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Esports Overwatch

Seagull Interview, Pt. 2: Improvisation, Expectation, Communication

In part two of our Fuel-tastic interview, Seagull talked a bit about his expectations for OWL Season 2, rolling with the punches and strategy on the fly.

Part 1 of this interview can be found here. Happy reading!

Has the Overwatch League lived up to your expectations? What, if anything, could the League improve on for Season 2? 

The schedule is actually insane for players. I hope that with new teams, teams will play fewer matches, and therefore we won’t have to have such an insane grind. On average, TazMo, don’t we have like three days of practice before our next game?

TazMo: It’s hit or miss, really. Sometimes it’s no days, depending on the schedule! 

Right, so on average we’ll say like two or three days at most. That much time to prep for each match, two matches a week. And people will say, you know, “Well in real sports they play this many matches a week, why is it such a big deal for esports players?” It’s like, ok, do those guys play on eight different maps?

2018-04-27 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Like, imagine having eight different basketball courts, and on one of them it’s a circle, and on one of them there is no basketball and now you’re playing football, y’know? A team has to practice every single one of those maps. Some weeks you’ll have seven or eight maps, and some weeks you’ll only have four. Sometimes you can scout the enemy team because you’ve played the maps you’re going against them on before, and sometimes you can’t. There’s all sorts of mind games and strategies you need to account for, and how do you prep that hard, that fast, and in so little time? How do you effectively practice the execution of the strats you make when you have just two or three days?

Tazmo: It’s tough, yeah.

I’ve gone on stage many times at this point with a strat we’ve only practiced in scrims once or twice, and you understand the theory, but you’ve only had one or two times to practice it before you go on stage with it. And then not only do you have to execute, but sometimes they’ll throw you a curve-ball, and you have to be able to adapt off that strategy.

That’s why the best teams in the Overwatch League are teams that are able to adapt the best. Particularly in this meta, which is a hero-swapping meta. In other stages, it was just run dive,  except after Stage 1 people swapped Genji for Widow. Genji’s fell out of favor for sure; his pickrate dropped from like 40% in Stage 1 to like less than 20% by Stage 3. So all those Genji players were replaced by Widow players, since teams were realizing that Widow is a much stronger hero to pick in a dive than Genji.

 

Do you think this meta is diverse? 

This stage’s meta, right now? I would say it’s pretty diverse, yeah. I’d say that there are a lot of strategies that teams haven’t had the chance to practice or execute on because of the schedule. I think a lot of strategic diversity gets muffled by the schedule- you can’t practice new styles or new heroes as effectively as you want to when you have a match every two or three days.

As an example, I think Reaper is totally  amazing in this meta, I think he’s really really good. I think a lot of teams haven’t tried him, or maybe they try him occasionally. We ran him on one of our earlier games against Boston, but that was improvised, we had never run that strategy before. I just saw an Orisa on the low ground and said “Timo, go Reaper!” and he said “Ok!” We speed boosted onto the Orisa, killed her and full held, which was cool.

 

How often do you think you guys pull out improvised strategies like that? 

So there’s different levels of improvised plays. Hero-based improvisations aren’t super common, maybe once every few matches we’ll make a play like that, some grand high-level strategy improv that we’ll pull out. The smaller micro plays are a lot easier, and we improvise those constantly throughout a game. We adapt those to the opponent throughout the game.

2018-06-15 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

As an example, versus the Valiant on our first offense on Gibraltar, we were taking Bluebox with Brigitte, and we knocked down the enemy Brigitte, so then we had a heals advantage on Blue, right? So we’re gonna take control of that, cuz their Brigitte is on the ground and ours is up top. Then Mickie saw there was a Widow there, so he asked, “Can we push him?” and we know he can jump across to that back scaffold with Shield Bash, and I saw that too since I was right behind him. So I just said “Go go go!” and I think he ended up getting a 4k off of that. It’s not something we really thought about or planned for, but Mickie saw the opportunity, talked with his teammates, and executed. Those sorts of improvised plays are constant in the Overwatch League. That’s how great plays are made. People are constantly improvising things left and right.

 

How much of your focus as a team is dedicated to playing fundamentally good Overwatch vs. enabling a certain player to pop off with a big play? 

We’re probably 90% fundamentals. I don’t think any of us focus on individual play currently. It’s a little different for a team like us, who went from being a really bad team to a team that’s doing well right now. All of that came from just playing fundamentally sound Overwatch again. When you want to rebuild a team from the ground up like we did, you focus on just the fundamentals. A team like NYXL might have a different response to that question than we would. Maybe they can afford to get a little fancier than we can.

 

Do you see the Fuel being a team with that sort of ability in Season 2? 

I don’t know! It’s hard to say, considering we’re all going to be Symmetra mains by that point. I want to main Bastion in Season 2, though. Bastion is a criminally underused hero right now.

 

I’d be down for that. Thanks for the interview, Seagull!!

 

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Featured Photo Courtesy of the Dallas Fuel

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