On January 10th, members of the Overwatch League teams and related personnel gathered at the Overwatch League Media Day before the opening of the OWL. The pros from the participating teams shared their goals and ambitions for the very first season of the OWL, which will be held for 8 months starting from Jan 11th.
A lot of people gathered to hear from Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior, which are the top-seed teams in the OWL. We had a chance to talk with head coach Beom-jun “Bishop” Lee and the two tank players, Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong and Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek, and asked them about the London Spitfire.
Q. The team’s name is London Spitfire. What does “Spitfire” mean?
Bishop: The Spitfire is a famous British aircraft. As Overwatch is an Esports game, the name Spitfire fits the image of the game and the team.
Q. The London Spitfire is the only team in the OWL that is based in Europe. You must feel proud and worried at the same time. How do you feel about that?
Bishop: We perceive it as a chance. Other European teams will be joining the OWL in the future, and it is an honor for us to be the first team that represents Europe in the OWL. Of course, we feel a lot of pressure because of that, but we are more proud than worried. We want OWL fans in London to be proud of us as well.
Q. You lost against the LA Gladiators once during the pre-season, and that loss must have left much to be desired. How did you feel about the loss back then?
Bishop: The first thing we thought after the loss was that there will be some top-quality games in the OWL. 110 of the best Overwatch players are competing in the OWL, and it’s going to be tough for sure. We knew we had to try harder after the loss.
Q. The London Spitfire has former members of Kongdoo Panthera and GC Busan. The advantages that the two teams have might make for good synergy, but it might be hard for you to learn how to work as a single team.
Bishop: We are actually working on that a lot. We have a lot of members, and had difficulties coming up with the best team comp. We want to maximize the synergy that our members have and we made an entry list based on that criteria.
We get this question a lot: “Don’t you think that the players who are not playing in the match might get a bit rusty with their skills?” But I don’t worry about this since we’ve been preparing for all heroes up to the latest balance patch, and the players who are not playing are always analyzing the match with the coaching staff.
All of our members were friends before they got into the same team. Gesture and Fissure have been friends for a while, as they are both tank mains. All of the members are trying to be friends with each other.
Gesture: The players and the coaching staff have a meeting and decide on who should be playing today. I think having a lot of members is an advantage, as we have a wide range of choices when coming up with the most effective team comp.
Fissure: We have 12 players registered in the roster and that is an advantage for us, but at the same time it means that only the 6 players who are better get to play. We are definitely stronger than before as a team, but I feel anxious in every game.
Q. Bishop is the only head coach that used to be a professional player. Is this one of the advantages that the team has?
Bishop: There are definitely some advantages. The biggest advantage is that I can relate to the players in every way. But I am young and inexperienced as a head coach, so I’m kind of worried about that. I believe that there shouldn’t be any barrier between the head coach and the players. When I’m coaching, I want to say things like “I experienced the same situation when I was a pro.” and be more friendly.
Q. You have to live in the States for 6 months for the OWL. The pros might have problems with food and other life aspects. How will the team deal with this issue?
Bishop: For meals, we signed a contract with a Korean restaurant. They will provide lunch and dinner for us, and will plan healthy meals for us as well. Team Seoul and team New York will be eating at the same restaurant. Homesickness is going to be a hardship that everyone has to overcome. Team London has an all-Korean coaching staff to support the pros, and I will help them to adapt to the new environment by giving them advice from my personal experience when I stayed in the States back when I was a pro.
Q. What are some forms of support that the team provides? Are there any special accommodations that only team London gets?
Bishop: C9 won the best Esports club 2 years in a row. There are many reasons, but one of the reason why they are the best is that C9 provides the best care for their team members. They have a counseling psychologist, and a health manager that provides nutritious meals. They also schedule personal training sessions to treat each player’s wrist injuries or shoulder pain. They provide health insurance, and comply with the minimum wage that the OWL has set. The support that C9 provides is some of the best.
Q. Team London, team Seoul, and team New York are all-Korean teams and they are also the teams favored to win. What is the goal of Team London for this season?
Bishop: We have the former members of GC Busan, who conquered Overwatch APEX in South Korea, and Kongdoo Panthera, the all-time favorite team. We have two teams among the top 3 teams in APEX, so I believe we can win this.
Our coaching staff must lead our 12 members well. The skill of an individual player is important, but the role of a head coach, that would be me, is also very important. I have a huge responsibility. I should encourage positive competition among the members and keep them at their peak performance at the same time. Our goal is to have a 70% win rate before the playoffs begin.
Gesture: I haven’t thought about the win rate. There are some teams that we can pull a clean sweep against, and some teams that play as good as we do. But there aren’t any teams that we don’t stand a chance against.
Fissure: I’m sure that team Seoul and team New York are aiming to become the final winner of this season. Our goal, too, is to win the season. The pros and the coaching staff will do their best to achieve that goal.