The most exciting playmaker in competitive Overwatch hasn't even graduated high school yet.
Meta Athena's Kim "Libero" Kim Hye-sung, 18, became known through online circles and the general Overwatch scene in South Korea through his mastery of the hero Hanzo. He would pop up on OGN, South Korea's cable gaming channel, giving tips on how to play the Japanese assassin character, and at the time was considered nothing more than a simple one-trick player with the know-how on how to master Hanzo.
After failing to qualify for the first season of OGN APEX, the premiere South Korea Overwatch tournament, Libero began to mature into the player he is today. He's become the player with one of the largest hero pools of all the professional players today in Overwatch after branching out from his Hanzo main. His growth as a player was the biggest reason for Meta Athena's success throughout the minor league circuit, and the club eventually made it through to the second season of OGN APEX with a string of one-sided victories over highly-touted sides like LuxuryWatch Red and its DPS superstar Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon.
What makes Libero stand out is not only his arsenal of heroes but how he steers his team in a new direction with each one he selects. Generally a DPS or tank player (healer only for a specific strategy), he allows Meta Athena to either play a basic 2/2/2 composition or to play a bulkier, defensive game with three tanks, for which the team has become renowned. In his short professional career, he's already played more than half of the heroes available in professional play; in Libero's most famous victory against rival Kongdoo Panthera in the quarterfinals of OGN Apex Season 2, he played 10 different heroes in only three games, and Meta Athena swept the series.
"Libero" in Italian means "free" or "freedom", which represents well how the teenaged centerpiece plays the game. In volleyball, the libero position is considered the defensive specialist of the team, often doing the dirty work so that the star attackers can shine at the net. Libero does the same on Meta Athena; while the rest of his team doesn't share the same skill of flexibility he does, he's the one that allows Athena to be flexible through his choices. When his team needs something different to throw at a team, Libero is the one that sets everything up and allows the team's ace DPS player, Ha "Sayaplaya" Jeong-woo, to rack up the highlight reel of kills.
Over the course of Meta Athena's rise to prominence last OGN APEX season, the team reeled off 21 match wins in a row before finally falling to eventual champion Lunatic-Hai in the semifinal. As a team, Meta Athena lacks the punch of some other teams like LH or LW Blue, the team that defeated Athena in the third-place match following the loss in the semifinal, but Libero's style along with his team's ingenious tactics allow them to challenge the best teams in the world.
When asked how he continues adding more and more heroes to his ever growing list, Libero says he learns by watching game tape. If he wants to be a master at Roadhog, he would watch Taimou. For Winston, it would be LH's Gong "Miro" Jin-hyuk, and so on. To be one of the best, he has to learn from the best, and Libero takes what makes those players the best at their heroes and while not bringing it all to his play, can at least resemble at times those players who have signature heroes.
Libero is not the best player in the world and might never be. But he possesses the tools to help others reach that goal. Libero is a player that makes everyone around him better. At times he can be overlooked when next to some of the players on his team, and that's because he allows those players the opportunity to be at their best through his unselfishness. If the team needs him to play Symmetra, he'll do it, and do it at maybe not a perfect level, but good enough to let his teammates execute a scheme they cooked up in practice.
Metha Athena is a team that when you watch them, you wonder why you and your friends didn't think of their plan first -- "Wait, you can boost up there with Mei's wall?" -- and astound you with their unbridled recklessness in the face of high stakes. Libero, free in form, might not be often considered the ace, yet is the heart of Meta Athena, and like in volleyball, flies through the air, crashing down to the floor to keep a ball from hitting down so that the team can set up a spike for a point.
It isn't always pretty, and those wild maneuvers don't always work out, but it's what makes Meta Athena -- and its heart Libero -- competitors that you can never avert your eyes from.