For Ballistix’s Magi, Silence Is Golden
Ballistix's Kim "Magi" Jin-hwan is the nice, quiet, mysterious Support player you always dream of meeting in Hero League. He doesn’t ever try to show off. He won't greedily attempt five-player Twilight Dreams. He knows what his job is: stay safe and keep everyone alive. He'll do exactly that. He doesn’t miss a heal.
In person, he wears a faint smile and barely speaks above a whisper. He dresses in simple hoodies and unassuming black sneakers. He likes to stand next to a wall when the room is crowded. Sometimes, he'll laugh alone at someone's throwaway joke, but that's the only time he'll draw attention to himself. Most of the time, you'll barely notice he's there.
This year, however, he's squarely in the spotlight.
When Ballistix announced that Magi would be replacing Kim "Swoy" Seung-won in the Support role, many Korean Heroes fans voiced concern. It wasn't that Magi was a bad choice—everyone knew he was a solid player, and there weren't any better free agents. But Swoy was one of the best Supports in the world—a key part of Ballistix's many championship runs—and it was doubtful whether Magi could live up to that legacy. Sure, Magi had been a great Support back in the day (for Team Hero, LeaveKongAlone, and BooM), but his highs had never been as lofty as Swoy's. Moreover, it had been a whole year since Magi last played Support (he swapped to ranged flex for Mighty), and his few secondary Support performances during the double Support meta hadn't been very impressive.
The opening weeks of HGC 2018 have proven the skeptics wrong. Magi turned out to be a perfect fit for Ballistix; the team has looked borderline flawless in most of its matches.
Team manager An "Minwoo" Min-woo offered his thoughts on why the switch had gone so well.
"I think Magi's style of Support complements our team really well," Minwoo said. "This isn't to say that Swoy's style didn't fit us. It was a great fit. I'm just saying that Magi's style feels like an even better fit."
Swoy and Magi are polar opposites as players. Swoy had always tried to carry from the Support position, always looking for game-winning gambits or team fight turning dives. In contrast, Magi never goes for big plays, and prefers to focus wholly on using his heals, shields, and buffs on the right targets at the right time. Swoy's bursts of brilliance had worked perfectly with Ballistix's original roster, which had Do-joon "Noblesse" Chae calmly leading the line. In the team's current iteration, headed by Jong-hoon "Hooligan" Park—a more aggressive (and thus more frequently imperiled) main tank—it's easy to see why Magi's reliable bailouts might be the greater asset.
There's another way Magi is adding consistency to the team: silence. Swoy had always been talkative in comms, keeping ideas and information flowing nonstop. Magi only speaks when he absolutely needs to.
"Things have become a lot quieter and calmer," Minwoo said. "Swoy had been very active in comms, so the atmosphere was always lively, but sometimes it could feel like there were too many captains and not enough crew. Now things are more focused, which seems to have brought more stability to our calls."
Magi's contributions to Ballistix have not gone unnoticed by experts. One of his louder advocates is HGC Korea commentator Daniel "Gclef" Na, who is a big fan of the Support player's uncanny prescience. "Magi reads what the other team wants to do really, really well—his predictive Divine Shields and pre-Cleanses are always on point," Gclef explained.
Gclef has high hopes for the Ballistix newcomer. "Magi's blending into his team well, and he's winning most of his positional matchups. I think Magi could be the next great 'traditional' Support," he said. "I don't think he's on [Chin "Hide" Kyeong-hwan]'s level yet, as he has yet to prove himself on Heroes other than Uther and Rehgar. But he will have plenty of opportunities to do that, and I think he could get there."
Magi isn't interested in such praise, at least for now. This is the first time in his career he has gotten to play for a world-class team, and his mind is squarely focused on the potential silverware.
"I know this sounds trite, but I just really want to win something first," Magi said. "I haven't won anything yet as a pro. Once I finally win a tournament, I'll start thinking about what else I might want."
The road to his first trophy is tough. While Ballistix has been doing very well, Tempest is looking even stronger. Plus, although KSV Black has hit a rough patch, they will most likely bounce back before the Eastern Clash.
Magi has never been one to be daunted by pressure, though.
"Fretting about it won't make me play better," he said. "I'll just keep working hard, and hopefully it'll come."