No team has made a bigger impression at the Gauntlet than Talon Esports, and no player has turned more heads than Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong.
The 16-year-old DPS star from Thailand has shone bright on the GIGA Arena stage in Seoul with immaculate Doomfist gameplay, as well as flexible picks onto Pharah, Mei, and Bastion. He’s become the face of a team that no one knew a week ago, but everyone will remember for years to come.
But Patiphan wouldn’t be where he is today without Ubon “oPuTo” Dara.
oPuTo is one of Thailand’s longest standing pro players, having been involved in Overwatch across Australia and South East Asia since the game’s release. The 24-year-old is one of a fabled few players to have been selected in every single World Cup, including 2019. It’s with good reason too – his hero pool complements Patiphan exceptionally well, and he brings a massive amount of spirit and energy to any team he is on.
Sure, he hasn’t been playing the Gauntlet, but that doesn’t mean he’s not had an impact. When Talon celebrated their close game with Element Mystic on day one, oPuTo was cheering in the team’s booth. When they triumphed over XL2 Academy and HSL Esports, he was there no less than three seconds after they typed “GG”
In fact, oPuTo and Patiphan’s relationship might go as far as being big brother and little brother.
“Patiphan is like a little brother to me,” said oPuTo. “I need to take care of him over here in Korea, but at the same time I learn from him too. He’s very good. His family supports him so well too, they go to every single event.”
Because of that, they both live vicariously through each other. Patiphan is always looking to prove himself and show off his flashy skills, while oPuTo is the more conservative and level-headed mind on the battlefield.
That level-headedness from oPuTo and that energy from Patiphan meant that they were pumped and confident after day one of the Gauntlet, even if a little bit tired after three sets and 13 maps.
“The games on day one were really tiring, but I couldn’t sleep because I drank too many energy drinks,” said Patiphan. “I managed to get to sleep at 2am.
“We were nervous for the first map [against Element Mystic], but after that we felt confident.”
“I was just supporting them so I could get to sleep at a normal time,” laughed Oputo. “But the games were so exciting. I wasn’t nervous watching the games, and when I saw that we won, I was really happy.”
It’s that energy and spirit that make Talon the most exciting team to watch at the Gauntlet, and the reason they’ve won fans hearts from all over. They’ve been taking notice of all of the support, scouring Twitch chat and Twitter and seeing all the “Talon Fighting!” comments.
“I’ve gained like 500 Twitter followers over the last week,” laughed Patiphan.
Talon are the sole fighting force from Pacific here in Korea, after scraping through the Pacific Showdown to save their spot. However, both Patiphan and oPuTo say that the region has a long way to go to getting recognised.
“I don’t think Pacific as a region has grown much,” said oPuTo. “Teams in the Pacific need more inroads into tournaments like the Gauntlet, and Talon is the only team who has those chances because we are the best. They call us the stacked team.”
“I’ve proven that Thai players are good players, but most people doubt us because we are from Pacific. SEA players are good players, as good as anyone else.”Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong
They’ve also been the ones making the most opportunities for themselves. They’ve got those inroads in the forms of a team house in Korea, where they
ve been for the last six months. With better scrim opportunities and better ping to Korea, Talon have dominated and grown exponentially compared to their SEA peers.
“Living in Korea is a bit more professional because we are far from home, so we need to focus and work hard a lot. If we don’t work hard, it feels like we are wasting our time,” said oPuTo.
“We have seven players together, so we have to work together as a team,” said Patiphan.
It’s not much different from playing from home either. They usually play on Korean servers and play against Korean and Chinese teams to prepare for officials. But just moving up closer to Korea has allowed them to improve tenfold.
“It’s better here in Korea because we have a lot of ping playing from Thailand, so we can put a better performance in playing from here,” said oPuTo.
“I think I’ve improved a lot by playing over here, but it’s hard to say when and why,” Patiphan said.
The experience has been positive for them as well, with no major complaints.
“I’ve been living here in Korea for six months, for Patiphan it’s been four months,” said oPuTo. “I’ve enjoyed living over here, and I haven’t really gotten home sick.”
Although Patiphan butted in, saying that there was one thing he missed: “I miss Thai food.”
Now four days into the Gauntlet, and Talon are now facing giant-after-giant. They will face Gen.G today for a spot in the top 4, and then they’ll face the winner of ATL Academy and XL2 Academy for a spot in the Loser’s Final beyond that.
All their hard work and preparation comes down to these last few games, and they’re ready.
“I want to give credit to our coach Face, because in this meta it would be very hard without him,” said oPuTo.
“Before the Gauntlet, we scrimmed with Envy and ATL Academy a lot, so we learned NA style. So we haven’t been surprised by how teams play, because we’ve played them before.”
“The teamwork is getting better during the tournament too, especially our coordination and communication,” added Patiphan. “If we can improve our communication, we will be playing at 100%.”
“I’m not sad that I can’t play in the World Cup because I’m here instead. The World Cup doesn’t matter to me.”Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong
Patiphan had the perfect words to sum up their journey to here so far, and that they aren’t done yet.
“We’ve proven that we aren’t a bad team. We can beat any team here. Our confidence level is 1000%.”
Talon Esports will take on Gen.G in the lower bracket of the Overwatch Contenders Gauntlet today. You can catch the action live on the Overwatch Contenders Twitch channel.