Number 44: The Octopus that Stole my Heart

I am a big fan of the New York Excelsior. I know it’s easy to assume that the sole reason I’m a supporter of theirs is NYXL being one of the strongest team in the Overwatch League at the moment – but that’s not it.

While every player on their roster is enormously strong at their respective roles, they all have great personalities which is why I adore these boys. I binge-watched every player profile video on their YouTube channel and was positively surprised how funny and genuine guys like Janus, Ark, Saebyeolbe, or Pine are. It’s impossible to not like them.

As a support player who mostly plays Zenyatta, Ana, and Moira, I was patiently waiting for a player profile video of one certain player: the eighteen-year-old support prodigy Sung-hyeon Bang – better known as Jjonak.

In the past, I always watched Ryujehong’s VODs if I wanted to see how I could improve my Ana. After all, Ryujehong is one of the best players this game has to offer and arguably the greatest Ana player by a long stretch. Up until recently, I was missing a Zenyatta player of an equal level in my life. A Zenyatta player who is not just good, but outright amazing. Now don’t get me wrong, Jehong’s Zenyatta undoubtedly is great, but I somehow knew there was still room for more.

One week ago, the “NYXL Origins: Jjonak” video was finally uploaded. I knew that even though Jjonak often seems very reserved and calm on stage, he’s just as much of a goofball as for example Pine. Those of you who watch his stream know what I am talking about. I was looking forward to seeing Sung-hyeon Bang, not just Jjonak.

I clicked on the video and just as his teammates before him, he began to talk about his childhood, his family and how got into Overwatch. I don’t want to say I was a tad disappointed when the video started, for Jjonak was just as calm and reserved as I previously mentioned. I should have known better since the tone of every previous profile video was rather serious as well.

Suddenly, he started swooning about Ryujehong what I really didn’t expect. Jjonak described Jehong as his role model, said that he bought the gear he uses and how he started using his in-game settings. He copied everything he could from the Seoul Dynasty’s captain. Even the pivotal reason for Jjonak going pro was seeing another professional player, namely Gido from Lunatic Hai who now plays alongside Ryujehong for the Seoul Dynasty, raising a champion cup under tears.

I never expected professional players could be just as much of a fanboy as I am. I promise I did not buy all this gear to mimic Jjonak’s equipment– in fact I bought all the following things months before I knew about him – however I happen to own the same mousepad, mouse and mouse bungie as he does. I don’t want to say great minds think alike – since that could be considered heresy – but you get my point. He plays Zenyatta, I play Zenyatta, he already is a fantastic support player, I want to become a fantastic support player… it’s a match made in heaven.

I recently purchased the NYXL Zenyatta and Ana skins, since I wanted to represent the team as well as the player I like the most. Ever since then I sometimes receive messages such as “Did you just Jjonak me” or “Tanuki is Jjonak’s son monkaS” whenever I pop off during FFA or regular competitive matches. As childish as it might sound, moments like these always put a big smile on my face.

To make a long story short: I find it enormously uplifting to see how one generation of players inspires the following one, especially when a single pro leaves such a strong impression on you that you want to become the player they already are. Out of all professional Overwatch players, Internethulk was my biggest inspiration. Not many people would be able to achieve what he achieved, first and foremost leading EnVyUs as the first Western eSports team to a victory in a major Korean tournament during Apex Season 1.

As someone who hasn’t had the opportunity to get into competitive gaming at an early age, it was amazing to see a comparatively old player being as important for the professional Overwatch scene as he was. He showed me that even I with my 22 years of age I could still be able to play professionally one day if I just tried my hardest. I miss him dearly.

Ryujehong and Jjonak are carrying his legacy in terms of their relevance to me as a player. Their gameplay as well as their attitude manage to keep me going even after the most horrible of days on the ladder.

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