Mano's quiet consistency in the Overwatch League masks bigger dreams
Overwatch League Mano
Kim "Mano" Dong-gyu stands in front of a crowd of New York fans. | Photo: Stewart Volland for Blizzard Entertainment

Mano’s quiet consistency masks bigger dreams

Long considered "one of" the best Overwatch League players across four seasons, he is hoping to shed any qualifiers

There are very few pro Overwatch players who have managed to remain both relevant and consistent through the Overwatch League’s four-year lifespan. Many of the star players of yore have since fallen by the wayside, either benched or forgotten. For example, when the faded stars in the Overwatch League come up, thoughts of the New York Excelsior are typically quick to follow. When they first started out in 2018, NYXL were the undisputed best team in the league. Original players like Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-ryeol and Kim “MekO” Tae-hong were considered the best in the world. Now they’re either not in the league anymore or they never see playtime on their current teams. The ones still actively playing, like inaugural MVP Bang “JJonak” Seong-hyun, aren’t held in nearly as high regard as they used to be. Only one member of that original Overwatch League NYXL roster has stood the test of time: main tank Kim “Mano” Dong-gyu.

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Mano is one of the few league veterans whose reputation has never truly diminished. He’s almost never been benched, never had a rough patch and never done anything to fall out of the community’s favor. Four seasons in and he’s still considered one of the most solid players in the league — not just in his role, but overall, too.

Mano seeks to become the best
Mano’s consistency as a player helped him escape blame for the NYXL’s inability to reach expectations. | Provided by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

For all of NYXL’s problems over the years, Mano’s quietly consistent play allowed him to avoid being the main target of criticism in the same way some of his former teammates and coaches have been. He entered the conversation for best main tank in the league during his debut season and never really left it. Though others, like Dallas’ Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok and San Francisco’s Matthew “Super” DeLisi, have risen above him at varying times, Mano is universally regarded as a reliable main tank whose fundamental playstyle needs no adjustments. 

“Playing main tank hasn’t changed that much,” said Mano. “I just keep playing the same way as I always have.”

For three years, NYXL were moderately successful and continued to orbit the top teams, but they never quite reached the heights they’d had prior, especially not at the level of winning a championship. The team eventually dropped the majority of its roster and rebuilt entirely. 

For Mano, it was difficult to say goodbye, both to his teammates and to the team. The culture that the NYXL had established over the years was unique, boasting a devoted local fanbase and a strong brand solidly built around its players. When Mano found out he wasn’t going to be part of it anymore, it took time to sink in.

“I didn’t really feel much of an emotional difference at first,” he said. “But after seeing the official announcement on social media and seeing everyone talk about it, I had a very strange new feeling. I actually did feel pretty sad for a moment, but I’m adapting well to my new team now.”

Overwatch League Mano
Mano now plays for the Philadelphia Fusion | Provided by Philadelphia Fusion

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Author
Bonnie Qu
Just a fun guy who likes playing games and also likes writing about people playing games.