The Paris Eternal have returned home after completing a month long boot camp in Seoul, South Korea that started on November 18. During the past month Paris have slowly announced additional players, Daun “NoSmite” Jeong and Eoghan “Smex” O’Neill, as well as Assistant General Manager, Kyoung Ey “AVALLA” Kim. Despite being announced after bootcamp was well under way, both players and AVALLA were present from the start of the camp.
With the hype surrounding teams finally going “home” next season, it seemed like an odd choice that the Eternal would choose to bootcamp in Seoul. It would have made logical sense to hold the practice in Paris, where the team could also do community outreach for their passionate fans. However, Paris’s General Manager, Bumhoon “NineK” Kim, says that they already knew that several other OWL teams had planned to bootcamp in Korea during the offseason. According to him the decision was easy, “We naturally thought that this would allow us to scrim with different OWL teams and Korean Contenders teams”. He adds that due to Korea’s geographic location, the team was also able to scrim against the Chinese teams that have been practicing in China.
Staying in Paris would have caused multiple challenges, including very high ping while trying to scrim with other teams. NineK also points out that this experience gave the team a taste of what they should expect during next season. With teams having to constantly travel and practice abroad, bootcamping in Seoul gave them a bit of a head start.
Back to School
When Paris started to announce their new Korean players, there was some unrest in the community. The team was initially slated to be an all European team, in the hopes of showcasing EU talent. Another underlying concern was how communication would work with a newly mixed roster. But for veteran DPS player, Terence “SoOn” Tarlier, he is looking forward to the changes. He is no stranger to a mixed roster due to his time on the Season 1 LA Valiant squad. “Valiant is still my best experience,” he says, “I truly think, and Shock proved it, that a mixed roster is the best in OWL.”
As for any potential language barriers, the team is taking a proactive approach by not only having English lessons but by bringing on bilingual staff. NineK says that, “Korean players, as well as coaches, are getting English lessons 4 times a week. We are putting in substantial effort to make our players learn English to adjust to the team better”. But they are also encouraging the players to use Korean whenever they can. Although the European players haven’t been subjected to formal Korean lessons yet, he says they are “naturally picking up some by living with our Korean players”. This is clearly evident watching some of the EU players gleefully yell out Korean curses during their streams. Though it may not be the best vocabulary, all new language learners have to start somewhere.
Perhaps Eternal’s secret weapon though will be their new Assistant GM, AVALLA. Just days prior to her announcement she was spotted in a vlog posted by SoOn, teaching the Korean players English. AVALLA may be best known for being the first female coach in the Overwatch League, as an Assistant Coach last season for Washington Justice, but she has a lot more to offer. She is bilingual in English and Korean, but also has a pretty good grasp of French as well. She says that she knows enough to get by and that the “French players have been helping me get better”. Obviously, having someone behind the scenes who can communicate with all the players and staff will be a huge asset.
Everyone Coming Together
When the team arrived in Seoul, it was the first time many of them had met their new Korean teammates.
Their first order of business as a newly unified team, of course, was to get authentic Korean BBQ. SoOn admits their first meal wasn’t the greatest, but that didn’t stop them from trying other places. The players all quickly took to posting on social media about their new favorite meals and sites around the city and frequently remarked about how enjoyable the experience was.
For many players, however, the highlight of the boot camp was their team visit to Lotte Tower. The colossal skyscraper is South Korea’s tallest building and the 6th tallest building in the world. Occupying the 117th through 123rd floors, the observation area provided the team with perfect photo opportunities. It was the first time a picture was taken with all of the new players present, however, fans were quick to point out that French main tank, Benjamin “BenBest” Dieulafait, was missing. Though it was strongly hinted at, he wouldn’t confirm nor deny his absence was due to a fear of heights.
Actually sick view pic.twitter.com/SpxxPOOJpS
— HyP (@HyP_ow) November 30, 2019
Worth a Return Trip
Overall, it appears that the team has definitely bonded and are off to a great start for the upcoming season. The team only had off on Sundays but everyone seemed to make the most of their downtime. NineK says that the EU players even traveled the city with the Korean players acting as their guides. He also notes that several players visited a traditional Korean barbershop to get their hair cut. Some players also met up with friends to play soccer, while others met with old teammates for dinner and noraebang (private room karaoke).
Although Paris are not scheduled to play in Seoul for a Homestand, NineK says they already have plans to return. He says that they are “quite satisfied at what Seoul city [has] offered us during our bootcamp.” And from the looks of it, the players wouldn’t mind going back either. As for now, all the players have returned to their respective homes for the holidays. There has not yet been any word on when and where the team will gather before the season begins.
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