On the second week of the Overwatch League, Sung-hyeon "JJoNak" Bang had come off a 4-0 sweep against the Houston Outlaws. Upon entering the interview after his win, the aura of confidence surrounding JJoNak was apparent, and for good reason — NYXL now sits at a match score 4-0 in sole possesion of first place in the Overwatch League.
New York Excelsior is one of two undefeated teams so far this season, but JJoNak knows that he needs to stay hungry, and overcome the drawbacks that barred NYXL from a championship in its first season. I interviewed JJoNak about NYXL’s biggest obstacle this year, how NYXL has been able to consistently stay on top, and his opinion on Guangzhou Charge DPS Kim "Shu" Jin-seo.
Congrats on the win, Jjonak. Just wondering, what was the reason behind the Bastion pick in the last map?
Our strategy on first-point defense in Route 66 was to use Bastion to take as much time off the clock as possible. It went okay even though we didn't take too much time off the clock. We were satisfied with trying that strategy.
Do you guys feel hungrier than last year to win the championship?
We are a lot more hungry for the championship. We came up short last year and were disappointed with our results. This year, we think the championship is winnable. We're more likely to win it this season than we did last season. Our biggest obstacle to the championship this year was Hangzhou at first, but not at this moment.
The team I think would be a challenge to face is Seoul Dynasty. Seoul made a lot of improvements during the offseason. They're a lot stronger, but our job is to make sure they don't win the championship. We will win this year.
Throughout your games so far in this stage, the team’s been protecting you. Was that the gameplan going into this season?
It was not like our strategy per se. It was mostly Anamo, Libero, and MekO being aware of the situation. They know how to peel for me, or anyone who's in trouble as a matter of fact. Because of this, I feel like our communication has been very good.
Who’s been the player to hold this team together and keep everyone in check?
I think Mano is the one to keep us on track with everything. He's been a leader to us. Without Mano, I don't think we can perform as well as we are now.
Even though NYXL is undefeated so far, what do you think the team needs to improve on?
We struggled in our first match against Boston due to being back on the stage. We were all nervous then. Right now, I feel like we're less nervous on stage. Given that we're not nervous is important for us. Next week, we are facing Seoul. If we can minimize our nerves, we have a good chance of winning.
We’ve seen NYXL dominate in different metas throughout these past two seasons. Who do you have to thank for the team being consistently on top?
I think we're able to adapt to different metas so quickly and better than most other teams is that everyone is talented mechanically. Also, we have good coaches to keep us to the top of our game.
Last year, Hyeong-seok "WizardHyeong" Kim coached NYXL. Has the team’s philosophy changed with a new coach this year?
Of course like in any other sports, when management changes, the team's philosophy changes. I can't say what's better, but for sure, both coaches had a lot of strengths. I think Washington is lucky to have Wizardhyeong this season.
Shu from Guangzhou Charge said he’s looking to playing against you. What do you think about Shu as a player? Is there anything you would like to say to him?
During scrims against Guangzhou, Shu really stood out. He played at a high level. However, that is just scrims. I want to face him on an actual match and see what he can do.
From the new players in the league, who are you looking forward to facing?
I know he's not a rookie, but I'm looking forward to playing against Gido. The thing is, the last time we played him, when he was in Seoul, he didn't play much at all. I can't wait to see how much he's improved since then.
Is there anything you would like to say to the rest of the teams in the league?
To the other teams — you can try whatever you want, we'll be better at the end of the day.
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