During the most recent Hangzhou Spark AMA, Off-tank player Se-won “BERNAR” Shin answered a few questions from fans around the world. One of the questions that were posed to BERNAR was where he got his BattleTag from. Oddly enough, the origins of the former London Spitfire’s name is completely out of left field.
Or so it seemed.
When answering the question, BERNAR responded by saying “My BattleTag came from Sci-Fi writer Bernard Werber. Though I have never read his books before…I was impressed by his name.”
Bernard Werber is a French writer/journalist who has a small, cult following in Europe due to a trilogy of popular science fiction novels.
BERNAR at one point even used virtually Weber’s full name as his tag.
“I [began] to use the tag BERNARWEBER but then I thought the name [was] too long, so I changed it to BERNAR.”
Born in 1961 in Toulouse, France, the French author is seemingly contained within his own space of European fiction writers.
According to Goodreads.com, “[Werber’s] “Ants” trilogy made him one of France’s most popular science fiction novelists in the 90s.”
“Werber began studying journalism in 1982 in Paris, where he discovered the work of sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick. In 1991 he published the novel Les Fourmis (Empire of the Ants), a complex fantasy novel in which ants were the heroes and humans the pesty antagonists. The novel became a cult hit across Europe…”
This novel was followed up by two other books to create the trilogy.
For a Korean esports player to discover such a niche hole in French literature and to be entranced by it is a feat in itself. Let alone BERNAR taking Werber’s namesake and using it in one of the more popular esports league’s in the world.
But following further investigation, Werber interestingly does have an inherent and unforeseen connection to South Korea.
Weber’s Ties to South Korean Culture
Against all odds, Werber was named “Korea’s Favorite World Author” in 2014 based on a poll by the country’s biggest online bookstore: YES24. Werber beat out heavy-hitters like Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling by just over 1,300 votes for a total of 6,780 votes (9.7% of the tally). On top of that, Weber himself has called Korea his “second home” according to The Korea Bizwire’s J. H. Kim.
“I think my books read well in South Korea because South Korean readers are the most intellectual and future-oriented in the world,” Werber stated during a book tour to Korea in 2019.
“That’s why I place great importance on my promise to visit South Korea and my schedule here…”
According to The Hankyoreh’s literature correspondent Choi Jae-bong, Werber has sold over 12 million books in Korea. The French author was number one during a 2016 count of total cumulative sales for authors over the past 10 years by South Korea’s largest bookstore chain: Kyobo Books.
By all accounts, Werber is astonishingly as much of a celebrity in Korea as BERNAR, or any esports star for that matter is/could be. This would explain how an author from the other side of the world could influence an 18-year-old Overwatch player at the time to name his gaming persona after him. Even if he has never read a single piece of his literature.
In another interview, Werber exclaimed, “I should thank young Korean readers who have shown their interests in innovation and for a new world.”
Bernard to BERNAR
While BERNAR doesn’t exactly fit that bill as he has not read one of Werber’s books yet, the Korean OW player is contributing to Weber’s ideas of innovation and a “new world”. BERNAR is helping lead esports into a new space as it continues to hit a mainstream audience. This includes OWL’s unique approach to bringing the concept of traditional sports to the esports world.
On the surface, BERNAR’s gamertag seems like another random word that was tossed against the wall to see if it stuck. But deep down, BERNAR’s origins are ironically rooted in the innovations the Hangzhou Spark and the Overwatch League are trying to bring to the esports bubble and beyond.
And through that fact, why Werber has forever connected himself to South Korea as a nation.
From the sentences of a harmless French wordsmith to his unexpected ties to South Korea to his connection to Hangzhou’s new off-tank player tag, everything seems to align perfectly in this scenario. Beyond that of an anime background and bright colour scheme, BERNAR has somehow made the Spark an increasingly intriguing squad as the days go by.
The Spark play BERNAR’s former team, Fusion University, forefathers: the Philadelphia Fusion in the team’s season opener on April 24 at 3:30 AM PST.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Hangzhou Spark
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