Finding sleep, pianos, and Fleta's fight for the future
Have you ever listened to a piano up close? Normally you're enraptured by the melodic mosaic the composer intended. Yet, if you get close enough, you can make out a percussive element that is usually subdued.
Keys being pressed, levers actuating, hammers striking their chords, all of these actions result in a rhythmic element that undercuts the piece as a whole. As our position changes with art, so too does its depth, and the same applies to the journey of Overwatch legend Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun.
The original diamond in the rough.
Fleta's unthinkable climb has been nothing short of magical and we've all had the pleasure of witnessing it. From the gutters of OGN's Overwatch APEX to the throne of the Overwatch League, his tale touches the heart of what the league was built on.
The drive to fight complacency.
The determination to climb.
And the ability to seal the deal when the planets aligned.
When Fleta finally graduated from the dystopian nightmare that was Flash Lux, Overwatch collectively cheered. Here was a team that could barely muster map wins, let alone a match, and they housed a star. To think that same plucky contender would end up not only an MVP but a champion.
Does it get better than that?
Stand next to a tree, can you consider the forest that neighbours it?
Stand next to a piano, can you consider all that goes on to make such beautiful music?
Can we, as viewers and fans, consider what goes into a career?
We can't know what we can't see, and that's especially true in an off-season like this, but when you approach anything, your vision shifts. Maybe it's a person, place, or a thing. Maybe it's a goal, maybe it's a job, and maybe even when you achieve it, your perspective changes.
Is your driving force the same as when you started?
Has the objective changed?
Are you even the same person?
We can only imagine what goes into chasing a dream like this. To play in front of thousands, to be considered one of the best at what you do. However, that doesn't stop us from wondering; can that boy from Flash Lux still sleep wherever he wants?
In a 2017 interview with ESPN, former head coach of the Seoul Dynasty, Baek "beast" Kwang-jin, attempted to share anecdotes about each of his players. When Fleta's name was brought up, beast remarked that Fleta not only slept way too much, but he also could sleep anywhere he wanted.
However, a month later, Fleta confirmed his sleepy superpower—but had not been able to do so recently.
Perhaps leaving home caused a restless mind or maybe it was the pressure of playing Overwatch at the highest level that sapped him of his nighttime quirk.
Was either inherently bad?
If you think about it, winning and sleep are not too different from one another.
So long as you're prepared and in the right environment, it just happens.
It finds you.
And it found Fleta, just like it did all those years ago.
But after the conclusion to the 2022 Overwatch League season, we're left wondering if Fleta has forgotten how to sleep.
After a lacklustre start to the year, the defending champions looked more than mortal. While they struggled to adapt early in each stage, there was also a glaring absence of a second DPS threat. Namely Fleta had a markedly low impact.
While he managed to stay alive more often than not, his presence on Tracer was measurably reduced.
Reaper isn't the most flashy pick, but even then Fleta's statistics were middling.
And if this hero pool seems small, remember that Fleta also shared stage time with former Lunatic-Hai bedmate Lee "WhoRU" Seung-jun for the majority of the season.
Now with his contract expired with the Shanghai Dragons, Fleta's journey is trapped in purgatory, living in a superposition of being both awake and asleep.
He is a former champion, no one can discredit that, but when we face reality, time hasn't slowed down.
After giving over five years to Overwatch, does Fleta have another crescendo left in him? What's left to give? What's left to achieve?
Has he struck a bargain with the Sandman so that he once again can find some peace? Perhaps he wants to chase the dream one more time. One last run before hanging up his shoes for good.
Who is to say? And maybe that's the point.
A lot will change this off-season. To be frank, it already has. Familiar names have stepped away, new composers have waltzed forward and sleep drifted in the same fashion.
Perhaps Fleta finds a home for 2023. Maybe he doesn't. Neither option tarnishes his legacy, one that not only represents a very real human struggle but one that is ultimately hopeful.
Have you ever listened to a piano up close?
There is a rhythmic, beating heart to such a beautiful instrument that is almost always lost to the listener.
Are we missing out or is the art fine enough on its own?
Should we forget horseriding when we're kicked off?
Is it necessarily sad if someone retires?
Maybe it just is.
No bias, no vision to speak of.
Just a tree and a forest. A piano and some strings. A player and his career.
And that's okay.
Will Fleta's fight for the future end in a final climb, cementing him into esports gospel or will his swan's song be a sombre passing of the proverbial Overwatch torch?
Rest assured the world knows your name.
And whatever your decision ends up being, we were happy you were here.