On January 14, 2020, the Hangzhou Spark announced that they would be calling up Chinese Support duo, Tong “ColdesT” Xiaodong and Liu “M1KA” Jiming to the main roster. After stints with the Spark’s academy team, BiliBili Gaming, the organization thought it was due time for the team to add something new to their vanilla lineup. At the time of the announcement, ColdesT and M1KA were one of the more highly touted Supports in Contenders China. ColdesT was regarded as a carry-potential star that could break out in the 2020 Overwatch League season and M1KA was his partner-in-crime. By the end of the season, however, the roles were reversed. M1KA was given more playtime and ColdesT was given very few opportunities to shine.
Would both of these players have benefited from playing in Contenders together for another season? Was allowing them to soak in the OWL atmosphere enough to justify benching them for much of the season?
As previously mentioned, ColdesT could have easily been an impactful player during the Spark’s 2020 campaign. Going into the season, ColdesT was a renowned Zenyatta player both on the ladder and in the pro scene. He had the highest elimination to death ratio of all Zen mains in Season 6 and 7 in competitive. He was even considered for the 2019 Overwatch World Cup Chinese squad who ended up making the finals that year. All signs pointed to a great rookie season for ColdesT. To be fair, Hojin “iDK” Park and Huichang “BeBe” Yoon are Hangzhou’s bread and butter on Support.
There were no expectations for ColdesT or M1KA to immediately take over as starters on the team. But from that standpoint, there was not much opportunity given to ColdesT to even show he could stand with the other OWL rookies when things went bad for Hangzhou.
ColdesT was given eleven minutes and fifty-four seconds in total this season in playing time. That’s just about the length of an average quick play game. Out of those eleven-plus minutes, ColdesT played just over six minutes on Ana and about two minutes on both Baptiste and his signature Zenyatta. While on Bap and Zen, ColdesT died a total of three times while not contributing to the kill feed in any capacity. In terms of healing, He was able to output roughly 6500 healing in his five minutes played (~13000 healing per 10 minutes) with both those heroes. Compared to his counterpart, BeBe averaged about 13337 H/10min on Baptiste and 6026 H/10min on Zenyatta throughout the entire season.
On Ana, ColdesT‘s numbers look even better. In the limited amount of time, ColdesT was able to provide ten eliminations and seven assists while dying four times. As a healer, he was also able to give 7514 healing in six minutes and forty-six seconds (11102 H/10min). BeBe, on the other hand, averaged 9926 H/10min in 2020 on Ana. While the sample size is small, ColdesT did show average numbers in the only game he played against the Chengdu Hunters on April 26. The issue at hand is whether he could have held his own as a mainstay on the starting lineup, or could have used his time on BiliBili’s Contenders core instead of the Spark’s bench. He even possibly could have been used as a hero specialist like M1KA.
The less egregious of the two scenarios that occurred was M1KA‘s rookie season. While he didn’t get as much playing time as one may want, M1KA was given a big opportunity against the NYXL in Architect‘s and QoQ‘s debut in late July. From that point forward, M1KA proved that he was a clutch Mercy and when the meta presented itself, M1KA was there to play Main Support when a Mercy was needed.
Compared to iDK‘s numbers on Mercy, M1KA was given 1:22:11 on the hero. iDK, on the other hand, played just 46:21 of Mercy in comparison. Another highlight of M1KA‘s first season was his Brigitte play. While iDK was the Spark’s swiss army knife this season by playing all seven Support heroes, M1KA took the time to specialize in just a few.
With his Mercy, M1KA was also able to thrive on the Brig role when it was needed. Not only did M1KA play more Brigitte minutes than iDK (4:06:31 vs 3:26:14), but he also output 1.2 times more healing (225222 vs 174549 total) as well as contributed about two hundred more eliminations (275 vs 168) and assists (216 vs 125) than iDK. Unlike ColdesT, M1KA was called on multiple times after his NYXL debut game to provide a different take on the Main Support role from iDK‘s tendencies. Where iDK may have lacked, the Spark used M1KA to strengthen the team’s Main Support role as a whole.
The 2020 story of ColdesT and M1KA are two sides of the same coin. One played on par with the average OWL Support but was given limited playtime and the other found an opportunity around his senior’s weaknesses and was given a spot on the rotation to fill those holes. The unfortunate aspect of this is that the duo was signed as a pair but was never played as a pair. Even with that, they were never fully a part of the roster’s Support rotation.
For a team that stuck to their guns and brought in the same roster for the 2020 season, ColdesT and M1KA were there to bring a new perspective on things. But when the team performed badly, the Chinese rookie duo was never given a chance for the most part. Perhaps this is what led to the relief of two-thirds of the coaching staff with Muho “Mask” Lee and Jung “yeah” Young-su.
Overall, there were no bad intentions with giving ColdesT and M1KA spots on the 2020 OWL roster. They easily could have played another season in Contenders, but immersing themselves in the OWL scene could help their careers in the long run. One could easily see that their rookie season could have gone much better, but both have proved that they can play amongst the rest of the league. With Jisub “paJion” Hwang now at the helm, and with Qiulin “Guxue” Xu and Minho “Architect” Park as the team’s leaders: 2021 may prove better for both ColdesT and M1KA if given the time to develop.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Hangzhou Spark
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