Taking a break is incredibly important for a pro gamer who lives in fierce competition; everyone needs proper rest and relaxation to restore their energy. The pros at the London Spitfire, the champion team of the Overwatch League Season 1, have gathered together for another season following 3 months of sweet vacation. After enjoying their break, they are getting ready to fly even higher in Season 2.
Below is our interview with Ji-hyeok “Birdring” Kim, Jae-hui “Gesture” Hong, and Jun-ho “Fury” Kim, the pros that led the London Spitfire to victory in the Overwatch League. Although they will definitely be the center of attention as the defending champion, they were more excited than afraid.
Q. Would you introduce yourselves to the readers and tell us how you are doing?
Birdring: Hello, this is Ji-hyeok “Birdring” Kim and I’m a DPS player for London Spitfire. I’ve been cooling off for the next season. Right now I’m playing Overwatch diligently so I don’t lose my skills.
Gesture: This is Jae-hui “Gesture” Hong, the main tank for London Spitfire. I just came back from my vacation and will start my practice very soon.
Fury: This is Jun-ho “Fury” Kim, tank player in London Spitfire. I’m back in the States after winning the Overwatch League and the Overwatch World Cup so I can start practicing with my new teammates.
Q. The next season will be starting soon. How are you preparing for the OWL?
Birdring: We haven’t done any scrims after the two new players came but they are really good so you don’t have to worry about anything.
Gesture: We are still in the preparation period so I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think everything will be okay if we practice hard like we did for the last season.
Fury: We haven’t started practicing yet but the new team members are good and the preparation is going well.
Q. The vacation after the OWL was quite long. How are you maintaining your performance?
Birdring: I thought I should take a nice, long break and get back to hardworking mode when I have to. I’m playing a lot of Competitive right now to work on my skills again.
Gesture: I usually do nothing else when I’m taking a break. I start playing games again when the practice period comes near so I can regain my sense.
Fury: I had to keep on practicing because I had the Overwatch World Cup after OWL, so my performance is still on the same level.
Q. 8 more teams will be joining the OWL and a total of 20 teams will be competing against each other in the OWL 2019. It seems like the league structure will change a lot. What are your thoughts about this?
Birdring: There are more teams and players to analyze, but it will be fine since we have many great coaches in our team.
Gesture: Each team will have its unique style and it will be fun to watch all of them. We haven’t played any scrims with the OWL teams yet so it is hard to tell what the league will be like.
Fury: A lot of new teams joined the league, and many of the players who are really good but could not join the league due to age restrictions are now in the league. There will be a lot more exciting games. But teamwork-wise, I think the original teams will do better than the new teams.
Q. Most of the teams have their rosters changed, and new teams have been announced. Do you have any team that you are keeping your eye on?
Birdring: I’m excited to see the Shanghai Dragons.
Gesture: A lot of new teams and players joined the Overwatch League, but there’s no specific team that I’m focused on. The teams that did well last season will continue to play well during the early season next year.
Fury: I’m excited to see the Shanghai Dragons too. They didn’t do very well last season, but their roster changed a lot so they might be different this year. And of course NY Excelsior is the team that we should be wary of. Although their performance suffered slightly toward the end of the season, they are still one of the powerhouses.
Q. The total number of matches decreased by 12 as more teams joined the league. It seems like managing your condition will be important.
Birdring: Being in good condition was the most important thing, and still is. It will be the most important thing in the future as well.
Gesture: Being in good shape for every match is really important. Because the teams will be playing fewer matches, they will be preparing more detailed and comprehensive strategies for every match.
Fury: There will be a whole new level of matches with many different strategies and team comps because there will be fewer matches.
Q. Fans say that Philadelphia Fusion has the best DPS, London Spitfire has the best tanks, and NY Excelsior has the best supports. What are your thoughts about this?
Birdring: All three teams have one of the best players for each role, so I agree with the comment.
Gesture: Each team has a role that they are best at. It is true that they are good with a specific role because they have the best players, but the role that stands out the most becomes different depending on the team’s strategy.
Fury: The DPS in Philadelphia and the supports in NY always played well without any disappointing performance.
Q. (To Birdring) What are your thoughts about the comment “Take one strength from each of the best DPS players in the world, combine them together and you get Birdring”?
Birdring: I think they are impressed by me learning from different skilled players when I was playing different heroes. But after I joined the OWL I only played hitscan heroes and focused on playing hitscan heroes well. I suffered from a wrist injury and fell behind, so I can’t agree with the comment.
Q. (To Birdring) You had to take a leave of absence due to your wrist injury and could not make it to the All Stars match. Do you feel sad about it?
Birdring: I do, but I was emotionally tired that time so I wanted to get some rest.
Q. (To Fury) You held the trophy in your hand at the Overwatch World Cup. How do you feel from that and what did your teammates tell you after your victory?
Fury: I was kind of worried at first because I didn’t have enough time to practice or become friends with the new national team. My teammates texted me and told me I did a great job after winning, but Gesture told me that he didn’t watch any Overwatch Esports when he was on a vacation.
Q. (To Fury) The new head coach had some very positive comments about you.
Fury: I didn’t know him well before he came to our team because he is from a non-Overwatch gaming team, but now I like him very much. He is really nice to us. He is also a highly experienced coach and has a great personality.
Q. (To Gesture) You are known for not playing Competitive very much and you tend to practice in your mind rather than in actual games. Is this true?
Gesture: I do play Competitive when I think my performance is unsatisfactory, but it is true that I don’t play Competitive a lot. The way you practice will be different depending on your role, but I think you don’t get better by simply playing the game a lot. The way I practice suits me well.
Q. (To Gesture) You started from the “PC Cafe Tournament”, won the Overwatch APEX, and finally won the Overwatch League. Did you expect yourself to be this successful as a pro?
Gesture: I didn’t expect myself to be this successful. I just tried my best at what I’m good at and eventually won.
Q. Let’s go back to some questions for all three of you. A new head coach has been part of the team since September. What was the biggest difference since he joined?
Birdring: I haven’t spent much time with him yet but he has great leadership and asks us about the things that we are not satisfied with, even before we say anything. I know he is a nice person.
Gesture: He has his own rules on the things that need to be kept, and we follow his rules. I think we are getting stronger as a team.
Fury: He cares about us a lot. We didn’t start practicing with him yet, but he really improved the team mood.
Q. Overwatch has won Esports Game of the Year and the Overwatch League Grand Final has won Esports Event of the Year this year. As a pro, what are your thoughts about this increased awareness of Overwatch in the Esports field?
Birdring: As a professional Overwatch player, it is a great news. I hope Overwatch can grow bigger in the future and give me many good memories.
Gesture: I’m happy that the game I play won the Esports Game of the Year, and to see Overwatch’s awareness in Esports. It makes me want to do better.
Fury: As an Overwatch player, I feel happy about the game and the league growing bigger. I hope that Overwatch can grow more so everyone knows and loves the game. It motivates me to try harder as a pro.
Q. You guys are the role models for aspiring Overwatch pros. What advice can you give them?
Birdring: Skills are the basis, and the most important thing is teamplay. You have to help each other.
Gesture: You will get what you struggle to achieve. If you try hard enough, it will work out.
Fury: An increasing number of people are hoping to become Esports pros, and I’m glad that the common perception of Esports is changing. One piece of advice I can give you is that you always have to work for your own progress. A game does not stay the same. New updates and characters will come out, so if you don’t learn all the new stuff you will fall behind. Always try to learn and experiment.
Q. In the next season you will be the “defending champion”. Are you feeling any pressure because of this?
Birdring: I felt a lot of pressure when moving on to Stage 2 after winning Stage 1. But I’ve been there before, so the next season will be a whole new season.
Gesture: I do feel some pressure, but I believe we will do well if we try our best and enjoy the game as we always do.
Fury: I feel a lot of pressure but it will be the same for the opponent as they are up against the defending champion.
Q. Please let us hear about your aspirations for Season 2.
Birdring: I will show you even more impressive performance in Season 2.
Gesture: I will practice hard as I usually do, and will play as well as I always have. I want to show some great game performance to my fans.
Fury: I will not rest where I am right now, even though I won the championship last year. I did go through some hard times last year but it will not happen in Season 2.
Q. Do you have any goals you want to personally achieve in Season 2?
Birdring: Two winning streaks in the Overwatch League. I want the highest number of wins.
Gesture: I want to win Season 2, and my personal goal is to leave an impression of myself as a player who is always the best.
Fury: This year was a great year. I want to win again next year and defend the championship.
Q. Lastly, would you like to say anything to the fans who support London Spitfire?
Birdring: Thank you for your support. We will not let you down and keep on giving great performances next year as well.
Gesture: Thank you for always supporting us. There were moments where we were disappointing and you were not happy even though you were cheering for us, but in the end we won the championship. We promise not to give up and always try out best until the end in Season 2.
Fury: Thank you for always being with us during the good times and the hard times. We will give you more exciting games next year.