MVP Miracle has always been impervious to narrative.
When MVP Miracle was first founded in June 2016, fans were tempted to paint them as the almost-haves – a team of top-tier veterans who could never quite reach the apex with their flimsier previous squads. It had definite appeal, as the frame fit Min “Darvish” Seong-min, Im “Reset” Jin-woo, and Kang “Ttsst” Oon-sung perfectly. Unfortunately, both Han “CrazyMoving” Ki-soo and Kwon “Sniper” Tae-hoon were former Korean champions, so the take was judged to be a no-go. And all other drafts auditioned soon suffered a similar fate.
Even in game, unlike those of other top teams, MVP Miracle’s style of play did not lend itself to catchy characterizations. MVP Black usually stuck to textbook executions of the standard meta, which made their occasional off-the-walls compositions based on Lee “Rich” Jae-won’s godlike mechanics all the more effective. Tempest always was about their flashy unbridled frontline aggression and jaw-dropping prowess in dogfights, best reflected in Chin “Hide” Gyeong-hwan’s unorthodox interpretation of the support role. And whatever L5 did could be attributed to their savant commander Chae “Noblesse” Do-joon’s genius. But MVP Miracle? Other than being MVP Black’s sister team, no one was quite sure how to think of them.
Their grasp on the meta was undoubtedly solid, but they very rarely defied it. Their roster was well balanced, but no single player was quite the best at their position. Miracle would prove themselves to be Korea’s third best team in their first season, then second best come next, but still not a single gripping label would come out from it.
When it was announced in December 2016 that Yoon “Sign” Ji-hoon and Rich would be leaving MVP Black, the MVP organization wasted little time in picking up the superstar frontline duo of Lee “HongCono” Dae-hyeong and Park “Dami” Ju-dalm as replacements. Instead of plugging them into MVP Black directly, however, the decision was made to slot the two former world champions into MVP Miracle. Room would be made by moving Ttsst and Reset to MVP Black.
No one quite understood why it happened. MVP Miracle had been doing quite well, and Reset had been the team’s centerpiece, their main playmaker. Concerns were squelched at the time – understandably so – by the newcomers’ sheer name value, but the unanswered question would ever linger: why did Korea’s second best team have to be reshuffled?
Season kickoff rolled around, and the two rebuilt MVP rosters were put on show for the first time. The new MVP Black was a well-oiled machine straight out the door; no lack of synergy could be observed between the locals and the immigrants. Ttsst and Reset looked as good as they had been on their previous team. The other three looked even better.
MVP Miracle, on the other hand, was a dumpster fire. To quote: “The aggressive approach of the ex-Tempest frontline proved to be virtually incompatible with the remaining three members’ more risk-averse style, a problem that in hindsight should have been foreseen and prepared for.” The disarrayed superstars would soon plummet to the bottom half of the table, then stay there.
When the HGC Eastern Clash was held mid-March, only the 2nd-place MVP Black was invited to Shanghai. 6th-place MVP Miracle stayed in Seoul. Keeping the teamhouse warm, they watched their sister team – on it, former teammates Ttsst and Reset – be crowned Asian champions.
MVP Miracle has made it to the grand finals of the HGC Korea Playoffs. On the other side is – as fate has it – MVP Black. The winner will head to the Mid-Season Brawl. The loser gets nothing.
It has been a miracle run, a miracle climb, from the very bottom of the stepladder, one rung at a time. The fact that none of the slain – GG, Tempest, Mighty – had an unfavorable regular season head-to-head against MVP Miracle says everything. Prior to the playoffs, it was reported that all of MVP Miracle had been putting in insane hours over the last few weeks; they seem to have paid off handsomely, considering how handily their opponents were dispatched up until now.
But it will all have been for naught if they fall to MVP Black tomorrow.
MVP Black boasts the highest KDA, the lowest time spent dead, and the widest hero pool in HGC Korea. They may have fallen twice to L5 over the regular season, but the exact opposite occurred at the Eastern Clash, where much more was at stake. By any metric, by any qualitative criteria, MVP Black is one of if not the very best teams in the world.
There is usually something to be said about momentum when it comes to gauntlet formats; many teams in other titles, such as 2014 Najin White Shield (League of Legends), have ridden it to beat better squads. Yet even accounting for that tailwind, an MVP Miracle win tomorrow is difficult to predict or even foresee – such is the might of their sister team’s dominance.
Still, there is reason to believe. The rate of improvement MVP Miracle has shown over the last month is one virtually unprecedented in Heroes; MVP Black has historically been vulnerable to newly formed teams on the rise; and Hongcono and Dami’s in-your-face style of play has always been particularly effective against MVP Black’s disciplined, measured approach to the game.
And so has been put a miracle on ice. Ten hours remain.