After a long day of Grav-Bombing unsuspecting enemies, there’s nothing Yeon-Gwan "Nenne" Jeong loves more than to relax at the New York Excelsior team house. That’s not shocking, of course—who doesn’t need to wind down after work?—but exactly how the Overwatch League rookie relaxes may come as a bit more of a surprise.
Everyone on the NYXL has their own ways to de-stress; the team has a large house with plenty of space to kick back or get active. But Nenne’s favorite pastime is one his family introduced him to as a small child: he loves to sing karaoke.
Nenne will sing any chance he gets. In his free time. After scrimmages. In the car on the way to matches. In the team’s living room. “Everyone in our family is a good singer,” he remembers his parents saying the first time he sang in front of the family. Nenne hasn’t been far from a microphone ever since.
So he fires up the karaoke machine regularly. And when he can be convinced, Do-Hyeon “Pine” Kim will join Nenne, much to their teammates’ delight.
“Everyone enjoys when Pine sings karaoke, so I like singing with him,” Nenne explained. “I started singing because everyone in my family is very good at singing, so we enjoyed going to karaoke together.”
Nenne treasures those memories with his parents and older brother. They’re all the more special because Nenne didn’t get to see them all that much. The family moved often, and his parents worked jobs that took them away from home for long stretches at a time, which left Nenne and his brother to be raised by their grandmother. But his parents were never far from his mind; Nenne vividly remembers spending long hours at PC cafes with his dad, planting the seed that would eventually land him in the Overwatch League—even though he readily admits he might have studied a bit harder in school if not for those cafes.
Nenne learned a love of gaming from his dad, and he dreamed of playing Overwatch professionally from the moment he picked up the game. His dedication and drive to improve were unmatched, but it takes more than talent and time to come as far as he has.
Those extra life lessons—how to be the best professional and teammate he could be—came from the grandmother who raised him.
“She emphasized the importance of making sacrifices to me when I was young,” he recalled fondly. “In a team environment, everyone has to make some sacrifices, so learning the importance of that early on has definitely helped me in my career.”
Some players surprise themselves by making it to the Overwatch League. They start playing the game, steadily improve, and find themselves with an expected shot to play with the pros. But Nenne knew from the beginning exactly where he wanted to be, from the day he found the game a week after its release to the day he first broke into the top 500 online, his time with his first team (LW Red) in South Korea, and his professional coming-out party when he helped lead XL2 Academy to the Contenders North America championship match last year.
Nenne always imagined himself playing in the Overwatch League. And he wanted to do it with the NYXL, the team that dominated the inaugural regular season.
“When I was coming to America for the first time, I told myself I wasn’t going to get complacent and that I would work even harder than before,” he said. “I was extremely happy to join NYXL because it was the number one team I wanted to play for. However, I was also concerned if I would even get a chance to play.”
He didn’t need to worry; he started in the season opener and has been a revelation ever since. He’s a contender for rookie of the year, and he’s been a key part of New York’s second consecutive exceptional season. He’s perhaps best known for his inspiring Zarya play, but Nenne can really do it all—he was the breakout star from the Widowmaker 1v1 tournament during the All-Stars event, taking down teammate Pine as well as Philadelphia Fusion superstar Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee on his way to a second-place finish.
I lost the widowmaker final but it was nervous and really fun!! thanks for the support guys— Nenne (@Nenne_chu) May 16, 2019
Just like when he came to the US, Nenne is determined to not become complacent, no matter what accolades come his way. The NYXL have ruled the regular season this year, but fell as the top seed in the first round of the Stage 3 Playoffs, the first of many victims of a historic run by the Shanghai Dragons. The experience reminded Nenne that there is always more to learn and to never take anything for granted in the Overwatch League.
In Stage 4, Nenne and the rest of the NYXL have redoubled their efforts, and have their sights set on the season title. The Grand Finals will be played at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on Sept. 29, and Nenne plans on competing for a title there.
He’ll be singing all the way.