The problem with Proper: San Francisco Shock is a one-man team for better and worse
A crushing loss to Washington leads to a question of what is wrong with star hitscan Proper and the San Francisco Shock.
"This is a storied franchise in the Overwatch League and the San Francisco Shock look like season one right now." Harsh words from Overwatch League desk commentator Jake immediately after San Francisco's 3-0 loss today to the Washington Justice. However stinging those words might be doesn't ignore the truth. Even with its 2022 MVP and Rookie of the Year hitscan player Kim "Proper" Dong-hyun the San Francisco Shock appear less than.
And the problem may be Proper himself. This isn't to say that the standout player of last year isn't as good as expected. However, when the time for 300 ping memes and early season excuses is over it may be time to reassess what was once the biggest franchise in Overwatch League.
Proper: Taking his talents to San Francisco
Let's talk about professional basketball for a moment.
Yes, I know: Boring.
However, we can learn something about the Shock's current predicament by looking at the career of one LeBron James. Once the patron saint and prodigal son of Ohio, the greatest currently active basketball player found himself in a situation similar to Proper. The Cleveland Cavaliers were a team of one, with James surrounded by perennial B+ players.
Despite record stats and incredible highlights, LeBron couldn't drag this horse to championship waters his first time in The Cleve. More to the point, the expectations of putting an entire team on the back of such a young and talented player began to hurt the Cav's lone shining star.
Of course, we all know how that story ended: The iconic Decision with LeBron "taking his talents to South Beach" and leaving Cleveland for the Miami Heat. It's a lesson for the current San Francisco Shock: Overwatch is a team game and no matter how good that one player is he cannot do is alone.
Early season excuses
Given it's standout performance in 2022 it felt like a no-brainer to give this year's iteration of the Shock the benefit of the doubt. Featuring the best of Korean Contenders with, basically, the entire O2 Blast roster and its MVP in Proper, it was easy to give the Shock a pass. Early season jitters? Being the first team to drop a series to a Contenders team? Constant underperformance? No problem. They'll get there.
Which brought us to today's matchup against a strong and coordinated Washington Justice. With two weeks to prepare for this series since its 3-0 loss to the Atlanta Reign, this felt like the moment the real San Francisco Shock would emerge. After all, the entire commentary desk picked the Shock and Proper to triumph today. What could go wrong?
Go wrong, it did.
The Shock's 3-0 drumming today at the hands of the Justice was a comedy of errors. Sloppy play and an inability to contend with the Justice's support players was constant. However, the biggest warning sign came from Proper himself. Struggling to make something--anything--happen, the hitscan player began switching Heroes like a Gold rank player. Widowmaker, Hanzo, Sombra, Tracer, all in a row.
Not only did this give up valuable Ultimate economy, but it just made Proper look as if he couldn't find an answer. Like trying multiple keys in a lock that won't open. The real issue stems from a team of talented, but unseasoned players surrounding the former Rookie of the Year. Part of what makes a player like Proper dangerous is his ability to capitalize on plays from his DPS partner.
While occasionally showing sparks, Chae "HeeSang" Hee-sang couldn't create any openings for his star teammate. Likewise, tank Choi "MAX" Su-min looked uncomfortable in his own skin while switching between Ramattra and Junker Queen and trying to find an answer for the Justice.
"There is a major over-hype issue... This team is not good anymore," said Jake about the San Francisco Shock after its loss to the Justice. It feels safe to say that once you've lost Jake--one of the most knowledgeable and nicest personalities in Overwatch League--it's a sign of larger problems.
So, what's the answer?
A weak-ish schedule will do Proper and the Shock a lot of favors, with its next three games being against NYXL, Houston, and the LA Valiant. Potentially, that is enough to get them to .500 on the win-loss tally. if the team is to find long-term success it will have to create openings and plays for Proper. More to the point, Proper needs to cease trying to place the team on his back and scramble to make something out of nothing.
Wantonly swapping Heroes won't help the Shock. There isn't some magic combination for Proper that will allow him to dominate alone. If Proper wants to help the Shock then they need to play as a cohesive unit.
After all, you cannot do it alone--even if you're the reigning Rookie of the Year.
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