On first impression, Jun-Ho “Fury” Kim doesn’t immediately seem like a particularly talkative guy. Onstage, in the midst of competition, he’s laser-focused, only ever allowing himself to relax when the match is over. Offstage, there’s a noticeable absence of the tension that defines his onstage demeanor; the Fury that strikes fear into opponents with precise, oppressive D.Va play melts away.
And then there’s the Fury in interviews: thoughtful and articulate, expressing a point of view as complete as his D.Va play. It’s an unexpected facet of a player who’s never gone out of his way to seek attention—something that has led to him flying under the radar for much of his time as a pro gamer.
Fury started his career in relative obscurity, playing for a below-average team in OGN APEX called Rhinos Gaming Wings. Though he’d always been good at gaming, he had never considered it a career option. “Honestly, I was just sort of a normal student, going to school, playing games here and there, considering going to culinary school...”
Hold on—culinary school? With actual cooking?
Fury was quick to clarify. “I mean, it’s not like I was knee-deep in the culinary arts at that point or anything. I was learning the basics with an after-school tutor. I learned how to use a knife and do some really basic stuff... and then Overwatch came out.”
After impressing a streamer during a pick-up game, Fury was invited to join the streamer’s amateur team. He left the team after they were unable to qualify for APEX and joined Rhinos Gaming, playing alongside current Overwatch League competitors Sang-Beom “Munchkin” Byun and Kang-Jae “Envy” Lee in his first LAN tournament experience.
Though he was with Rhinos Gaming for over six months, Fury’s most impactful experience as a pro would come in mid-2017, when he was scouted by Team Liquid.
“Rhinos started to split up, and everyone was going elsewhere and looking for new teams and opportunities,” he explained. “The person that contacted me first was Dennis—InternetHulk. He asked me to join his team.”
Dennis “InternetHulk” Hawelka was one of the earliest and most influential figures in the competitive Overwatch scene, having been a key player on the extremely successful Team EnVyUs before retiring to coach Team Liquid. He invited Fury to join Team Liquid just two weeks after being brought on, a signing that would require relocation and a full-time commitment.
“I thought the idea of going to a foreign country and playing for another team would be really interesting, since players like Envy and some of our coaches had already joined Immortals and were doing quite well,” Fury said. “Although I was really young and it was unsettling because I didn’t speak that much English, and I was joining a team that had no Korean support staff, it ended up being a really good experience because everyone was so nice.”
He paused briefly to consider his next words. On November 8, 2017, one month before the Overwatch League began and just four days after Fury joined the London Spitfire, InternetHulk passed away. The Dennis Hawelka Award, which would be awarded at the end of the season to the Overwatch League player who had had the most positive impact on the community, was created to honor his memory.
“Dennis taught me so much about life in general, as well as the game,” Fury said finally. “Even though we didn’t speak the same language very fluently, he always made an effort to connect with me, and to make me feel comfortable and at home.”
We ran ourselves dry practicing throughout the season. Thanks to all the fans for cheering for us all the way. It took so long to say this, but I hope my friend @INTERNETHULK saw me today and is proud of me. GG! We are Champions! @Fusion pic.twitter.com/n5mcrqR2cx— Fury (@Furyy_d) July 28, 2018
Team Liquid disbanded after just three months, having achieved a respectable second-place finish in Overwatch Contenders Season 0, and Fury went back to searching for a team. He was eventually able to trial for Cloud9, who had just picked up two of the best Korean teams at the time—Kongdoo Panthera and GC Busan—to fill out their Overwatch League roster.
“When I heard it was finalized that Cloud9 was picking up Kongdoo and GC Busan together, I hadn’t been confirmed [to join] the roster yet, so I was really unsure of what to do because I didn’t know anybody from either team,” Fury recalled. “I had no rapport with them or previous connections whatsoever, so I thought it would be very awkward, but given the chance, I joined the team.”
London Spitfire was one of the first teams to attempt a full 12-man roster with two players in each role, meaning every player would have direct competition for playtime. Fury didn’t see it that way, though—rather than focusing on competing for a starting role, he was just determined to be the best teammate he could be.
“At the time, I just wanted to focus on my own performance,” he said. “The last thing I wanted to do was be a burden on my team in terms of my skill.”
When asked about the Spitfire’s current team atmosphere, Fury offered a vivid metaphor: “I think that as a team, we’re kind of like Play-Doh. We’re all like different colors that have been mixed together and have congealed into one new color, and our direction depends on how our coaching staff decides to mold us. We’re blending together really well. We’ve been hanging out together as a team during off-days, and it’s been really fun.”
Then, in English: “We’re chilling.”
Fury’s dedication to self-improvement didn’t go unnoticed by the rest of his team, nor did his reluctance to socialize. He smiled bashfully as he talked about how his teammates helped him fit into the roster. “I’m not the type of person to approach people and talk to them; it took a bit of time for me to talk to and get close with everyone, but once I did, everyone was really nice and tried very hard to connect with me.”
Much of the London Spitfire’s initial 12-man roster was released throughout the 2018 season, but Fury said that the former teammates have all remained friends. Despite disappointing results in Stages 3 and 4, the Spitfire rallied in the playoffs and went on to win the inaugural season championship, with Fury’s D.Va being cited as one of the biggest factors in their victory by the Philadelphia Fusion players.
Though he was rather overlooked last season, eclipsed by flashier teammates in Jae-Hui “Gesture” Hong and Jun-Young “Profit” Park, Fury’s D.Va has received much more attention as of late. His exceptional usage of Defense Matrix to absorb enemy ultimates was key to the Spitfire’s victory in the season finals, but it wasn’t until this season that people truly began to take note of it. As a result, he’s gained a reputation as the best D.Va in the league, always able to position correctly and absorb enemy Graviton Surges at crucial moments.
Fury is well aware of his new standing, but he doesn’t let the accolades affect his mentality as a player. Much like enemy ultimates, Fury calmly absorbs that burden and turns it into an advantage.
“Against some stronger opponents, when I think about the fact that I need to play like the best D.Va in the league, it helps me perform better,” he explained. “The pressure helps me live in the moment and focus on the game. I’m not the kind of person that caves to pressure, but sometimes I convert that pressure into strength onstage.”
He’s been thrust into the spotlight this season, with analysts and fans alike paying closer attention to his calm, calculated playstyle, but Fury is content with his role as a supporting player, quietly doing his job so that his teammates can shine.
It’s a big-picture approach to success, one that has served Fury—both the player and the person—well throughout his career.
“I want to be able to maximize my time playing in the Overwatch League,” he said. “I want to absorb all the experiences and learn a lot of things, and learn how to overcome trials and tribulations moving forward. We younger Overwatch League players aren’t attending school, but there are things that you can learn only by doing what we do. I want to be able to maximize the experience this year.”