Saturday, June 25, 2022

Patiphan’s return to Overwatch is a long time coming

In the final, crucial game of the VALORANT Champions 2021 Group Stage, North American powerhouse Team Envy faced Thai Team X10 CRIT. Envy had entered the tournament as a heavy favorite for a deep run in the playoffs, while X10 CRIT was struggling by and large, despite ace player Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong consistently impressing. For Envy, the result seemed like a foregone conclusion, especially since they’d easily defeated X10 just four days earlier.

But a whole new X10 appeared in this crucial series. The impossible became seemingly possible as X10 fell on the first map, fighting back into the series on the second and taking the third tiebreaker into overtime. X10 quickly rose to 13-12 and showed no sign of stopping.

In the final hour, Envy made a calculated approach to the site – but before they could even blink, Patiphan secured three quick kills from almost nothing while his teammate ensured the cleanup.
With that the match was over. X10 made it to the playoffs.

X10C Sport, Itthirit
X10C Esports poses after a victory match at the VALORANT Champions Groups Stage on December 6, 2021 in Potsdam, Germany. (Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)

The team jumped out of their seats and merged into an ecstatic group, jumping onto chairs and gesturing at the camera. X10 had exceeded expectations and Patiphan had established himself as a star at just 18 years old. However, after just a year in Riot Games’ tactical shooter, he decided to leave it behind and return to the game he started with.

Patiphan started playing Overwatch professionally at the age of 14 and quickly became known as one of the best players in Southeast Asia. He wowed the community during the 2018 Overwatch World Cup, but even after struggling through the Tier 2 scene for several years, he was still too young to compete in the Overwatch League. So he moved to VALORANT in August 2020, where his reputation as one of the best in Southeast Asia endured.

POTSDAM, GERMANY - DECEMBER 6: X10C Esports form a group round after a victory match at the VALORANT Champions Groups Stage on December 6, 2021 in Potsdam, Germany
POTSDAM, GERMANY – DECEMBER 6: X10C Esports forms a group round after a victory match at the VALORANT Champions Groups Stage on December 6, 2021 in Potsdam, Germany. (Photo by Michal Konkol/Riot Games)

Well, in one Moving a long time coming, Patiphan will make his Overwatch League debut for the Los Angeles Gladiators in 2022. But resuming Overwatch after being away from it for more than a year isn’t exactly like getting back on a bike. Gladiators head coach Sam “face” Merewether, who previously worked with Patiphan on Overwatch Contenders, waited three months for Patiphan to accept his offer to return to Overwatch after raising the issue in September 2021.

“I wasn’t sure I was going to be any good at all,” Patiphan said. “I played VALORANT for a year and haven’t touched Overwatch in so long. I wasn’t confident. But face – he’s like a father to me and he said he believes in me and thinks I can be good again. That’s why he picked me up.”

Patiphan has been showing his raw potential for years, and when they worked together as part of Talon Esports, Face played a big part in helping him improve on it.

“The best thing about Pati is that he plays the game really intuitively,” Face said. “He can find space and is a really instinctive, dynamic player. That too can lead to great moments. Despite being 18, he can be a very vocal player in-game. He can show a lot of leadership, he can make a lot of creative plays and he’s not afraid of big moments.”

Few players have the same obvious star power as Patiphan. It’s not just because he upgrades every team he plays on; He is also an impetuous, outspoken personality. That makes him a valuable teammate – one who can keep everyone happy even in difficult circumstances – but it’s also a sign of his relative youth.

Patiphan Overwatch League contender for Talon Esports
Patiphan Overwatch League contender for Talon Esports | Powered by Blizzard Entertainment

“At Talon he was 15 and he’s still only 18,” Face said. “He’s very young, so he still has a lot to grow on the professional side of esports. He needs to keep learning how to become a professional player. I’ve never worked with an 18-year-old who is a perfect player right off the bat. They will always be very good, but they still have a lot to mature.”

It’s no exaggeration to say that Patiphan’s entry into the Overwatch League will be one of the most anticipated debuts of 2022. Still, he doesn’t care too much about what other people think of him. He is concerned with meeting his own requirements.

“I don’t care about pressure from other people at all,” Patiphan said. “It’s just my own pressure, you know? I don’t care about people’s expectations. Just my expectations.”

2022 will be a very different year in Overwatch for many reasons – the biggest being the Overwatch League’s move to an early build of Overwatch 2, which Blizzard Entertainment announced last September. They will revamp many heroes, add new maps and a new game mode will be added to competitive play. The most notable change, however, concerns the basic structure of Overwatch: a tank has been eliminated from the traditional 6v6 format, making the game 5v5 from now on.

While there’s still some time before fans will see how 5v5 actually pans out, the initial consensus is that damage dealers will play a bigger role in the new game. Patiphan said this was one of the reasons for his return.

The move to Overwatch 2 will affect everyone, from players to trainers. However, Face is confident that the Gladiators’ coaches can handle the move.

“The good thing about our coaches is that they all have their strengths in different areas, but I want them to go into the game and find out what they’re good at so I can nurture them,” said face. “So if they’re good with tanks, that’s fine. If they’re really good at macros, that’s fine. I just want to enable them to do their best work, wherever that is. And I don’t think that’s going to change much [in Overwatch 2]. We just have to figure out how the game will be different and how we can train around it.

There are still many doubts surrounding Overwatch in the coming year, but one thing is certain: it will be a year of change. Switching to Overwatch 2 is one thing; Patiphan finally joining the Overwatch League is another. It feels like the culmination of one of Overwatch’s longest-running stories in many ways.

“A lot of people know me from VALORANT, so I’m grateful to all the OGs who know me or watched me about four years ago,” said Patiphan. “Please keep supporting me.”

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