One of the most highly anticipated entrances into the Overwatch League will be when Su-min “SADO” Kim suspension is over. For those who don’t know, SADO is one of the most famous boosters in the Korean Overwatch scene and on (date), he will be eligible to be fielded by the Philadelphia Fusion. Whatever Blizzard, the Fusion, or his team believes, he will be the target of all the Korean players in the Overwatch league as they look to take him down. We will see the most heated rivalry in the Overwatch league start as SADO battles against his Korean competitors.
To put everything into context, there are multiple great rivalries in the Overwatch League. There is the triangle battle between the New York Excelsior, Seoul Dynasty, and London Spitfires. There is a regional rivalry between the L.A. Gladiators and the L.A. Valiant. There are naturally growing rivalries such as L.A. Valiant vs. In-N-Out, Blizzard and memes, players and fines, Shanghai Dragons and losing, Dallas Fuel against themselves. Among all of those rivalries, none have been so heated as SADO and the Koreans and not a single shot has been fired in the server yet.
When SADO was announced, multiple Korean figures came out in protest. Hyeon “EFFECT” Hwang said ‘I have no idea how much I practiced in order to become a pro. Now I feel like I could have made it here easily by succeeding at boosting instead. Is this going to become a Booster’s League?”
Yongbongtang, the Apex Caster said, “Boosters intoxicate and kill the esports scene. Philly gave the lightest punishment they could possibly get- unacceptable.”
Maeung “Climax” Ju-ho, another Korean player said, “I’ve been sitting in this chair for a long time. It now goes down when I sit on it…some people get dirty and money and get accepted to the league while I don’t have hopes of continuing as a pro trying my best to earn money in the most pro-like way for a year…Should I keep walking this path?”
The Koreans do not take kindly to account boosters. There are multiple reasons for this as they essentially ruin the ladder, making it worse for everyone else while profiting off of it. SADO himself boosted for 6 months. After being recruited by the Fusion, he has become the most famous booster in the Overwatch world. The Korean casters have gone so far as to avoid saying their names on cast at all.
His boosting past was well known before joining the Overwatch League and because of it, he was given a suspension for the first 30 matches of Season 1. SADO himself explained his side of the story here. He explains how he was young, he didn’t do well at school, and felt pressured to support his family by getting money through boosting. He doesn’t deny his wrong-doings and says he will become a better person with this second chance.
“I have spent the past few weeks reading the comments on reddit & inven, and I see that many Overwatch fans and players do not think I am a person of integrity because of my past actions. I understand why you have doubts about me, I have done bad things and that is all you have seen of me – but soon I will have a chance to show the world the good things about me. I am a hard worker, I am a loyal teammate, and I am a competitor. I hope that when I come to America I can show you who I really am, and maybe you can resolve your doubts about me before the season is over.“
For the Western scene this was enough. There were mitigating circumstances to his situation, he was punished, redeemed, and we should move on. But for the Koreans, this stung. After all if we use Felix “xQc” Lengyel as the standard, then one Trihard emote is worth a 4 game suspension. In this case, SADO was suspended for 30 games, so it was worth seven and a half Trihards (or pepes).
As Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek says, “I’m not sure if fucking account boosters are watching my stream right now, but you account boosters, you guys are fucking ridiculous. Just go and fucking boost accounts please. Stop trying to be a professional player and ruin the fucking league.”
Fissure got even more heated on the Booster issue translated by Robin311, “My comments aren’t shameful actions. I can say as a fellow pro gamer in OWL and many pros before endured with little money. I may not know exactly about OGE but did Recry and Architect not boost because their family was stable? They knew it was the wrong thing to do. Both players knew what was right and wrong and I believe their financial situation was at least as bad as yours [OGE], if not worse.”
All of this wouldn’t matter if SADO wasn’t good, but he could be. Philadelphia’s commitment to him when they already have a strong team shows that he could at least have the potential to be a great player. No one has seen this guy play an official game. All we know about him is that he has been been boosting accounts on the Korean ladder, back when all of the Koreans were still in Korea, as a main tank. As we’ve seen with the L.A. Gladiators, an incredible tank can completely turn a team around from bottoming out to becoming one of the big threats of the league. The Philadelphia Fusion are already one of the better teams in the League and were able to make it second place in the Stage 2 playoffs.
If SADO is an upgrade to Joona “fragi” Laine or if they can use him in a strategic way then the Philadelphia Fusion could take them over the line to potentially contend for the title. So once SADO finally enters the League proper, all of the Koreans will have their eyes set on him. In the eyes of the League he has serviced his sentence and is a redeemed player in the eyes of the public. But for the Koreans, they are still out for his blood. Though there is still a chance for hope. Fissure was able to accept Min-seok “OGE” Son after getting angry with him as he said,
“Personally I hate boosters. But if they receive proper punishment and realize that what he has done has caused harm, I don’t mind about a second chance….I also talked with OGE. He contacted me and we had a good talk.”
Though the case between OGE seems different than the case for SADO, if only based on the time of suspension alone. OGE seemed to be a minor booster, SADO is the most famous booster there has been in Overwatch as far as I’m aware.
Still there is a way back. SADO must prove he deserves this second chance as both a person and a player. And that is one of the brilliant things about competitive video games is that it doesn’t care about your background. So long as you have the equipment, you have as equal an opportunity as anyone to prove yourself. It doesn’t care for your race, gender, wealth, background, personality, sociability. It only cares about your skill and in that sense is a pure meritocracy. The server doesn’t care that SADO once boosted accounts, it only cares about how well he can tank for his team. And it is in that server that the real battle will go on.
For SADO to gain his redemption, he must rise above as a player and as a person. He must prove that he not only belongs in the Overwatch League, he can excel in it. This is his shot of redemption, to pay back the faith that the Fusion have put into him. All eyes will be on SADO as he enters the ring as Overwatch’s most infamous booster, the pariah of the Korean scene, and a player trying to earn redemption through this second chance.