Over the past two seasons of the Overwatch League, coaching has proven to be an integral part of what separates a good team from a team that can go the distance. For the Washington Justice, a team that struggled in their initial season in the league, coaching has clearly become a priority in 2020.
Much like the three-prong American judicial system, the Justice have their own threefold coaching philosophy in 2020: Individual, Development and Strategy. For more on this new appraoch and how the new staff will fit into it, The Game Haus sat down with Justice Head Coach Seetoh “JohnGalt” Jian Qing and new Individual Coach, Chris “Bani” Benell.
Building on Strengths
JohnGalt, formerly with the Los Angeles Gladiators, transitions to the Justice this season and takes the reigns as their Head Coach in doing so. However, he is not shaken by the new challenges ahead.
“My experience with the Gladiators was in a different role, which revolved around assisting my head coach. My new position means new responsibilities, and I will be stepping it up to lead the team under my own vision… Justice has this environment where everyone truly cares about the team. Everyone wants to help each other and there’s a great deal of kindness and warmth here.”
As he attempts to step up and lead the team situated in the nation’s captial, he is utilizing a unique coaching philosophy centered around individual coaching, development and strategy. Here is JohnGalt’s explanation of what these new coaching roles really mean for the Justice in 2020.
“While each of the coaches has his own title, the titles do not restrict any of them into a specific role. These roles were created to highlight our coaches’ strengths, not to force them into a single unchanging responsibility.
Sup7eme has immense experience in building and then leading a team. He did it in Korean Contenders, and then he repeated it with Hangzhou Spark. Every player that has worked under him really respects him. Our second coach, Wiz, was a key part of developing tactical in-game strategies on all his former teams and he has a really sharp mind for the game and it’s ever-changing meta. Bani, our last coach, brings forth a lot of experience as an ex-professional player and we found he has a really organized mind for details and strategies. I was really impressed by his analysis when we were interviewing for our assistant coaches…
When it comes to coaching, flexibility is key. The coaches will be doing what they are strongest in but they will have ample opportunities to contribute in any way they can, even outside of those focus areas. I don’t feel there are better or worse coaching styles. At the end of the day, it boils down to what your team needs. Like every team entering the next season, we will be learning as we go what will work with the new player chemistry of the Washington Justice. That makes having a flexible coaching structure an advantage.”
[Related: When do Hero Pools go Live in Overwatch?]
JohnGalt plans on using these three coaches to tackle the need for flexibility in the league, which hero pools would even further constitute a need for, as well as the Justice’s specific need to manage and coach a mixed language roster. For JohnGalt, this starts with building a familial bond on the team.
“A focus for us will be teaching players how to work together and communicate in and outside the game. Being from different cultures and nationalities, we will be making sure that everyone, staff and players, come together as one team, one family. That’s going to be our first priority.
Another way we’re tackling this is through language lessons. Our Korean players will be tutored in English language lessons. A lot of our Korean players were from mixed teams in the 2019 season and already have a strong grasp of English, which puts us at a competitive advantage versus other mixed roster teams.”
An Individual Approach
One of the Justice’s new coaches fulfilling this threefold style is former Houston Outlaws Support player, Bani. Consistently thought of as one of the more cerebral and intelligent players during his time in the league as a player, it’s clear Bani is a natural fit for his new coaching role with the Justice.
“Coaching has been part of my long-term vision since the beginning. The way I’ve played as a player has always been very preparation-heavy. I would perform best when I knew what the enemy team was going to play or do (and in fact – my own team as well), and had a predetermined answer to it. This strategy helped my individual decision making as well as in-game leading, because I could make quick decisions based on what I studied extensively beforehand. This mindset only grew as I developed myself in the Overwatch League – to the point where I would basically be working as a coach until I stepped into the game.”
One fear that always looms for players transitioning from on-stage to behind the scenes is the capability to see the bigger picture and understand more than one’s previous experiences. For Bani, there could be speculation whether he would be too heavily influenced by his time as a Support player, however, Bani has a plan to make sure that’s not the case in his transition to Individual Coach.
“Due to my educational background, I consider it of the utmost importance to have extensive data to back-up any feedback I direct towards a player. Whether the player is a support, tank or DPS, I will make sure to have evidence to support my coaching and to put the same level of research into giving feedback for any role. My experience as a professional player helps me understand the mindset of a player and how to properly assist them, but I am extremely mindful of ensuring that it doesn’t restrict my style only into a “player” or “support” coach…
As an Individual Coach, my focus is on developing the skills and strategic thinking for each of our players. Individual Coach exemplifies my strength in understanding and working with the mindset of a professional player. I have a strong understanding of what feedback does or does not work thanks to my experience in the position of a player. However, all of the coaches on Washington Justice have excellent knowledge in several areas and will be working on whatever the team needs most under Head Coach JohnGalt’s direction.”
A New Beginning
For the 2020 Washington Justice, it’s time to turn over a new leaf and begin building a winning franchise behind solid coaching and a promising roster. With the team’s superb travel schedule a whopping five homestands and a new coaching system in place, the Justice hope to slam the gavel on the rest of the league this year, sentencing all in their path to a swift defeat.
This interview was initially conducted on December 19, 2019 by Jake Handy. The Game Haus would like to thank the Justice, JohnGalt and Bani for their time and wish them the best heading into the 2020 season.
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