While they didn’t win the Stage 1 Grand Finals, few could argue that the San Francisco Shock are anything less than elite. Their aggressive play style and extreme mechanical skill got them quite a ways down the playoff road, and will probably do the same again when Stage 2 kicks off in a few short days. We sat down and collected some responses from various members of the Shock in a handful of press conferences taking place over the Playoff weekend, and compiled them all for you here in a new edition of OWL Hours. Enjoy!
A key component of the San Francisco Shock’s style so far this season has been their aggressive positioning and ult usage, backed up by some insane ult generation from Super and Sinatraa. How do you guys enable each other to build ults that fast and play as forward as you do?
Super: I think the most important thing for us is that we stay calm. We don’t get overhyped or do things we normally wouldn’t do. We know how we want to play, so when it comes time for us to go on stage, we’re fine so long as we don’t let our nerves get to us. If we can play our way, we usually win.
Sinatraa: I honestly don’t know how I charge [Graviton Surge] so fast. I do know that Super creates a LOT of space for me, though. I can shoot pretty freely most of the fight.
Super: So you have good aim, is what you’re saying.
Sinatraa: Yeah! [laughs]
Adam Neylan (following up): Have you ever surprised yourself when your ult comes out?
Sinatraa: I did on Rialto [vs Philly], actually – I used Grav, then farmed D.Va the whole time and got it again in like, 20 seconds. I was like, ‘Wait, I have Grav again…’ [Laughs]
So you talked about staying calm during matches, and how important that is. Is there any particular person in charge of that? Who’s keeping you grounded?
Super: I think it’s a team effort.
Sinatraa: Yeah, I think everyone does it.
Super: Because there are times –
Sinatraa (simultaneously): Because sometimes –
[Both pause and look at one another]
Sinatraa: Nah, you go ahead.
Super: Sometimes you can hear someone getting more and more hyped. Someone will just say “Yo, yo, chill! Settle down, man.” If someone else starts doing it, someone else will calm them down. We’re all keeping each other in check.
Crusty: Even Viol2t will do that – he’ll say, “No, Super, keep your shield up! Don’t stress! Relax!” He helps control his teammates. We all give value in a fight, but oftentimes there will be a specific person controlling the resources of the fight. If you’re not that person, the team will tell you, “Hang on, you’re not that person right now, relax.” If you are that person, they’ll say, “This is your time! Go, go, push!” I think that sort of system helps a lot.
Adam, following up: Who would you say is the most excitable, or most often over-hyped?
[Super and Sinatraa immediately look at each other. Everyone in the room starts laughing.]
Crusty: Look, I think them looking at each other says it all.
Sinatraa: It’s either me, Super or Viol2t.
Beyond the Titan’s Orisa/McCree on Well, there were really no variant compositions today – only Winston 3/3 and Reinhardt 3/3. No Sombra, no Pharah, nothing – can you explain why neither team went for any of the common “counter-play” compositions we’ve seen this stage?
Super: Because GOATS is the best. [laughs]
Sinatraa: I think it’s because GOATS is the best, but also because you see a lot of teams that really aren’t that good at GOATS playing random DPS – Sombra, especially. If you see Sombra, that’s when you know that that’s not a good GOATS team.
Super: If you’re going Sombra into GOATS, that means you’ve just got sloppy GOATS.
Sinatraa: Right. You’re relying on EMPs and hacks to win.
And obviously both teams today [SF and Vancouver] were more than confident in their ability to run GOATS at a high level.
Super: Exactly. And GOATS is the best thing to be running [if you’re confident in it].
Moth: When your GOATS is top tier –
Super: It beats everything else! [laughs]
Moth: And if your enemy plays something else, it’s too easy to counter with GOATS [if you’re playing it at a high level] or make one or two little swaps to quickly counter them.
NineK: A lot of teams have used Pharah/Sombra on Ilios Well. Thing is, when they lose a fight, they can never overcome the GOATS ult snowball – it’s way too strong. And if they swap to GOATS at that point, they’re at an ult disadvantage. That’s why everyone stopped using Pharah/Sombra there.
Now that we’re through the first stage of OWL, are you okay with the changes that have been made to the structure of the League in 2019? Would you change anything else if given the opportunity?
Moth: Overall, I‘ve been pretty happy with it. I haven’t noticed a huge difference in our workload or how we practice, depending on how many matches we play in a week or anything – that doesn’t change how much we practice or prepare. It’s felt pretty much the same for me.
Rascal: Last season, we played against more teams, which gave us a more accurate depiction of who deserved to be at the top of the standings. Now, some teams might have an easier schedule that might affect that accuracy.
Crusty: From a coach’s perspective, it’s better that we can prepare for a single team at a time. It’s just so random. If you get an easy schedule, you can easily make it to playoffs. It boils down to luck at that point.
Dustin Steiner (following up): Would you prefer the league change how they do scheduling? Develop strength of schedule based on rankings from last season, for example?
Moth: I think that would be hard to quantify – how good a team is going to be coming into any week or any stage. I think the only thing that could fix it would be to have more matches per stage. I’m not sure how you’d definitely solve it, though.
Crusty: Since playing fewer games doesn’t mean that much (given that we’re practicing the same amount anyway,) but it might not be realistic to play every team, maybe the league could divide things up more strictly within your division, and you’re ranked solely on your performance versus your division.
Looking back at this meta, and knowing that we might be moving away from it soon – do you feel that 3/3 has changed the game forever? Has it affected the way teams approach execution, Hero pools, and so on?
Rascal: Because GOATS maximized synergy, in a way, teams might keep playing GOATS while teams like Chengdu keep playing DPS comps – things they’ve already been playing.
Crusty: Everytime the meta has changed, people have complained about the meta that was – “Ugh, Dive again? Genji/Tracer again?” Thing is, every meta has had its good points – in Dive, you can set up engagements with Genji and Tracer. In GOATS, you can focus on team communication and play as a team. It’s hardly even the same game. The game changes so much. I like that it does that.
NineK: I think people often don’t realize that, even during Dive meta or other metas, teams have worked to maximize synergy. That’s not just a GOATS thing. For me personally, the game has always been that way – I think people are just focusing on it more now. Now they’re realizing, “Oh, their synergy is really important.”
The Shock have often mentioned that you try not to respect teams too much, and want to play your game with a good deal of confidence – no matter who you’re facing. What inspired that style? Has that always been a thing that the team or the coaching staff have wanted to do?
Crusty: When I joined this team, it was not top-tier. That’s just the facts of it. At first, we were afraid of strong teams – mostly NYXL at first, but then Vancouver too when we heard how strong they were. We hit a point where we said, “Maybe we shouldn’t think like that anymore.” In scrims and coaching sessions, we really focused on believing in our teammates and getting stronger. Now, I’ve tried to turn into the idea that we shouldn’t respect these teams. If you’re a underdog going up against a higher-tier team, you might get a bit nervous and say, “Oh, that team is way too strong for us.” I think now, though, all the players have a sense of confidence. We really believe in each other, and that makes us strong.
You’ve mentioned that you want other teams in the League to fear the San Francisco Shock, as other teams fear New York (and now Vancouver.) Do you feel you’ve been successful in sowing that fear this stage? Is the Shock a team that others fear? If not, what needs to happen?
[Related: Game Haus Round Table Interview with Crusty, Striker and Sinatraa – “I Want Other Teams to Fear us this Season“]
Rascal: Even though we didn’t win the finals, I think teams will still see us as a strong team. When the new meta comes around, teams will respect us. And fear us.
[Thanks to the various members of the San Francisco Shock who answered our questions at the Playoff Press Conferences this past weekend – congratulations on an awesome Stage 1 run, and good luck to you in Stage 2!]
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