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We got the chance last week to talk to Seoul Coach Baek Kwang-Jin about preparing for the Overwatch League in the coming months. The Lunatic-Hai Manager/Coach is planning for a serious assault on the league with one of the top teams. Here is what he had to say:
Are you excited to bring the team into the Overwatch League? Lunatic Hai has been at the top and now it seems like this league will bring in the best competition in the world.
I am very pleased to work with the back-to-back winners of APEX Season 2 and 3 for the Seoul team in the Overwatch League. Our team will devote time and energy into training to bring the championship back to Korea and earn the value and popularity that traditional professional sports teams are known for.
What has you relationship been like with Kevin Chou in setting up this new franchise?
Kevin Chou provides full support, for instance, the best training equipment and facilities, along with health management, media training, and English language tutoring to the players to positioning the players as professional global athletes. I want to be part of his vision for the team and will endeavor to win the championship in the first season of the Overwatch League.
Yesterday, ESPN ran an interview with Kevin Chou, the owner of KSV, the Seoul Overwatch League franchise spot. Kevin used to be one of the founders of KABAM and knows the game industry very well. Now after picking up the team Lunatic-Hai, Korea’s top Overwatch talent, he is on the verge of being the one to beat when the league gets going.
In his interview, Kevin talked about building up the team and the fan base in Korea. More importantly he outlined some of the differences between the APEX tournaments and how the Overwatch League will be structured.
Overwatch League will have a number of things different from APEX. The most obvious one is that all teams can have up to 12 people on their roster. And it’s likely that there will be more substitutions allowed throughout a match compared to what happens in APEX. So all this changes how we think about things. You could literally put together two full rosters.
Twitch Korea Just posted the following announcement on their boards (this was run through translate software so sorry for any mistakes):
Tuesday, May 22 at 11:00 am, Overwatch League ‘ Seoul team (tentative name, Seoul Team) will be released from the substance of ‘ twitch!!!! Twitch, please check through the channels press conference scene :D!!
Kevin Chou will finally be showing off his roster. The main bet here is on Lunatic-Hai sticking together to represent Seoul in the professional league, a very scary concept to the competition.
This just off the presses over in Korea. It is very exciting to see the date announced as Kevin Chou has been planing to show off his entire roster at once. Most likely we will see Lunatic-Hai coming together as the Seoul team. They will be the ones to beat for sure as they are already a powerhouse in current tournaments. Can we expect Lunatic-Hai to be the complete roster? Or will players from other teams come into the fold? We’ll just have to wait and see. Having a set date for the announcements is perfect and will bring together fans throughout Korea and the Overwatch world to see who the team is signing as well as other news.
There were a couple of big announcements this morning out of South Korea. Kevin Chou and Commissioner Nate Nanzer held a press conference in Seoul this morning to talk about player signings and upcoming teams. You can find the full article at Akshon Esports here.
Kevin Chou had this to say:
I spent a lot of time thinking about this. When I first started talking, there were many different cities that we could have talked about. But Philip and I were discussing about the various different cities, and the pros and cons for it. Both of us, as well as the 3rd partner, we all agreed that Seoul would be the best city to set up in. Number one, the best players, and the best players, are here in Korea. eSports was born right here in Korea, and there have been several generations of players that transformed into coaches, shout-casters, and so forth. So there is an ecosystem here, that has gone through multi-generations that have competed at the highest levels, and there is that talent base, that you cannot find anywhere else in the world. And because this is going to be a global league, we wanted to have the ability to work with the very best players and coaches to create that team. – Kevin Chou
He went on to mention that they would be announcing player signings as early as next week.
Nate Nanzer spoke about more teams being added before the launch of the league in this statement:
Yes. There will definitely be more announcements of additional teams between now and the launch of the league. – Nate Nanzer
We’ll bring you more news on this story as we get it. Hopefully we’ll have some video as well. For now, Seoul is our front runner in the league before things start. Just based on their World Cup team and some amazing players coming out of South Korea they are definitely the team to beat. It will be exciting to finally get some player’s names in the news this week!
Seoul, South Korea is essentially where Esports began. If you follow Blizzard years back you will see the rise of Starcraft in competition. After decades of hardcore play, the Korean market grew into the epicenter for huge live Starcraft events. This set the groundwork for what would become Esports as we know it today. Fast forward to 2016 and it is obvious that Seoul would be one of the first teams to enter into the Overwatch League.
Kevin Chou and Kent Wakeford are the founders of mobile game monster Kabam. After selling the company the two entrepreneurs are now focused on what gaming’s next new frontier will be. If you have several hundred million to invest with, then buying into the rumored $20 million for an Overwatch Pro Team does not seem like much. So, very quickly we have Seoul, South Korea as one of the founding teams in the Overwatch League.
The company will operate under KSV eSports International. KSV means Korea Silicon Valley, two heavy weight locations in tech and games. The main point here with the team from Seoul is that KSV will be hosting an all-Korean team to compete. Given the history that Korea as a nation has in Esports expect them to quickly field some of the best players in the world.
In an interview with Venturebeat, Kevin Chou explained that huge efforts would be made to have the Seoul fan base rally behind their team. The reason for an all Korean roster is designed to gain the support of the city. What Chou does have here is the purest tradition in Esports and a city that already has a rich history in the brand new industry. Cities like New York and Boston may have large sports backgrounds, but cannot compare to the Esports community in Seoul. This is a big advantage for the team and franchise.
South Korea won the Overwatch World Cup last year and will be joining the ranks at BlizzCon this year for all of the action. Their team does host some of the top players: Kim “Mano” Dong-gyu, Hwang “Fl0w3R” Yeon-oh, Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-ryeol, Kim “zunba” Joon Hyuk, Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong, and Yang “tobi” Jin-mo. This team is scary good and the rest of the globe will have their hands full trying to take away their title.
So, how many of these players will join the franchise for launch? Will we see a Seoul pro team that becomes more of a Korean All Star line up? What type of contracts will these high level players warrant, as they already do extremely well? There are a lot of questions concerning the build-up of this powerhouse type team.
Chou described his team as a underdog in comparison to other major sports franchises. The opposite is much more the truth. He has the best talent to pull from in the local market and a very dedicated fanbase entrenched in Esports culture. Watching Seoul enter the league it would not be a surprise if they were champions in season one.