It is common knowledge that the most important characteristic of professional Overwatch is it’s preference for team work oriented gameplay over individual mechanical skill. Because of this, scouting in Overwatch can be tricky. Measuring the intangible aspects of a player’s worth, for example their motivation and leadership capabilties, is difficult but crucial to an Overwatch team’s likelihood of success.
It’s no secret that the Florida Mayhem have been scouting players over the past stage and their Assistant General Manager Scott “BEARHANDS” Tester has been quite upfront in the process. BEARHANDS is the former General Manager of the New York Excelsior and the USA World Cup team and had the reigns in his hands when creating both rosters. He has said that Florida are primarily scouting players from Korean Contenders to compliment the few pieces they aleady have. And it is thought that the Mayhem will announce their new additions at some point quite soon. Ahead of this announcement, I reached out to BEARHANDS to gain some insight on his philosophy and process regarding scouting in Overwatch.
Interview with BEARHANDS
Q: Which regions of Contenders are the most impressive in your opinion?
BEARHANDS: In general, I try to follow all regions of contenders to some degree. That having been said, the highest level of competition is in Korea, and its not even close at all. Behind them are North America, then Europe – but those are huge generalizations. There is top tier talent in almost every region – it’s just more difficult to scout because the level of competition is lower – players are facing easier opponents and their own teams are less coordinated.
Q: What attributes of a player are the most important to you when scouting? And what approach do you take when scouting players?
BEARHANDS: I try to look for things like positioning and tracking, then rely on tryouts to evaluate comms [player communication] and attitude.
Q: Do you use statistics and data when assessing a player’s value? And what data is the most beneficial when scouting a player?
BEARHANDS: We do use some statistics, but the 2nd part of your question (What data is most beneficial) is problematic and illustrates the current problem with over reliance on statistics in Overwatch. Baseball, for example, had ~100 years to analyze relevant statistics and determine key performance indicators. I don’t think anyone can really answer that question with any amount of sincerity at this point. We just don’t know which statistics are most closely associated with winning. That having been said, I think there are relevant data points that can be gleaned from statistical analysis – it just varies greatly depending on the team, role, opponents, etc. Context is extremely important in this regard.
Q: Is it worthwhile scouting in Open Division or even on Ranked Ladders?
BEARHANDS: Yes. I think there have been a couple high profile examples of Open Division and Ladder players moving directly into Overwatch League. Refusing to scout players outside of Contenders means that you’re relying on the community of Contenders General Managers to reduce your total scouting pool. In my opinion, it’s lazy and ineffective.
Q: Generally speaking, do you think it is hard to scout players in Overwatch? Maybe because it is focused so much on team gameplay. For example many people say it is difficult to know the worth of off-tank and main support players from reviewing singular point of view VODS [videos on demand]. Do some positions require greater work to scout than others because of this?
BEARHANDS: Yes. I think Overwatch is a very difficult game to scout for (when compared to other competitive shooters like CSGO or Quake) primarily because of the difference in roles and the varying styles within that role. For example, an off-tank player might be excellent at peeling for supports and less active in assisting DPS or contributing to dives. This doesn’t necessarily mean that he is by default worse than another off-tank player who is very aggressive tends to ignore their own backline. It’s a stylistic difference and either can be successful – it just depends on the makeup of the rest of your roster. That having been said, I think those kinds of differences exist at almost every role in Overwatch – so I wouldn’t really say that any one position requires more work to scout than others. With the possible exception of DPS, especially hitscan DPS. I think that’s probably the easiest position to scout for because it is so reliant on straight up mechanical skill, tracking and aim.
Boston Uprising’s Chris “Huk” Loranger is generally considered to be the best scout in the Overwatch League currently. However BEARHANDS has a great track record himself and following his own methods as discussed above, should see the Florida Mayhem come back in Stage 3 with a great chance to climb out from the depths of the league standings.
Thanks to Scott “BEARHANDS” Tester for the interview, follow him on twitter @theBEARHANDS
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