With Runaway’s indefinite hiatus, it makes the community remember how essential the tier two scene is to the ecosystem of the Overwatch League. In the Korean scene, the organization becomes a touchstone for many fans. As time passes, more well-known tier 2 organizations that feed into the Overwatch League are taking a break or leaving the scene. These teams produce many of the players that the community would recognize from the League, but might not know that their origins started on one of tier 2 Korean teams. Here is a look at three Korean Contender’s organizations that are unfortunately no longer active.
With the Dallas Fuel in Season 4 of the Overwatch League, this name has been revived in many ways. Element Mystic has a long list of alums that have made it to the Overwatch League. The Dallas Fuel are a reunion of sorts of players that used to play together under Element Mystic. It is seen that the synergy that they possess from back in the day while on Element Mystic still exists as they are a top team this season. There is no doubt that 2019 was a big year for this organization. They placed in the top three for most of the tournaments that they participated in during that time. Most notably was the performance in the Contender’s brackets and the Gauntlet. They solidified their name in the esport community.
Element Mystic might not have been a huge name like Lunatic-Hai, Runaway, Kongdoo Panthera, or LW right away, but they made their impact by their consistency. Names such as Euiseok ‘Fearless’ Kim, Seungsoo ‘Jecse’ Lee, Hyeonjun ‘Pokpo’ Park, Donghyeong ‘DACO’ Seo, Jungeun ‘Rapel’ Kim, Yeonghan ‘Sp9rk1e’ Kim, Hanbin ‘Hanbin’ Choi, Kihyo ‘Xzi’ Jung, Dongha ‘Doha’Kim, Sehwan ‘Choisehwan’ Choi, Jeongho ‘MCD’ Lee, and Soonjae ‘Ansoonjae’ Ahn, are some of the talents that have come out of the Element Mystic throughout the years.
A forgotten fact is that it was Element Mystic that went up against the South Korean OWWC team that had Joonhyuk ‘Zunba’ Kim, Jehong ‘Ryujehong’ Ryu, Jinmo ‘Tobi’ Yang, Yeonoh ‘Fl0w3r’ Hwang, Jongryeol ‘Saebyeolbe’ Park, and Donggyu ‘Mano’ Kim. Not only did they play a close match, but won against the national South Korean team.
[Farewell, ELEMENT MYSTIC] pic.twitter.com/u6Op4F6hwE
— ELEMENT MYSTIC (@ElementMystic) November 3, 2020
Element Mystic has produced so much talent for the Overwatch League. Even now in 2021, their impact can be seen in multiple teams across the league. The organization announced in November of 2020 that they would be taking a hiatus. It was said to be a year-long break, so fans can only hope that Element Mystic will return to the scene and continue to help train amazing Overwatch players.
What does one tier 2 team mean to the Overwatch community? When it comes to Runaway, they have been the heart of the Contender’s scene for a long time. Runaway is a South Korean esports organization that is run by two streamers who are married, Daehoon ‘Runner’ Yoon and Hyuna ‘Flowervin’ Lee. This was an organization that was supported by the income of the two streamers and eventually the Overwatch League buyout.
Runaway was the golden child right alongside Lunatic-Hai during the APEX era. During this time they made it to two of the four grand finals, but never got that win (Lunatic-Hai and GC Busan both times beat them). It was a major disappointment that when the inaugural season of the Overwatch League came to be, there were no Runaway players in sight. They were just as deserving as the Kongdoo Panthera, Lunatic-Hai, GC Busan and LW franchises. Instead of despairing, they went headlong into the Overwatch Contenders scene. It was a rocky time as their future wasn’t with their past competitors and their fearless leader, Runner, was in the mandatory military service.
Not Just the Runaway Titans
It was the second season of contenders when Runaway finally got their first win. It was with the names most recognize from the Vancouver Titan lineup. The emotions ran deep and cemented this as an iconic moment in Korean Overwatch. They later signed to the Vancouver Titans for Season 2 and made it all the way up to the Grand Finals. But those are not the only players that have come out of Runaway. They might be the most associated, but Runaway produced many Overwatch League players. Kyeongwoo ‘CoMa’ Son, Wooyeol ‘Kalios’ Shin, Janghyeon ‘TiZi’ Hwang, Dongjae ‘Schwi’ Lee, Junki ‘Yaki’ Kim, Namjin ‘Gangnamjin’ Gang, Sungjun ‘QoQ’ Yu, Heesu ‘Heesu’ Jeong, Jaegon ‘Leejaegon’ Lee, Taesung ‘Mag’ Kim, and Sungwoo ‘Assassin’ Kim are all players that Runaway helped cultivate before they stepped into the Overwatch League. Along with the OG squad, that is 19 players in total that this independent organization brought to the tier 1 scene.
It is a business. It is not a family. That is what people say when it comes to esport teams. For Runaway it is a family. Runner and Flowervin’s daughter have grown up along with all these uncles. Flowervin went with the players to Vancouver and visited them. Players will come back and visit them. At the end of the Runaway Titans, many of the players retired, because it was playing together was what they enjoyed the most.
— Runaway OW I 러너웨이 OW (@Runaway_OW) June 14, 2021
In the end, it wasn’t sustainable. Runner and Flowervin went on Twitch to say goodbye. The expression of love that they both had for the team and community was evident, but with Covid and the state that Overwatch is in, they couldn’t keep up. The organization has been operating at a loss because of the systems in place. Even running in the red, it is the system that inevitably made them come to the decision.
The Loss of Tier 2 Organizations
What both of these teams have shown is that their cultivation of talent has been essential in creating great Overwatch League Talent. In both cases, it is a hiatus. If this isn’t the kick that Blizzard and the community need to see the warning signs of the impending collapse then what is? The biggest moment that sums this all up was the reactions to Runaway going on hiatus. It wasn’t, as Flowervin said, ‘why are you doing this’ or ‘You should hold on a little longer,’ it was ‘You lasted so long.’
With the Overwatch League’s player demographic being a huge percentage Korean, this is a disconcerting fact that two of the well-known tier 2 organizations have bowed out, whether indefinitely or temporarily it is unknown still.
You ready more pieces like Rise of the Sentinels and can ‘Like’ The Game Haus on Facebook and ‘Follow’ us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Lauren!
“From Our Haus to Yours”