Nearing the end of the Stage 1 in the Overwatch League over in Burbank, California, it’s something of a mystery as to why the Dallas Fuel are finishing so poorly when the team was poised for nothing but greatness. But at one point, they were on top of the world, and known as one of the best teams in competitive Overwatch.
In October of 2016 came the birth of the most competitive scene in Overwatch: the Overwatch OGN APEX league in South Korea. South Korea being historically the strongest region in the world in esports for non-FPS games, many were expecting the region to reign again once it entered Overwatch given its skyrocking popularity in PC Bangs around the country, and that prediction came true, but not without strong competition that guest western teams brought with them. In Seasons 1-3 of APEX, there were four western teams invited as guests, varying from teams like Rogue to Cloud9 and of course, EnVyUs.
Heading into the first season of APEX, EnVyUs was known as one of the best teams in the world but it wasn’t until Talespin leaving the lineup that acted as the catalyst for them becoming champions. In the middle of the season when the Blizzard World Cup happened, were already struggling but while they were there on break from the APEX season, they met one Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod from the Thailand team and got him to sub for EnVyUs once the World Cup was over.
Before coming to EnVyUs, Mickie was already a top player in Thailand excelling at Zarya but his playstyle on the newly buffed D.Va was what raised the team play to a whole new exponentially new level.This patch of course was the infamous Patch 126.96.36.199a that was most certainly an overbuff, but only EnVyUs really caught onto it at the time.
Mickie brought one other important thing for EnVyUs which is what made him so valuable to EnVyUs’s dominant era. That was his shining personality. He’s never without a smile and that positive attitude leaked to the rest of his team on several occasions. Whether or not they won or lost a map, the OGN cameras would pan past the EnVyUs lineup in the booth and they’d be smiling or laughing at each other. That may seem like a silly thing to praise but throughout the history of team team esports games over the recent years like in games like League of Legends inbetween games you could always see when a team was broken over the course of a best of 5 and that was when that team had already lost.
A strong positive mindset is what always keeps the hope alive for a comeback victory or to not lose your footing from a bad map which was more than likely in APEX and eventually the Overwatch League. They won Season 1 after stomping Afreeca Freecs Blue 4-0 in the finals which is still one of the most monumental achievements a foreign team can manifest in South Korea.
After its championship win in APEX, EnVyUs came back to North America for MLG Vegas 2016 where the recently crowned champions crushed everyone in sight without any competition. These back to back wins put a target on its back for all challengers to come take the crown and propel the South Korean competitive scene up to even higher levels.
Despite the season 1 championship win and the first place win off of MLG, EnVyUs would eventually fall to other teams in APEX, as expected for a region to get stronger when there is strong competition to push everyone forward. Since then EnVyUs has dropped lost to the other top South Korean teams like Kongdoo Panthera, unable to make it back into the finals.
Nearing the end of season 3 for EnVyUs, Taimou went on social media to explain how the constant travelling to and from South Korea took a toll on his performance and mental state, and they’d be looking forward to returning to the NA scene before the Overwatch League started. This revelation not only explains EnVyUs’s performance throughout the later seasons of APEX but also sheds more light on an observation that Overwatch League caster Montecristo made on broadcast about how Taimou tends to be a streaky player, in which he’ll have fantastic streaks of excellence and streaks of where he’ll play below his abilities. Since EnVyUs has historically been a team that relies on his ability to do well in games, the team almost lived or died on his performance.
EnVyUs finished in fourth place in Season 3 of APEX, losing the third place match to Afreeca Freecs Blue. This match not only was its final game but was poetic in that EnVyUs’s first championship came from crushing this team earlier in the year, but its final game in EnVyUs would be to lose to this team 1-4 in a best of 7 set. Whether the team was disheartened or just ready to return home, they travelled back in time for the first season of the Overwatch Contenders league in 2017, where the team dominated with a regular season score of 7-0 (25-4 map score), and a flawless playoff score.
The time home gave EnVyUs, soon to become the Dallas Fuel, a needed rest and an opportunity to start the Overwatch League on a strong foot, or so everyone thought. Dallas Fuel was poised to be a top team in the league, and its first game against the Seoul Dynasty was undoubtedly one of the best highlights of the regular season so far with one of the longest and closest Temple of Anubis maps. Despite losing that map to the favorite at that time, they since then have went 3-7, only winning games against the other bottom teams like Shanghai Dragons and the San Francisco Shock.
The team has since then made questionable decisions in its matches, such as benching Taimou for an entire match just to lose the game. Of course, all signs point to a bigger problem since it also lost the game in which it put together its championship lineup from APEX (with the addition of EFFECT) only to also lose. Now, with Stage 1 of the Overwatch League coming to a close, the team and the organization has a limited amount of time before the next stage of competition to address and fix its problems to make a comeback for the rest of the season– the players careers depend on it.