Many pro Overwatch players have mentioned that Overwatch is their first competitive esports title. Players like Tim “DaHanG” Fogarty and Shane “rapha” Hendrixson that have had successful careers in other titles before coming to Overwatch, but both have since returned to their old stomping grounds. Andrey “Engh” Sholokhov, however, is sticking it out.
A world champion in the first person shooter “Point Blank”, Engh climbed aboard the SS Overwatch in 2016 and hasn’t looked back. His career spans years of competition at this point, and as one of Russia’s most prominent players, The Game Haus was more than happy to sit down with him and talk about his extensive esports experience, and where Overwatch is headed. Enjoy!
Let’s start with an introduction. For those who don’t know – who are you?
Hello everyone! My name is Andrew, but my in-game name is Engh, and I play for the team Winstrike. I’ve been playing Overwatch since the beginning. All my teams were always Russian-speaking, and my best performance was around top 8-10 EU for the team TORNADO ROX, up until I joined Winstrike. In all the teams I’ve ever been on, in Overwatch or not, I’ve been the captain. Overwatch proved to be no exception. At the moment, my role is main support.
There’s been a lot of discussion about EU as a region, mostly when I talked with One.PoinT’s Head Coach Curryshot. How do you feel about EU compared to other regions? Is EU “ahead” right now, as Curryshot said, or at least on equal footing with regions like NA and KR, which people often feel are “better than EU?
I think at the moment that EU has been the strongest [Contenders] region of all, at least for the last two seasons of Contenders. I say that because for us, tank metas are not a novelty. Each team has a huge amount of experience playing these compositions, and that definitely puts us a little ahead in the level of play among all regions. Other regions started using tank comps as their main strategy later than we did, so we’ve got the advantage there for sure.
What would you say to people that aren’t sure if they should care about EU Overwatch? How would you convince them that EU players (including yourself) are worthy of being considered for the Overwatch League?
Normal players like me or anyone else can’t convince them. It’s up to the developers [of Contenders and the Overwatch League] themselves to give us the opportunity. For example, making matches between the best teams (the top four, let’s say) in different regions of Contenders. There, EU players and teams would be able to prove themselves.
As for me personally, I’ve finished in the top 3-4 in Season 1 and 2 of EU Contenders 2018, and in Season 3 I’ve made the playoffs again. If that doesn’t speak on the level of performance I can bring, I don’t know what else I would need to “convince” an OWL team.
How do you feel about the changes coming to Contenders in 2019? What needs to change in the Contenders scene to make it better?
I think Blizzard is “artificially” killing the scene in all regions except NA. If OWL is a long-term franchise designed for 5-10 years into the future, Contenders being the way it is right now means there will be no young and hungry players in a couple of years in many regions. I think the first step in the right direction would be to make four Contenders seasons a year. Make an event that will take place two times a year where the best teams from each region will compete against each other. Then the quality of the players for OWL will be better, and the players will understand that they are needed in this game, even at the T2 level.
I’d also say to give organizations (not just academies) and even teams without organizations the ability to monetize. If fans could buy skins, sprays, or anything else, then maybe there could be profit for teams and organizations, as well as new viewers and followers for the game.
EU fans often talk about how long Angry Titans have stuck together, but the players on Winstrike have also played together for quite a long time. Between your time together on CIS Hope and Winstrike, it’s been over a year! How close is the team after playing together for so long? What advantages does that give you? Got any favorite memories or funny moments?
So we’ve been playing together for a long time, and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. To start, we have become more than just fellow players – we’re also good friends. Any disputes we have are always resolved very quickly. The negative side, though, is the fear that we’ll lose motivation, or that nothing will change. Complacency, basically. As for any funny moments… I won’t get into specifics, but we have them every single scrim.
Is there any added pressure to represent your country when you play, given that Winstrike is one of the only Russian-focused teams in the scene, and there are so few Russian players? If so, how do you deal with that pressure?
Pressure, criticism, good reviews, bad reviews…. That’s all just being part of esports in general. We don’t care if we are the only Russian team or not. We just try to improve and work on ourselves constantly.
That being said, our team probably has one of the biggest communities in Contenders, and it’s constantly growing. Our fans remove all the pressure with their support, which helps us focus on the game.
Speaking of, you played for Team Russia in this last World Cup qualifier at Incheon. What was that experience like? What’s your favorite memory from that weekend?
I have already been to the World Cup and won it in another game I played, called Point Blank. The only thing that really stuck out to me in Incheon was the local fans – they were very cool, and supported any team in the tournament. It was nice. There wasn’t anything really unusual during World Cup in Incheon.
However, it helped me to confirm my suspicion that OWL players are at exactly the same level as Contenders – the only difference being the ‘key players’ who make major plays in game. Those can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
Who are some players you’ve looked up to in your time playing Overwatch?
In general, quite a few. When there’s free time between scrims, I watch the streams of players like Funnyastro, Masaa, Closer, Ark, and SLIME. I always try to develop my own style from watching strong players, it helps me. I will also say that I have great respect for Davin – he has an incredible motivation, and he’s constantly improving.
Who’s the best player in your role at the Contenders level, in your opinion? What about at the OWL level?
In EU Contenders, I would say:
Lilbow – the most balanced player.
Luddee – I like his style.
In OWL, there a lot of good players. I can’t name the strongest.
Which EU playoff team is the scariest, and why? (You can say your own if you want!)
We play GOATS with Mei, so we’re totally frostbitten. We’re not afraid of anyone.
You’re up against Angry Titans in the quarterfinals, which are coming up soon. How’s the team feeling about its chances? What message would you send to Angry Titans if you could right now?
Angry Titans are one of our main scrim partners. They know how we play, and we know how they play. We are confident in our abilities and want to show our best playoff game – only time will tell if will we succeed.
As for a message – Happy New Year, friends! I hope we will show Overwatch fans a cool match on January 9th. GLHF!
Finally, what message would you send to Winstrike’s fans, or people who are a fan of you specifically?
Thank you very much for your support – it gives all of us a lot of strength and energy every day to try to become better. Thank you again!
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment