Jessica S. September 5, 2020
Los Angeles Gladiator DPS Ji-hyeok “birdring” Kim played an outstanding match against the Toronto Defiant, but he took a scary spill during the on-screen team reactions.
It had been reported the night before the match that birdring didn’t scrimmage with the Gladiators due to feeling ill. Announcers noted his absence when he didn’t appear in the first map of the match.
He was subbed into the game in the second map and proceeded to have an excellent showing. birdring had multiple key plays that turned the tide of battles. During a very tense map five, he ulted on Reaper to wipe out the Defiant and earned his team a fighting chance to close out the series. The Gladiators were able to successfully close out the series.
But when production switched to the screen of all of the players, Birdring looked exasperated and turned to look at his teammates. It appears he was getting up to celebrate with his team when he suddenly collapsed. This sparked an outpouring of support for the player, but also brought questions over whether he had been pressured into competing when he should have been resting. Many players complain about burnout and being exhausted, especially in Overwatch League.
Some fans took the position that no one forced him to play and therefore it was his own free will that led to the fall. Others weren’t happy that staff would even entertain the idea of him playing while sick.
Although birdring was sick, the Gladiators’ official Reddit account issued a statement on the matter.
The team states that birdring was being monitored and was deemed well enough to play. When he got up to celebrate with his team, he suffered a dizzy spell and fell over. He is reportedly up and walking around, but resting for the night.
The Gladiators will go on to play Round 3 of the playoffs on September 5. There are no indications that birdring will be sitting out the match.