South Korea is traditionally a force to be reckoned with when it comes to esports. It’s no secret that esports play a much bigger role in society there than they do here, and it shows. Games like Starcraft 2 are practically a national sport there and Western pros in many popular titles can only hope to play as well as some of the top Korean players. While Overwatch isn’t quite as bad in that regard as other games may be, South Korea’s World Cup roster is no joke.
At the moment they are two times World Cup winners and they’ve already announced they are aiming for a third win this year. To put it in a different way, there have been two World Cups since the game has been released, with SK winning them both. That’s a pretty daunting prospect for pros of other countries and teams, especially given the line-up.
The 12 man roster was announced by the Korean Overwatch account on Twitter. Here are the players and their roles:
- On DPS, South Korea will have Jong-ryeol ‘Saebyeolbe’ Park, Hae-seong ‘Libero’ Kim, Jan-hyeok ‘Carpe’ Lee, and Byung-sun ‘Fleta’ Kim.
- On Tank, they are sending in Pan-seung ‘Fate’ Koo, Tae-hong ‘MekO’ Kim, Chan-hyung ‘Fissure’ Baek, and Jun-ho ‘Fury’ Kim.
- On Support they’ve got Yeon-joon ‘Ark’ Hong, Sung-hyeon ‘Jjonak’ Bang, Tae-sung ‘Anamo’ Jung, and Yeong-seo ‘Kariv’ Park.
Of the 12 players, nine are Stage Title winners from the very first season of the OWL. That alone would be daunting enough, but coupled with the fact that these guys are essentially just a ‘best of Overwatch’ list, the team could put their competition in a difficult position.
Half of the players are from New York Excelsior, the most dominant team of the first season. The rest are from Philadelphia Fusion, Seoul Dynasty, Los Angeles Valiant and Angeles Gladiators. The fact that South Korea chose these players is absolute proof of their abilities.
Speaking of that, only one of these players has ever competed in the World Championships before – that alone should show the wealth of talent this country has to choose from. There are enough skilled pro players to choose from that those not chosen could fill up the rest of the rosters for the World Cup with South Korean players alone.
On a funny note, that would actually not really affect South Korea’s chances of winning the title – a pretty cocky statement, but experts and fans agree that this team is about as good as they come. Some players who didn’t make it include Pine, Birdring, Profit, Gesture, Mano, Ryujehong, Janus, Geguri, Architect, and many more – hardly players to be just dismissed from such a selection.
All the cards in South Korea’s favour
As if South Korea’s head-start wasn’t big enough already, they will also have the home team advantage for their qualifying group, as that is taking place in Incheon on August 17-19. Blizzcon itself will not take place in South Korea of course, but that probably won’t matter too much to these guys.
Their qualifying group is made up of SK, Finland, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia and Taiwan. As only the top two teams will make it to Blizzcon, a fierce competition is expected… over the spot that won’t go to South Korea that is. While miracles are certainly possible and the World Championships are by no means a done deal, South Korea seems to have been dealt just about the best hand possible.
We are certainly looking forward to seeing what they are able to do with it. At the moment, fans are in a bit of an uproar – while plenty are excited about the team choices, others are upset that their favourite players weren’t chosen. This was absolutely inevitable given the amount of star players that South Korea has, but it is nevertheless a pity to see the Overwatch esports community so divided.
This may not have been the case had the South Korean head honchos chosen a different method of selecting their players. While most countries use rather rigorous trials to select the players that will be representing them, SK chose to forego this – at least according to a difficult to verify Twitter statement. Whether it is true or not, fans are a little upset right now since so many great players weren’t able to make it onto the roster. Speaking of that roster, not all of the 12 players selected will actually go on to play in the final games – when it’s time for the group stage in Incheon, only seven players will actually compete.
Theories on who those seven will be are currently flying around the Overwatch esports scene. One of the most popular combinations is Ark, JjoNak, Fissure, Mek0, Saebyeolbe, Fleta and Libero. What is your favourite combination? Which players do you think are the most likely to net South Korea another win? Let us know in the comments.