This time last year, Tzu-Heng “Baconjack” Lo was taking a serious look at his career. He was competing professionally in a popular battle royale title for Taiwanese organization Flash Wolves, but it just wasn’t as fulfilling. Overwatch was the game that birthed his ambitions of being a professional gamer, and he swore to himself that he’d be back.
Baconjack didn’t want to give up on the game, so he considered his situation and came to a realization: “I’m better at Overwatch. Before I retire, I want to show the fans and audience my skill.”
Little did Baconjack know, he would receive that chance sooner than later. For newer fans of the Overwatch League, his name sounds whimsical, perhaps inspired by breakfast or fast food, but for longtime followers of the Asia Pacific region, it’s a reminder of an era now past. In the early days of professional Overwatch, Baconjack was a domestic champion, World Cup representative, and one of the best players in his region. And despite sitting out of competitive Overwatch in 2018, his return has been anything but slow, as he’s quickly become a fan favorite alongside his fellow Chengdu Hunters.
Baconjack first got into Overwatch largely because of its unique combination of first-person shooter (FPS) and multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) elements, and it quickly lured him over to the competitive side after he encountered high-level play with his first amateur team, Stay Frosty. “After going through VOD review and playing with teammates, I thought to myself, ‘I really enjoy this,’” Baconjack recalled. “At that time, I thought I had the potential to be a professional player.”
Stay Frosty was ahead of the game in Taiwan, and it showed when Baconjack and crew won the first Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau Open in 2016, beating the popular—and financially supported—ahq e-Sports Club. That early success with Stay Frosty led to a contract with Flash Wolves as the team bolstered its Overwatch division for the region’s first league, the 2017 Overwatch Pacific Championship (OPC).
As a gamer, the jump from amateur to professional wasn’t a big change, but as a competitor and teammate, it laid the foundation for Baconjack’s career. “Being a professional player for Flash Wolves… the one thing that was different was that we had rules,” he explained. “For me, it was more like an official job, which I think helped me develop my behavior—like what I should and shouldn’t say to my teammates. Also, I learned that [fans] will care more about your behavior.”
As Baconjack grew into a more consummate professional, his family also warmed up to the idea. Growing up, his parents didn’t worry too much about the games he played or how he spent his free time, so long as he kept his grades up. Baconjack didn’t care much for school, but signing a real contract and earning a salary for Overwatch was just as impressive.
“My parents were actually very happy about it,” he said. “They thought, ‘Oh, you play games, but someone is going to pay you. That’s not bad, we are very proud of you.’”
In the OPC’s first season, Baconjack emerged as one of the region’s bona fide stars, an absolute menace on Tracer who became known as “the talented high-school student.” For Flash Wolves, winning the trophy that season felt almost like a formality—they knew they were the best. After weeks of unloading Tracer clips into unsuspecting Zenyattas, though, Baconjack had also earned an even bigger opportunity—a plane ticket to his next challenge, the Overwatch World Cup qualifier in Santa Monica.
“[The World Cup] was my first time going abroad for a tournament and representing my home,” Baconjack said. “But once I arrived in [Los Angeles], I really realized it was home of the United States. The audience was really passionate and they cheered so much for Team USA. I was shocked at that time by the passion of the audience. I think we lost confidence because of that and that’s why we didn’t do well.”
Up until then, practically everything had gone in Baconjack’s favor: the early success of Stay Frosty and Flash Wolves, the call from Chinese Taipei. Built entirely from the Flash Wolves, that team came into the event with an appropriate amount of buzz. Unfortunately, the hype crashed as quickly as it was built up, as Chinese Taipei fell to both the USA and the United Kingdom, sending the team home dejected and defeated.
After that, things were never the same for Flash Wolves. In OPC Season 2, they lost in the finals to Korean team Ardeont, who overwhelmed the league with a perfect 14-0 record with a roster that now mostly resides in the Overwatch league. “The crucial part was that we had so many problems,” Baconjack lamented. “We lost our mental [focus] after the World Cup.”
That was the point where Baconjack’s Overwatch career was put on hold. The OPC wasn’t returning for a third season, and Flash Wolves dropped its Overwatch team in early 2018. Instead of continuing on in Pacific Contenders, he chose to follow his organization in a new direction—at least until he stopped to consider what his heart truly wanted.
Once Baconjack decided to return to Overwatch, he was prepared to work his way back up through Contenders. After all, he hadn’t played competitively for over a year and needed time to reacclimate to the game and its various meta changes.
Then the Chengdu Hunters came calling.
“I was pretty surprised at the time,” he said, smiling at the memory. “I thought I was going to mainland China to play in Contenders, but someone told me, ‘Do you want to give it a shot?’ And I ended up here.”
Chengdu has enabled Baconjack to make the most of his second chance. Rather than begrudgingly playing triple-tank, triple-support like other teams, the Hunters continue to push the meta with DPS-laden comps—and, of course, Menghan “Ameng” Ding’s Wrecking Ball.
That means Baconjack often plays hitscan heroes like Widowmaker, Ashe, and even his beloved Tracer, in addition to a more typical Zarya in 3-3 comps. Since returning to Overwatch and debuting in the Overwatch League, Baconjack has lived up to every bit of potential he showed two years ago—and he’s having plenty of fun doing it with the Hunters.
“Before every match, we always have a big discussion with our coach and teammates to talk about what kind of composition we should pull out and what we should do on each map,” he said. “I’m very happy that we’re using some weird compositions to beat opponents.”
It’s not just Baconjack who’s happy—the fans are into it, too. On Chengdu’s debut match day, when they upset the Guangzhou Charge, there were few fans in sight, but now they have legions of fans online, in the arena, and even among other pros. The Hunters have stolen the hearts of many with their unique style, but funnily enough, Baconjack doesn’t actually realize the extent of it.
“It is a good thing that we have more and more fans,” Baconjack said. “That means our team is growing up, but actually I didn’t know that we had so many fans because I’ve mainly focused on practice.”
Baconjack has always been the type of player to focus on his play before anything else. He’s had his Twitter account for over a year, but just recently made his first tweet during an off-day visit to Disneyland. Considering that, it’s no wonder his current play has continued to match his previous successes in Overwatch. Back then, he told Flash Wolves fans that he would only stream if they won the OPC Final. When asked when he would stream this year, he gave a simple answer.
“When we’re champions!” he said, bursting out laughing.
Of a stage, or of the season? He blurted out the answer in English: “Finals!”