Dohyeon ‘Pine’ Kim’s return to the Overwatch League also brought the onslaught of his iconic nickname ‘Big Boss’ attached with congratulations of being signed to the Dallas Fuel. What was also brought up amidst the excitement of the hit scan player being back in the League was his feelings towards his given nickname. Though it was a fan favorite to hear on the broadcast, it caused Pine a lot of strain which inevitably was a factor in his retirement from the pressure felt from being called that.
As the Overwatch League continues, the community is starting to see how, at first harmless statements, can greatly impact the players. Though this might seem like an odd request as ‘Big Boss’ is complimentary to him, what does it hurt to fulfill it? Would it hurt the community more to stop saying it or will it hurt Pine more for the community to ignore his request?
the man, the myth, the legend 🌲🏆
— Dallas Fuel (@DallasFuel) May 10, 2021
The argument will surely be brought up that these are professional players and they need to develop a thicker skin. Some of these players are 18 years old. They are essential children still even though they are legally adults. Yes, players will be met with criticism or nicknames positive and negative. To have so many expectations can weigh heavily on an individual. Grown adults bashing, bullying, and hating on a teenage would not be accepted in most circles, but for some reason, it has been normalized in the gaming world.
In Pine’s situation, it might be harder to understand as Big Boss isn’t at first glance a negative comment. But to him, it caused harm which he talks about in an official Overwatch League video. The intent can be positive, but if the understanding of it isn’t then that should be acknowledged. The pressure to perform up to his nickname as well as feeling as ‘big’ was in reference to his weight brought him mental anguish that led to his retirement from the NYXL.
Many of these players went pro because of their love of gaming. It isn’t to become famous like an idol, but they find themselves in this world as esports gets larger. The mental health of these players whether it is appearance, performance, or general stress needs to be addressed. It is the team as well as the organization that should have professionals at hand to help. But that doesn’t mean that the community doesn’t play a role and can positively or negatively impact mental health as well.
The community has a bigger impact than they might think. Though many times fans feel as if they aren’t heard and won’t be noticed by a team, player, or organization when they say things on social media. Players look at what is being said about them, and again though they are in the public eye as professional players many of them are young. To give critical feedback is different than just saying a player is trash. As fans are passionate about the team and a loss can make them upset, it should be remembered that the players are feeling what the fans are feeling but intensified. This can be seen when players who win will still apologize and say that they played badly. The public momentum of groupthink towards a player can make or break a player. The swing of public opinion of a player who is in the league which might be negative to the rose-colored reflection post about how much they will miss them when they leave is too common.
In the offseason before Season 4, there were so many players who left the league because of burnout. In Pine’s case, he would just like for people to not use his nickname. The fans love the hype. Hopefully, their love to see Pine play outweighs their love of the nickname. The Dallas Fuel has even made a command bot that reminds anyone who types ‘Big Boss’ into chat that Pine would rather not be called that. It is great that the organization and teams are standing behind Pine’s decision as well as helping spread awareness.
Of course, this is not just on the shoulders of the fans but also the League and the talent. If the nickname continues to be used on stream it will be harder for it not to be perpetuated around the scene. This is the time to remind the community and phase out the nickname before Pine even plays. A clean slate for this second chance for Pine in the Overwatch League.
Pine’s situation could be carefully watched by other Overwatch Pros. Will the community respect his wishes or will his request be ignored? This could be essential to showing players when they advocate for their mental health the community stands behind them. Pine is an amazing player. His mental health and all players’ mental health are important. Pine being vocal is his request, one can only hope, will see a banding together of the fans and league to help support him in the ways he wants to be. Though he might not be the Leagues’ big boss anymore, there are sure to be more explosive moments from him once he gets into the game. Best of luck to the Dallas Fuel’s new hitscan player.
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