Note: This interview has been translated and edited for clarity.
When Min-seong “diem” Bae, Kyung-woo “CoMa” Son, and Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh sat down for an interview at the Atlanta Homestand, the Shanghai Dragons had just punched their ticket to Stage 3 playoffs. Shortly after, they would go on to defy all odds and claim the championship for themselves, taking down the New York Excelsior, Vancouver Titans, and San Francisco Shock along the way. At the time, however, all three were happy to focus on their fresh victory over the Philadelphia Fusion.
“Of course, I enjoyed the Widowmaker duel,” diem said when asked about his favorite part of the day. After a moment, he added sarcastically, “but I liked the ultra-exciting Zarya one-v-ones, too.”
The matchup proved one of the most anticipated games of the Atlanta Homestand, largely due to the storyline. With diem squaring off against his longtime friend and fellow DPS player Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee, fans of both teams kept their eyes out for a good fight. Sure enough, the two provided plenty of head-to-head fights, though diem’s teammates happily moved in to back up their star sniper when needed.
“He actually asked for the heals!” CoMa said.
“It’s like a mind game,” diem added. “Because then you have Carpe thinking ‘hey, where are my teammates? Where’s my backup?” After a match full of exciting fights, the Dragons pulled off a 3-1 win over the Fusion.
On the Road
Beyond the duel, the Dragons noted the enthusiastic support from the fans. In both of their matches, the crowd often cheered nearly as loudly as they had for the Reign, a fact that all three players said helped keep their spirits high.
“Even while we were playing the game on stage, we could hear the cheers,” CoMa said. “It gave us a lot of strength.” Gamsu agreed, adding that the team could feel the excitement after a big play, while diem said that the crowd’s support actually helped him play better.
Though the team didn’t get much time to explore Atlanta outside of the Cobb Energy Centre, they liked what they did see. “There’s a lot of green here, a lot of trees,” CoMa noted. “It’s very comfortable for my eyes.”
“It’s also really hot,” Gamsu added.
At the time, the league hadn’t yet announced the structure for season three. Still, the players looked ahead to the prospect of traveling for more games in the future. “I’m not sure what Shanghai will be like,” diem noted, “but I’m looking forward to being back in Korea.” With the new structure, the Dragons play in the Pacific East Division, joining the Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, and Seoul Dynasty, so games in South Korea are on the horizon.
Looking Towards the Future
In the meantime, however, the team had stage playoffs to prepare for. When asked who they would most like to play if they reached the finals, all three agreed that they had eyes on the San Francisco Shock. Sure enough, the two teams met there on July 14. After an exciting seven-map series, the Dragons dethroned the Stage 2 champions, taking a 4-3 victory.
Looking past playoffs to Stage 4, the players seemed optimistic about the possibility of role lock, which was still unannounced at that point. “I’m looking forward to it,” CoMa said. “If role lock comes in, I get to use more Mercy.” Gamsu agreed, mentioning that he thinks it would make the games much more fun.
With their playoffs victory, the Shanghai Dragons sit at eighth place in the overall standings, giving them a chance to reach the top six and avoid having to win play-ins. When asked what his team needed to do to assure a seat at season playoffs, CoMa provided a straightforward answer.
“We just need to win,” he said with a laugh.
“Lots of practice,” diem elaborated. “We’ll do our best.”
A Burst of Confidence
Though they’ll certainly practice hard, the players are still confident in their chances moving forward. “If 2-2-2 role lock comes in, we’ll probably be a top-tier team,” diem remarked. Throughout the season, the Dragons have proven less reliant on a 3-3 composition, allowing Gamsu to show off his skill on Wrecking Ball and giving both diem and Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang opportunities to shine on DPS. Between their on-stage experience and their recent results, many fans echo the sentiment that the Dragons will fare well with role lock in place.
When informed that members of the New York Excelsior expressed similar thoughts on their own chances with role lock, the Dragons were unfazed.
“We have a stronger Widowmaker, so we’ll probably still be better,” Gamsu said.
“We’ll definitely be better,” CoMa chimed in. Though the Shanghai Dragons and New York Excelsior don’t face off in the regular stage, they could very well meet again in playoffs and find out for sure.
With the results to back it up, it’s clear that the Dragons have earned their confidence. Still, when asked if there are any Widowmaker players in the league as good as him, diem hesitated for a moment – giving Gamsu a chance to chime in.
“What about Happy?” he asked with a grin, much to his teammate’s dismay. Jung-woo “Happy” Lee serves as the Widowmaker specialist for the Guangzhou Charge, who had beaten the Dragons with a 3-1 score the day before. Once he had recovered, diem shook his head in response to the original question.
Thank you very much to diem, CoMa, and Gamsu for talking to us at the Atlanta Homestand! Best of luck to the Shanghai Dragons in Stage 4!
Follow Darby on Twitter @soundchecck! She is happy to talk about anything she’s written! You can also get in touch with her on Discord (soundchecck#7242).
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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