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The most interesting man in esports is not en route to the 2016 League of Legends World Championships or sniping enemies from afar in perennial favorite Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Instead, hes on stage at the Childrens Grand Park in Seoul, South Korea, with a perplexed expression on his face as he stares at the sheer number of fans gathered in front of him. They gather, to his sincere surprise, to cheer for him.Byun Byun Hyun Woo would not stand out in a crowd if you walked past him. He does not hold the same superstar aura that other elite talents in competitive gaming possess, such as Leagues Lee Faker Sang-hyeok. However, Byun would fit in with any nerdy group of friends youve ever had in life; hes the quirky and somewhat awkward pal with a wisp of a mustache over his grinning, carefree face. In front of the crowd at the Childrens Grand Park, however, Byun was a hero, a cultish figure for the constantly forgotten or overlooked ones in the ultra-competitive country of South Korea.Byun had made it to the finals of the Global StarCraft II League, the biggest and most prestigious tournament for the game that has been running since late 2010 in South Korea. His opponent, Kim sOs Yoo Jin, was a two-time world champion who won the title in the 2013 and 2015 seasons. sOs, due to his success in large, high-stakes tournaments, accumulated over $460,000 in his playing career. By contrast, Byun, who played in the very first GSL back in 2010, only won a little over $40,000 from the beginning of his pro gaming career to the start of this year.To better understand why Byun is such an underdog, it helps to explain sOs recent situation. sOs team, the Jin Air Green Wings, are the best StarCraft II team in the world. They recently won their first SC2 Proleague, the pinnacle for any pro team in South Korea, ripping through KT Rolster in a clean 4-0 series earlier this month; and sOs picked up the final win to bring home the trophy. Hes an individual world champion, team league world champion and one of the craftiest (and richest) players in the game. He also has Jin Airs fully-fledged coaching and player staff behind him to train with, which is a significant amount of support.Byuns professional team is shown clearly on his shirt -- wait -- theres nothing there but a generic GSL logo stitched into it. He has no team. For the first time in the 17-year history of competitive StarCraft in South Korea (spanning from the inaugural version over to StarCraft II), in the Mecca, the be-all and end-all of esports, a player had reached the mountaintop without an army behind him. While he practiced with a few players, mostly consisting of foreigners from other countries, retired players or fellow teamless journeymen, the difference in support between Byun and sOs was considerable. On one side, you have the traditional, well-oiled structure of a South Korean professional team with coaches that not only deal with in-game strategies but make sure the players mindsets are likewise finely tuned. On Byuns side, you have a 23-year-old preparing by himself in his room, circulating through the online ladder to get necessary practice with help when needed from friends in the scene. His wrist shows his intensive practice: A grotesque callous is there ready to burst at any given moment.Since its start in 2010, Byuns career has been a whirlwind of stories, ranging from quirky and hilarious to ominously mysterious. When he made his first deep GSL run in 2011, his team at the time, ZeNex, promised young Byun a puppy that he could raise as his own if he could make the semifinals of the tournament. With the added incentive, Byun succeeded in his goal and adopted a small, wow-this-thing-is-way-too-cute dog, which he even brought to one of his teams league matches. The first time Byun brought his puppy to sit on the bench with him and the rest of the team, he rushed out of the studio so it could go to the bathroom.Aside from a second GSL semifinal in 2012, when he choked away his best chance to ever make a final, that was the highlight of Byuns career, until this past Saturday. After bouncing around individual leagues on his new team, Prime, in 2011-2012, Byun just vanished from the competitive scene one day. And by vanish, I dont mean he just quit pro gaming and got a new job. I mean, he simply vanished from the scene, with no one really knowing where he went. Sometimes hed appear in an online tournament or two and whispers would spread about how he was gearing up for a comeback by rampaging through elite-level players on the ladder. But at the end of every tunnel, Byun dodged his chance to reappear on the main stage again and again.People joked he was held in KeSPA Jail, the mythical prison that the Korean eSports Association -- the officiating esports organization in South Korea -- used to punish unruly players that didnt fit their spotless ideals. Others speculated that he had some sort of anxiety disorder that kept him away from reappearing at offline events. Altogether, Byuns disappearance lasted from the end of 2013 to the middle of 2015, right before Blizzards newest and final expansion of the game -- Legacy of the Void -- launched.An unconventional returnIn true Byun fashion, his return to the world of pros was anything but normal. Following a stint in the LotV beta where he made a name for himself as an online monster, he signed with X-Team, a Chinese team. He played for three months before reappearing at an offline preliminary in South Korea for StarLeague, the other individual StarCraft II competition in the country. Byun qualified for the tournament, a bit more gaunt, wearing a long-sleeved maroon shirt, but he qualified nonetheless. He spoke briefly about the reasons for his disappearance, mainly focusing on the poor health in his wrists and lack of self-confidence.The past nine months have been an up-and-down ride for Byun. Although still one of the best players in online leagues, his offline results dipped the deeper he went in tournaments. He spoke of the nerves playing in the small and compact booths onstage at live tournaments, even throwing up before matches. His face was sometimes pained while playing, with his damaged wrist bearing the consequences for the almost inhuman speed of his movements. In May of this year, he left X-Team, citing a lack of pay from a team where he was far and away the superstar.That is when Byun decided to become a lone wolf, willfully abandoning everything learned about Korean esports over almost two decades. To be the best, under this model, you need a clear schedule. You need coaches. You need teammates to practice every aspect of the game. You need a team house where you practice from the time you wake up to the time you put your head down to sleep in a cramped bedroom next to one of your teammates. Byun, unorthodox in every way possible, trailed by a puppy he won from a bet with his old coach, did not fit the KeSPA mold. He didnt care about playing Proleague, the competition where players invest more effort into their teams achievements than their own. The strict and meticulous life of the ideal pro gamer didnt suit Byun; he walked to the beat of his own lanky, awkward drum.I did play in some tournaments in Heart of the Swarm [the second expansion], but I was not able to do well, said Byun right after making it through the GSL semifinals earlier this month for the first time in his long odyssey of a career. When Legacy of the Void came out, even though I was not confident, I told myself if I continued to rest, there was no way I would be able to win anything. But when I competed at an internet cafe for the first time, I felt like I managed to reach a new peak. [Resting] actually had a great effect.From fanboy to finalistOutside the cramped booths he despises, Byun is unassuming and seemingly unintimidating to would-be opponents. His personality even swings toward awestruck fan, particularly for one of his rivals: Lee INnoVation Shin Hyung, a Terran player with two GSL titles to his name. He can go on and on about how INnoVation, unlike himself, has the superstar aura that draws people. INnoVation is the complete opposite of Byun as a player: cool, calculated and often compared to an android for his systematic play on the battlefield. INnoVation plays for the biggest esports club in all of South Korea, SK Telecom T1, which is a stark contrast to Byuns ... nothing.During a group drawing ceremony for this seasons GSL in the round of 16, the hosts asked Byun who would he save if Cho Maru Seong Ju, a close friend and former teammate from his Prime days, and INnoVation were both drowning in the ocean at the same time and he could only rescue one.Its always INnoVation, he answered, putting one hand around Maru, who was sitting below him. Im a huge fan of INnoVation, so I want to save [him] so that I can watch him play more.Fanboy comparisons aside, Byun has become a genius inside the claustrophobic booths. His hand speed and movement with his units is currently unmatched by any Terran player, including his idol INnoVation. In his match against sOs, he split and enforced his units like a maestro conducting an orchestra. He wove in and out of battle against the experienced sOs, forcing the reigning world champion to make small mistakes in his gameplan. Soon, he was completely failing to keep up with Byuns never-ending troop of soldiers marching and flying out of his home base.Byun never looked back. He ran sOs around the map repeatedly with attacks from every angle, striking at every opportune time possible. While one side of Byuns attack was being dealt with, another was occurring on the other side of the map. sOs, a player who made a name for himself by always being one step in front of his opponent, was two steps behind. English commentators Nick Tasteless Plott and Dan Artosis Stemkoski dubbed Byun the one man army.The iconic scene of the finals came between the fourth and fifth sets of the series. Down 3-1, having lost three games in a row, sOs sat in his booth while his teammates and coaches rallied around him; they were helping him figure out the best course of action for the next game. In the opposing booth, Byun sat silently by himself like he has for the past three years, looking down at his keyboard and awaiting the next game to begin as though it were simply another matchup on the online ladder.The Byun revolutionThe South Korean style of infrastructure hasnt confined itself to StarCraft esports; it also has seeped over to the League of Legends scene, where South Koreans have taken the past three World Championships. As the Western region tries to figure out the best training methods for the newfound boom of competitive gaming, it tries its best to mirror the systematic South Korean style that has led to so much success. Its how youre supposed to win at the highest level: a concrete, supportive machine that helps you from your wrists to your mindset; a structured style that makes sure you can get the best out of your abilities.For 17 years, that is how StarCraft, the phenomenon that took over South Korea in the 2000s, was won.Byun, unfortunately for KeSPA and the purists, doesnt do anything normal. The fifth GSL finals game was another decisive one-sided affair for the man with no team to call home, and the championship was his. He staggered out of the booth, a smile on his face as his legs gave out under him with his arms lifted toward the dark sky of Seoul. The crowd screamed in approval; the fans didnt save their loudest cheers for the multitime world champion, but rather the outsider. The one that strayed from the primary ideal of South Korean culture -- unity over individualism -- was the hero, not the villain of the people. Byun hadnt let them down.In the end, the vagabond who once disappeared for almost two years didnt play under the thumb of a team, or a coach, or some established structure. He played for himself, he played for his family, and he played for the crowd that supported him, standing in droves as he accepted the trophy he had dreamed of holding since becoming a pro gamer.Byun is awkward, dorky, quirky, enigmatic, hilarious and a genius all rolled into one.Cool? Usually, not so much. That would be left to the Fakers and INnoVations of the world. Yet, on Saturday night, as he stood in front of a crowd hanging onto his every word in his postmatch interview, fans waving flags with his face on it in lieu of a team logo.Anything youd like to say to your family and friends? the host asked Byun amid the celebration.After losing the first game, I thought it was going to be a very tough day for me, Byun began, apparently ready to give a grand, heartfelt speech to his loved ones. But Im such a fan of INnoVation [and] I saw the banner [of him] they set up in the back. It gave me a lot of confidence. So thank you, INnoVation.The camera zoomed out to show the banner of SKTs prized Terran, arms crossed, looking as confident as could be, hanging from the back of the venue with the words INnoVation is watching over you above his head.OK, for at least five minutes, Byun stood as the coolest man in all of South Korea. 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Breaking three of his own world records on his way to winning in Paris, Chan silenced the critics and left the audiences standing in appreciation and awe. This story is part of ESPN The Magazines Oct. 31 NBA Preview Issue. Subscribe today!Houston TexansOverall: 39 Title track: 72 Ownership: 35 Coaching: 45 Players: 29 Fan relations: 27 Affordability: 71 Stadium experience: 52 Bang for the buck: 56 Change from last year: +11The Texans are up 11 spots from last years rankings, likely in part to the big offseason the team had after winning the AFC South last year. After a season of revolving quarterbacks that ended with a 30-0 blowout by the Chiefs in the wild-card game, Houston upgraded its offense in a big way, including signing quarterback Brock Osweiler to a four-year, $72 million contract.Whats goodThe Texans defense is always a highlight, and its talented and personable roster helps Houston to its highest ranking in these standings, in players (29th overall). Defensive end J.J. Watts season-ending injury is a blow, but the Texans front seven has been very impactful early in the season and has found success getting to the quarterback. In addition to Osweiler at QB, the Texans signed running back Lamar Miller, and drafted receivers Will Fuller (first round) and Braxton Miller (third round). After last season, when the Texans had four different starting QBs and lost starting running back Arian Foster for most of the season due to injuries, the TTexans made sure to improve.ddddddddddddWhats badThough the Texans have shown promise with their commitment to building the team, it appears that, with a title track ranking of 72, fans still dont think this team is ready to contend. In the Texans 14-year history, the team has five playoff appearances -- just two victories -- and its never made it out of the divisional round. Houston still has a ways to go, but a 3-1 start to the 2016 season is promising, as the Texans try to defend their AFC South title and win the division for consecutive years for just the second time in team history.Whats newThough the Texans average season-ticket price went up slightly this season, the franchise still ranks in the middle of the pack of NFL teams in average ticket price. But the product on the field has improved, which leads to a 17-spot jump in bang for the buck. The Texans also did a lot during the offseason to improve the stadium experience. NRG Stadium has new (and better) Wifi, as well as new food (the addition of local favorite Killens Barbecue). 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