You don’t ever think that your team will fail to win a single match.
When I joined the Shanghai Dragons in February 2018, they were already 0-10. It’s not easy to join a team that’s on a bad streak like that, but you always think that you can turn it around, or at least just get a couple of wins.
I had my own expectations for the team, and obviously, they didn’t involve going without a single win.
It took around half a stage to know that something was drastically wrong with the team. It wasn’t just an unlucky run or a few key mistakes to overcome. The level of practice my teammates were putting in wasn’t at the level I expected. The level of game understanding was different from what I had known.
To be honest, the level of interest in the game wasn’t really there.
Not that they didn’t love playing Overwatch, but some of the players were not upset at losing a series and seemed to have got used to the feeling of a loss.
Despite the fact that we constantly lost to teams that we could contest with and maybe defeat, no one knew how to learn why we couldn’t beat any of them.
Towards the end of the season, there was some talk about how the Dragons had long days of practice. That led to a lot of criticism from the community too.
Yes, we did have some long days, but many of those days were also personal practices. Although we reviewed team compositions, strategies, or scrims, it didn’t seem enough. More of our time was focused on playing ranked and focusing on ourselves.
That definitely was a major factor in why we continued to lose in Season 1, but it wasn’t the only reason. We didn’t know how to practice as a team. When you play a team game, that’s a really important thing to be able to learn and do.
The final stretch of games in Season 1 was beyond stressful. No matter where you look, there are stories being written about how much you and your team have failed. Even though there was nothing official to play for, there was more pressure than ever to try and get the first win.
There were even rumours of other teams practicing even harder than normal because they didn’t want to be the only team to lose against us. That kind of thing didn’t really bother me, because even if it was true, how can I complain about teams practicing in a competitive environment?
As individuals, I believe we never gave up chasing that victory.
But as a team, we were already worn out in terms of our mental wellness.
When the season eventually did come to a close, there was a feeling of embarrassment, but also one of relief. Going 0-40 in what is supposed to be the highlight of your career will take a mental toll on anyone.
Eventually, as the season came to a close, I really felt like I needed a break to recuperate mentally.
I didn’t feel very good about myself, but I went back to Korea and enjoyed the rest that I desperately needed.
Unfortunately, Shanghai Dragons decided against keeping me in Season 2. I really did want to stay with them and work on building a proper team to make up for the disappointment in Season 1, but it wasn’t to be.
The new coach brought in a different strategy and the team didn’t see me as fit to the strategy.
Seoul Dynasty was obviously my first stop after becoming a free agent, but I realized that they have some star players that would likely keep me out of the main team. Not that I wasn’t willing to fight for a spot, but I had to be a starter.
Washington Justice gave me that chance. A chance to show my strengths and that I do belong on the stage.
We started slowly in Season 2, but I was never concerned that we wouldn’t win a game.
Our win eventually arrived against Florida Mayhem. It was worrying that we didn’t play very well in that match. We didn’t win because we were good, but because they were worse than us in that match.
The win was relieving, but I still worry about the future of the team sometimes. We are not playing at our potential, so I know there is more to come.
Of course, the irony was that Shanghai Dragons picked up a victory before we did.
I suppose people thought I would be upset, or embarrassed, or something else, but honestly, I didn’t really care that much.
Yes, it was the same team, but they are completely different people now. There was no emotional attachment for me, except for Geguri.
When I saw her finally get her victory, crying on stage, I understood at that moment the hardship that she went through.
I’m glad that she, and the Shanghai Dragons, have bounced back from the 0-40 in a positive way.
But I have my own team to think about now.
Jeff Yabumoto assisted with the creation of this article.
Image Credit: Stewart Volland/Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment