2020 has been a weird time for everyone in the esports industry, and the Overwatch League is no exception. The switch to an online format of the league forced the league to split the teams into two regions, North America and Asia. In the Asia region, the Shanghai Dragons reigned supreme as the best in the Far East. Their history is cemented as going winless in Season 1 to being one of the best teams currently in the league.
The Shanghai Dragons' Min-chul "IZaYaKI" Kim, Jae-gon "LeeJaeGon" Lee, Eui-Seok "Fearless" Lee, and Coach Byung-chul "Moon" Moon joined the press in an online press conference via Zoom to discuss their season and the Grand Finals.
This was edited for accuracy and clarity.
Bradley Long (Hotspawn Esports): Hello guys, thanks for being here. My question is for Coach Moon. I was wondering if Shanghai found it difficult to prepare for a team that they have never played or scrimmed before this entire season just due to being in different regions.
Moon: We haven't had much time to scrim against NA regions. So instead of seeing what strategies that they came up with and what we have to come up with, what we are trying to do is focus on what we're really good at, mastering our own strategy, and our team composition for the Grand Finals.
Theo Salaun (Bleacher Report/Dexerto): So speaking of focusing on what the team can improve on, this isn't directed at one player or coach in particular, but whoever wants to answer it. In your last match, the Dynasty took you to five maps. I'm wondering why you think that was such a close contest and if there's anything, in particular, you've been trying to improve upon since.
Moon: Going into that match against Seoul, we prepared two strategies -- one was utilizing Sombra and Reaper and the second one was utilizing shot-calling just like the Dynasty. At the beginning of the match, we thought that having Sombra/Reaper was the viable choice, but Seoul was very prepared using Roadhog. Midway through the match, we changed our strategy and went with their strategy using the same composition as Seoul.
During scrims, a lot of the APAC teams use Reaper/Sombra and we didn’t have a lot of scrim time to go against teams that were utilizing Roadhog.
Now we’re trying to change up the composition and utilize more snipers. I believe snipers are pretty good.
Andres Aquino (Ginx TV): My question is for LeeJaeGon. It's gonna be a special match for you as you’re going against your former RunAway teammate, Heesu. I wanted to know your thoughts about it. Have you talked to Heesu? Do you feel anything special about reuniting with your former RunAway teammate and any general thoughts about that?
LeeJaeGon: After we left RunAway and joining our respective teams, we made a promise to each other to meet in the Overwatch League Grand Finals. I’m really happy about that.
Also, in a press conference that Philadelphia did, Heesu said that the Dragons’ Mercy is nothing to be scared of. I think that’s a very funny statement.
Noam Radcliffe (DBLTAP): So this is for Coach Moon. You went from leaving the Overwatch League back in the first season under sort of regrettable circumstances to winning Coach of the Year this year. How did you change your approach to make that happen?
Moon: In the first season of OWL, I was with the LA Valiant. While being the coach there, I learned a lot. There were a lot of situations and a lot of experiences, very positive experiences, that really helped me in my coaching career. So the first season went well and also in Season 2, I realized I wasn't a perfect coach. I knew what I was bad at it and started to realize what I was lacking in. So that was the reason why I left OWL.
So after leaving OWL, I went to a Contenders team for Shanghai Dragons, I gained a lot of new experiences and then came back and joined OWL again.
Ashley Parrish (Kotaku): For the players: How’s it feel having the best record in OWL right now given your history. Especially you fearless whose been with the team since the inaugural season.
Fearless: Back in Season 1, our team was pretty unfortunate and couldn’t win a match. That was a hurtful memory for me.
After that in Season 2, I left the team due to my health conditions and went to the Contenders team.
This season, I came back. I am really happy with our team's results and I firmly believe that the reason why we were performing so well was because not only really good coaches but also really good teammates. And also we went taking every match step-by-step and won every single match and put our time prepping for each match. I believe that is why we have the results that we have right now.
Izakayi: The fact that we are the number one seed team in the APAC region and have the result that they have currently in the season, it’s crazy that we made this happen. I believe we’re able to achieve this because of the teammates that we have and also the amazing coaches that we have. I feel very fortunate and thankful for everyone in the team.
Theo Salaun (Bleacher Report/Dexerto): I've got another one for Fearless. Looking at the Fusion, Sado has been known as one of NA’s more aggressive and effective tanks. As your mirror role, does his playstyle affect how you prepare at all?
Fearless: I’m not sure if I have to change my playstyle or not. But one thing's for sure, as a player who plays the same role, I heard Sado’s played really good, so definitely there are a lot of things that I could learn from Sado.
Bradley Long (Hotspawn Esports): Hi there, this is for Coach Moon again. I was hoping you could comment on the Sombra matchup going up against Philly and Heesu. Obviously, Lip has been incredible on the hero all year long but is there anything that you guys are doing to prepare specifically for Heesu?
Moon: To be really honest, I haven’t watched much of the NA region’s matches. It's really hard to comment or give my thoughts on Heesu and the Sombra matchup. I said before because the meta is changing, so there's not a lot of chances that the fans are going to see a Sombra matchup between Shanghai Dragons and Philadelphia Fusion.
Andres Aquino (Ginx TV): Moth said that the level of OWL play lowered during the season because having the best teams split up sort of hindered how teams could find scrim partners. Is this something shared by Moon or the players?
Izakayi: I do agree with Moth because if OWL wasn't divided into two regions, each team would be able to scrim against 19 teams. Since we’re stuck with scrimming against the same teams in our respective region, we couldn’t develop our own strategies or compositions.
Moon: Because of the ban system, we have to focus more on our mechanical skills and compositions than the meta.
Teddy Amenabar (Washington Post): My question is the first two grand finals were in North America. These Grand Finals will be held in prime time for viewers and China and Korea and I wanted to ask what does it mean as a player to have the grand finals in prime time for fans there? What does it mean as a player? And what does it mean for the fans?
LeeJaeGon: The timing is really good for the fans in Asia and the fact that my friends and family could comfortably watch my match, I am very thankful and very happy about that.
Izakayi: When OWL started, both finals were in NA. OWL fans in Asia couldn’t watch because of work or stay up really late. All the fans who had to suffer through that don't have to worry about that and comfortably watch.
Writer @InvenGlobal | Freelanced at @overwatchscore @vpesports @GinxTV @Upcomer | Former CLICKON Media and Echo Fox.