Stories of siblings who go into esports together aren’t entirely uncommon. Oftentimes when someone comes from a family where gaming and competition is encouraged, their siblings aren’t far behind. But it’s rarer to see identical twins both in esports – much less those who are pros in very different games.
Kim “Gwangboong” Gwang-won and Kim “JinboongE” Jin-won are identical twin brothers. According to a 2013 study from the Journal of Aging Studies, the majority of twins spend their whole lives trying to differentiate themselves from each other. Speaking to Gwangboong and JinboongE, it’s clear to see that they follow that trend, at least in part. (On Discord, Gwangboong’s profile picture is a cat; JinboongE’s is a dog.)
It’s clear in the games they’ve chosen to build their careers around, too. Gwangboong went into Overwatch in 2019, and JinboongE began his pro career a year later with VALORANT. Despite their different paths in esports, though, the way they came to it was the same. The two had always shared a love of gaming, fostered by the environment they grew up in.
“Our cousins taught us how to game ever since we were really young,” Gwangboong said. “I naturally got into it competitively because I started putting a lot of time and effort into it, and I just realized I was pretty good at it. So I thought, why not do this as a career?”
JinboongE had the same experience of realizing that he could parlay his gaming skill into a real career. The two eventually began attending a high school in South Korea with a dedicated esports program. The school was designed for students to be able to prepare for a career in the gaming and esports industry, along with their regular schooling.
“We both went to a school that specializes in esports and has a few departments related to gaming and esports,” Gwangboong said. “For example, we have a programming department and a gaming sound [design] department. JinboongE and I are part of the esports department. Our daily routine is that we have academic classes until 12 o’clock, and after that we go to the esports room and play the titles that we specialize in. Two or three times a week, specialized coaches visit the school and coach us.”
The two of them started out playing Overwatch together with the intention of both going pro. Gwangboong kept at it and started making a name for himself in Tier 2 teams, but JinboongE eventually realized that the game wasn’t for him.
“When PUBG came out, I took a detour into PUBG and came back to Overwatch,” JinboongE said. “Then I realized that I wasn’t as good as other people who were also preparing for their professional career, so I decided to wait until the next thing came out. That was VALORANT, and I took my chance there.”
Gwangboong eventually joined the Overwatch League as part of New York Excelsior’s rebuilt roster and played for them through the 2021 season. Meanwhile, JinboongE moved around Korean VALORANT teams, showing individual skill but not finding much team success. He’s currently on the TNL Esports roster.
Their pro careers have officially diverged, but they continue to keep tabs on each other and – more importantly – they’ve kept their matching gamertags. They’ve been Gwangboong and JinboongE for a “long, long time,” and that hasn’t changed in their pro careers.
Beyond looking alike, the two are also clearly brothers, their good-natured teasing immediately recognizable to anyone with siblings. When asked if the two ever watch each other’s games, Gwangboong said with a laugh, “I don’t watch the full games. I just watch a few minutes and then drop out.”
“Me too,” JinboongE retorted. “I also only watch a few minutes because Gwangboong only plays a few minutes per match.”
선물 감사합니당 잘먹을게요💪 pic.twitter.com/17ap5FErGG
— 진붕이(Jinboong) (@JinboongE) November 3, 2021
Every year in Korea, a new wave of esports talent comes of age and begins vying to be the best. Gwangboong and JinboongE, who are only 18 years old, are part of that now. Though neither of them have quite reached the heights that they’re striving towards yet, there’s plenty of time to do that. Their careers have only just begun. And when it comes to their ultimate goals as pro gamers, JinboongE has lofty aspirations.
“I want to be on top of the world in whatever game I play,” he said. “Whether it be VALORANT or something else.”
His brother, on the other hand, is a little more modest.
“I hope that, when I look back on my career,” Gwangboong said, “I can be proud of what I’ve done, and know that I’ve done a good job.”