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Interview with Chris “Bani” Benell of the Washington Justice on Physical Activity

Chris “Bani” Benell Joined the Washington Justice in December of 2019. The former Houston Outlaws Support has said in interviews that coaching was always in his mind. A couple of months later the team has started their season lower than most at 1-3. Which includes a 0-2 homestand this past weekend.

Washington Justice & Barry’s Bootcamp

Last week the Washington Justice visited the newly opened Barry’s Bootcamp in DC and did a fair amount of exercise ahead of their matches on the weekend. The team also sports exercising equipment at their homes and training facilities. With that in mind. Bani, the team’s coach, shared some of his thoughts.

The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length – Originally conducted on February 19th, 2020.

Sebastian Quintanilla: Have you always been a physicality active player? or was it something that came up as you developed into a professional player?

Chris “Bani” Benell: Yeah, It is something that came up through my career. When I started I didn’t work out at all. Maybe I would be trying to make myself do push-ups or sit-ups or something at home, but nothing past that. It was a new thing when I came to LA to compete in the Overwatch League, and I enjoyed it. I thought it was really good. It helped me feel less tired and better overall. So I’ve been sticking with it since then.

outlaws bani

Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

SQ: Will you guys be taking your training on the road throughout the year? or is it going to be a mostly at-home activity?

Bani: I think it’s up to the player. I mean, we don’t have a rigid schedule for exercise right now for players in particular. I’m going to try and go as much as I can. Time is super limited at the homestand. In Philly, I got to go to the gym once, which is decent. It could be better. I think some players went swimming, which was pretty cool. We’re trying to make it happen. But it’s based on how much we got going on.

[Related: Homestand Economics 101: Atlantic South]

SQ: Have you guys experimented with scheduling a scrim after a workout session?

Bani: I’ve thought about it before but Overwatch is more physically demanding than one would think. The amount of fine motor control you need for aiming is extremely important. I wouldn’t want to try doing an actual workout before scrim. Just because it messes with your aim you know. After a full exercise, any good aim is gone from your upper body. We got to avoid that.

As a player, I did experiment with doing a light jog before Match Day. It was pretty helpful. I didn’t always end up continuing to do it because I would rather sleep than jogging sometimes. I think the best answer is somewhere in the middle. Getting your heart rate up a little bit before the match did feel good. But we have no plans of implementing something like it as a team.

Stratus from Washington Justice at Barry's Bootcamp
Image courtesy of Washington Justice Twitter
SQ: From listening to Washington Justice’s press conferences its clear that you are all trying to build up a pretty nice atmosphere there build on player comradery. Where does physical exercise fit in that plan?

Bani: The Bootcamp that we just did was fun obviously. Everyone got pretty into it. And it’s a great bonding experience we’ve been joking about it leading up to it. We even had a great time after, it helps to bring everyone together. A lot of these players are pretty excited to just like work out.

Now we have a gym at the office and a gym at our apartment. It’s pretty accessible. Whenever I’m going I make sure to ask if any of the guys want to come to the gym with me and sometimes a couple of them will come along. It’s a great way to be closer to the team and have the players be closer to each other.

[Related: Interview with Stratus on the Justice’s Trip to DC and the Legend of the Tolietman]

SQ: The Overwatch Open Division just finished its first 2020 season. Many of the top teams are actually from the Collegiate scene. Do you think some of these schools should be making their gymnasiums available to their collegiate esports teams?

Bani: Yeah, I think that would be a good thing. Regardless of how hard they push in-game, any exercise is good. It’s going to make the players more mentally focused, less restless and get better sleep. All of these things are super important for playing Overwatch well.  I would recommend that they get full access to any facilities that they have.

CEC slayergramps interview
The Collegiate Esports Championship
(Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images)
SQ: On the topic of focus. Do you find that exercising helps to forget some of the pressure of playing? or does it do the opposite and help you focus more on the game for the better?

Bani: It’s a pretty subtle effect. You’re not going to work out and then just be all of a sudden wow, I’m not scared at all of my matches, or I’m feeling extra pressure because of it. I think it just overall makes you feel better. That overall feeling of wellness makes players very, very subtly feel better about going into matches. More calm, less pressured. That small effect is a good thing. But it’s not like this crazy, extremely important factor that players are going to notice. Exactly after a workout.

[Related: Justice By The Numbers: Week 2 Washington Justice Stats]

SQ: Now the most important question. Who in the team has the best chance at a retirement pivot to a traditional sport? Say golf for instance.

Bani: As a golfer, okay. I don’t know much about golf, but I know that your swing technique is super important, right? And maybe having long arms will help you with swing technique? So for that reason, I’m going to say, Corey.

Corey From the Washington Justice satire Golfer shop
Corey on Par for second place at the 15th hole – 2045
SQ: Anything else you would like to share with Washington fans, Overwatch fans or even esports fans?

Bani: I would just like to say physical health and wellness is something that every person no matter what position you’re in, or what you’re doing or where you are It’s important. You should always try and focus on it as much as you can. It improves so many parts of your life. You’re going to feel less tired, you’re going to feel more confident. You’re going to be healthier you’re going to live longer. It’s just such an important thing.

If you are going into esport you need to keep good health. It can only help you. Especially in Overwatch.

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Featured Image Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

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