When you step back and look at its entirety, Rascal’s career shines through.
Sometimes life can be so hectic, so busy with the constant plate spinning of work, school, maintaining our healthy relationships, growing as people, and all the other obligatory tasks we have, that often times we can get caught in the mire of minutiae and forget about the bigger picture.
We all get caught up comparing the leaves of one particular tree to that of another. How do the colours compare? What about the texture? Should you take the shape into account? In that regard, competitive Overwatch is no different. With the constant ebb and flow of the games changes, most—if not all—of the focus is narrowed into this particular moment in time. Who is good on this patch? Who will win this tournament? Where do we rank the players currently? And even though he’s been a part of history, Kim "Rascal" Dong-jun’s leaves are changing, and always have been.
Shocking the world, Rascal and the San Francisco Shock have parted ways after their 2019 title defence; it looks like the greatest team Overwatch has ever assembled will be irrevocably changed. He walks into 2021 under the shroud of uncertainty. However, he is a pillar of flexibility, a veteran that has reinvented himself at the behest of not only the team he plays for, but the game he’s spent so much time perfecting, someone who has seen the peak of mastering how to change colours. Rascal has always bent and formed around what Overwatch asked of him, and has done well with that in mind. So, why is he one of the most criminally underrated players in all of Overwatch history? We have forgotten about Overwatch’s affable chameleon in more ways than one.
We’ve overlooked his tenure throughout Overwatch history. Throughout his career in OGN’s Overwatch APEX as a key member of KongDoo Panthera, Rascal showcased and excelled at a number of heroes. He was one of the earliest adopters of Sombra when she first hit Overwatch, his Genji was among some of the best at the time, and on top of that, he was able to splash in hitscan DPS picks like Soldier: 76 and Tracer when necessary as well. He was one of the first true colourless players, someone who adapts and moulds his play to the game around him. Together, they nearly won APEX Season 2 against Lunatic-Hai and attracted the likes of Cloud9 as a title sponsor.
While his entrance into the Overwatch League was bramble-filled, first landing with the London Spitfire but then departing for the Dallas Fuel while they were dealing with their own internal housefire, Rascal looked towards 2019 as his year to shine—and shine he did.
Not only had he shown himself as being proficient on both hitscan and projectile DPS in the past, but the 2019 season showcased a brand new side of Rascal we hadn’t seen before. When it came to the heavy tank and support focused metagame of Overwatch League’s second season, the San Francisco Shock had an ace in the hole with Rascal’s Baptiste. On top of being a stellar Brigitte player, something that was paramount in their success, quite literally no one could pull off the Baptiste quite like Rascal could which should only further his legend as one of the most flexible players in the world. And at the drop of a hat, he returned to his roots in the playoffs to pilot Mei in the Shock’s Bastion focused compositions. No matter what you throw at him, be it adversity, differing metagames, even new roles—Rascal has always been a world-class talent.
2020 saw him as one of the clutch features for San Francisco. Starting the third season as one of the best Mei players, he was able to resurface and take Echo to a new level, and on top of that, he returned to his wheelhouse with his immaculate Genji which spearheaded their Countdown Cup win over the Philadelphia Fusion.
Slipping through the canopy, he’s dodged individual awards each year, partly due to their nature, partly due to his circumstance, and perhaps partly due to the community overlooking him in favour of highlight reels and flash. Role Stars are predicated on the strength that across the season in a given role, his rookie years are long past him, and MVP discussion demands a mass of playtime that hasn’t always been feasible for him. Meaning the Shock, in particular, have such a mass amount of talented players that they can afford to sit someone of Rascal’s calibre. This leads us to a bigger discussion. Perhaps our favourite element of rascality pens his own award akin to a lifetime achievement award, or more interestingly, he challenges some of the early frontrunners for the greatest player of all time.
With his litany of accolades, his experience, his leadership, and flexibility as a player, Rascal will certainly always have a career in Overwatch if he so chooses to. With that kind of pedigree, he could easily find himself joining a franchise as a member of the support staff, that is the longevity we’re dealing with here. Evergreen doesn’t come close to just how special someone like Rascal is to the scene, he’s got the personality to attract an audience, but the skill to build dynasties around, which makes it surprising that we don’t generally include him in the discussion around potential candidates for the greatest player of all time.
Overwatch and its franchise league are still young, and are working through growing pains. We all battled through GOATS, saw what Role Lock did in 2019, and now take gambles on what Hero Pools will do for the future, and are still deciding if monthly tournaments are good or bad—and throughout all of that disorder, Rascal remains. He doesn’t tumble around like dried weeds, nor does he float around the bottom of the league, Rascal is an APEX finalist and two-time Overwatch League champion, he’s not just remaining in the league—he’s thriving in it. If you were to place a bet on a player’s future success facing down the overwhelming consistency at which Overwatch fundamentally changes, how many players would sit above Rascal? A few may come to mind, but that list contains some of the best players we’ve ever seen touch the game and Rascal should be included in that shortlist.
At the end of the day, the greatest of all-time discussion is one that depends on definitions and criteria that we as a community decide on. If we’re measuring the nod purely off achievements and carry potential, then perhaps things are a little more clear. However, if Overwatch has been a game of flexibility and consistency since its inception, then Rascal surely deserves a front-row seat at the table when it comes to the greatest of all-time discussion. Few players can boast the width of his individual hero pool that spans multiple roles alongside his longevity reaching back to 2016.
Rascal isn’t just good on certain patches, his pedigree argues for constant uptime on the majority of the Overwatch League’s twenty franchises. Rascal isn’t just good in one season; he’s been a bright spot in the game for years now. Rascal isn’t just content with winning one world title, he and the Shock have two together. When we step back from the trees and see the forest for what it is, it’s difficult to argue with the culmination of his career—a truly great career.
Maybe it’s a time for a pause, a time for a reflective step back to finally see the picture in full. To see the forest for what it is, to see its changing leaves, and to realise—that maybe we did forget about Rascal.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment