In the Overwatch esports community, "WizardHyeong" is a name that needs little introduction. The former New York Excelsior coach has already made a mark on the fledgling esport and he has no intention of slowing down.
Inven Global caught up with the mastermind himself to chat about his career, the upcoming Overwatch League season, coaching philosophy, underrated pros, and, yes -- his Torbjorn one-trick account.
Could you quickly introduce yourself?
I am WizardHyeong. Your typical genius. I coach Overwatch and I coached a team called New York Excelsior and I recently parted with NYXL and yea, now I am here [in Seoul].
Could you give a quick history of your coaching career?
Basically, I was a top 30 player in Season 1 and I kind of wanted to get into pro scene. One of my friend from CSULB (which is California State University - Long Beach), they have this esports club and there’s an Overwatch club inside the esports club and they were basically going for the Tespa tournament and they were looking for a coach and because I was in Top 30 player at the moment, they were more than happy to have me as a coach and the funny thing is I actually enjoyed it so much.
The players there really appreciated what I did for them and I absolutely enjoyed our interaction with them. And then, I saw a recruiting post from Spylce and they were looking for a coach/analyst and well, I made two video analysis on their recent match and I sent it to them with my resume and they basically couldn’t say no.
I got hired immediately. I worked for [Team Solo-Mid] a little bit. I wasn’t officially contracted because they were looking to form a team for Overwatch League, but they heard the buyout fee and they gave up.
At the time, I was the one that brought Effect [from Dallas Fuel] to the NA scene. After working with TSM a little bit, I started working for Gale Force Esports (GFE) and then I met Houston Outlaws friends including Muma, Clockwork, Bani and Boink. And then later, GFE disbanded because there was a thing where every single NA Overwatch teams were disbanding their team because the spot for Overwatch League was too expensive.
So, I got a few offers from other NA teams mostly because of my bilingual abilities and I felt they didn’t appreciate my coaching ability. So, they were offering quite a bit of money, probably the best a coach can ask for at the time. But, I wasn’t really interested because I thought I would become a translator.
I was streaming quite a bit at the time, and then I got a call from LW Blue (the team that turned into NYXL), and they were saying “oh, I heard you were talking to other teams, could you meet me today or tomorrow. We need you urgently.” And I started working for LW Blue with zero amount of money (laughs). But, I felt like I could grow as a coach if I worked for LW Blue.
It’s not a big secret anymore but I wanted to get Lunatic-Hai’s (now Seoul Dynasty) scrim footage and you know at the time Lunatic-Hai was the best and I really wanted to get their scrim footage. Basically, “download” the best team in the world, which I did (laughs) and LW Blue became NYXL and now I am here.
"[Libero] is like the smartest player I know. If I teach him one concept,
not only does he apply it 100%, but also apply that concept in other ways,"
What is your philosophy on being a good coach?
That’s a hard question. I ask that same question pretty much every day for myself. For me, the most important thing is that I should be able to convince the players. For example, I don’t play Zenyatta better than JJonak, I don’t play Mercy better than ArK, and I don’t play Tracer better than Saebyeolbe. You know I am [trash] compared to them (laughs).
But, basically, if I could speak to them with facts and logic, they would trust me. Even if it I say something that is right, it won’t matter if the players don’t buy it. So, being able to convince players [is a top priority] and in order to do that, I need to present facts and logic. I also need to build trust relationships. Because without trust relationships, it’s not going to work, basically, and it’s the most important thing [for coaching].
In order to be convincing enough, the method, the tool that I would like to use is my database. Then, if I can show them the facts, “hey, you are actually like this and this is a fact,” it’s harder for them to counter my argument. Basically, I use my database in two ways: 1) to prove my ideas and back it up as evidence, and 2) when I look at them, I see things. For example, the numbers that I am seeing right now is much different from what I expected and sometimes I discover interesting game knowledge from there.
When you are coaching, there must be a time when players don’t agree or at worst just get offended by the feedback. Do these problems ever arise?
Yea. It’s quite a common problem. But, I can confidently say I have the least amount of these problems because I approach players with evidence and logic so it’s hard for players to argue against it. But sometimes, there are players that are like that, which I do understand because if you think about this game or any other game, there is more than one way of winning the game.
For example, you can win the game with dive compositions, you can win the game with Orisa compositions or whatever. So, there’s more than one way to win but there could always be a better way to win. I do understand their perspective and I try to understand them.
Who was your favorite player to coach so far?
I would say Libero and ArK (laughs). Once in my stream, I said, “whenever I see Libero play, I think I would wet my pants,” (laughs). He is like the smartest player I know. If I teach him one concept, not only does he apply it 100%, but also apply that concept in other ways, which surprises me.
Do you have any players that you would love to coach/analyze for?
There’s one player. I have been scouting some players recently I was basically digging up some competitive ladder players and he is pretty much unknown. I kind of felt like he could be the next eqo or next JJonak or something and he is somewhat immature, but I think he has really good raw mechanics and he is eager to grind. He is not in a good environment and if he could be in a good environment with a good mentor, I see a lot of possibilities. I would like to try him out.
Or do you have Contenders players that you think is amazing?
Nenne is amazing. I think Mangachu’s projectile mechanics are pretty amazing, too.
"And Blizzard if you are [reading], give me that juicy replay system.
I know you have it and I don’t know why you are not sharing it with the teams,"
Do you have any “coach” role model that you look up to?
When I was working for TSM, they wanted me to scout players because we were forming a new player. They were asking, “hey, is this Reinhardt better or that Reinhardt better?” And I didn’t want to be one the coaches, just say it by looking at them. I wanted to say the idea with solid proof.
So, at the time I was streaming a lot and on my fanboy Discord, I was asking for a “slave” that would record all the data for me. Few people applied for that. And I started making stats like “oh, this player blocks Earthshatter 30% of the time and hits Earthshatter 70% of the time” using the database. I remember a long time ago, I watched a movie called Moneyball and I watched it again and I wanted to bring money into esports and that has been my thing.
Are there any coaches that you have a high respect for?
I think my PR team would tell me to skip this question because they would not like it (laughs).
What was your favorite meta to coach/analyze? Least favorite?
People talk a lot about meta. But, I just do whatever I can be given any circumstances. So, I don’t have any preferences and I don’t want to complain, “hey, this meta is ruining my team," and I don’t have the luxury to complain about meta. I just need to come up with a way to solve problems.
"I used to play Torbjorn. I had a Torbjorn 1-trick account and
even on my main account I play a lot of Torbjorn,"
What do you think Blizzard can do to improve OWL for S2? From a coaching perspective.
There’s a rumor that there is going to be 28 matches now? If that rumor is true, it will be better for the players’ mental and physical health. [The old format] was too much for coaching staff as well, we would work non-stop for like a month and maybe have like a week break, it was quite tough.
And Blizzard if you are [reading], give me that juicy replay system. I know you have it and I don’t know why you are not sharing it with the teams. I am ready to use it to build that WizardHyeong database and you better give it to us for the sake of overall Overwatch game knowledge. Ok? If you are reading this, get back to me.
Also, Blizzard, you guys didn’t provide the League tokens for the coaching staff, but you provided unlimited tokens to the players, so we are very much hurt, and I am thinking about forming a coaching staff union, you better get ready for that ok? (Laughs)
You said at the beginning that you first thought about being a pro?
I mean yea, but I was very general about it. I could be a player, coach. or an analyst. The thing about me is that I was good with League of Legends. I was Top 200 playing Heimerdinger on support or mid-Janna. I am not sure if you are familiar with LoL, but basically, it’s even worse than playing Torbjorn on Attack only or playing Mercy with her pistol only and I was still top 200. It’s kind of hard to climb with League of Legends.
But, I could never go as pro because I was a f**king troll. My team would usually threaten my mom and that they were going to kill my mom. [Another example] people think that Ana is a support and I would want to play DPS Ana or something.
Oh, there’s plenty of that in Platinum [rank].
Yea, I know (laughs). That’s fun. So, I don’t blame them. Sometimes I would get messages that I have been avoided way too many times.
Who do you main normally? Favorite to play?
I play games with my brain and my mechanics are absolute garbage even when I was Top 30, I would play with my brain and not my hands. I used to play Torbjorn. I had a Torbjorn 1-trick account and even on my main account I play a lot of Torbjorn. I have about 70 to 80 win rate on Torbjorn.
What’s next for WizardHyeong? You coached for, probably, the best team in the world and now you have a coaching business. What other goals do you have for the future?
I want to be WizardHyeong in the future as well. I want to be the best even if I am not working for NYXL, even with the new team. I want to be someone that can be super confident in his coaching and I want to be somebody that can love himself.
The reason why I like myself a lot is that I think I am actually genuine, and I am a good person. So, If I knew I was a bad person inside, I don’t see a world that I don’t love myself.
Do you have an urge to coach for bottom tier teams just to see them work their way up?
The reason I coach is to feel dopamine. Whenever I know I improved somebody with my coaching, our team improved in this factor when I do individual coaching with a player and they come to my room and say, “Hey Wizard. I really appreciate your help and I feel so much better. Thank you.” And that’s when I feel dopamine.
Do you have any message for any aspiring coaches/analysts?
Have WizardHyeong as your role model and you should be fine. That means you should be a good, genuine person that cares about the team being healthy. A coach that can speak with logic and evidence, so you can convince the players and build a trust relationship with the players and you should be fine.
What’s one tip you would like to give for anyone who is looking to improve in Overwatch?
(Laughs) I am sorry Overwatch players, but this will probably offend you, but most of the players that I have coached through Wizard University, they seem to be not thinking at all. Just think. That will help. You know people come to my YouTube channel and make comments, “Hey Wizard. Everyone knows cover usage.” But, I have never seen a player that knows how to utilize cover properly at the level that I want.
And watch a lot of WizardHyeong YouTube Videos.
Any last words for fans?
I don’t know why you guys like me. You guys are crazy. Thank you.