NYXL are one of the greatest teams to ever play the game of Overwatch. Their performance – consistent, if not quite as successful as they might like to be – is made possible thanks to some insanely talented and intelligent players. Foremost among them is Dong-gyu “Mano” Kim.
NYXL’s main tank has a long and storied history in Overwatch. His tenure on teams like Afreeca Freecs Blue and LW Blue means that Mano remains one of the longest continuous threads leading back to the beginning of high-level Korean Overwatch. He is a microcosm, an entire region’s history contained on one Liquidpedia page; a walking, talking history book.
These days, he takes the stage at Blizzard Arena week after week, dazzling fans with constant clutches and uncompromising consistency. Win or lose, Mano will do something over the course of a series that surprises you. It’s a special quality that not all players have, but you’d never know he was capable of such a thing until you saw him do it yourself. Between moments of intensity mid-game, Mano is all smiles – always keep an eye on his team, or the fans, or the camera. He looks relaxed, even as his team pulls victory out of thin air – or watches it slip between their collective fingers.
To get a feel for Mano’s mentality mid-season and how he’s keeping his head above water, we sat down with New York’s star front-liner for a quick chat. Enjoy!
A common trait of NYXL’s most intense games is the team’s ability to pull off impressive last minute holds. Does anything change about the team’s structure in moments like that? Especially with players swapping onto off-roles?
It does change, yes. The hero each of us plays when trying to contest a point is up to us – we choose whatever we think is the best for the job. In terms of our communication… it’s really important [on 2CP maps] to trade kills, since our spawn is so much closer. Getting even one kill is really important, so we make sure to really emphasize our target focusing in those moments.
What do you change about your play when you realize a team is specifically focusing you? How often does that happen?
The degree to which I’m focused changes depending on the team. My usual plan in those moments is to avoid being displaced – boops from Lucio, D.Va, or Brigitte, mostly. Usually that means playing a little more passively to avoid being stunned or bounced around too much.
What’s your favorite non-Overwatch activity that you’ve done since joining the Overwatch League?
Last season I visited Canada and Hawaii with some other players. I’ve had a lot of opportunities to travel, have fun, see the sights… I’ve really enjoyed myself.
What’s a goal you have for yourself as a person this year? Something you want to learn, or do, or see?
It’s still kind of related to gaming, but…
When things aren’t going so well when I’m playing, I tend to get – not tilted, I guess, but frustrated. Almost sad. This season, I want to improve my mentality, and try to avoid that feeling.
Do you have any specific plans in mind to help with that? Meditation or anything similar?
I’m going to stop forcing myself to play when I’m upset. When I want to rest, I will rest. Properly. I’m going to avoid focusing on the negatives – once I start, I tend to just keep going and going. Staying focused on all the positives in my life will be better for me.
You mentioned in a recent interview that the team considers you the de facto leader, but that you don’t agree with that. If not you, who would you say is the leader of the team – on or off stage?
I think everyone here is leading the team in their own way. If I had to choose one person, though, it would be Anamo.
What are some of your favorite movies or TV shows of all time?
I don’t really watch too much TV; I focus more on movies. There’s one called “Begin Again”, that’s all about being in the music industry, and I also really like the Marvel movies, like Iron Man or The Avengers.
I asked a few other pros this question earlier in the season – what is your favorite food, and why?
I’ll go for one Korean food and one American food. Samgyeopsal – I’m pretty sure it’s referred to as pork belly in English? – there’s a place in Korea that makes great samgyeopsal, so that would be my choice there.
[History lesson from the author: Samgyeopsal directly translates into “three layer flesh,” referring to the layers of meat and fat in a cut of pork belly, as pictured below. Samgyeopsal-gui is grilled pork belly, as the gui suffix refers to roasted, baked, or grilled dishes. Ogyeopsal (“five layer flesh”) is pork belly that still has its skin.]
My favorite American food would definitely just be steak. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but when I first arrived in America I had an amazing steak – I had never tasted anything like it in Korea. Since then, I’ve really enjoyed steaks in general.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment