The cocoon that has kept Eileen in for so long has cracked. It’s time to fly.
The kings of Asia are dead. In convincing fashion, the Guangzhou Charge accomplished the unthinkable by beating the Shanghai Dragons—and at the centre of that victory lies star DPS player, Ou "Eileen" Yiliang. Since his debut on the world’s stage during the 2017 Overwatch World Cup alongside Team China, Eileen existed in the eyes of the community like a caterpillar. He was someone with undoubted raw talent, but for one reason or another, he never truly captured the global audience—not until recently.
In time, Eileen would act on his potential, he would become the perfect spear, and reach his peak at the Summer Showdown alongside the Charge. Just like a caterpillar entering a cocoon, just like how Rome wasn’t built overnight, good things take time, and with that, it’s important to know where the project starts as to appreciate where it ends.
Transformation literally means going beyond your form.
- Wayne Dyer
Chinese commentator, as well as a Special Correspondent and Content Creator for the Shanghai Dragons, Gai "Alan" Yandahan, weighed in on just who Eileen is as a person. “Eileen used to be a shy little boy back when he was still playing in the Overwatch Premier Series and later in Overwatch Contenders,” Alan said.
“Just like most young players, he was not good at small talk or jokes. But his personality has changed a lot during these two years.” He explained that Eileen has been more outgoing, cracked more jokes, and has generally been sharing more with the people around him:“he has really grown up a lot since the beginning.”
Fielding the opposite side of that coin sits Overwatch Contenders China commentator and analyst, Eren "Kenobi" Erkey. Alongside, Eileen was Zheng "Shy" Yangjie a young, prodigal hitscan specialist. As a pair, they made up the DPS core of LGD Gaming, a widely prestigious esports organization in the Chinese region. “Eileen on LGD Gaming was part of a dynamic DPS duo with himself and Shy,” Kenobi explained more so who Eileen, the player, was when he first started on his path to the top.
“He mostly played projectile as Shy was the main hitscan DPS threat. A lot of what we see in today's Eileen is reminiscent of what I saw when he was on LGD. A projectile player who has the ability to carry with his mechanical skill.” While his tenure on LGD Gaming was accomplished, Eileen and his team consistently played as a strong junior team and seemed destined to always miss winning gold.
During both Season 1 and Season 2 of Overwatch Contenders China, LGD Gaming looked down the barrel of Lucky Future Zenith, a strong, fully South Korean stable competing for the Chinese organization, Lucky Future. Twice they made it to the grand finals, twice they were put away by a roster so talented it was picked apart by Overwatch League franchises. However, one part of the roster resurfaced during the Guangzhou Charge’s run through the Summer Showdown, Shanghai Dragon’s hitscan specialist, Bae "diem" Min-seong.
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As a pillar to his former shortcomings, in a poetic way, Eileen conquered the Shanghai Dragons but he also conquered his past. He wasn’t going to be overshadowed anymore. Not by GOATS, not by Diem, not by the assumed kings of Asia, the Shanghai Dragons. While he put a demon to rest, Eileen truly stepped into the spotlight, in the most literal sense, during this metagame.
With what he saw going into and throughout the Summer Showdown, Kenobi was not surprised by Eileen’s performance in the slightest, if anything this mirrored his expectations. From watching Eileen in Overwatch Contenders, the Overwatch World Cup, and the smattering of third-party Chinese tournaments, this was the Eileen that was expected. “I think this is the culmination of what I saw when covering him in Contenders China,” Kenobi said. “He was about to take his Genji to the next level against some of the best Genji’s in the world like Haksal and Fleta.” However, there was room for healthy speculation. The Charge did have deep DPS line and Asia specifically hadn’t been keen on the Genji in the week previous.
“Well to be honest, before mid-June when the regular seasons matches started after the break, I didn't think he would play so perfectly,” Alan said.
“My thoughts about the Guangzhou Charge is that they may try to play Nero and Happy more often, but I think two factors played a lot recently. First is the improvement of Eileen's Tracer, which already surprised me, so he can play several roles the team needed, and the second is his Genji is so well glued with his teammates. His personal skills still remind us that his iconic hero is Genji.”
Not only did Eileen exorcise his past, but he became a full player, showcasing his surprising strength on not only his signature pick of Genji but also on Tracer, a hero that required a completely different skill set to what we had prescribed to him.
I think the surprise comes from Eileen being more of a hitscan and Tracer player up until the Genji meta. I think Eileen's biggest improvement has been his hitscan and his Tracer. This is someone who was always a projectile player and for him to be as good at Widowmaker and Tracer is a testament to his ability as a player.
The cocoon that has kept Eileen in for so long has cracked. Charge’s perpetual state of disregard within the eyes of the community, his battle against the Shanghai Dragons and a rival from his past, and finally his shift in identity, Eileen now has traded his silver and bronze wings in for golden ones. No more is he the shy, unassuming player that once dreamed of winning an event. Eileen is the spear the Charge brandished in their championship run in the Summer Showdown. Eileen has evolved.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment