The High School Esports League (HSEL) Fall Overwatch Major is upon us, and this time around, we sat down with a pair of highly competitive newcomers who are looking to take home their first HSEL tournament victory.
Momo and Jon are two Grandmasters and Top 500 players who got their start playing Overwatch on console. After struggling to find their footing initially, they made the decision to work hard and improve. Ever since then, they have shot all the way up the competitive ladder to Grandmasters and have not looked back.
Although their HSEL teammates may not be as highly ranked as this dynamic duo, they are eager and hungry to improve their teamwork and succeed as a group. Let's take a look at how these newcomers are preparing for and what they expect out of the 2018 HSEL Fall Major.
How did you guys start off playing Overwatch, and what steps did you take to reach this point in your career?
Momo: I started out playing Overwatch on console at a super low rank; I barely knew any maps or gamemodes, and I didn’t even play comp. Me and Jon played together on console, but eventually my PlayStation membership ran out. A year later Jon ended up getting Overwatch on PC so I said, why not try it out?
Jon started out above average at plat/diamond, but I still wasn’t the best and placed in silver. After that day, I got really mad and kept telling myself to get better, because we had always watched esports, and wanted to be good as the pros. So I sat down, and kept grinding and grinding, and with the help of Jon I eventually got to masters. Whenever I play Overwatch, I always play to get better, I never play to just play. It’s the mindset that matters.
Since this is your first tournament, what are some of your expectations? How do you think you will perform?
Jon: When we first heard of HSEL, we went to [their] YouTube channel and watched a bunch of games. Overall, we're feeling pretty confident because we’re a high rank and we’re only scared of a few strong players we noticed were pretty good. We’re just going in with a positive mindset.
Momo: One thing we’re scared about is [that] some of our teammates we haven’t played with before, because this is our first year at a new school. We haven’t played with them very long yet, so we don’t have a strong synergy or relationship with them yet. But to make up for that we’re going to keep scrimming against teams better than us, and just keep practicing and grinding together.
Is building team synergy one of the main goals you want to work on before and during the season? Is there anything else you want to prepare?
Momo: That’s definitely something were going to want to improve before because if we can point out our mistakes before the league starts, it's going to give us a higher chance of winning right off the bat. Besides that, we want to improve our relationship between the players. For some reason we keep escalating in voice chat until we’re all yelling. Some players can only play certain roles, so we're trying to figure out how to balance each player so the strategy still functions properly.
What type of strats are you developing, and who’s designing the strategic angle of your team?
Momo: I’m the team captain, and also a really good shotcall, so that’ll be my job. Jon will be my assistant shotcaller, but I’ll be the main one since I’m playing healer. But essentially what we do is watch VODs of other teams and see how they play, as well as watching Overwatch League (OWL).
We’re gonna see how the enemy team likes to play, and the types of comps and playstyles they run. Based off that we’re going to try to beat them using high IQ strats we take from OWL VODs.
What things are you looking for in your opponents' VODs and in Overwatch League games?
Jon: Basically we’re looking for their best DPS players, and best players in each role. So when we play them, we know who to focus first, and how to best wipe them and take the point. We also look at their comps, and try out new creative comps to counteract them. For example, if we see they like to run dive a lot, we’re going to tell whoever plays Brigette on our team how to focus down the divers.
Momo: To add on to that, we always want to try out new comps. We like experimenting with new things, like innovating and building off of current strategies. For example, instead of just Hog, Orisa, we add D.Va to help matrix and confirm the kill. Most likely teams are going to run the meta, so we’re trying to find new ways to counter and break the meta, like Jon said.
Does your club have an issue with lower skill/less committed players? If so, how are you going to overcome this huge skill gap?
Jon: One way I think we can help, is since we’re Grandmaster, we can teach our Platinum and Diamond players Grand Master level strats and mechanics. All our other players only know Platinum/Diamond level concepts, and we can help them get to higher level. We’ll teach them, then practice all of this so they can be up to par when the season starts.
Momo: Teamwork is really important in Overwatch, so we have to practice our teamwork. So even if a diamond average team has really good synergy, we can out mechanic them and outskill them. I hope, at least.
Since you guys are essentially going to have to hard carry games, are you devising unique strats based around you guys? For example, if Jon is playing Genji, are you going to tell your tanks and healers to baby your Genji so he has the support he needs to win?
Momo: I think it’ll change from game to game, depending on what map we play on and what hero each team runs. But for the most part I want everyone to work together, and I don’t want us just pocketing one or two players. If our Reinhardt is only protecting our Genji, our Ana is only healing our Genji, and our Mercy is only damage boosting our Genji, I think we’ll have issues. So we’re going to try to play normally, but obviously the higher ranked players will get more attention and priority over other players. Still want to keep it semi-balanced.
OWL Season One has just wrapped up, and Contenders and World Cup are going on right now. Are you guys following any teams or players in particular?
Jon: I like to watch the DPS Overwatch League players like Hydration or Sinatraa in solo queue, and how they can carry their teams at the same skill. I’m trying to watch the how they dive in and which heroes they go for first. Also fun fact: The pro player “Avast” -- his little brother goes to the same school we do.
Momo: I got better from watching Jjonak, because most supports would just heal, but he goes for kills. In theory as Healer you're just supposed to you know, heal. But he does more, he makes big plays, which is how you win games. You have huge plays, you do more, like you go for a flank sleep, a flank Earthshatter, you throw an aggressive anti-heal, stuff like that makes the difference between winning and losing. Doing more than just pressing left click.
What are some individual tips have you learned and implemented from watching OWL games?
Momo: I usually watch to see if which comps they run on certain maps, and if they run any unique comps.
Jon: I try to focus on the DPS players, and how they can combo with each other. For example Doomfist and Sombra, how players make them synergize.
Momo: Another thing -- I notice sometimes they’ll run solo support. I want to learn how to do that while still staying alive.
So, hypothetically, let’s say you guys are consistently hitting Top 500 and placing well in HSEL and other tournaments -- would you consider taking a gap year or semester off to focus on streaming or going pro?
Jon and Momo: Depends on what our parents say. If our parents give us that space, and we’re really close, and they think we can actually do it, I think they’ll give us a shot. Just depends on what they say. I think we can convince them if it comes to that. When I hit my peak near top 500, I explained it to them and they seemed proud of me.
Are there any last words you want to say?
Momo and Jon: I just want to say something: Every team out there in the Fall Major Overwatch is going to get rolled and smoked!