DPS flexibility is a hot commodity in the competitive Overwatch metagame, and as the Overwatch League expands for Season 2, teams are signing players in the hopes of covering as many heroes as possible.
The Los Angeles Valiant is a team with plenty of flexibility. Chae “Bunny” Jun-hyeok is the team’s Tracer specialist, but can also play Widowmaker situationally. The team has had success in the past with Flex Support Park “KariV” Young-seo’s pocket Widowmaker as well, and the growth of Flex DPS Brady “Agilities” Girardi throughout the season was significant.
Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa didn’t get much of an opportunity to start for the LA Valiant in Overwatch League Season 1. However, SoOn’s joining of the Paris OWL team leaves a gap that needs to be filled. Season 2 might be KSF’s chance to break out and make a name for himself as a star player for the Valiant.
I was able to catch up with KSF during the LA Valiant’s California Cup in Santa Ana this past weekend. While he wasn’t feeling well enough to play in the match against the SF Shock, he was gracious enough to still interview with me as planned to give a better idea of his career aspirations; his life as a pro player; and, his focus on hero pool expansion.
I’m here with LA Valiant DPS KSF at the California Cup in Santa Ana. How are you doing today?
I’m doing pretty good, how about you?
I’m doing great man, you guys know how to throw a party! It’s been a lot of fun for everyone out here, but what have you been up to since the event started?
I’ve been meeting a lot of fans and signing stuff for people. It’s been a lot of fun.
Is this the most fan interaction you’ve ever had in your career so far?
It might be the biggest event that we’ve done independently as a team. There was a big fan signing outside of one of our matches last night, and that went almost two hours. But yeah, this is a really big event, and its been fun.
We didn’t get to see a ton of you in matches in the first season of the Overwatch League, but I’d love to hear about what growth you’ve seen in your first year on the LA Valiant. Is there a skill you think you’ve improved on?
I’ve been focusing on diversifying my hero pool in the past year because I feel like that’s one of the biggest things you can do for your team. If you have a big hero pool, you can get put in and play Tank, DPS... everything! Obviously, I still have a long way to go. I can’t play Winston or Reinhardt; not yet, at least. But yeah, diversifying my hero pool has been the biggest thing I’ve been focusing on.
Have you been practicing in the offseason as well?
Yeah, I’ve been playing a lot of Competitive to work on my hero pool. We also recently started scrims again, and they’ve been going really well.
Do you have a history in esports before Overwatch?
Outside of Overwatch, I was a semi-pro in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, but not for too long. It was kind of just for fun. I played in Overwatch Contenders after that, and here I am now.
How did you find yourself in the world of competitive gaming in the first place?
When Overwatch first came out, I liked the game, but it didn’t have that competitive aspect I felt that it needed. Competitive wasn’t out at that point. I played a bit at first, and then I took a small break until Competitive came out.
I grinded super hard when Competitive was released. I was getting towards the top of the ladder and I thought, “I could actually go pro in this game.” So I kept working hard, figuring out what I was doing wrong. I just try to improve and be the best player I can be.
How did your family and friends react to your new career choice?
My family was very supportive; it all happened really fast. I was a Contenders player, playing from home, and then I explained to my parents that I had a tryout for an Overwatch League team. I explained to them what the implications were, and that I would be flying to California for the tryout and moving there if I made the team. It was crazy.
So you join the Valiant. How did that change your day to day life immediately? Did people have a lot of questions about your new career?
Most people ask me if I only play one game. When they hear “professional gamer,” they think I play a bunch of games and I’m just good at all of them, but that’s not the case. I mean, I’m pretty good at all the games I play, but I’m only pro in Overwatch.
"I want to be known as one of the best DPS players in the world.
I think I want to be known for having the biggest hero pool,"
Maybe someday there will be an Esports Decathlon. Speaking of other games, are there any other games you’re playing in your down time?
The new Spider-Man game is really fun. I play it on my downtime late at night, it’s really nice.
That’s great that you get some reprieve from the rigorous practice schedule. As far as establishing this rivalry with the SF Shock as a team, has the feeling of playing against these players changed since the first season?
Yeah, a little bit. I’ve known all of the players for a really long time. I haven’t gotten to know all of the Koreans on the SF Shock yet, but I’ve known a lot of the US players for a long time.
Your role has also undergone a lot of changes. How do you feel that DPS has evolved when compared to earlier metas from a team-based standpoint?
The game is a very different when compared to two years ago. Players have improved SO much. I go and watch VoDs from a few years ago, and I’ll be watching myself, and I’ll just be like, “This guy sucks!” (laughs)
Everyone has improved so much and the level of play has increased immensely, it’s crazy.
We’re looking forward to seeing a lot more of you in Season 2 of the Overwatch League. Do you have a legacy that you want to leave in your esports career?
I want to be known as one of the best DPS players in the world. I think I want to be known for having the biggest hero pool. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to play ALL of the heroes, so most of all, I want to play against the best players in the world.
So... DPS Reinhardt is coming?
I mean... its happened in the past...
. . .
Nick Geracie is a freelance esports journalist based in Los Angeles, CA. You can follow him on twitter here.
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