Hyeon-sang "Pavane" Yu is one of the original coaches in Korean Overwatch. He was a founding member of LuxuryWatchBlue, the team that eventually became New York Excelsior. More so than any other coach in the league, his fingerprints are all over any lineup he’s coached and NYXL is no exception. The team’s deliberate style of play is a natural evolution of what LW Blue did in their time, when they won IEM Gyeonggi and were hailed one of the best teams in the world for APEX’s second and third seasons.
After Stage 1 was over, we had the opportunity to ask him several questions about NYXL’s coming together, adapting to the new environment of OWL, and stage 1 performance.
(Author’s note: for the purpose of clarity and to improve readability, some of Hyeon-sang Yu’s answers have been edited.)
From the official titles of the positions, we know that you and WizardHyeong are NYXL's coaches and Andrew is the assistant coach, but please tell us more about what are the duties each of the three focuses on.
For me, I focus on our team’s strategy. WizardHyeong focuses on individual coaching. His coaching always impresses our players and me. Andrew has switched his role to ‘Player Manager’. He’s Korean-American who has lived in L.A. for many years, and he’s very fluent in English and Korean. He’s also diligent, so me and our players depend on him in many ways.
I know some of the Westerners who haven't been in Korea have found the schedule quite intensive, but, as someone who coached one of the best teams there, how much tougher is playing in OWL than competing in APEX, if at all?
On average, APEX has a match in 1~2 weeks and it’s also tournament. But OWL has 2 matches in a week. So we had to adapt to the changes like reducing practice schedule, etc and it seems that it has worked well so far.
Nate Nanzer already mentioned he and the team will work on the title matches scheduling, but how difficult was it to prepare and make adjustments for the second series on Saturday? Do you think that by the end of the title match some of the players were feeling a bit out of it, too tired, or anything of the sort?
We did not play as much as London Spitfire, but our players and coaches were exhausted before the stage 1 final. So I was happy when blizzard adjusted the schedule.
Your teams, LW Blue in the past and NYXL now, have always had a slightly slower, more reactive style, compared to what the other teams are doing. How much of that comes from your philosophy of how the game should be played and to what degree is it based on the personnel you've had?
I want my players to play perfectly. But it makes our players play too passive even though we need to play at a faster tempo. We are already trying to fix that after the stage 1 and I think we are doing better job so far.
What were some of the difficulties of incorporating so many new players, all coming from different backgrounds, into the system? From the outside, Libero seems like a fairly natural fit, but were there any difficulties with Mano, who was one of the main stars on his past teams, and JJoNaK, who came directly from solo queue?
I think there are no big difficulties. Our old players welcomed new players. Actually Mano and JJoNaK were already familiar with our players before they joined the team so it made it easy for them to adapt. For Libero, he’s a timid young man, so I was worried about his ability to adapt , but our old players welcomed him and he has done better than I expected so far.
One of the most interesting players on the team, at least to me, is MekO. As long as D.Va is strong within the metagame, he is arguably the best player in his position. However, more so than any other elite off-tank player, he has the odd terrible performances in which he gets picked on by the opponent. Please talk to me a bit about his role in the team and what do you attribute his uncharacteristically-poor games to.
He has a very important role in many ways. Sometimes we depended on him too much, but we are trying to fix some problems like the dependence on his play.
Considering Libero has showed great D.Va play in the past, could we see him start at the off-tank position instead of MekO?
Yeah, he might eventually play the off-tank instead of MekO. Libero is known as very flexible player and he understand what the coaches say and want him to do more than any other player in our team. But he will only do off-tank when MekO can’t play.
NYXL played against Houston and Boston in the first week of stage 1 and defeated them fairly easy, but later on they grew to be two of the top teams and Houston even made it into the title matches. From watching them later on, what were the biggest differences in them between week 1 and week 5?
They had kept pushing forward with their own playstyle, Boston played aggressive with their dive composition. Houston’s individual ability on specific heroes -- for example, Jake’s Junkrat, Linkzr’s Widow -- looked like very good fit in Mercy meta and it very well. I think these things made the difference.
The only match NYXL lost during stage 1 was against Philadelphia Fusion. Obviously, Carpe and ShaDowBurn had a good series, but, looking back at it, what were the issues for you guys?
I think it’s our weakness that helped [Fusion] perform well. Actually we didn’t prepare for the Fusion match enough because we had to play Seoul Dynasty in that week. I understand every match is important, but it’s very hard to win every match.
One of the differences between the two series against London was birdring's performances. What do you think your team managed to do so well to shut him down in the first match that didn't work in the second one? How much of that was the map pool in the second series benefiting Spitfire more?
Map pool and our dive composition was the biggest things. We played too passive with the dive composition, so it slowed down our tempo and let Birdring catch fire.
In the title match finals, after winning the first two maps, you changed up strategy and put in Janus. Please explain to us what was the reason for the switch and why you didn’t attempt going back to Mano.
We divided each maps for Mano and Janus in stage 1 according to their hero pool and playstyle. But, as I mentioned, I wanted to switch Janus to Mano after 4th map but I couldn’t do that because of rule in stage 1 final matches. I had to let referees know about the substitution before the first round, but London got just one point on Numbani offense so I thought we can win Numbani after the first round. However, we couldn’t capture the first point in offense in the end.
How much of the reverse sweep do you put on the pressure of a playoff match getting to the team, or some specific players? In your opinion, is that something that coach can even help with?
Our players are young so I let them know this is not the end and OWL is long season. I swear, restart is one of the most important thing in sports.
Recently, it was announced that Gambler is joining Seoul Dynasty and you worked closely with him during his time with LW Blue. For fans who haven't seen him play before, please tell us what he brings to the table. How good of a fit do you think he'll be in Seoul's system, considering how different he is from tobi as a player?
I actually know both of Gambler and tobi. I worked with Gambler in APEX and I worked with Tobi in Overwatch World Cup 2017 even though it was short period. Both players are smart so they’ll be able to synergize and it would be a good influence for Seoul.
The last words are yours.
I always appreciate our fans for passionate support. We’ll do our best always and we won’t let you guys down! Thank you!
To keep up with Pavane and the team, makes sure to follow them on twitter at @NYXL_Pavane and @NYXL!
(Photo credits: Activision Blizzard)
About the author:
Hello, readers! I go by the ID RadoN and I’ve been watching different esports since I found out about the industry in 2009. The titles I follow closely for the time being are Overwatch, CS:GO and Quake, while occasionally dabbling in some other games as well. If you wish to reach out, follow future content, or simply know more about my thoughts on esports and gaming, you can find me on Twitter at @RadoNonfire.