Saturday, June 25, 2022

EsportsConnected loves it when a super team comes together

For fans of the VALORANT Championship Tour in South Korea, ESportsConnected takes history from across esports and forms a new Korean super team. The roster is a mix of victorious VCT Korea players, former streamers and a successful coach. This newly formed team took what they could from free agencies and other teams in the region to start fresh and grow into a Korean team to rival DRX (formerly known as Vision Strikers).

The building blocks for a new powerhouse

In South Korea, ESportsConnected’s esports story revolved around popular games like League of Legends and reached heights like winning IEM Season X in 2015 against teams like Fnatic and Team Dignitas. After the organization’s positive experience with Riot Games, they decided to continue this partnership in a new game and join the scene of VCT Korea. After boarding, a brief scouting helped them determine what type of people should be part of the squad.

“We had long-term and short-term goals, and from there we looked at which players would be a good fit for our goals,” said Song Seong-chang, CEO of EsportsConnected. “In our experience, teamwork can falter if everyone doesn’t understand these goals.”

Teamwork was a very important point for Song as management looked deeply into player and managerial synergies for their eventual squad. While Song said the team doesn’t expect to win everything from goal, but their focus on coordination and bringing out the best in their talented squad is why they have the potential to become the next Korean super team.

However, it was impossible to build a team without acknowledging the elephant in the room: DRX, which has been at the forefront of the Korean VCT scene since its inception. Despite being an obstacle in the way, Song said his ties to ESC’s rivals can help replicate and maybe even overcome the current top Korean team.

“I am a close friend of the management of DRX. We’ve talked a lot about esports and what we can achieve for years,” Song said. “Now they are the No. 1 team in Korea. I don’t think we can beat them right away, but there are a lot of things they do that we can use as benchmarks.”

Pieces fall into place

Building ESC’s first VALORANT roster began with the signing of former Apex Legends and Lag Gaming Player Yoo “Moothie” Seung-woo along with Ex-F4Q player Kim “GodDead” Sung-sin. Both players not only had recent experience in VALORANT esports, but also enjoyed great popularity in Korea. GodDead originally wanted to switch to full-time streaming after leaving F4Q, but ESC persuaded him to pause streaming to have another try as a pro gamer.

After the signing of these first two players, other key positions were added. That included hers Head coach Jeong “Jaemin” Jae-min, formerly NURTURN Gaming, and new trainer Jung “Fee” Bum-gi. At the same time, DRX loaned Lee “k1Ng” Seung-won to the ESC at about the same time Former F4Q player Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk joined.

These signings laid a foundation for connections, with GodDead and zunba’s past at F4Q and the trainers’ time together at NURTURN Gaming. This will help offset the team’s adjustments made by pro players like Peri transitioning from pro to manager.

peri EsportsConnected
Peri congratulated Sentinels after losing 2-0 at Masters 2 in Reykjavik. | Powered by Riot Games

“When I was a player under Jaemin, I didn’t have many conversations with him about the technical aspects of VALORANT,” Peri said. “Now there is a lot of communication, down to the smallest details of the game.”

Peri’s focus is what both his CEO and head coach want: teamwork and synergy. Having played under Jaemin in major tournaments such as the VCT Stage 2 Masters Reykjavík, his role as player-coach is to help create a good atmosphere in this future EsportsConnected super team.

“I have the feeling that in this environment I can help make the players stronger people,” said Peri. “I joined the team with the winning mentality that we’re going to win the VCT Challengers tournament and I stand by that.”

Rivals became teammates

EsportsConnected players also expressed their confidence in the team. K1Ng said he knew this squad could compete with the best in Korea.

“I came to the ESC to make this team successful in VCT and all other tournaments,” said k1Ng. “We will beat all other Korean VALORANT teams, just like we did when I was in Vision Strikers.”

k1Ng ESportsConnected
Vision Strikers say goodbye to k1Ng and loan him to the ESC. | Powered by DRX

At the same time, k1Ng said his departure from DRX was a difficult decision. After much deliberation on whether to stay or go, he decided that leaving DRX was the best option for a challenge and a new perspective.

“After moving to ESC, my thoughts about the decision I made changed,” said k1Ng. “The world I lived in was a small world and I think I need to meet more people and gain more experience to keep growing both as a player and as a person.”

The same day that k1Ng joined the team, Zunba also signed, bringing another veteran player in the Korean esports scene to the ESC. The two have faced each other many times over the past year, most notably during the VCT Stage 3 Challengers when both F4Q and Vision Strikers battled to win the tournament and move on to the next international event. Both teams reached the finals and qualified for Masters Berlin, but Vision Strikers defeated F4Q 3-1.

Having played each other up to this point, they must now work together to prevent DRX from winning in 2022.

From his time in Overwatch and now in VALORANT, Zunba said he knew his refreshed mentality meant he could fight the best again.

“When I moved away from Overwatch in the last few months, the joy was gone,” zunba said. “Now, in VALORANT, I feel that joy, which helps me practice more. I feel the same mentally as I did when I was at APEX – same level of happiness.”

zunba APEX eSports Connected
Lunatic Shark, including Zunba, wins Season 3 of the Overwatch Apex Tournament. | Provided by OGN Entertainment

After all, Zunba played for the Lunatic Shark team, which has won consecutive seasons in Overwatch in Overwatch’s APEX series. He even played for the South Korean World Cup team, which won back-to-back tournaments for their home country. He’s no stranger to winning and now he’s part of EsportsConnected, a new Korean super team in another esport.

Last minute shuffle

The day after signing Zunba, k1Ng and her two coaches signed their last player to join their roster: Former Crazy Raccoon and Overwatch League Player Park “Bazzi” Jun-ki. This built another bridge between him and Overwatch’s zunba and Lag Gaming’s Moothie.

However, Moothie soon left the team and was replaced by Yu “TS” Tae-seok. Now that their roster is finalized, EsportsConnected’s super team will face off against other VCT Korea teams with moderate expectations, at least initially.

But as their roster grows together and improves with the talent they say is on hand, eSportsConnected’s goal is to represent its region as the new Korean super team by the end of the year.

“Our final goal is to become champions this year,” Peri said, “so as a message to the fans, please invest in us from the start so you can see how it all happens.”

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