Going into this season, it was hard to predict how well the San Francisco Shock will perform due to the last year's performance. However, they proved any doubters wrong with their current record this season.
A huge contributor to the Shock's success is Da-hee "Crusty" Park, who was Boston Uprising's coach last season. Crusty spoke with Inven Global about the team's success, how he managed to change the team's philosophy, and about coaching in this year's World Cup.
I want to talk about the team's success this season. What was your thought process in sticking to a specific style for the Shock?
There are different team styles like when lots of teams changed to 2-2-2, Sombra GOATS, or Sombra/Ana GOATS. For us, we prefer to stick with the pure style of what GOATS should be. Even though other teams come at us with other comps, we try to win with pure GOATS. We have different strategies to counter other comps. That's why we have different players to be more flexible in GOATS. As of now, we continue to work on it.
What do you and the other coaches discuss to polish this style throughout the entire season?
We think a lot about changing to a 2-2-2 comp or another thing, but we are already pretty good at GOATS. We make different simulations for the team like when other teams play DPS comps or Sombra GOATS, we need to figure out how to deal with it. We made concept strategies and in the end, we try to become tougher mentally about it.
We've seen other teams get away from GOATS. As you said, there are teams doing Sombra GOATS or DPS comps for example. Have you implemented that style with your team?
For us, I think we're not afraid of facing Sombra GOATS so I don't think we'll change our plan too much. For playoffs, we'll probably prepare for other things. You'll have to wait and see.
How do you defend against Sombra GOATS since Shanghai almost took out the Shock in the Stage 2 playoffs?
What we learned from it is that putting Sombra in GOATS created a faster tempo. A lot of teams now studied Sombra GOATS after what happened in Stage 2 playoffs. It made our team study and try to defend that comp.
How did your experience from South Korea and Boston before this season transformed the Shock into a winning team this season?
After I came to San Francisco last season, we continued to struggle in Stage 4. Even though we beat strong teams, we still struggled.
During that time, our coaching staff focused on changing the player's styles for the team instead of individually. Before I came to SF, I saw the roster and thought the roster was a huge treasure. When we started to work together, I thought there was something lacking - some of the star players think for themselves.
During Stage 4 and break time, we worked really hard to play as a team. With my experience from Boston, it helped me make my own style and I adopt that style now. The players were all in with my style and I'm happy to see where it got us today.
One of those players who's matured so much since you got in the team is sinatraa. What is your opinion on his maturity this season?
sinatraa has a ton of talent. Lots of star players have their own opinions about analyzing the game and it made them stronger. Currently, the meta this season is more team-based so I made sinatraa understand about how other teams would view this meta. I keep teaching him about the team's situation and he tried hard to become that great team player. In turn, he became the leader for our team.
We've seen the team struggle in Stage 1 then pull it together for Stage 2 and continue on in this stage. What kind of struggles do you think the team had this season?
First thing, we never lose during scrims. But, when it comes to matches, our opponents show up with some weird comp. You know Chengdu always does some weird comps in matches. It threw us off and made our brain stop for a minute.
Normally, our coaches catch mistakes during scrims and we give feedback to the players about it. During matches, however, we make tons of mistakes. It threw us off so we try to mimic how we play on scrims to the matches.
How do you keep the team focused to get over any struggles?
During scrims, we keep talking about what situations can happen in matches. With smart players, you can throw a curveball, and the players might not know how to respond. Our players can struggle but since our team is focused on coaching, we keep feeding the players information so they can adapt to the meta.
At Stage 1, we made constant mistakes because we were afraid of Vancouver and NYXL specifically. That made us play really passive and it happened again in Stage 3. When we played against weird comps, we started to play passive and threw us off our normal game.
I think we'll be fine heading into playoffs. Other teams get stronger as the season goes on and I'm positive we will too.
What do you think is going great for the team heading into Stage 4?
We have so much experience now than we did before. We're a top 3 team and every player is proud of that fact. I know each one of them is going to try their best and not make too many mistakes in Stage 4.
With the rumored 2-2-2 meta, I still have to figure out own our style. We will teach all the players to adapt to that style plus we have really good DPS players. We're going to make sure we pull out their strengths if and when the meta changes.
Are you going to stick with the same starting roster in Stage 4?
It's hard to answer now because we haven't scrimmed with any changes yet.
Let's switch topics and talk about the World Cup. You're going to coach the 3-time champions, Team South Korea. How confident are you to win a 4th straight championship?
Every time when the World Cup comes around, the meta changes. Like last year, we saw Doomfist/Sombra and GOATS. NineK and I have a good support staff so we will try our best to figure out the meta fast. Then, we'll pick up players who best fit the meta. South Korea has a lot of good players so if I don't mess up, we can win.
Are there any players that you want to try out?
We're not only focusing on Overwatch League players but also looking at Contenders players. There are lots of new faces that we can scout, plus we don't know what the meta is yet. I think there's a possibility we can have a surprise roster - we're not entirely sure yet.
What are your thoughts about facing Junkbuck and Harsha from Team USA?
I'll show who's the best head coach. I'm looking forward to it.
Before wrapping this up, what's one thing you wish more people knew about yourself?
I started coaching when I'm 20 when Overwatch came out, now I'm 23. When I was young, it was hard to make players respect me, especially in Korea. I was never a professional player ever, even though I was a high rank at other games.
I need to be more knowledgeable than the players so I can teach them and correct their mistakes. I need to do lots of work to make sure players respect me. What I learned during that time was that it made me broaden my knowledge and helped me understand players. It's helped me now relate to the Shock players and bring us closer like a family.
Thank you for giving me your coaching knowledge! Is there anything else you want to say?
Thank you especially to the fans. Cheering for our team and also thanks for voting for me to coach in the World Cup. I will try my best with everything.
Writer @InvenGlobal | Freelanced at @overwatchscore @vpesports @GinxTV @Upcomer | Former CLICKON Media and Echo Fox.