The San Francisco Shock are in the Grand Finals once again to defend their championship that they earned last season. Even without the 2019 Overwatch League MVP and now player for the Sentinels' VALORANT team, Jay "sinatraa" Won, and a vital teammate last season Minho "Architect" Park, the Shock continues to be consistent with wins.
San Francisco Shock's Grant "moth" Espe, Matthew "super" DeLisi, and General Manager Chris Chung joins the press in an online press conference via Zoom to talk about defending their championship, and adapting this season.
Bryan Rockwood (The Game Haus): Obviously, you guys have been quarantining since heading over to South Korea. How was practice been while quarantined?
Moth: It's been going really well, even though we're in also a great place, you know, some of us are in our hotel room. It hasn’t really affected our performance at all.
Super: Yeah, I mean, I guess the biggest thing was just getting used to like the different setup because it was like a hotel desk, hotel chair. Not the best, but you make do with what you got. So it wasn't like it was too bad and we just kind of did our thing like usual.
Chris: I think another thing that was challenging is just like our practice partners or scrim partners just because we're so limited being in Asia. I think given the circumstance and just everything that came our way, I think the players and the coaches were able to adapt pretty well.
Theo Salaun (Bleacher Report/Dexerto): I wanted to look kind of just a little more nitty-gritty at your first matchup this coming weekend. And so I was wondering kind of just looking at the Seoul Dynasty and how they've been playing, what do you guys think is kind of their strongest suit right now? And what are you kind of like focusing on as something as a point of emphasis in preparing for your match up?
Super: They've really only used one comp it that we noticed in playoffs. Just their Hog comps they haven’t really deferred from that too much. So we think that that's probably what they're going to be strong at and we know our own strategies and counter-strats against that. If they pull out something new, then we'll have to adapt.
Theo Salaun (Bleacher Report/Dexerto): And then just following on that, kind of in dealing with that Hog strat. Do you think that kind of taking the Hog out first is the way to go? Like, is there I mean with I guess you might not want to give away too much, I'm just curious to know how you as a team, try to deal with a team that's kind of been laying out one strat most of the time?
Moth: Yeah not rather not get into specifics of how to play against them. But, we think we have a very good idea of how they like to play and how to counter it.
Michael Gwilliam (Dexerto): You guys have been one of the most consistent teams for the last two seasons, winning a championship, and then you know a stage and two monthly tournaments. Obviously, the league is still very young, but would you consider yourselves a dynasty if you were to win this weekend and should Seoul change their name if you guys pull that off?
Super: Well, like he says [points to Chris], take it one game at a time. We're just going to know to not think too much about that stuff, just focus on Seoul right now. I mean, it would be nice to win again. But, you know, that's not where we are right now. So, we're just gotta we'll talk after and then we’ll see how we feel.
Chris: Like Super said, we don't want to think about what could happen, like any of the hypotheticals, so to say. I just think it's important for me just focus on what's important to us and take it 100 percent at that. That way we won't regret this.
Andres Aquino (Ginx TV): I have a question regarding like you guys traveling to Korea and how it feels for you personally. I know there's a lot of veterans in Shock, but like Super and Moth, You haven't had a chance to play in Korea like back in APEX, you were in there. I saw how you, Super, we're excited to run into Blue Luna on stream. How does it feel for you guys to be in Korea?
Super: Earlier in the year, we were here because we're supposed to play Homestead matches and then those, of course, those got shut down. So that was a little disappointing. I've watched and I'm sure he has too [points at Moth], we watched APEX games before OWL, watching those players come up.
For us to finally be in Korea, I think is pretty exciting because that's kind of like the home of a lot of players and I think it's going to be pretty fun. I wish it was on LAN in front of a crowd, but you make do with what you can and that's where we are.
Liz Richardson (Dot Esports): How did quarantine affect your mentality or mental health going into Grand Finals?
Super: For me, like getting out of quarantine was like a boost up. You don't get to see anybody, you don’t get to talk to anybody, you get prison food. Not great. Once you actually get out, you get to touch people again, look at people again. It just feels a lot better.
Moth: The food was pretty depressing and the chair and desk weren’t really great. But, we won’t let those things affect our play. Overall, I don't think it'll matter.
Ashley Parrish (Kotaku): My question is North America and APAC have been pretty sequestered from each other. Do you think that's made the team's stronger or weaker since you guys have limited opponent pools?
Moth: I think if all the teams were in one region, then everyone is stronger as a result because like there's more variety and compositions and more different views on the meta. But having the best teams separated probably lowered the level of play considering scrim partners we could have had but don’t have. I still think we’re the strongest team.
Teddy Amenabar (Washington Post): I wanted to ask when you guys first heard about the travel plans to get to South Korea for the Grand Finals, what was your reaction? What do you think was going to be the most challenging part? How did you guys even hear about it? Was it before the announcement or when the news came out? I'm just interested in how that all played out.
Super: My first reaction was I hope that I get a laptop or a computer to take in quarantine because otherwise, that would have been pretty bad. We knew that what’s going to happen when we got in the playoffs, but we really didn't talk about it too much until after we qualified. And then we talked about how we're going to get through quarantine, it's going to suck. Now that we're out, I'm happy to be here.
Chris: I think from the org standpoint, once we knew the whole conditions that we're going to get into, we knew right away that we would be at an advantage. There's really no use of just like complaining and not being able to have fun. We just talked it over like this is how it's going to be. We just need to adjust to the surroundings. Obviously, it was tough.
As a team like you want to put your teammates in a situation where you know, it's going to be just like the Grand Finals stage. We've done that in the past two seasons, but obviously, with the current pandemic that's going on, it was just like unfortunate and that didn't stop us from just like trying to constantly persevere and try to achieve our ultimate goal.
Robert Hanes (The Game Haus): Should you reach the finals, can you rank the three teams in order of which one you would want to play most and which one you would want to play least?
Super: I don't really care who we play. You know, I don't want to think like oh, I really hope you get these guys because I just don't really feel like that. We're just taking it one game at a time. I'm not like banking on a team to play.
Moth: Yeah, I think we can beat those even three teams and no preference on which one we meet.
Chris: We've actually never talked about like which teams are the strongest, even though we've beaten Philly before. We're in the playoffs right now and like this is a whole new, atmosphere totally different situation that we’re in. We want to make sure that we don't get complacent.
Theo Salaun (Bleacher Report/Dexerto): What different skills do you think like some of the bench players like yourself like, or more recently bench players, like Rascal and Twilight. Like what are you guys bring to the table? And then how does that change your team's gameplay in the moment?
Moth: Shock’s always been a team that feels like we really don't have any bench players. Everyone has a role and if we need anyone at any time, then we can slot them in. Even if someone's not scrimming with us, if we feel like I'm not fit or we can do something on the fly to plan a new strat, then we’ll do it.
Just because they're not playing in the meta right now does not mean we’re not going to need them during match day. We adapt on the fly a lot and it depends on what we want to pull out.
Ashley Parrish (Kotaku): Your lineup’s been pretty standard with the obvious change of sinatraa leaving and you guys lost Architect, but you gained Twilight and Taiyo. So how has your team been gelling with you know, the big leaves and the new additions?
Moth: I feel like we're the same as always, players come and go. We have the same approach to the game, a really good handle on the meta. We always step up when we need to, like what they want us to do. It still feels the same.
Super: The chemistry is always there. Even when we get new players, we just always have a tendency, and there's always a way for us to gel together really quickly and that's just how it goes. I can't explain it. It's like some magic that exists.
I think we always do a pretty good job of no matter, who's in who's out, what new players we get. Feels like there's always the synergy’s always there which is always good.
Chris: I also think one thing that gets overlooked we've always seen is like with sinatraa and Architect leaving, how tough it was for the Shock.
One thing that doesn’t get looked at is the fact of just the next group of the wave of players like stepping up. I mean, it was really encouraging to kind of see that, especially during the pandemic.
Just as a general manager, I was very hopeful and it was really encouraging to see everyone stepping up, filling in the holes. You know players like Taiyo, Twilight, and ANS coming in, it’s just like Super said, our chemistry still there and I think that's what got us to where we are today.
Liz Richardson (Dot Esports): What does a typical day of Grand Finals prep look like right now?
Super: Just basically the same as any other day. I mean we wake up, we work together, eat some food, talk about stuff before our scrims, get into scrims, talk about stuff afterward. Nothing too different from our usual because I think deferring from stuff like that is kind of how you psych yourself out sometimes. Why change what works so nothing really too out of the ordinary for us.
Moth: The only real difference is that we push our scrim schedule back because the matches are later so we’re scrimming later now. Other than that, we didn’t change things too much.
Teddy Amenabar (Washington Post): One, do you think the state of play is different when you compare the teams playing in Asia versus North America when you watch tape? Two, it's now the third season like the League's expanding. It's no longer just in California. I was curious like if any of that means anything to you guys?
Super: It's good for everyone when the league is expanding like this. I was really excited to travel to places like I wanted to go to Paris, China, but unfortunately, the way things ended out didn't happen.
It's still exciting like being able to travel to these different places like I would have never been able to do that if it didn't expand so, it's definitely a pretty special thing. I know there's a lot of people who they wish they could do it or those, you know people that are fans of the league and our cheering us on. I'm always trying to have a fun time with it.
Chris: Because of the whole expansion of the league, I think it just makes it that much more meaningful to represent San Francisco. It's not every day where you can represent a city on an international platform. We know our fans are always behind us. They've been so supportive this season or in the previous seasons.
Hopefully, just like we can kind of show our appreciation back by you know, making them proud.
Michael Gwilliam (Dexerto): Last year, you guys shocked everybody with the chandelier Bastion strat. Do you have anything like could like that could compare to that coming up this weekend for Grand Finals?
Super: Who knows? Maybe, maybe not, you never know.
Michael Gwilliam (Dexerto): My other question is you guys got the Doomfist championship skin for winning last season. Do you guys have a hero that you guys want a skin for if you were to win it all again this year?
Chris: We definitely know Blizzard doesn't want Orisa.
Super: I’ve got nothing.
Jess Wells (The Loadout): Just wondering we've already mentioned how you've adapted to sinatraa's departure already, but just wanted to know if you guys have stayed in touch at all? And if he's actually offered you any kind words for the final.
Super: He's cheering us on. Actually, all of our ex-Shock guys are cheering us on. Nevix, sinatraa, Architect, sleepy. They’re all looking to see us win again. I do keep in touch with them, not as often as I like. They’re still in good terms with us.
Moth: We always follow sinatraa’s games in VALORANT and I’m sure he’d do the same for us.
Chris: I mean you see sinatraa, sometimes he does like the trash-talking for us. Our ex-Shock players always send those words of encouragement. I think that's something very unique about the Shock. I'm really thankful for that.
Andres Aquino (GinxTV): I wanted to specifically get Super’s thoughts because it's been quite the journey following your stream trying to get a positive record while playing the Korean ladder.
I want to hear like your perspective on how you know, a lot of people pros and coaches say that Koreans take solo queue more seriously. I wanted to know if playing on a laptop is hindering you? What's your experience comparing the NA ladder to Korean ladder?
Super: I see a lot more like mirror matchups in Korean servers. But, it's kind of hard for me to communicate because I don’t speak Korean. I still try my hardest but yeah, honestly, I think the biggest difference is that I see like a lot more mirror matchups in Korean servers than I do in NA servers. That's like the biggest thing for me.
Teddy Amenabar (Washington Post): I am wondering what you guys find exciting about Overwatch right now as you're scrimming. Like as the game's introduced hero pools this season, things have changed. What to you is drawing you back or what’s exciting about the game?
Super: I like winning. Just being able to play and put myself in that position to win again.
Moth: I think balance has got a lot better recently. The game is in a pretty good spot.
Liz Richardson (Dot Esports): What does being a part of Grand Finals mean to you?
Moth: Since we won last year, being part of Grand Finals means that we have a chance to prove that we're still the best in the world. If we were to do it twice, I feel like we're not just the best in the game like right now, we’re truly one of the best teams in Overwatch.
Super: Last year, I remember going to finals was really it was really special for me, especially because it was in Philadelphia, which is where I'm from. The Wells Fargo Center which I've been many times, so I would say a lot more sentimental to me.
Being in Korea for Grand Finals this year, it's just like Moth kind of said it's just another opportunity for us to help solidify ourselves and cement the fact that we're still a hard-working team. We're still a good team and we have a chance to prove that.
Chris: I think it's more of a reassurance for us. What we've been doing like we're doing at a very high level whether it's our players or whether it's our coaching staff. I think 2019 was a great year for us, but we're in 2020.
We're just focusing on 2020, but I think our journey for this season has been a tremendously tough. I think every team had it tough, no doubt in my mind. The teams that are in the bottom or the teams that are on the top are equal. Everyone had their adversity that they had to overcome.
It's very like encouraging for us, you know, even moving on forward. We're doing it at a high level, we lost a couple of players, but that's okay, you know, we couldn't play in front of our fans during this pandemic. We’re able to adapt and we just need to close it up.
Writer @InvenGlobal | Freelanced at @overwatchscore @vpesports @GinxTV @Upcomer | Former CLICKON Media and Echo Fox.