Team Envy had the opportunity to win yet another LAN as Blizzard hosted the North American and European Contenders playoffs at its brand new Blizzard Arena. The arena has been firmly christened and Team Envy is ready to move forward into the Overwatch League era of Overwatch esports as the newly announced Dallas Fuel. No one is more excited for the transition than the team’s resident D.Va player, Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod.
Mickie has been with the team for nearly a year now, joining Envy in South Korea last November. In that time, he has made himself a fan-favorite among the western community for his fun-loving antics and radiant joy. In an esports world that consistently aims to be more and more professional, Mickie is a breath of fresh air for spectators. Mickie is always ready to get down to business - he’s still a key member on the team - but he’s also always looking to have fun.
Mickie’s origins lie in Southeast Asia, as he grew up in Bangkok, Thailand where esports and competitive gaming have slowly continued to grow. Southeast Asia is a large gaming market, but often isn’t as highlighted as when it comes to the esports world. Mickie is the gem of Southeast Asian Overwatch and believes that while it might be tough right now for Thai pro gamers like himself, the situation is improving.
“In Thailand, we have a lot of players, but most of them are not actually pro players because esports in Thailand isn’t big enough to have a career. People usually stop when they turn 23 and after they get their bachelor's degree, they just stop playing games to find their main job,” he said. The situation isn’t totally bleak for Thai players like himself though. “Since I’m in Envy, I can actually look for an opportunity in esports now. Despite the problems, I think that esports in Thailand is growing super fast. More people are becoming pro gamers in Thailand now.”
Mickie’s competitive background prior to Fuel featured him competing on the 2016 Thailand Overwatch World Cup team where fans fell in love with his quirky play and jovial personality. It was Mickie’s first moment in the limelight and it’s a moment he treasures. As a pro gamer in Thailand, he had the chance to represent his country at Blizzcon in the far-away United States of America.
“The [2016 Overwatch World Cup] was really unbelievable for me. For most games, it’s pretty hard to go compete in a tournament match in America. When I heard that if we qualified in Asia, we would go to compete in America, I thought ‘Wow! We are about to go to America.’ Everyone in the Thai team was very excited. In Thailand, it’s very hard to go to America and compete. On top of that, it was Blizzcon which had the biggest games in the world. It was so cool.”
Joining Envy and competing in Apex Season One
Mickie captured the hearts of fans worldwide at the Overwatch World Cup and some might have believed that would be the last time he would have a chance to prove himself. Luckily for Mickie, a line was thrown out to him after he returned home to his native Thailand. Team Envy was in the middle of South Korea’s Apex Season 1 and needed a new sixth man; they needed Mickie.
“It was pretty much the timing [that allowed me to join Envy]. Envy, at the time, had TaleSpin leave the team because of internal problems. They had two weeks to prepare and find a new player when most professional teams were on vacation. InternetHulk was the ex-team leader so he needed to find a player to sub in the tournament,” he said about the circumstances around his addition. “I gave him my Skype and didn't expect anything. InternetHulk really needed someone to play in OGN Apex and it was really hard to find good players that weren’t under contract. InternetHulk liked my personality and he said that I was a pretty skilled player. He believed that I could learn more and go even further.”
After joining Team Envy, Mickie quickly got back to his old antics and reminded everyone why he was so loved at the World Cup. He played around with his teammates in the OGN booths and even became a fan-favorite among Korean fans, as he showed off his big smile and collected explosive self-destruct kills on D.Va. EnVy went on to win the inaugural season of Apex with Mickie as a substitute and he will never forget his time there.
“Well, for me, playing esports in Korea was the biggest thing in my life. When it came to the Korean fans, it felt like I was a superstar in Korea. When I walked somewhere in the city, someone would just randomly greet me and it was really cool. Most Korean people are also super tryhard and are very good. Right now, I still think Koreans are the best players in the world by far, compared to any other country.”
Looking forward to the Overwatch League
Nowadays, Mickie is a starter for Dallas Fuel. While he split some time with Seagull at the Overwatch Contenders playoffs, he remains a key part of the lineup. Envy swept the tournament with relative ease and Mickie loved every second of it, even if he wished it was a bit more grandiose.
“Well, for me, I expected it to be bigger. Let’s say, that in my opinion, Contenders Season 1 is the biggest tournament for Blizzard apart from the World Cup. I would have liked to see more than a thousand people here, but right now is good for me. I feel really good that we can play in the big stage.”
That’s just Mickie’s style; he wants to do things big and have a good time. He has journeyed to the Overwatch World Cup in both the United States and China, competed in two seasons of OGN’s Apex, and is more than ready for the glamor of the upcoming Overwatch League. Mickie even feels like it can get through to the casual audience that esports has yet to really touch.
“For me, Overwatch League is the biggest tournament in my life and it’s gonna be so many people watching. I’m really excited to play in a big tournament and I feel like Overwatch League is going to be a real sport. I feel that even people who don’t play this game will understand and have fun watching it.”
Mickie is at this point because he received the chance to prove himself and has received nothing but love from fans all over. “For American fans or fans around the world, I’m not very good at English, but I really appreciate that you guys keep following me, supporting me, and watching me. I hope you guys have fun,” he said. Overwatch League might be the new peak of his career, but the glitz and glam won’t change who he is. “When I stream and play in tournaments, I will keep doing funny stuff for you guys. I hope you guys are happy when you watch me.”
Sometimes esports takes itself too seriously in its arduous trek to reach the heights of traditionals sports. Thankfully, players like Mickie continue to pop up and remind us all that it’s still a bunch of guys playing video games. Blizzard is set for Overwatch League to do it big and that’s great, but Mickie will be the smiling beacon that reminds us of the fun and games that made esports happen in the first place.