Tuesday, 3 November 2020

APAC OWL Teams Are Missing A Step Not Considering O2 Blast's Suk-Hoon "O2Boss" Jin As An OWL Head Coach


By Arran "Halo" Brown

The Overwatch League off-season has begun and as the teams from the league's APAC region look at ways to become the best in the region and the Overwatch League, it is highly likely that their scouting will focus on Korean Contenders team O2 Blast. O2 Blast has become one of the premier teams within the region, stringing together numerous successful Contenders seasons which has resulted in multiple O2 players and coaches being signed to various teams across the league. While O2 Blast has built up a very strong and respected reputation within the scene, one person has consistently been overlooked when it comes to coaching an Overwatch League team - O2 Blast's general manager and head coach Suk-Hoon "O2Boss" Jin. Due to most teams within the APAC region deciding to play in Korea thanks to the league’s new format, this is the perfect time for him to step in. He is ready to take the next step and is someone who has shown every quality required to transition to the professional scene.  



The rise of O2 Blast, and O2Boss in particular, has been one of the highlights in the Contenders scene, which has struggled to find positives throughout its lifespan alongside the Overwatch League. Having originally been the head coach of Luminous Solar, O2Boss burst onto the scene when he joined the team as general manager and head coach on 30 January 2018 as the team merged with Ardeont to form O2 Ardeont. After an uninspired regular season they took the playoffs by storm. They made it to the finals of 2018's Contenders Season One but came up short against X6-Gaming, who would later become a part of the Hangzhou Spark. After struggling to adapt in the remaining two seasons of Contenders 2018, O2Boss took the time to evaluate his next steps before coming back for the 2019 season. 

O2Boss' next steps in creating his vision for the organisation involved a second merger - this time with StormQuake, who had recently had a successful season in Korean Contenders trails, to form O2 Blast and it instantly paid dividends. This new roster included the likes of veteran main tank Sang-Hoon "Kaiser" Ryu being paired with up-and-coming talent in players such as Ki-Cheol "Cr0ng" Nam and Se-Hyun "Pelican" Oh. The staff, under the leadership of O2Boss, consisted of Young-Bin "Twinkl" Lim and Min-Hyung "Chilhwa" Park, who would both go on to be signed to Overwatch League teams. O2 Blast had a strong season that would see them becoming the main rivals for Hee-Won "Rush" Yun's Element Mystic. 

After a top four finish in the group stage O2 Blast managed another magical playoff run that saw them beat GC Busan Wave and take a shock victory against RunAway, propelling them into a final for the second time in two years. While they ultimately failed at the final hurdle against Element Mystic, and then again in the 2019 Pacific Showdown, O2 Blast had set themselves up as a regional powerhouse and one of the most popular teams across all of Contenders. 

2020 saw another change in O2 Blast's coaching and playing staff. O2Boss was still able to create another title-contending roster, despite losing the likes of Cr0ng and star support duo Chan-Hee "Mandu" Kim and Sang-Min "Myunbong" Seo. This year saw the signing of former Overwatch League players in Gyeong-Mu "Yakpung" Jo, plus Woo-Yeol "Kalios" Shin and Se-Hyeon "Neko" Park, giving them the opportunity to rebuild their careers and to show that they deserved another shot in the scene's top tier. It turned out to be an inspiring move as O2Boss' respect and ability within the scene allowed him to gain the trust of the three above mentioned players and the rest of his team, both new and old. They went on to win Season One in 2020 capturing their first season win after beating WGS in a tiebreaker match. While the second season didn't turn out to be as successful for O2 Blast, they still managed a playoff appearance before losing to a re-emerging RunAway. 

As good as O2Boss' results resume is, it is only half of his accomplishments as a general manager and head coach. While Korean talent are the most sought-after for Overwatch League teams, he has managed to consistently get his coaches and players signed to the game’s professional level and still recruit and progress the following season, only for this cycle to repeat again. O2Boss has seen ten players and six coaches being signed to the league in just under three years, with more to come for 2021. 

Speculation has always surrounded O2Boss as to whether he would be looking to take the next step and potentially leave Korea to do so but after speaking to him it is clear that he is ready should a team from the APAC region take interest. 

"If a team in the APAC area gives me an opportunity, I can show my ability as much as I can (sic), especially [as] I know many talented players in Korea and believe I can always form a team that can perform well. I feel I have a deep understanding of Overwatch because I care and love it more than anyone else. I have an eye for the players' revealed or hidden talents. I'm especially good at mental care for players, so I can [adapt] for players who are [struggling] and I'm very good at communicating with players, and I have a lot of interaction with most APAC players.

That's why I can distinguish good players [from the rest] because I have a good grasp of the players' usual lifestyle and practice attitude. It is not all about recruiting talented players to make a team that performs well.

Overwatch is a game played by six players, so each of the best players should team up with players who can harmonize well with each other. No matter how good the players are, they often don't get along with each other due to their respective style of play or personality. So when I form a team, I carefully check the talent and ability of the players and whether each player can harmonize well with each other."

After many years of making a name for himself and O2 Blast, O2Boss is ready to take the next step in his Overwatch career. There might not be another general manager/head coach with the talent level that O2Boss possesses to build a potential powerhouse team. With the current league format due to the pandemic it's officially time to stop assuming that O2Boss wouldn't want to leave and actually start viewing him as a future Overwatch League APAC head coach. 

(You can find more Overwatch League related content on Twitter @haloofthoughts

(Picture Credit: Blizzard Ent) 

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