Ryu ‘Ryujehong’ Jehong, on stream announced that he was going to be joining a Valorant tournament coming up. This is not to say that he has turned his back on Overwatch League. In the past, he has said on stream that he always seems to come back to Overwatch. Ryujehong is known for his wide appreciation of multiple games. Tiger Nation remembers his late-night PUBG stream, grinding Maple Story and even testing out APEX Legends when it first came out. Now that Ryujehong is a FA, and no longer attached to an Overwatch League team, it gives him the freedom of new opportunities. The time of his situation and the release of Valorant, a game that is highly suited to his skill set, might have created the perfect storm. This could be a massive moment for both the Valorant and Overwatch community in South Korea.
Jehong on stream
"I'm competing in a [Valorant] tournament. I don't know when it's gonna be… I only decided to compete 2 days ago." https://t.co/MlR854R8A8
— 아나탈 (@gatamchun) May 12, 2020
Ryujehong is a player with an FPS background. Before he was a part of the Overwatch community he was into matches such as Special Forces 2 and CS. On stream, Ryujehong would time to time pop into CS to play a few rounds that would showcase his FPS skills. The Overwatch League knows him as the Sniper healer Ana or Zen. In Seoul 2 when Ryujehong on Lunar Colony went onto Widow many people were left confused. Why Ryujehong and not Byungsun ‘Fleta’ Kim?
Ryujehong in the past was an MVP best sniper in other games. Valorant seems to be the best of both his skills in his esports career. The fun abilities of Overwatch, but also the carry potential of CS. On stream Ryujehong has been playing Valorant a lot and the ease he has with an OP or pistol shows his natural talent. He has played Valorant with Haksal, Zunba and other Overwatch League pros in PUGs and has had that joy that fans hadn’t seen in a while.
Impact on South Korea?
It seems drastic to say that one player to play one tournament could impact the Valorant and Overwatch community, but if one player could it would be Ryujehong.
In South Korea during the APEX era when pros were asked who do they admired or inspired them, Ryujehong was always mentioned by big names such as Jihyeok ‘Birdring’ Kim, Jaehui ‘Gesture’ Hong and Donggyu ‘Mano’ Kim. This is seen when Ryujehong streams, there always seems to be a few pros lurking around and watching. Whether it was to enjoy the content or to try and snipe him is up for debate. Even young players still cite Ryujehong as inspiration for them to try and go pro in Overwatch.
When the Overwatch League started another game PUBG was rising to success. His partner in crime Injae ‘Esca’ Kim decided to transition over. Many fans were nervous that Ryujehong would also change games as PUBG fit his traditional style of game better. He decided to stick with Overwatch. Even when he was in NA with massive high ping he would duo with Esca and win games.
This one tournament in Valorant could be a shift. Ryujehong is not just known in the Overwatch community, but because of his previous games as friendship with Taejun ‘LTJ’ Lee and Padak, he is known still in the FPS games. He is an inspiration to many and if Overwatch League players, especially, Korean Overwatch League players see Ryujehong leave they may want to follow. Is this a stretch? Players like Seonghyun ‘Jjonak’ Bang put their games’ settings to the exact same as Ryujehong’s to duplicate his results. He is well respected in the industry and many other pro players follow him closely. There is a good chance that if Ryujehong does decide to leave the Overwatch esports scene that many more Korean Overwatch pros will follow in his footsteps.
No one knows whether this hype around Valorant will stick. There was a similar feeling when APEX Legends came out and that has now faded. This is going to be a tipping point in Korea and FPS. In the past Korea was not known as much for FPS game play, as Starcraft and League of Legends were big titles. Overwatch has been a great influence in the Korean pro-gaming community as well as PUBG. Will this be the turning point when Valorant becomes a hit game in South Korea? Will other Overwatch pros be watching Ryujehong and what he decides for his esports career?
With Valorant now available in South Korea and many Korean streamers already playing it, there seems to be a keen interest in the game. As Ryujehong’s username in Valorant, 뉴제홍, which if said out loud sounds like ‘New Jehong’, will the fans see the new Ryujehong in this new game? Whether Ryujehong picks Valorant going forward or goes back to Overwatch, there will be many fans rooting for his success.
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