Coming back from a 2-3 deficit, the Atlanta Homestand weekend was a surprisingly dominant showing for the Guangzhou Charge. They defeated the Shanghai Dragons after a rough loss the week prior, and stomped the Washington Justice. Between the two days of festivities I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to two players; Day 1 was an interview with Yiliang “Eileen” Ou, resident Chinese DPS player, and Day 2 Seungpyo “Rio” Oh, the team’s Korean main tank.
Eileen seemed the quiet type initially, yet his answers were filled with much intricacy and depth. Meanwhile Rio was bubbly and cheery, and his answers were quick and to the point. Between the two of them, the responses painted a picture of a team combining many varied personalities and cultural elements into a single unified family, one both on and off the Overwatch League stage.
Welcome to the Charge
When I first sat down with both Eileen and Rio, the question I chose to open with was a simple one; “How do you like playing with the Guangzhou Charge?” Eileen, translated through Ethan Liu, the team’s GM, told me briefly of his pride in being on Guangzhou; “I have a lot of pride playing for the Charge, because I’m also from that region. This is my home. So basically, I really want to be good representation for the region.”
Rio, also translated, talked about the support he’s gotten from the Charge; “The first time coming into the league, it’s hard to get used to the league and the hard parts of that, too. But the coaching staff, the players and everyone have supported me through everything. So I’m actually enjoying it a lot.”
Overcoming the cultural divide
When asked about how it has been working with people from so many different cultures and backgrounds, both painted a similar picture. When both arrived to the team, they had initial difficulties in relating to their new teammates. Given that over half of the members of the Charge are Korean, Rio did not have too much trouble adapting: “At first, it was kind of awkward and strange. It was hard to get along. But now I’m friends with all the non-Korean players, and I’m learning about the culture, too. I like it a lot!”
However, with Eileen being only one of two Chinese players, even on a Chinese team, the process was far more taxing; “It’s been hard, to be very honest. It’s been really difficult for me. Just coming into this team, being able to adapt to the different cultures and the different lifestyles that are being pushed on me.” Yet Eileen also went on to talk about how much progress he has been made thus far: “It is slowly progressing. I’m definitely getting better, and I see the value in all the cultures and how they’re coming together. So, I only see it as getting better.”
Living it up in LA
Eileen had the chance to talk about being in the Overwatch League and adapting to life in Los Angeles as well. Eileen said, “I feel that playing for the Overwatch League – I feel really lucky, because I’m playing with some of the people that I used to look up to, and used to try and chase after. I feel like I’m really lucky to have this opportunity. One of the biggest things I enjoy about living in LA is being in the team house environment and being with my teammates, being able to go swimming or do activities with them, and just having a good time while also improving and focusing on developing at the game.”
Teamwork makes the Dream work
Rio’s follow up was about the experience of playing with fellow teammates Wonjae “Rise” Lee and Lizhen “OnlyWish” Chen for the first time. He said, “Of course, it’s the first time playing with them in the actual match, so there was some miscommunication. But since the other players did very well, we won with a 4-0.” After being asked about how his team has improved so much over the course of the stage, Rio highlighted yet another teammate, Charlie “nero” Zwarg: “So, I think the result comes from nero coming into our team from his academy team. The reason is because we have a fixed starting roster – that’s actually helped a lot, because we can work on the teamwork a lot. That helped the team a lot.”
Goodbye GOATS, Hello role lock
Both players also had the opportunity to speak on their opinions of the game’s meta. Rio spoke a bit about how the team struggled in 3-3 initially but began improving once Stage 3 started; “About the 3-3 meta, I think that viewers think it’s kind of boring, and I felt the same way, too. And now the meta has changed, a lot more Wrecking Ball play – Wrecking Ball and other [damage] dealers. I think this meta is really enjoyable.”
Alternatively, Eileen had a lot to say about the upcoming mandated Role Lock. He told me, “the way I look at it, it’s a double-edged sword. There are positives and there are negatives that are going to come with it. For me, I feel that it’s actually a really good thing, because I get to actually show what I can do as a very flexible DPS player, which I’ve essentially been limited to this entire season. It’s been keeping me back. But at the same exact time, it also limits the creativity of the teams. Teams like the Chengdu Hunters would have never come out and been able to show what they were able to show this season with a 2-2-2 lock. So, I look at it as having pros and cons. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s just that we have to kind of deal with it.”
Stage 4 Prospects
When I asked both players about what match in Stage 4 they were most looking forward to, I was surprised to see they had different answers. Eileen went with a fellow Chinese team, the Hangzhou Spark, for a personal reason; “One of the biggest teams that I want to face off with is the Spark. The last time we met them, we were this close to being able to take them down. Being able to have that opportunity to beat them, especially with them being as strong as they currently are, will help boost our fanbase and hopefully show that we are an improving team too.”
Rio on the other hand wanted to challenge one of the league’s biggest juggernauts: “The New York Excelsior, because in Stage 1 their 2-2-2 was really strong. Even though they change comp or meta, they’re always strong. There’s not a clear weakness you can find. So that’s why I want to compete with them”. Both stated these two teams for who they would most want to face in the Grand Finals as well in fact.
The Next Gesture
With Rio being as cheerful as he was, I wanted to finish off his interview with a fun question; “What would be your favorite hero to play on the stage?” Rio initially responded with Wrecking Ball, but once he realized the question meant *any* hero, he exclaimed, “Widowmaker or Doomfist!” Upon being prodded, he laughed and said, “It would be really exciting and interesting to be able to get headshots or kill with Doomfist’s fist. That would be really exciting!” Rio’s enthusiasm is duly noted, yet with Role Lock’s implementation it seems unlikely too see him on Doom or Widow soon. Yet he certainly showed how incredibly joyful it is playing for the Charge no matter what hero he’s on.
Proud of his Homeland
For Eileen’s final question, I really wanted to ask him how it felt to represent his home country on the roster. His response was even more insightful than anticipated. Eileen said, “I feel that being one of the representatives of China and of my region – there is a lot of pressure, putting yourself on stage, but I’m not the only one here. There’s a lot of really good Chinese players out there, and I really want to show that – hey, there’s a lot of really good players. And if I get the chance to represent China as a whole, there’s pressure, but I want to do my best. At the same time, representing my hometown region is something that I’m very proud of.”
It was just announced that Eileen officially qualified for China’s final seven for World Cup 2019, so it seems he will indeed get his wish after all.
Thanks so much once again to Eileen, Rio, and the Guangzhou Charge for sitting down at the Atlanta Homestand weekend. You can follow more from Rio on his Twitter and Eileen on his. Also, find more info about the Guangzhou Charge on Twitter or on their Youtube Channel.
“From Our Haus to Yours”