Talented, but lacking drive. To put it simply; Profit is bored.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all passed over homework and procrastinated until the last second to finish an assignment or study for a test. The problem lies in comfort, the complacency of a velvety warm blanket. Why try hard when things either come naturally or there isn’t anything you’ve already accomplished? And while there are many candidates for this in the Overwatch League, no one tops Park "Profit" Joon-yeong as the most affected by this idea of “student syndrome.”
Student syndrome references the idea of planned procrastination when a student, or in our discussion a player, will only start to apply themselves at the last minute. The lack of time removes the opportunity to be stuck in analysis paralysis. Players put under time constraints just have to act. They are under pressure and stress, but these types of people rise to the occasion. The pressure of playoffs and other high-intensity situations entices these teams to apply themselves and that is where we see them deliver on their potential.
GC Busan came up through APEX Challengers, good but not great. They alongside LuxuryWatch Red played as rivals trading blows at the top of each group. Profit and GC Busan took the first group stage, while LuxuryWatch took the second. Going into APEX Season 4, GC Busan weren’t the best team coming out of the amateur division. They were good, but not great. This once again was echoed once APEX Season 4 began, GC Busan played second fiddle to LuxuryWatch Red in Group C, but the giant turn happened in the second stage of group play.
Place in one of the most stacked groups in Overwatch history, Profit and GC Busan had to play against, X6-Gaming, RunAway, and the two time APEX title holders, Lunatic-Hai. If there was ever a time to try, if there was ever a time for Profit to apply himself, it would be against the best teams in the world at that point. This would be where we saw a glimpse of his potential as he and GC Busan swept Lunatic-Hai, not once but twice, and more importantly, took RunAway to game five to qualify as the second seed in Group B.
The narrative painted was one of a team that “evolved”, rather as we’ve seen his career develop it is better explained through the lens of a student who only shows up when tested. Homework to them is busy work and isn’t enjoyable, but competition against the best in the world with stakes on the line? Now that can make this type of person rise to the occasion.
And to put the cherry on top, Profit pulls out Genji, a character that over the course of the regular season he hasn’t touched at all, at the last minute against arguably the best Genji ace of all time, Kim "Haksal" Hyojong and dominated him. GC Busan’s run as royal roaders was legendary, but this ultimately paints Profit as the aloof student with a silver spoon in his mouth. Talented, but lacking drive. Now that he conquered the world, what left was there to do?
2018 saw the birth of two things; the Overwatch League and the superteam known now as the 2018 London Spitfire. Comprised of two of the best teams in the world at the time, KongDoo Panthera and GC Busan, Profit walked onto the biggest stage in Overwatch as a strong favourite, and things started off that way. London’s Stage 1 reverse sweep victory over the New York Excelsior was impressive in many ways, but then the valley came.
Profit and the London Spitfire looked lethargic and downright lost throughout the back half of the regular season. We knew what they were capable of, but something wasn’t right. Like a bad case of whiplash once again, when the stakes were placed on the table Profit comes alive. This time was the spearhead in their 2018 Overwatch League title win.
Profit has shown this trademark inconsistency throughout his career and it continues this season as well. Throughout the rather tumultuous 2020 regular season, the Seoul Dynasty hasn’t seen a great deal of strong success. Individually he looked in his element some days and not so much in others. While we can dismiss this with the problems that surround Hero Pools, it was still apparent that Profit wasn’t all there. It was only in the May Melee, a tournament that had massive stakes and implications behind it that he and the Dynasty came alive. Now they didn’t win the event, but they massively surpassed any and all expectations, even taking the favoured Shanghai Dragons to map seven in a best-of-seven is an impressive feat in its own right.
Now you could argue that it’s these flaws that make Profit who he is, that this feeling of procrastination makes Profit, profit. Would Michael Jordan be the legend we know him to be without that fiery drive that comes off as brash and unmoving? We would not have the Profit we know and love today, without this ability to rise to the occasion only once it has presented itself. And it’s impossible to speculate where it comes from, but two things are certain; it exists, even if it is relegated to a narrative device, and it’s tied to someone Profit has shared his career with.
At the end of the day, Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee has always ridden shotgun alongside Profit. They’ve been together since their debut with GC Busan three years ago. They shared the final APEX title, the APAC Premier trophy, the first stage win, and the inaugural Overwatch League championship.
That comfort zone of knowing Profit will always have Gesture with him, that rock that has seen everything thing he has seen with him, could very well be holding him back. If Profit needs to be put under pressure to thrive and Gesture is the failsafe governor that is holding the weight of the world off his shoulders, what happens when that safety blanket is taken away? To return to the student analogy, let’s reframe it like this; what does Profit’s career look like when he graduates and doesn’t have Dr. Gesture as a professor? Does he fly on his own? Does he become even better than he has in the past? Does he put the conversations to rest and become the greatest Overwatch player of all time?
To put it simply; Profit is bored. As frank as that sounds, he needs to juggle chainsaws to feel the spice of life. He needs the pressure of playoffs to feel alive. He desperately wants that rush but doesn’t want to be pushed from the coup just yet. This is what makes him the most clutch player we’ve ever seen, but he could be so much more. And that sentence alone should want you to push Profit out of that warm and cosy nest and force him to fly. He might just find his way and win another championship.
Update: As a response to this piece, COO of Gen.G, the parent company of the Seoul Dynasty, Arnold Hur spoke to Profit's work ethic.
#1: Ask KR pros what his nickname is. They all call him "옵신" ("Overwatch-God") not just because of how great he is but because they respect how much work he puts in to be the best
Images via Blizzard Entertainment