When the Vancouver Titans announced that they had separated from their entire 2019 Overwatch League lineup, what seemed already inevitable came true. Rumors have been circulating since various players had deleted the name of the Titans from their biography on social networks. The Titans rejected the entirety of a successful playoff squad that was the second of the season in 2019.
Yet it was not just the disappearance of the Titans, but the disappearance of the beloved South Korean squad RunAway that the Titans organization had picked up as its own for its inaugural season lineup.
I’m not a RunAway fan, but I do have a RunAway story.
At one point in stage 3 of the 2019 Overwatch League season, once the Vancouver Titans had finally found a dedicated interpreter from Korean to English, the Titans’ players went to their respective interviews with English media. I interviewed Seo “SeoMinSoo” Min-soo about his play Zarya. It was a short interview, and when we went out into the hallway, the other Titans were sitting on the floor. Some of the limbs were slumped against each other, shoulder to shoulder, exhausted. SeoMinSoo joined the group, dropped on the carpet, leaning against the wall.
Usually when the Overwatch League players finish their press interviews, they will immediately return to the team rooms on the second floor of the Blizzard Arena. Members of the Titans stayed and spent time together, joking between checking out Twitter and KakaoTalk. They waited until the last player had finished the interviews, then walked together to the Titans’ team room.
A friend of mine, a longtime RunAway fan and a writer for the Overwatch League website, made a joke about player addiction. It was born out of a necessary chip on the players’ shoulders; they had to be a solid family to weather various storms, including a lack of funding and sponsorship.
It wasn’t the Vancouver Titans of the Canucks. The Vancouver Titans were a scary dominant team from South Korea who had come to shave the rest of the Overwatch League. They were arrogant and larger than life, like Reinhardt’s game from Sang-beom, Park’s main tank at the time, and started their rookie season with an unprecedented winning streak in the regular series 19 series.
No, the scene in the hallway was pure RunAway. RunAway, the team that had to play from their home and PC without a dedicated team. RunAway, the family of the founding couple Yoon “Runner” Dae-hoon and Lee “Flowervin” Hyun-ah. RunAway, the team that was more known for defying their circumstances than for winning championships. It was the team sitting in the hallway of the Blizzard Arena, not the Vancouver Titans.
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– Wolf Schröder (@proxywolf) May 6, 2020
It is impossible not to watch the story behind this team. As an eSport writer, I helped create it, after all. From a stranger’s perspective, it never seemed like the Titans’ organization knew exactly what to do with RunAway, or who it wanted them to be. The Seoul Dynasty, to a lesser extent, went through a similar marketing crisis during the inaugural season of the league after inheriting the Lunatic-Hai fan base under the signing of the majority of the Lunatic-Hai range from Overwatch APEX. Whenever a famous or popular existing organization entered the Overwatch League, the franchise was immediately faced with a marketing problem: how much to build on the existing narrative of the team that had been chosen and how to create another narrative with the new franchise name.
All of the Overwatch League franchises have been purchased, with the understanding that a new organization would be created, even if the franchise had an existing name in esports. They were brilliant, new franchises, both fresh and sterile. The Vancouver Titans have never found their place in this business. They didn’t build on the existing RunAway brand – which is somewhat understandable given that they were an expansion team trying to establish their own identity – but Vancouver also never found a marketable identity at- beyond a “winning team”.
This is a problem that many esports teams have, but for the former RunAway lineup and the then-sitting Vancouver Titans, it was a more glaring and obvious problem.
When the Titans signed up for RunAway, Flowervin was in the center of the team’s Twitter photo, brandishing a Titans jersey. She attended their first games at the Blizzard Arena in February 2019, and more fans in the crowd wore pink RunAway sweatshirts than Titans jerseys.
Those who had not followed RunAway and did not know their history, however, knew little about the team other than its pedigree. The Titans were an untouchable juggernaut for the first leg and only lost three series in total during the regular season. However, without a dedicated Korean-English interpreter for the early stages, the Titans’ Western media appearances were limited. Unlike the New York Excelsior, which immediately started working in season 1 to market its entirely South Korean range thanks to translated shoulder content and countless press interviews after equally dominant stage performances, the Titans have given the community little to do outside of the team’s victories. .
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In situations like this, I always come back to the myriad anecdotes of South Korean players transitioning to the United States during the inaugural season of the league. Adapting to a new culture can be a minefield, even with an interpreter. The Titans had a preexisting synergy in the game, but they still had to acclimatize to a foreign country. I can’t imagine what the Titans’ situation looked like without a dedicated interpreter and management support; I can only deduce from what I saw from the outside. And what I saw from the outside showed cracks in a foundation that, in a difficult time around the world, collapsed.
It’s no surprise that RunAway-Titans’ term ended in a dramatic implosion, but that doesn’t make him any less sad. the reaction former flexible tank Choi “JJANU” Hyeon-woo, who tweeted “I’m free ~~~” after news of his release, says a lot about what was to happen internally. Support Ryu “Ryujehong” Je-hong, who had been picked up by the Titans in the past season, shared similar sentiments, saying “Don’t worry ^ _ ^ I’m FREE so happy” in his own Twitter message .
Whatever the relationship and the communication between the players and the organization, it was certainly not good.
I first interviewed the Titans before their Overwatch League debut. Before their 19-game winning streak. Before the broadcasters and the community began to question not when they would lose, but if, and how, and what could happen, what became their story. Before any cracks in the foundation, and about a year later, the whole thing collapses.
“Everyone knows that RunAway was a great team and is still a great team,” said Bumper. “We still love RunAway, but the Vancouver Titans are another team. We have the same people, the same players, but it’s a different identity. We’re just trying to establish that and work hard to make a name for the Vancouver Titans. “
This name and identity never materialized.
When I think of RunAway, my mind will always come back to this hallway of the Blizzard Arena, where the 2019 Vancouver Titans sat and waited as they moved, even when offside, as a unit. As for the Titans, I don’t know what their tale is or even what it has ever been.