Roots Of Overwatch: Decay And Protecting The Flame
Our roots are what ground us. Our roots are our start and the road to our end. Ahead of the 2023 Overwatch League season, we're diving into the roots of Overwatch, examining some of its narratives, and how they're manifesting now.
When Prometheus stole fire from the gods, he instilled in humanity the hunger for endeavour. The need to strive, the thrill of chasing the un-chaseable, something Jang "Decay" Gui-un knows all too well. Rising from the dry kindling of South Korea's proving grounds, Decay has made his talents known worldwide. However, name recognition alone doesn't calm that burning search for success. Surrounded by champions, can Decay protect his competitive flame or do the winds of change threaten to snuff out his aspirations of greatness?
Will Decay burn down the door?
In traditional sports, even in most media, there sits the concept of "gatekeepers". Those who sit outside the walls and provide one last pre-emptive test to the protagonist fixated on the trophy past them.
Overwatch has seen its fair share of players hold the post, many at the same time. None have lasted longer than Decay.
Since his debut in 2017, Decay has always maintained his post as Overwatch's greatest gatekeeper, either by mechanical skill or by proximity to the final.
During the APEX Era of Overwatch, Decay knocked on the door as a member of KongDoo Uncia. While Uncia stood in the shadow of their sisters in Panthera, Decay was their lantern. His skill manifested like shouting down a dark alleyway. No one could see him, but they certainly could hear him.
Decay was their chance at an eventual title. A world-class talent ready and waiting to ignite. With Uncia's rather disappointing showing, he quickly outgrew his confines and was internally promoted as the Overwatch League's sweeping changes set in.
The league's scaffolding quickly swept him from the bleeding edge of competition to the amateur division. This new construct left Decay and a class of talent outside the walls they helped build. Left to orbit the outskirts within Overwatch Contenders, Decay and KongDoo Panthera locked horns with rivals RunAway for a domestic title.
His knocks were loud enough.
Everyone could hear him.
And yet the door still wouldn't budge.
RunAway would bathe in the relief of champions defeating KongDoo and Decay.
The fan favourites finally realised their potential in an emotional display of the human condition.
Decay only could window shop their achievement.
And yet, this near collision with greatness wouldn't be without its fruits.
2019 would see him take his first Overwatch League walk alongside the Los Angeles Gladiators. 2019 would also see one of the most polarising and rigid metagames enter the fray.
Even forced to move to Zarya to play within the GOATS framework, Decay proved to be a menace. Like tossing a match towards an oil spill, his entrance, no matter how much water you poured, would not be interrupted.
The Dallas Fuel would be his next home, and while it was mostly short-lived, it was here that Decay etched out his will. Highlight after highlight, clip after clip, Decay would leave the Overwatch community gobsmacked as he would display to the world his intent.
He was more than good enough.
Echoing much of his narrative past, Decay also had to do this all while cutting against the grain on a team that was not performing well.
While dim, that competitive fire in his eyes was still bright. The Overwatch League playoffs were in his sights, and like a moth to that light, someone called.
In more ways than one, Decay knocked on the door with his tenure in Washington.
Piloting an unconventional meta that played spoiler to some and threatened to upset others, Decay and the Justice were a wildfire and the Overwatch League was a dry stretch of brush.
2020 was a wild year, but nothing was more captivating than Decay's arrival on the Washington Justice and their eventual playoff run.
The following two years were quiet on the team front, but Decay continued to fan the flames. Career winters like these usually are swan songs in disguise, a skeleton's attempt to protect the flame.
And, if it wasn't clear already, Decay is the exception.
On a poor team, he managed to not only provide smoke signals but still showcase the ability to torch some of the world's best.
Another knock at the door.
Another year answerless.
Another log for the bonfire.
This is why 2023 is so vital for Decay.
Every career can only take so many hard knocks.
The erosion caused by time is an unwinnable fight.
It's not "how" but "when" the rising tide of talent, the developmental churn, and the increasing demand smothers the flame of today's players.
They aren't lying when they say time is fleeting.
That's why Decay is in the best position possible to protect that competitive fire.
To keep those embers burning just a little while longer until its heat cleaves through the door that's been kept shut from him.
It's easy to see the former champions huddled around him as walls to keep the elements out, to safeguard longevity. And in that same breath, they are the kindling, the literal fuel that will catalyse a journey nearly six years in the making.
We've elaborated at length on just how good Decay is mechanically at Overwatch 2.
Not the Justice, not the Fuel, not even the Gladiators could bring Decay to the dance and see him crowned.
Now, with fresh eyes, the Boston Uprising looks to live up to their moniker and catapult Decay into legend.
No more knocking.
No more waiting.
With a lighter in one hand and a ring in the other, Decay is ready to watch the Overwatch League burn.