After sitting on the bench for the majority of the 2019 Overwatch League season, Myeong-hwan “smurf” Yoo had his moment in the spotlight come Stage 4 and the Playoffs. As the team’s Orisa specialist, he demonstrated impeccable positioning and game sense with the character, guiding the Shock to their first championship. Today is a look at his rise and role on the team.
Name: Myeong-hwan “smurf” Yoo
Birthday: March 12, 2000 (19 years old)
Country: South Korea
Jersey Number: 5
Role: Main Tank
Signature Heroes: Orisa, Winston, Wrecking Ball, Reinhardt
Smurf began his career on a team called Bucheon NPlus, where he won the first season of Korean Open Division. Shortly after, he joined another team called Ardeont. This team had a load of now-OWL talent, including Min-seong “diem” Bae, Joon “Erster” Jeong and Tae-seong “ANAMO” Jeong; Smurf played as a substitute.
Coming off a 4-0 victory in the Pacific Contenders 2017 Season 2, Smurf left Ardeont. He signed instead with OpTic Academy, which would later rebrand to GG Esports Academy and serve as the Contenders team for the Houston Outlaws. They tied for third in the NA Contenders 2018 Season 1, but were knocked out in the group stage for Season 2. Following this, San Francisco decided to pick him up, and traded Dante “Danteh” Cruz to the Outlaws after the inaugural season.
A Breakout year
What a season 2019 turned out to be for the San Francisco Shock. They gained an incredible knowledge of the 3-3 GOATS meta, seeing the league’s first golden stage and winning the Stage 2 Finals. In the playoffs, the Atlanta Reign upset beat them in their first match, but the Shock rallied through the loser’s bracket. They did not lose another map for the rest of the tournament, not even in the Grand Finals.
Throughout the first three stages, Matthew “Super” DeLisi snagged the starting role over Smurf. Super’s Reinhardt play was much more aggressive, and thus better suited for the brawly meta composition. That is, until Blizzard implemented a role lock system, forcing teams to have two tanks, two supports, and two damage dealers. This abrupt change brought Orisa back to the forefront, so Smurf steered the Shock as their main tank to an undefeated Stage 4.
When the Playoffs started, Sigma was released into the game and the prevailing meta became him and Orisa as a tank line. As Hyo-bin “Choihyobin” Choi mastered the new character, Smurf held down the fort on Orisa. The team had initial hiccups, losing to the Reign 4-3, but rose from the ashes stronger than ever. Smurf and Choihyobin played beautifully together as the team swept their way to a 4-0 victory in the Grand Finals. While Jay “Sinatraa” Won and Choihyobin may have gotten most of the attention due to their awards and stunning plays, Smurf was there behind the scenes assisting the big plays.
As the 2020 Season has started, the prevailing tank lines that teams have been playing utilize Reinhardt and D.Va. As this continues, Super and Choihyobin will likely continue on these as they are their signature heroes. The Shock utilized this composition in their lone game at the Dallas homestand, garnering a 3-1 victory.
But other teams have been using a double-shield variant with Reinhardt and Orisa. This provides less sight-lines for the opposing team to use, and extra shielding should provide more protection from Mei freezes. If the Shock adapt to this composition, viewers may see Super and Smurf on the two tanks. However, it seems equally likely that Choihyobin would play Orisa as he has consistently shown he is one of the best and most flexible tank players in the league. Only time will tell where Smurf will fit in, especially since they do not play again until March 7. But head coach Dae-hee “Crusty” Park always seems to have stunning choices up his sleeve, and especially with risk of burnout and sickness they may need to rotate starters and let Smurf shine once more.
You can also follow Matthew @setanta_ow or message him on Discord (setanta#2155).