Pongphop “Mickie” Rattanasangchod is the embodiment of the Pacific spirit. His story is like a fairytale.
Scouted from this very tournament in 2016 by the late INTERNETHULK, he went from playing small LANs in Thailand to playing in front of massive crowds at APEX on EnvyUs. He has gone on to play for Thailand at all three World Cups, as well as becoming the off-tank for Dallas Fuel in the Overwatch League.
Thailand’s World Cup run has been unlucky to say the least. Losing to Denmark in a tough 3-1 to start the tournament. A close 4-0 against Australia, where any map could have gone either way. A nail-biter 5 map series against China, where they were so close to completing the reverse sweep. None of these games have fallen their way.
But for the nation who everyone discounted before the tournament, they’ve played with the heart and soul of a tiger. The roar of the crowd has been deafening for the hometown heroes in defeat, one can only imagine the seven floors of the Siam Paragon tumbling down if they take away a win.
Patiphan and Mickie combine to wipe Australia out on King’s Row
The ever smiling Thai hero of Overwatch is playing on home soil for the first time in his competitive career, leading a team of mostly unknown Thai players into the ‘Group of Death’ at the OWWC Bangkok Stage. I spoke to Mickie after the team’s tight loss to China, and he was smiling as wide as ever.
So, Mickie, how are you feeling?
A lot better, especially since I’m back home.
Got homesick a bit while you were in LA?
I got homesick because we lost a lot of matches, you know, and we were feeling down because we couldn’t relax.
I guess your tail end of the season – Stages 3 and 4 – were a lot better, and you spoke a lot about how you were really positive throughout it all. Now with the World Cup, with a bit of adversity in the team – it’s quite a tough group in your home event – how is the team morale?
I think people just underrated us. Also for me, I was underrating some teams in the group as well. It’s kinda normal because every time you think about how good they are, it’s according to last year. So people would expect Sweden to be one of the best, but for us, I think China is one of the best. Then going into the matches, I think we are close to any team. Even though the score is 1-3 or 0-4, but in the match, almost any map is close. I’m really proud of my team.
It was expected for China to be a powerhouse…
I thought we were going to be stomped by China! (laughing)
“I just told the team to go out and shine and show what we have. We don’t have stomp them hard, we don’t have to beat anyone, we just do our best and someone might notice us.”
…and quite honestly your match against China was one of the most amazing matches of Overwatch I’ve watched this year. How did it feel to have the home crowd roaring over the stage as you slowly took over?
While I’m in the game, I didn’t even take notice of it. I put 100% focus on the game and I also have to think about a plan. So, after the match, a little bit.
You said that you weren’t expecting much out of it, but as you took Temple of Anubi, then Gibraltar, then onto Oasis, how was the team morale?
At that moment, I’m trying to say “okay guys, everyone just keep it hype” because the ones who are about to get reverse sweeped are going to have lower energy, performance – everything is going to be bad. So I’m just like “do your best.” That’s what I’m saying before the match.
You’ve also had a bit of time to play with the Thailand team now that you’ve been back home. Who on the team has impressed you the most?
I think Teetawat (MEGA Esports) impressed me last year and this year. He has kept his performance consistent to this year. But for this year, I’ve never played with Patiphan (Xavier Esports) before – this is my first year playing with him and he crushed on them man!
As an Australian, even in the 4-0 yesterday he was absolutely phenomenal. Do you see a future for him?
I mean he is 15 so he doesn’t have a chance to go to Overwatch League but he might join an NA Contenders team…
…under your wing?
I have no idea (laughing). That’s the future.
Now this is your first LAN event in Thailand as a professional and the crowd here is bigger than say APEX or Overwatch League. Is it a surreal experience when you can walk around after the games and see thousands of fans?
I can’t even walk around! Like, if I’m playing outside of the country in the US, or Korea, or even in China – after the match I could walk around just fine. One person might take a picture with me and only 50 people would notice me. In Thailand, it would be 1000 and I can’t walk around. I don’t want to say “sorry I’ve got to go” – they are going to feel like I’m arrogant. But I can’t just stay for 2 hours and take pictures – I just can’t!
You’ve still got a couple more games to go tomorrow against Sweden and Spain and you can’t make it to Blizzcon now, but how do you think you will go?
Yesterday I told the team that the only chance we have of going to Blizzcon is if someone goes 5-0 and there’s a three-way tie at 3-2 – it was nearly impossible. So I just told the team to go out and shine and show what we have. We don’t have stomp them hard, we don’t have to beat anyone, we just do our best and someone might notice us.
Everyone knows you for your personality out of the game, but how would you describe yourself in game?
For Thailand, this is the first year I’ve become a captain of the team, which means I’m taking the shotcalling and the ultimate timing – like everything in the team. Mentality, coaching, I took everything and in game I never stop talking. They might go “can you like stop talking for a minute?” because I’m calling everything! I can say I’m trying so hard because I want my teammates to shine internationally.
Well it’s been wonderful talking to you and meeting you after seeing you on broadcast for so long. Good luck for the rest of the tournament and the future!
You can catch Thailand’s next game against Sweden at 1pm AEST tomorrow on Twitch.