[This interview was first published on February 12, 2019 but has been re-released due to its continued relevance]
Popular streamer and Dallas Fuel Assistant Coach, Justin “Jayne” Conroy, has already been making waves this season through his banter back-and-forth with other teams and his bold claims about the performance of certain teams. Jayne has quickly become a personality that OWL fans can easily recognize and expect some spice from.
Before a lot of this spice got started, The Game Haus was afforded an opportunity to sit down with Jayne to discuss the Fuel’s first week of games and to get a better understanding of what Jayne and the Fuel have in store for fans now that the league is underway. For Jayne, the fire of the Fuel will only grow brighter from here.
Week one is officially in the books. What are your first impressions from the start of the Overwatch league as a whole?
The first week is always going to be extremely difficult to get bearings on how specific teams are doing overall. It’s a long season and we’re just at the start of it, the first week of the four different stages. It’s really hard to judge any teams when you’re even seeing teams like the London Spitfire, the former champions, going 0-2 this week and aren’t going to be very good in the standings. Anybody who sees that and tries to extrapolate all the way to the end of the season and go be like, “Yep, you know, London Spitfire is going to be 0-28.” It’s just not a reasonable prediction.
There are some teams that were better at GOATS than others, some teams that were being more experimental than others, and then there are some teams, like the Chengdu Hunters, that have something crazy like a 73% pick rate on Wrecking Ball. Everybody has kind of come with their own unique flavor. I think there was more experimentation in scrims than we’re actually seeing in play, just because I don’t think that either the balance went far enough, or maybe people just still aren’t quite comfortable enough on compositions that are not goats in order to play those more experimental compositions.
It’s going to be one of those things, as soon as one team finds something that works consistently, all the other teams are going to mimic them. Especially with the new patch that just hit live now coming out, it’s only a matter of time before things shift.
What really excited me about the Overwatch League is how well the expansion teams are doing in this first week of the stage. That bodes very well, not just for them, but overall for the success of the league. If these new teams are going to be developing fan bases in their local cities, a few wins are never really going to hurt that cause.
Furthermore, and once again, I know it’s the first week of the league, but just seeing the fantastic viewership and involvement of community just feels like it just sprung to life as soon as the Overwatch league started back up. So yeah, I’m really happy about how the league is doing.
Last week you went on the stream and were critical of some other teams GOATS in Week 1, specifically talking about the Spitfire vs Fusion matchup. On the other end of the spectrum, I thought we could talk about which teams you think has played GOATS particularly well? Obviously, we have Paris in that in that category, but what other teams impressed you?
Well, Paris Eternal, I’m glad you brought them up because they are looking extremely, extremely good. They have some of that European talent and experience, they have a really aggressive and quite talented Lucio player in the form of Kruise, they’ve got experience on it and they’re looking good. It didn’t seem to me like they came into this with any kind of noticeable nerves. Everybody’s going to be playing a little bit different on stage that they do in scrims, but it really didn’t look to hit them that hard. They found their stride and now they’re proud of their capabilities, which should hopefully keep them in a competitive mindset going forward.
In the same way, the Atlanta Reign are another team that really impressed me. Not only did they come out on Torbjorn, which, was kind of a pseudo substitution for McCree. Y’know, If you squint hard enough, Torbjorn is basically a McCree, right? So, it’s not like they were memeing, instead, it’s like stretching the imagination as far as possible.
But beyond the reasoning behind the Atlanta Reign playing Torbjorn, it’s simply the bravado from that team and Dafran to roll that out with no fear of being laughed at for its potential failure. There are some teams that might have looked a little bit weaker because of the first week nerves, but Atlanta seemed to be the other way around. They look even stronger because of their first week’s confidence. They said, “This is who we are, we’re not ashamed of it, come and get some.” Both Atlanta and Paris really impressed me and I hope to see more from both of the teams.
Let’s keep talking about players in particular. We talked about Dafran on Torbjorn, I heard Super talk about Ameng on the Wrecking Ball on a podcast this week and we talked about Kruise on Lucio: What are some players that stood out to you in Week 1?
Sinatraa is going to be the one that stood out to me the most. My title with the Fuel is as a positional coach, but I work primarily with the support players on the Dallas Fuel. You can find a tweet from uNKOE, for example, where he talked about Sinatraa being the best Zarya that he’s played against. UNKOE is an extremely, extremely capable Zenyatta player. I would rank him and Closer as a top three support duo in the entire league. They’re insanely good players, and I think that’s going to become very clear to everyone as the as the league progresses. But uNKOE was very impressed and respected the aggression from Sinatraa. His unique play style and his ability to charge Grav so rapidly, it was quite impressive. It was unlike any other Zarya player that we played against or scouted. He’s definitely stood out as a player who really had a standout performance, especially against us.
Sinatraa is also a player who has had a kind of bad reputation in the community, but within the league itself, he’s known as being a good player and good teammate. In the end, I wish him nothing but success and I think that where he may have slipped last year, he’ll definitely find his stride this year.
You mentioned at the start of that answer you’re working primarily with support players on the Fuel. Could you elaborate on what being a support coach looks like? Do you rotate amongst other positions along with the other coaches or you keep primarily with supports?
You gotta remember whenever you’re talking about Overwatch League coaching structures, that there’s no one right way to do it. Every single team does it differently because these are unique organizations and there’s no set rules dictating how you have to coach.
When we’re talking about how the Fuel is currently doing it, we’re working with a structure that Aero introduced and so far it’s working pretty well but, in the future, if we see that something needs to be improved or changed then we can alter it as we see fit. As it currently stands, I primarily work with the supports, Tikatee primarily works with the DPS players and then cocco primarily works with the tank players. Obviously, some of those people flex and there’s going to be a lot of communication between coaches. So, it’s not like I can’t ever work with the tank players. If we want to set up some sort of set play between our Lucio and our Reinhardt, whatever that play may be, not only can I talk to the tank players without an issue, I can also talk to the tank coach and we can come up with what works the best.
The most important part of the structure to remember, the best takeaway, is that this coaching structure is to ensure that the players have the best possible hands-on coaching in-game and out of game. When you’re looking at a smaller coaching staff or, a more focused group, the coach is going to be obviously looking primarily at the macro stuff. But a lot of things, especially when you’re taking a look at the finer plays of support, the issues with that individual’s play is going to be hidden from a third person perspective. So having as many educated and analytical eyes on the players as possible is really important in order to make sure that we’re improving as fast as possible and correcting issues so that any problems don’t remain unaddressed.
And furthermore, the other thing that I wanted to bring up is that one of the main strengths of this coaching structure is the substitutes. We don’t really have true benchwarmers or substitutes or anything of that variety. It’s a meritocracy. So basically, the best player will play, that’s the end of the story. With this dedicated coaching structure, what it allows us to do is allows us to do is ensure that even the players who might not be starting that week or that evening still get focused, they still get the attention, they’re still kept up to speed with what the team is playing as a whole. So whether there’s one person sick, or whether the person who wasn’t starting is now starting, the players can just plug and play and they’re up to speed. They’re still well practiced, well informed, and they’re ready to go.
I think that makes so much sense. Honestly, I really agree with that philosophy of coaching.
It’s one of the things that’s just really impressed me about the Dallas Fuel and Envy team overall. You know, I’ve been involved with a lot of different types of organizations including, municipal government organizations, military organizations, other gaming corporations. There is such a high level of care that Team Envy and Dallas Fuel puts towards the well-being of the players. They are making sure the players are comfortable at work and making sure they’re well personally and in their own physical and mental well-being. But then, we also want to make sure that they’re cared for in-game as much as possible. Any questions they have, any issues they have, we’re always working on encouraging them and helping them in improving and furthering their own gameplay.
Outside of the organization itself, let’s talk about the in-game Dallas Fuel and the OWL season. Week one, you guys started off with a tough 0-4 loss to San Francisco. But, you guys managed to bounce back incredibly well, against Seoul. So, in between those two games, what changed? What were you guys able to address in between the San Francisco and the Seoul game?
San Francisco played an excellent match, and you have to give them credit for being well prepared. They executed on stage and there’s a lot of analysts and coaches that have been privately and publicly discussing how good the San Francisco Shock really are. They’ve got one of the four big-name coaches in Crusty, leading that extremely talented roster.
But, when you’re talking about what went on in the match between us and San Francisco, in just as many ways that San Francisco outplayed us, we kind of played ourselves. There are definitely some mistakes that were made due to nerves, jitters, you know, people just clamming up and not communicating. If you can’t communicate as a team, you’re not going to play as a team. San Francisco is definitely a good, strong team, but we were definitely not playing to our full potential during that game either.
When we turned it around and got the win against Seoul Dynasty, internally, I don’t know that a lot of people cared outside the organization, but that was really the first time that we (Envy) beat what is, or was, the Lunatic Hai team. When we came out of that match, it wasn’t like everybody was super excited or over the moon or anything. It was kind of just like, “ Yes, that’s what we can do, that’s what we know we can do.”
You get excited because something is new or it’s an amazing feeling, but we want that state of winning and that state of performing well to be our normal. So, the celebrations were pretty contained. Some people just went out for supper in little groups of two or three. We didn’t all just go home and start partying, it was like, “Yep, that’s what we’re here to do.” We had a regular evening and we got right back to it the next day.
You talked a little about this already, but how much were the players nervous going into that game against San Francisco? Especially someone like ZachaREEE, where it’s his first game in the Overwatch League. What was the mood like before that first game?
Everybody’s gonna have different emotions and everyone reacts to being on stage differently. I’m not even sure that you could call what was happening nerves. Surprisingly little of it showed, even when we were on stage, even though there was less communication than there could have been, let’s say.
The thing that I loved the most being in the dugout and listening to the team play against the San Francisco Shock is that, even when we were getting beat, even if we when we were getting close-held, even when we were looking down the barrel of the gun, nobody gave up. Nobody tilted, nobody gave up or stopped trying. They were they were there, they were engaged, they were professional and they were trying to the last game. The nerves affected them, I’m sure but it didn’t shut them down. They stayed in it for through that match.
So that bodes well and made me feel really good. Knowing that the team, not only can weather a tough experience while it’s happening, but also can have the mental fortitude to recover in such a dramatic fashion in getting such a huge win two days later. Not only was it a tough loss against the San Francisco shock, but the players, notably Zach, got quite a lot of flak on social media. The entire team got hounded on social media on a very large number of platforms. That alone can be more impactful to a player’s mental health than the nerves and the pressure of actually performing on stage.
So, the confidence in my team and my players to have been able to keep it together on stage and then keep it together off stage, after a tough loss, was really quite encouraging and inspiring as well.
Looking through Stage 1, the rest of this season and maybe even thinking forward to next season, what can we, as the fans of the Overwatch league and as fans of the Dallas Fuel, expect from the Fuel organization?
You can expect us to give our best every single day that we show up on that stage. We’re a good team. If we have a tough loss, we’re going to be able to weather that storm, we’re going to be able to come back stronger. I think that, at least personally, these first two games were probably going to be the most challenging out of any games in the entire Overwatch League season.
One of the things that we have as a benefit of the large coaching structure is that we have more resources to scout opponents and we have more resources to do that in a finer detail. We can be more prepared, while still making sure that our players are cared for. Once we start getting that kind of event stream data, once we start getting the vods and the comms recordings, the strength of the Fuel is just going to keep improving game after game after game.
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Featured Image Courtesy of Sean Costello for Blizzard Entertainment
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