This weekend, in the semifinal between the Shanghai Dragons and the New York Excelsior, two key players defined the outcome of the match. The final 3-1 score does not fully reflect how close this game was. However, a detailed look at New York´s team captain and Shanghai´s young talent is the key to understand this game and the future for both teams.
Oh Captain, My Captain!
Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park is back! After a year of uncertainty about his role on the team in 2019, during which he nonetheless supported all of his teammates, New York´s captain is back at full force. The 24-year-old is the eldest on the team and his experience and leadership have been an important pillar of the NYXL over the years. In this series, he used his years of experience to give New York a fighting chance against the first seed in Asia.
While most casual Overwatch fans know him for his Tracer, Saebyeolbe has thousands of hours of hitscan experience as well. Before Overwatch, he played Counter-Strike, but because CS does not have a developed esports scene in Korea, he did not play professionally. This flexibility allowed him to stay in on all maps during the series and help his team push for a draw on Kings Row and a win on Gibraltar. Without Saebyelobe, New York might have been destroyed, but his leadership, shaped through years of tough coaching and passion, pushed NYXL to fight back as hard as possible.
The Ghost of Runaway
After the fallout of the Vancouver Titans, New York quickly integrated Hyo-jong “Haksal” Kim into their team. The former Runaway player has played well for New York, but a player of Runaway´s second generation is on his way to becoming the best support in the world. Jae-gon “Leejaegon” Lee made his name on Lucio during the 2019 Contenders season. His experience during that time has now become an invaluable asset.
In the current meta of the Overwatch League, Sombra´s EMP ultimate is one of the most important win conditions for any team. However, the best Lucio players stay out of the range of the EMP. They build up their own Soundbarrier ultimate fast enough that their team can survive the enemy´s attack. In this matchup, Haksal was rarely able to EMP Leejaegon. Even further, Leejaegon excelled in detecting Haksal as he approached, either slowing down his EMP progress or right out killing him.
Leejaegon´s complete proficiency on Lucio opens up Shanghai to play with much less restraint then other teams are forced to. His aggression on Sombras and snipers limits the number of surprising hacks or headshots that would disrupt a well laid out strategy. Simultaneously, he is nimble enough that few players can punish his aggression. When he was forced on the Mercy during parts of Gibraltar, he was still able to perform well, but this is where New York were able to get their one map win.
Both Shanghai and New York can hold their head up high and praise their players. The Excelsior might have lost, but they looked strong. In the Loser´s Bracket, they have the potential to sneak into the second qualification spot. Shanghai on the other hand looks as strong as ever. If future teams fail to contain Leejaegon on Lucio, Shanghai might counter any Sombra composition.
Featured image provided courtesy of Blizard Entertainment.
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