With no Overwatch League matches until June 13, the opportunity to interview the Head Coach of the Florida Mayhem Kim ‘’Kuki’’ Daekuk arose. In an interview at the beginning of the season with Kuki, fans got the opportunity to get to know him better as a person and as the new Head Coach of the Mayhem. Now that the May Melee has been played, where the Mayhem was the runner up, and the mid-season break is over this might be a good time to ask Kuki some questions.
Coach vs. ‘older brother’ and Coaching Style
Most of the OWL fans know Kim “Kuki’’ Daekuk from his time as a player in the 2018 and 2019 seasons of the Overwatch League. Now that he has been a coach for a while, how has his style changed over the course of this 2020 season? Also, how does he balance being a coach but also an ‘older brother’ to the players? When asked these questions, Kuki said his overall coaching style hasn’t changed. What has changed is that at the beginning of the season they focused more on VOD reviews, but these days they focus more on the communication within the team.
Before Kuki became a coach he had known a lot of fellow pro-players in the OWL scene during these times he said “I had definitely a lot more of an ‘older brother’ relationship with them.’’ But now as a coach, he said he has more of a professional “coach & player” relationship with his players when they are practicing or playing a match. However, that doesn’t mean he never slips back into the role of being an “older brother” to the players. Kuki said: “During our breaks, when we’re resting or relaxing together the atmosphere becomes a lot more relaxed and it goes kinda back into that older brother feeling.’’ This shows to the fans he is not just their coach but can also relax, wind down and go back to being an “older brother” for the boys on the Mayhem.
Thoughts on Echo?
Echo is still a new hero within the Overwatch League games. Fans wondered how she would fit in and what meta would come in to play because of the addition of Echo. Kuki said because she is a new hero they can’t 100% confidently say they know how to use her. “We are still experimenting with her a lot. [We won’t be using her until we] know how to use her and make her mesh with our playing style.’’ This shows that Kuki knows how to make his team sync together well, and yet let the boys play what they are comfortable with. This makes the team excel in their matches.
Player Trials for Echo?
Many Overwatch players were hyped over the public release of Echo and were excited to play her in-game. OWL fans, however, might’ve been even more excited to see their favorite DPS players play her in matches. When asked who of the Mayhem players was the most excited to play her, he said that the Mayhem DPS players definitely were the most excited as soon as they found out Echo was going to be a DPS hero. “Both BQB [Lee Sangbeom] and Yaki [Kim Jungi] wanted to play her a lot, both do know how to play Echo to her fullest potential.’’ He added that even though they have played Yaki the most on Echo right now BQB is just as able to play her.
With that being said the next thing to ask would be if they held player trials for Echo with the DPS players within the team. ‘’When Echo first came out they all have her a try. Sayaplayer’s [Ha Jungwoo] playstyle didn’t match with her.’’ Kuki said as he added that both BQB and Yaki have tried experimenting with her a little further. ‘’We picked the player(s) whose playing style on Echo and team chemistry matched with our team the best’’
14-day Contracts and Beating the Current Titans.
With the new 14-day contract system within the League, some teams have taken the opportunity to sign new players. Letting them play for 2 weeks and then potentially offer them a contract on the team they played with. Coach Kuki said he hasn’t given it much thought yet. “I feel like it’s a product of current circumstances.’’ The Florida Mayhem, as far as Kuki is aware, have not thought nor considered a 14-day contract.
The Florida Mayhem has a lot of second gen RunAway players. How did they become part of the Mayhem? How did the players feel when they beat the current Titans? Kuki said that on the topic of RunAway they wanted to stick together since the beginning when he was a coach on RunAway in Overwatch Contenders Korea S2 2019, so they, Gang ‘’Gangnamjin’’ Namjin and Yaki’’, came with him to the Florida Mayhem when the season was over. When the Mayhem finally came face to face with the Vancouver Titans they were a completely different team. So after they beat the Titans Kuki said ‘’By the time we go to play the Vancouver Titans they were a completely different team so there weren’t many emotions or feelings there as it didn’t feel like we were playing RunAway, really’’ Kuki said.
Scrim Partners, Who Are They for the Mayhem?
Even though the teams are split up between the NA region and the APAC region the Mayhem has more than enough scrim partners to choose from. “Everyone in NA, we take a variety of teams,’’ Kuki said when asking who they scrim against. Though they scrim against all NA teams one team stood out when asking the question of what team is their favorite and who is the most fun team to scrim against. According to Coach Kuki the San Francisco Shock ticks both of these boxes. The players want to both have super close and competitive matches and a team that makes the players give it their all and pushes them to their limit. “So I would definitely say the San Francisco Shock.’’ was Kuki’s answer. It seems like the Shock gives the Mayhem what they are looking for in both a fun and serious aspect.
We asked who of the APEC teams they would scrim against. “Wouldn’t my answer obviously be the Shanghai Dragons?’’ the Mayhem head coach answered cheekily. The community was curious about this, this answer shows not only Kuki’s sense of humor but also the challenges they as a team are looking for outside of the NA teams.
Advice going into the May Melee & any possible strategy changes?
Who would’ve thought that the Florida Mayhem would end up being in the May Melee finals? Asking Kuki what advice he gave the boys on this big day, he said “For the matches, I try to make the players as relaxed as possible. Because we weren’t sure if we were even going to make it to the finals. So I didn’t want them to take things too hard and I wanted them to be as relaxed as possible going into these matches.’’ Looking back on the matches Kuki said he wished he could’ve changed things.
But actually changing strategies on the match day itself could end up in a disaster. If strategies were changed the day of, as it could result in a worse performance, because ‘’you will just be shooting yourself in the foot. So I think I wouldn’t have changed a lot on the day of.’’ he said laughing. Even though he might’ve wanted to change things about the match in hindsight it shows he is well aware of changing things on the actual game day will not change things for the better, so sticking to what they have been practicing for is the way to go.
Did he give the boys two weeks off as he promised?
When the May Melee was over there were two weeks of no matches aka time to relax for the players and their coaches. Kuki promised the boys a week off, but in the second week, they were going to practice lightly and get ready for their upcoming matches for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Kuki: Anyway. We’ve sprinted here with zero breaks for 6 months. As I promised you, you guys can have a whole week off.
(Originally it was gonna be 3, but he promised a week off to the team if we beat Atlanta!)
— swingchip #BLM (@swingchip930) May 25, 2020
The community looks forward to Coach Kuki and the players’ performance in the Summer Showdown and whether they are able to attain the number one spot in the NA standings this time around.
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