A Legend Reborn—What Miro’s return really means for Overwatch
The godfather of modern main tanks and the MVP of the first Overwatch World Cup has returned home. This past Thursday, Gong "Miro" Jin-hyuk has announced his return to competitive Overwatch. Now he’s returned to give Overwatch one last shot.
For those who don’t know, Miro was a part of the dynastic golden children from South Korea, Lunatic-Hai. Throughout their two year run, they rarely finished outside of the top three. They were also the only team in OGN’s Overwatch APEX tournament series to win two titles in Season 2 and Season 3. This was when Miro, in a way, popularized the aggressive carry-centric playstyle that players like Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung and Park "Bumper" Sang-beom have come to emulate and even refine.
However, in their heyday, Miro and Lunatic-Hai were the team to beat.
APEX Season 4 for some fans spelled disaster as the team took an early exit from the tournament and dashed hopes for a three-pear, but others speculate that the Overwatch League preparations, that were undoubtedly underway, took its tole on the team. And that’s not a crazy thought to propose either. Take for instance LW Blue’s forfeiture in that same season to better prepare for the upcoming inaugural Overwatch League season. Perhaps it’s a bit of Column A and a bit of Column B, who’s really to know? What’s certain is that Lunatic-Hai in APEX Season 4 didn’t look amazing.
After a disappointing end to the inaugural Overwatch League season in 2018, Miro stepped away from the Seoul Dynasty’s starting roster to become a stream for the team’s parent organization, Gen.G Esports. During the Dynasty’s rough patch, Miro shouldered a lot of the burden. Many claims and critiques, my own included, were made against his starting position. He didn’t seem comfortable in the meta and the team tried too hard to facilitate his old playstyle while also trying to forge their new DPS prospect Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun into the hard carry the team needed him to be.
Now Miro has returned home to Overwatch after a nearly 16-month layoff.
While he fights an uphill battle against the shadow he left in Seoul, he has a strong intuition. I’d imagine Miro could make a strong comeback if he’s given the time to learn the ins and outs of the new competitive metagame. That’s why he will most likely participate in Overwatch Contenders before making a stab at returning to the Overwatch League. He knows he needs time not only to prove to potential suitors that he still has championship potential, but he needs to prove it to himself.
What’s also interesting, and could be a saving grace for his return, is that the most recent D.Va change could continue the interest that some teams have shown on running Dive compositions, which play directly into Miro’s wheelhouse. So for those feverish Lunatic-Hai fans still banging the drum for Miro, those seeds might just prove fruitful.
It’s not just his resume and previous experience that should have you excited, he’s also a focal member in the narratives that Overwatch so desperately needs. As an esport, Overwatch has an extremely quick turn over for talent, and we can debate as to why that is, but this stifles the dramatic stories that entice general Overwatch fans to become more interested in the more competitive side of things. With Blizzard Entertainment’s strategy of hyper-outreach with the constant T.V appearances, celebrity showcases, and their attempt to chase mainstream approval, they are going to need archetypal heroes that can bare the game’s torch.
Miro has already been that archetypal hero, he’s just coming off an injury. His past history as a fallen member of a dynasty leaves open the real possibility of a serious redemption arc. That’s what lies at the top of this steep metaphorical hill, the real possibility that he can return to being a strong—maybe not world-class—but a strong main tank in the Overwatch League.
He’s fresh off a lengthy break. If a team is going to give him a chance they’re going to need to be calculated about this. That’s why I think it’s best to see him come into a Contenders stable, return to his roots, and grind out the approval as he did in 2017.
Moreso he fights the ever-present possibility that he might just be too old for some teams. This has already started to take hold in Overwatch and it’s not even that foreign of a concept in other esports titles.
There are also two massive boulders for him to hurdle on his way up this steep hill.
One is the fact that Winston is a fringe hero at the moment and the metagame is going to ask him to play heroes that, historically, we’ve never really seen him succeed with. That comes with it very specific styles that might not be something he’s super comfortable with just yet.
The second is my theory that he’s never really found a DPS duo that has lasted for more than 5-6 months. That latter isn’t necessarily a bad thing due to how recent role lock has been implemented, but I think Miro needs to find a strong DPS player he can gel with and dial back his aggressive, carry-centric playstyle.
Miro is passed feeling lucky at this point, he must have a sense of duty or a calling to return to a game that now is playing with a stacked deck. And he isn’t the only veteran to return to their roots to push forward in their career. Last week I wrote about longstanding DPS player Hwang "Fl0w3R" Yeon-oh returning to his home in South Korea to give Overwatch one last hurray and more recently Finnish hitscan ace Timo "Taimou" Kettunen has stepped down from his position on the Dallas Fuel to presumably start with his former team, Team Envy.
Imagine if Miro, despite the odds, returns to the Overwatch League with a Contenders title in hand. This isn’t just a history buffs wet dream, this is an engaging story people can latch onto and talk about all season long.
Like him or not, put your “washed up” memes aside. We want Miro to win because it speaks to the reality of human beings. Think about all of the age-old sayings we tell to loved ones that are down and out or children trying to find their way through a difficult time.
It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s about whether you get back up.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all arrived in the same port of unsure feelings and hopelessness.
And that sudden realization, that if you quit now, you lose that possibility of “what if.”
Miro’s return to Overwatch gives us hope that if we work hard enough, we too can overcome the odds.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment