Once upon a time, the Overwatch Team France 2018
Among them, an intelligent bomber with smart shooting angles
An omnipresent bodyguard creating hope for citizens
It’s Gaël « Poko » Gouzerch
Source : Blizzard Entertainment
Today’s July 28th 2018, at the Barclays Center in New York. Goldenboy gets on stage, in front of more than 17 000 people. Hype is at its peak, and the music starts. The sas opens and common faces are seen walking on the stage. In a short time, this team which surprised the world was being stacked on it. « Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the Philadelaphia Fusion ! », shouted Goldenboy. These hands, the players needed them : in a few minutes, they would face London Spitfire in the second best of five of this match which would stay in our memories together as the first ever Overwatch League grand finals.
Among these players, there was Poko.
Born on July 21st 1996 in Nîmes, Poko is part of that generation who grew with video games. During his whole studies, Poko never stopped fueling his video game passion with playtime. His main game at this time was Counter-Strike, and Poko had played all versions : 1.6, Source and Global Offensive. Add some World of Warcraft and some League of Legends in between and you get Poko’s main hobbies in his youth. While his colleagues usually play the games competitivly very early, Poko was more of a casual player when he started. That did not stop him from being ranked Global Elite in CS:GO and Diamond 1 in the first seasons of League of Legends as well as travelling through Azeroth sometimes.
To the list of games Poko played saw Overwatch added right after.
Poko’s first team was created with friends at the beginning of the game, in 2016, and with the same goal in mind : play for fun. If his teammates did not last long in Overwatch as in stopping at an off-season, Poko’s interest in the game was different. When the team disbanded, he realized that he had potential and that he could go further. A career-defining moment would happen in a ranked game later on : Poko’s path crossed with Kyb’s, a french player (not to mixed up with the english player Kyb) who came from Team Fortress 2 and who won many major french LANs recently, including Gamers Assembly 2018. Both players then joined PuLse Gaming alongside Osnazeni, inSTAYY, Inflames and Adz. They were supposed to take part of Underdogs’ third season, but had to forfeit before it started. Underdogs was a tournament hosted by O’Gaming which allowed the best European teams to fight each other. Notable participants for this third season were The Chavs who became Hammers Esport later on, Fragsters, the beginning of a generation of danish teams and Vitality which was the first major team of Lilbow and Chubz, first one being in Eagle Gaming and second one formerly playing for Copenahgen Flames. PuLse Gaming did not have the occasion to face these teams.
But Poko’s tournament did not end that early. Among these teams, there was GamersOrigin as well, a rising team on the french and european scene. The lineup included at this time Leaf, part of Eagle Gaming as of today and had a coach named daemoN who also coaches Team France. These two players had spotted Poko in tournament and ranked play. They were looking for a new frontline and an offer was made to Poko and to Kolsti as main tank, part of the french twelve. They joined HyP and Noki, first one being in Eagle Gaming and second one having moved on to PUBG. The team would lose 2 to 1 to The Chavs in semifinals, but the good performance in group stages had put GamersOrigin at the summit of Europe. GamersOrigin’s offer had convinced Poko at this moment : his path was drawn towards a professionnal player career, which led to him dropping his studies.
Beginning of 2017, Kolsti accepted an offer from Movistar Riders and was replaced by BenBest who plays for Team France this year. After picking him up, GamersOrigin would end up victorious in many events in France. This lineup would play together until the end of the year, changing a few players in various situations : zyKK and DixxyDix playing for them in Contenders Season 0 and Hqrdest and PiPou joining the lineup for Contenders Season 1, where they finished fifth in their group, almost reaching playoffs. After this performance and with the upcoming start of Overwatch League, GamersOrigin decided to stop their operations in Overwatch.
Source : GamersOrigin
While this was happening, players were starting to look for other opportunities in order to pursue their career. HyP, Hqrdest, PiPou and Leaf would find a spot in Overwatch Contenders in the Eagle Gaming roster and BenBest would play in a new team in Open Division.
For Poko, he did not know what the future would hold. He made himself available for any team, Overwatch League or Contenders. His priority was the league, and unfortunately not a lot of teams were interested by him.
One of these teams tried Gaël out : Philadelphia Fusion. The next chapter of this story : on November 3rd 2017, Fusion announced their lineup, with Poko in it.
Source : Blizzard Entertainment
Tryouts for Philadelphia Fusion lasted a few weeks, and Poko was kept in the end. But the season did not start in a good way : due to visa issues, the team was not able to attend the preseason, a period where some of the known upcoming problems could have been fixed. With four korean players and not a single similar nationality in the team, communication issues were bound to happen. It ended up being the main trouble when arriving at the gaming house : most of the players had difficulties speaking english which made living in society and practicing troublesome. To add a cherry on the cake, some players were missing : snillo was under 18 years old, Eqo was stuck in Israel and Sado was suspended for thirty matches. The team had to play their first matches with a lack of practice and a few of their players unavailable. Fusion finished seventh of the first stage with 6 victories and 4 losses. The team stayed positive for this whole time : bonds were starting to be created and communication issues were being fixed. In stage 2, snillo and Eqo finally joined the team. Poko was collected but did not put the stakes that high because of the lack of time required to get back on top.
But he was partially wrong, because Fusion narrowly qualified for stage 2’s playoffs. Poko and his friends’ fascinating journey had just started. London Spitfire were awaiting in the semifinals, and none of us saw Fusion ending up victorious… after this match, it became a known fact that Comcast’s lineup could write unexpected stories. Spitfire fell, final score being 2 to 3. The next titan was NYXL. After opening the match 2 to 0, the New Yorkers turned the tides and finished with a 3-2 victory in their favor. A tough defeat to tank, but not a one to go red because of it because that performance could be qualified as an exploit.
In the meantime, players were starting to be famous because of their individual strenghts. Poko was no exception, and after his great D.Va plays, that hero’s ultimate got a new surname : the “Poko Bomb”.
This kind of move rocketed Poko’s popularity as well as his teammates’. Has the team’s performances followed ? Every team has its issues, and another one was being added as time passed : the divergence in playstyles. When your teammates start disagreeing on how to play the game, it can have repercussions on results. It happened to Fusion who also had to tank a tough loss versus NYXL. Stage 3 started in a bad way and ended with no qualification to playoffs. Stage 4 was however not a stage where Poko could shine : Sado was now allowed to play and the korean duo Sado/Hotba was used most of the stage, leaving Poko with only a few occasions to play, but not much, unlike other stages. Stage 4 will be average for the team, and a season playoffs spot is now contested by three teams : Seoul Dynasty, Houston Outlaws and Philadelphia Fusion, all these teams having decent performances all over the season. The stars aligned for Fusion, and here are all the possible scenarios that could have happened : Outlaws had to win their match and Fusion and Dynasty had to lose theirs for Outlaws to qualify, Dynasty had to win their match and Fusion had to lose theirs to qualify. Had Dynasty and Outlaws won their matches, Fusion would have had to win Spitfire at any cost in order to qualify. But fate wrote this story differently : Dynasty and Outlaws both lost their matches, automatically qualifying Fusion in the playoffs.
[Thanks to Kirby, Fusion’s coach for explaning me the scenario details!]
This playoffs stage will never be forgotten by Poko and his teammates. A 2 to 1 victory against Boston Uprising was predictable, but nobody expected what was about to happen. Their next opponent was NYXL, a titan they lost to in stage 2 playoffs.
Fusion defeated NYXL 3 to 0 in the first match. The next one would be one of the closest matches the league has seen. Fusion will finish it 3 to 2 and claim another exploit. The first ever Overwatch League grand finals would feature a french player, and a notable one because in the meantime, Poko had been announced as a player for Team France, his first selection.
The day had arrived, the day of the finals, an unforgettable one for many reasons : the player introductions on the stage with the music, more than 17 000 persons in the crowd, all hyped up, a spot on production. Poko was almost in a dream. Fusion came here to win, but also to have fun.
London Spitfire will be sacred the Overwatch League champion in the end after winning two matches. Close matches, hype level over nine thousand in the crowd : that’s esport. The season still was a succes for Comcast’s structure even after the issues that were occuring in the beginning. Recently, Fusion released some of its players, but the off-tank Poko still seems to be part of the team.
Source : Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
Off-tank, who’s this ? For Poko, it is a protector and a killer at the same time : these heroes, like Zarya and D.Va, are heroes with a lot of hit points and damage, but also have defensive skills useful for his team : a good off-tank has to find the balance between attack and defense. What brought Poko to those heroes is being able to stay alive and go on a killing spree.
Poko loves to “ratatatatatatatatata”, to “noot noot” and to “pan pan”, and if you don’t take him seriously because of that, think again : this tank is able to stun you.
Get to cover : his bomb may be able to surprise you.
No fear to have because he’ll absorb the danger.
Enemies beware, here he comes, fully charged.
It’s his story.
Frontpage picture source : Blizzard Entertainment. Visual par KrapoPlay