Shu was snubbed any recognition, while other supports took home awards and accolades they could tout on their professional resume. Everyone forgot about Shu.
August 31st, 2019 — Kim "Shu" Jin-seo and the Guangzhou Charge have just had their 2019 Overwatch League Playoff hopes dashed by an overbearing and surging Seoul Dynasty team. However, Shu’s performance throughout the regular season positioned him to be an early front runner as one of the inaugural support Role Stars, an award given to outstanding players at a particular role.
That following month the awards were announced.
Shu’s name was surprisingly absent and when compared to his opponents, it was clear that something was amiss.
On one hand, Shu was ranked within the top 40 players in terms of the Overwatch League’s player impact ratings. Others barely broke into the top 70.
Shu had a breakout rookie season, which was projected from his performance in Overwatch Contenders, the amateur division of the Overwatch League. Others were veteran performers who off-rolled for a good portion of the season before swapping back to support and performed well enough on an underwhelming team.
Shu was snubbed any recognition, while other supports took home awards and accolades they could tout on their professional resume.
Everyone forgot about Shu.
(Note: To ensure complete transparency, the author did participate and had a vote in the Role Star award ceremony. His ballot has been made public and can be found here.)
“Shu has always been a standout player mechanically, even now as a member of the Overwatch League, I believe he's criminally underrated,” explained Shu’s former head coach Ronald “Renanthera” Ly. Before Shu broke out onto the Overwatch League stage he played for a handful of Overwatch Contenders teams from South Korea before joining Toronto Esports in March of 2018. There, he worked closely with Renanthera in their two Overwatch Contenders appearances.
In Overwatch Contenders 2018: Season 1, Shu and Toronto Esports were on top of the world. They advanced as the top seed in Group A with a strong match record of 4-1 and coasted in the playoffs meeting little resistance. This put them on a collision course with the eventual champions, Fusion University, in the grand finals. Needless to say, Toronto didn’t fare so hot and were sent home with their heads in their hands.
For Shu, Season 2 of Contenders was a tougher pill to swallow. Fighting an uphill battle to maintain a middle-of-the-pack placing, Toronto Esports finished as the fourth seed coming out of Group B.
Unfortunately, Shu and Toronto Esports fell to a familiar fate in the playoffs. In their quarterfinal match, they once again were paired off with Fusion University. And while he and the team managed to put up more of a fight, they took a premature exit from the playoffs ending their Season 2 hopes. However, Shu’s 2018 would not end in disappointment. That November, he would be signed to the Guangzhou Charge’s freshman roster as they marched into the upcoming 2019 Overwatch League season.
“JJoNak got a lot of praise and earned himself a reputation for being a menace on Zenyatta, and in a parallel universe, it very well could have been Shu being held with that same prestige,” Renanthera said. “[Shu’s] Ana, in particular, is in contention for the best in the League in my opinion, and I wish he was part of that conversation.” Renanthera elaborated saying the with the amount of clutch plays Shu made in Contenders along with his performance in the league, he should have earned himself that consideration. However, Renanthera continued to praise Shu for not only his skill in-game but what he brought to his team outside of it.
“I can certainly say that Shu's a hysterical dude,” Renanthera explained. “Very, very funny. Even though his English wasn't very good, it didn't matter — he made sure to get his points across. Shu's quite the natural comedian and radiated a happy-go-lucky atmosphere. He's loud, he's fun to be around, and it's a shame more people don't know that about him.”
“I wouldn't call him a leader, but he'll contribute in positivity, in boosting morale.”
This aspect of Shu, this ability to medicate moral, undoubtedly played a role in the Guangzhou Charge’s late regular season upswing and playoff run in 2019. He might not have been an extension of the coaching staff’s will, nor the smartest player at adapting on the fly, but he was the type of person to make sure the energy in the room was high no matter the circumstance and no matter what insurmountable task was put in front of them.
But he wasn’t just a glue guy or someone who was merely kept around to keep lockerroom drama to a minimum, he actively is one of the best flex supports in the world.
“Shu gets away with murder,” Renanthera said. “Leaving Shu alone basically meant [Toronto Esports] had three majorly active damage players on the field — and not just on Zenyatta. His Ana really was a trained assassin. Any aim-intensive Supports with the room for mechanical outplay and freedom to catch kills on their own are a perfect fit for him. I guarantee we'll see him clutch fights with Baptiste’s Ampiflication Matrix often.”
“If a fight wasn't clean cut, if it dragged on for even a little more than it should, Toronto Esports capitalized on the chaos,” Renanthera explained. “Scrappier, messier fights lent themselves to the team really well in part because of Shu's carry-element.”
“I am confident in saying his stats this coming season will tell a story to match.”
After climbing out of a team like Flash Lux, who was infamous for never winning much of anything and moving to North America to pursue his passion for Overwatch, Shu and the Guangzhou Charge gear up for a promising 2020 season. He stands as a cornerstone example that anyone can escape what seems to be a terminal fate and become one of the best in the world.
Nowadays everyone wants to talk and voice their opinions on who’s the best and the most deserving.
Hopefully, this season, we don’t forget about Shu.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment