to pass the smell test, even today.     Moon "Gido" Gi-do, a rookie prospect from the rather unknown team would be his rather surprising replacement.  Playing DPS under the tag "diog", Gido was plucked from BenchGirls towards the end of April in preparation for Lunatic-Hai's season three title defence.  For someone who was new to the limelight, his performance through the playoffs and through to the grand final against KongDoo Panthera was equally as shocking as the prospect he replaced.  You don't just take a fairly obscure DPS player from 'BenchGirls' and expect him to hold his own against prime KongDoo Panthera.  None of it made sense, but we're sure Gido wasn't complaining when he earned Finals MVP.  

Getting One Back

  As Lunatic-Hai's meteoric rise slowed to a halt in APEX Season 4, WhoRU's career would face a staggering setback. As the 'Apex Era' came to a close, the Overwatch League would begin to take its first breaths. With that also came age restrictions that would pause WhoRU's appearances in major tournaments for nearly two years. He continued to be a star in the amateur scene alongside the likes of the Philadelphia Fusion's academy team, Fusion University, and Meta Athena, but nothing tests a person like the best competition in the world.  Signed to the New York Excelsior for the 2020 season, WhoRU would finally see his return to the biggest stage in Overwatch.  Unfortunately, in the year slated to be the start of the league's "homestand model", the world would come to a standstill as it dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.  There were no live environments for the young prodigy who waited his turn, none of the same success for someone who seemed destined for gold, and that would only continue.     After flirting with retirement in 2021, WhoRU would resurface on the Shanghai Dragons to 'aid' them in their championship run. With his hair pinned back, WhoRU would be a luxury for the Dragons as they battled the Seoul Dynasty in the Summer Showdown finals. The eventual 4-2 victory would be sweet, but was it the same as winning a title? Was it the same as winning APEX? We can't know, but the scale doesn't equate.  This was a domestic final for APAC. OGN's APEX was all Overwatch had for a time.  By right, WhoRU was on the roster when the Shanghai Dragons coasted to the world title in 2021--"but did he really earn it?"  That was the immediate narrative and half-hearted joke placed on these former Dragons' players and their tendency to have bench warmers who rarely, if ever, saw starting time.  WhoRU was a prodigy alongside the storied South Korean team, Lunatic-Hai in the era predating the Overwatch League.  However, in the final hour, he would be sidelined mysteriously by an untested rookie. Time would pass and his talents would be noticed but reaching to the apex eluded him. He would earn a spot on a championship roster with the Shanghai Dragons but rarely played.  The asterisks, if not already apparent, began to manifest.  "But how good was he really?" "Can we say he was a top 5 Genji of all time?" "Is WhoRU a champion?"     This opportunity for WhoRU to step in and dawn the pink and blue for the Florida Mayhem at the 2023 Overwatch League playoffs is an opportunity to kill his asterisks. Debating the league rules and their ethics is a moot point now, he is in Toronto and ready to become a two-time champion.  This is WhoRU's opportunity to 'cement' himself as a legendary DPS player in the game's mythology.  But more importantly, this is an opportunity for WhoRU to secure his legacy.  However, this raises an important question; how much does legacy matter to an esport in the midst of its swan song? Like helium blitzing out of a balloon as it skirts and waves around the room, time is escaping these players. Toronto, Ontario, Canada will likely host the series finale of the Overwatch League.  Our showrunners have failed us and our contract isn't going to be renewed. Any hope for serialisation is six feet deep.  We do not have the luxury of knowing what happens after the 2023 Overwatch League grand finals.  The players may not have more time to establish, prepare, or refurbish their narrative in competitive Overwatch. This is it.  It is time to go for broke.  So for those, like WhoRU, who have waited for a chance to right the wrongs of the past and to prove to the world that they are worth something, legacy is a sobering reality.  Because soon that might be all that we have left
Images via Blizzard Entertainment

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