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Interview: Former Atlanta Reign and Team Netherlands Coach Casores on Contenders, Hero Pools, Online Format and Coaching Styles

Interview Casores The Game Haus

The professional Overwatch scene has had a big shake-up in 2020. From changing platforms for all official competitions to the adding of Hero Pools and homestands having a huge impact on the Overwatch League. With changes like Hero Pools and rosters being overall bigger then in the previous seasons, The Game Haus had the opportunity to talk to former Atlanta Reign and Team Netherlands coach Cas “Casores” van Andel. Casores shares his thoughts on these topics as well as the online format, Contenders and his ideal coaching style.

About Casores

For people who don’t know who you are, what are your credentials in professional Overwatch?

Casores: I am a coach, specifically focused on Overwatch. During the 2019 season, I was the Player Development Coach for the Atlanta Reign in the Overwatch League. I also was the head coach for Team Netherlands at the recent Overwatch World Cup where we placed 5/6th. Before I went to the Reign I was the coach for One.PoinT, an EU Contenders team in season two of 2018. Currently, I am looking for a new team, either as a head coach for certain academy teams or as a coach in the Overwatch League.

What is it like being a coach in Overwatch and how are you planning to work your way back to OWL?

Casores: I think in the current tier 2 system, it’s really hard to get recognized as a coach. The only way is if your teams performs exceptionally well or you already have a big social media engagement. Right now, that is what I am trying to do: make a lot of content for on YouTube and Twitch to show that I work really hard. At the moment, I’m also helping some Contenders teams on the side as a consultant. My focus, though, is to keep making high quality content for Overwatch League teams to notice and give me a trial.

Structure and Scouting in Contenders

Do you think academy teams always have a big advantage over unsigned teams in Contenders when it comes to structure and coaching?

Casores: It really depends on the academy teams and it really differs from one team to another. For example, you have Eternal Academy who has two coaches, British Hurricane who has three but also Atlanta Academy and Uprising Academy who both only have one coach. You also have to take into account that some teams offer team housing, like Uprising Academy and some teams do not, like Atlanta Academy. So I would not say that every academy team always is an upgrade over an unsigned team. Obviously, the thing that all academy teams have going for them is their financial security because the players receive a salary. This is a really good motivator to perform better as a player when you have a spot on an academy team.

What is the best way for unsigned teams to compete with academy teams and how do players stand out?

Casores: I believe that even as an unsigned team, if you have a good structure coaching and scouting wise you can compete with the academy teams as we have seen in the past with Second Wind, for example. A lot of players have moved in and out of that team. Because of their established structure, the team keeps performing to a high level even when the whole roster is revamped. Sometimes, you see players try to do crazy and flashy carry plays to stand out. If you are able to do that consistently it can make scouts look at you more. For me there are two ways to stand out: either you do it as a team with great structure and consistently get good results, or you play a very individual and flashy style that makes you stand out as a player on a below average team.

Interview Coach Casores

Image Courtesy of the Overwatch League

Hero Pools

Has player scouting changed with the introduction of Hero Pools?

Casores: Definitely. Right now, flexibility and being able to have somebody that can play it all is key. You used to be able to get away with mastering three or four heroes and being really good on them, but right now, that just does not work as well anymore. Other than that, teams still scout for skill first. For me, willingness to learn is also really important alongside how a player performed on previous teams and in trials, if you hold trials. I’d also look at the player’s behavior in the past to see if they might be a PR trap.

Lastly, a lot of Overwatch League teams do look at ranked. Having consistently high placements on the ladder and showing you’re a grinder elevates your chances at getting a trial. I know that some analysts in the OWL do look through the whole top 500, specifically for certain stats. So it is very helpful to get a high rank with great stats because it definitely gets looked at during scouting.

Will we see more impact from the coaching staffs with the meta always being in flux?

Casores: I think the impact of coaching has changed within teams as well as to the public. Hero Pools makes it look like coaches have more impact due to the always changing meta, while last season, it was all about fine-tuning one specific meta. With bans every week, the focus right now is way more on making your players think for themselves. Coaches should be teaching them the fundamentals and making players be able to react accordingly in high pressure situations.

What really changed is that you used to be able to feed the players everything they had to do because the meta rarely changed, but right now, you have to teach them to think for themselves. This development makes for teams creating their own styles and individual plays becoming more important.

Even with that being said, I still think that adapting is the most important thing right now. We have seen it with the Paris Eternal who got crushed by the Houston Outlaws on one day, adapted and then were able to beat one of the top teams in the league in the Philadelphia Fusion. That’s how Hero Pools can really make a good coaching staff and team structure shine.

Online Format in OWL

What are your thoughts on the decision to move online?

Casores: For me, there were two options: either they cancel the whole league or they go online. I’m really happy they went with the second option even if it might compromise competitive integrity. Sure, latency might be an issue for the players, but I think the fans really appreciate that the Overwatch League is taking quick action to make sure that competition can continue as soon as possible. At the end of the day, we are an esport and we are able to use the advantages our platform gives us. I can see as a coach [that] it might be a shame because it’s another thing to take into account, but I’m still happy that the show keeps rolling on and that we don’t have to play catch-up later.

Will it impact team performances or the overall standings a lot?

Casores: Some teams might respond to the move better than others, but overall, I do not think that the standings will be heavily affected by it. The bottom teams will still be in the bottom and the top teams will still be on top. Playing online might effect individual performances more because some players are more comfortable playing from home than on stage.

Interview Coach Casores
Image Courtesy of Ben Pursell for Blizzard Entertainment

Coaching styles

Is there a certain style you think works best in Overwatch right now?

Casores: To lead with an example, I really like the way the Fusion have structured their team. They have a really individual approach to coaching where every player knows their role and what they need to work on. Because of this reason together with their great scouting, they created a situation where if Guy A does not show up, they can just put in Guy B. This makes for a constant, healthy competition within the team for every player to keep improving and get better. Another great example of this style is the San Francisco Shock last season, which in my opinion is what made them really strong.

Is a 12-man roster a necessity?

Casores: A 12-man roster only works when you use it correctly. Teams like the Fusion and Shock have shown that it can make a team really strong when structured and scouted correctly. On the flip side, I believe it only works when your B-team is very close to the skill level of your A-team. If not, the players on the bench will probably lose motivation because they have a very small chance at seeing playtime. Internal scrims are also only really valuable when they are competitive. If structured and scouted well a full roster, especially with Hero Pools being a thing right now, can be a great asset. If not, then it might come back to bite you down the line.

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Featured Image Courtesy of Cas “Casores” van Andel.

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