When Kevin Chou bought into the Overwatch League last summer, it was the birth of not only the Seoul Dynasty but also of the broader KSV eSports.
The Overwatch League team and Chou's wider esports brand have been linked from the beginning. The first six players bought by the Seoul Dynasty were from Lunatic-Hai, including the team's longtime Tracer player, EscA. EscA is not on the Seoul Dynasty today, but is instead a member of KSV's PlayerUnkown: Battlegrounds roster.
Of the franchises purchased by owners who had not previously operated esports organizations prior to the Overwatch League, only Chou expanded his esports operation beyond the Overwatch League. According to KSV Chief Growth Officer Arnold Hur, that was the plan from the start.
"We definitely wanted to be in esports and that was something we were all passionate about," Hur said. "However we also thought it was important that we waited for the right opportunity."
Kevin Chou saw the Overwatch League as the right opportunity, but not just any right opportunity. He decided to dive into the Korean esports scene as an American owner. Despite the American ownership, KSV has made every effort to define itself as a Korean organization. The organization's headquarters is based in South Korea and has signed exclusively Korean players and teams.
The Dynasty is not intended to be a team for Korean fans only, however, but instead a team that can be rooted for by anyone around the globe. Through the work of an on-stream translator on the Seoul Dynasty Twitch channel, players are capable of streaming in Korean, English, and Chinese.
It was previously announced the Dynasty were receiving language tutoring, but the organization is offering Chinese and English tutoring to its other teams, as well. "We can't force any of our players to learn foreign languages if they don't want to. Obviously, you need English in LA to get around, so that's a little easier to sell," Hur said with a bit of a chuckle. "But it's something we also offer to our players in Korea, as well."
Back in January, KSV announced that it would be partnering with Mirae Asset Investment to provide benefits for players including language tutoring, diet management and financial training, among many other benefits. Hur didn't believe change was the proper word for what KSV is trying to create within the world of esports, however. "I wouldn't call it a change per se, but an evolution."
As an organization, KSV has tried to take its time in scouting out players and building its teams, and the Dynasty were no different. After looking at a bunch of teams, the Dynasty went with the Lunatic-Hai core as its base, a decision few would have argued with at the time. From there, Hur says the organization chose additional players based on how they fit into the team and of course their level of play. This doesn't mean the Dynasty just looked at how players would perform this season, but also how they would develop and perform in future seasons of the Overwatch League, according to Hur.
The Lunatic-Hai core played with some of the Seoul Dynasty additions in the Seoul Cup. Image Credit: OGN
Despite their desire to develop players for the future, the Dynasty's lack of an Academy team, something the franchise has in common with only two others in the Overwatch League, seems to contradict that. Their lack of an academy team doesn't come as a result of their desire or lack thereof to develop players for future seasons, but instead is a testament to the time KSV likes to put into building rosters.
"We don't want to rush into anything," said Hur of creating an academy team. "Just because we don't do it when all of the other teams do it doesn't mean we won't do it -- or that we will do it."
A Dynasty academy team would likely get to play in Korea, a luxury that is not currently present for the Dynasty roster as every match in the first season of the Overwatch League is played in Los Angeles.
"I think [being away from home for an extended time] is tough for anybody. When you're living away from home for the first time, it's going to be rough," Hur said. "But at the same time, it also builds a kind of team unity because they're all in it together." To try and ease feelings of homesickness, the organization does a number of things to simulate Korean life, such as feeding the players Korean food.
A team high five. Image Credit: Blizzard
Given the challenges of playing such a long season against so many talented teams, Hur expected there to be ups and downs throughout the season. He says the team is planning for the long run, preparing to peak during the season end playoffs.
With rumors of Europe and Asia being the focus of the first Overwatch League expansion, there's a possibility that the Dynasty may not be the only franchise based in Korea within the near future. Hur would be ecstatic for there to be more teams in Asia and sees it as an opportunity to build rivalry and as an opportunity to cooperate with such a team on events.
In fact, Hur says the Dynasty are always looking to work with other teams, especially when it comes to events. While there have been few to no collaborative events between teams during the ever busy Overwatch League season, the Dynasty are already looking into the possibility of hosting events in collaboration with other OWL franchises.
While it may be cooperative with other teams outside of the server, it's all competition inside the server for a KSV organization working to establish itself in one of esports' most competitive regions. If things go as planned for the still young organization, then "dynasty" will be a word that is associated with KSV in titles beyond just Overwatch.