A Rivalry Of Rings: Which Legendary Coach Will Reign In Overwatch 2?
A wise man once said that no king rules forever. That essence is a pain Park "Crusty" Dae-hee knows all too well. The mastermind of the San Francisco Shock’s repeat championship victories has been bested by a peer who has amassed an unlikely amount of talent on an even more unlikely team.
Moon "Moon" Byung-chul was recently awarded the Coach of the Year award during the 2021 Esports Awards. This echoes but supersedes his 2020 Overwatch League coaching accolade. Not only has Moon been recognised by his own tribe, but by the general gaming sphere as a whole. The spring of 2022 will begin to put to rest the debate between these two figureheads of competitive Overwatch. Will Crusty recapture his legacy of gold, or has Moon authored a new chapter of Overwatch history?
Overwatch League fans will know all too well the trials and triumphs of each coach. Crusty and his league debut in Boston, Moon with his success and departure from Los Angeles, however, the context around their initial beginnings are shrouded with a thick dusting of time and yet shared a similar orbit. They undoubtedly differ in trajectory, but their eventual home atop Mt. Overwatch mimics one another well. These two coaches both have cemented themselves as some of the best, however, with Overwatch 2 on the horizon, both of them have an opportunity to outshine the rest; to champion two different Overwatch titles. However, to look forward we first have to review how each of these coaches arrived at the summit of competitive Overwatch.
Shrewd fans of Overwatch lore will remember a team by the name of wNv.KR, a Chinese organisation with a fully South Korean roster. Unable to participate in some of the most important tournaments during the game’s budding esports bubble, wNv.KR was an enigmatic team that was really never tested. When they could compete they would perform extremely well, but never against the community assessed 'top' teams. This awe-inspiring team was coached by Crusty.
One of the earliest near meetings of these esports minds was during NetEase’s Nexus Cup 2017. Crusty and wNv.KR would conquer the competition, advancing unfettered through the upper bracket with ease, eventually winning the event only dropping a single map in the grand finals’. This was the team Crusty cut his teeth with. Following later that year, Crusty would join Nc Foxes through their involvement in OGN’s Overwatch APEX ecosystem. Through their mild results in APEX Challengers to their rebranding as RX Foxes and semifinals appearance in APEX Season 4, Crusty had seen it all. However, operating an entirely different destiny, coach Moon was building his own esports pedigree.
Global fans will first have heard of coach Moon from his team Mighty AOD, specifically after one map from OGN’s Overwatch APEX Season 3. Placed in the toughest group, surrounded by the two eventual finalists and a western powerhouse, Moon’s Mighty AOD were simply outclassed before stepping foot into the arena. However, their first game of the season would both reinforce and dismantle expectations. Pairing off with the French iteration of Rogue, Moon and Mighty AOD would earn themselves a quick deficit, but not before striking a blow to the European stars. Yet it wasn’t until Park "KariV" Young-seo took a chance with Widowmaker, yes you’re reading that right, that fans all across the world would take note of this plucky team and their eventual glory bound coach.
To close their group stage run, Mighty AOD would end up upsetting eventual finalists KongDoo Panthera in a five-game set. While many suspected how seriously KongDoo ended up taking the match, as they had all but booked their promotion, this narrow victory would cement both Moon and Mighty AOD as talent that had yet to be tapped. Funnily enough, Moon and Mighty AOD shared an identical match record and map differential with Rogue, but because of their loss in the head-to-head, it would be Rogue that would advance to the second phase of group play.
Moon’s next outing would see him venture outside of South Korea to help form the core to Ardeont, one of the most prominent teams from the South East Asia region of Overwatch still to this day. However, OGN’s Overwatch APEX Season 4 would call him back to the frontlines alongside LuxuryWatch Red (LW Red). This return would mark the first recorded time the two coaches would do battle. Moon alongside LuxuryWatch Red, and Crusty alongside Nc Foxes.
Advancing from the amateur division, LW Red were slatted to become staples of the South Korean Overwatch ecosystem. With talent like Jeong "Nenne" Yeon-kwan and Choi "HOTBA" Hong-joon gracing his roster, Moon had everything he needed to punch a hole into the playoffs. However, Crusty and Nc Foxes foiled those hopes. Coming through the same amateur tournament, Nc Foxes were a middling team, they were situated as the gatekeepers to the upperclassmen like LW Red and GC Busan. Yet, not once, but twice, Nc Foxes would thwart Moon and LW Red from advancing to the semifinals. Again, these two legendary coaches in their own rights have a history well past the Overwatch League and modern titles. This rivalry charts back years and began with teams and players few even remember.
Now we arrive at the present.
The Shock and Crusty have defined an era of both the Overwatch League’s brightest time and competitive Overwatch that predates it. Their dominance and adaptability is and will always be legendary. Opposite to that sun, coach Moon has thrived alongside the Dragons as well. Taking the once 0-42 team, recognised for how bad they were, and transformed them into a dominant powerhouse. Crowned before the final match was even played, the 2021 Shanghai Dragons under Moon’s leadership showcased Shock-esq qualities leaving us stunned and excited about the future.
Success begets success, and failure often just pushes us forward. This is the central idea around how exciting it is to see these two minds meet on a new, untested competitive plane. The repayment for Nc Foxes first strike. The rise of the Dragons. The birth and death of the Shock era. The father of the Golden Stage. These narrative threads and frameworks all stem from these two head coaches.
That’s what we wait with bated breath for.
Crusty after maintaining his position as the greatest coach of Overwatch history now has a contender in Moon. Now both coaches have a new landscape to explore and master. Both have faced struggles and setbacks and yet both of them can be attributed with some of the biggest evolutions in modern competitive Overwatch. This rivalry of rings has gone match for match, trophy for trophy. Crusty has his undeniable accolades as does Moon, the true separation will begin at the head of the new year.
Which coach defies and pens the new Overwatch literature?
Which coach understands his team the most and allow their strengths to succeed?
And more importantly; who is the first to crown themselves the first Overwatch League champion of Overwatch 2?