After the Shangai Dragons second defeat on the Overwatch League mainstage, I knew I had to talk to the team. It's never an easy or fun conversation, but the Dragons were quickly gaining the reputation as one of the weakest team in the OWL and I wanted to know how they felt about it.
As the team's coach, assistant coach. PR manager, team manager, and team leader all entered the press room for our interview, I was struck by how solemn the mood was. Dragons are always polite and courteous to the press, and on Friday they were no different, but it was clear that the loss was a hard blow to morale.
It was late and everyone seemed pretty tired, but thanks to the help of the team's translator, we got started.
Obviously, your team is struggling so far-- did you expect to encounter these obstacles or is this a surprise to you?
Chief Coach U4: The first obstacle we never expected our players would have is an issue with is coordination and working with each other. It's a really unexpected problem for us. Psychologically, they can be better prepared.
Can you elaborate a bit on what type of psychological problems?
Well, for example, we just arrived in LA for the first time. It is all of the players first time and everything is different. It is a huge difference. The food is different, life is different, and these minor differences have a psychological effect on our players. Everything combined together is proving to have a huge impact and it is a negative impact.
"Maybe at first, it was about the individual impact of players."
Team Manager Van: Because the players are from different clubs, we do have some minor communication problems.
Some people might say that solution to that problem is time, but your team doesn't have time to leisurely get used to these differences. How do you plan on coping?
We have had lots of in-depth talks with our players. When a specific player is not performing well, we talk to him and listen. We also have activities with other teams, something fun or a fun stream together. We have been here for a month and things are getting better.
Have you considered it may be an issue of individual player skill?
No, we have problems because our players all come from different teams. We are taking measures to fix this. Our team commander is improving the way he reports the location of specific opponents in a match and our we taking measures to make sure our supports give better intelligence throughout the match.
Maybe at first, it was about the individual impact of players. Our players might not know where certain opponents are in the middle of the match, but everyone is getting better at their skills quickly.
What are some specifics you can give me about your players getting better?
Chief Coach U4: So far, Xushu has been diligently playing competitive more than many other players: 5 or 6 rounds every day. He often practices his shooting skills all by himself.
Fiveking has been taking notes and studying specific rounds and specific locations on where he can improve. These two players are getting much better.
"With regards to our problems, we are targeting them directly."
Would you say this is part of a Shanghai Dragons mentality? That players need to be diligent in their individual growth?
Sure, It's part of the team's mentality, to practice more. However, Dragons is a very new team so there is no "old mentality" or concept to go back on. In this way, it is a newly developed concept, This dedication and diligence in personal training. In the future, we will maintain this concept.
Who is the player that brings the most energy and rallies the team when they are behind?
Everybody is extremely eager to win on the stage. That is the same for everyone. Undead is the commander of the team, so leading them to victory is the most important for him. He is trying his very best to make us win.
What would you like to say to your league fans that are disappointed with how things have started?
We are grateful for the support of the fans and we are paying close attention to all of our fans. We are trying our best to train harder in the future and reciprocate our fans' enthusiasm with a better performance.
With regards to our problems, we are targeting them directly and coming up with better solutions. All of it will be reflected in our future performance.
PR Manager, Brianna Kuo: Right now, it will take time for the Shanghai Dragons to bring our best to our fans. We need the fans to really believe in us. We really want them to know it takes time-- we are trying really hard to make this happen. It is the only thing we want to do.
All photos were taken by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment and subsequently released by Blizzard for publication
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