GC Busan Wave is a relatively new team in Season 2 of Korean Overwatch Contenders. GCB has been making waves throughout the whole tournament with unique lineups, often running old school compositions that have not seen in meta for a while. While sometimes shaky and unstable, this new team of young and talented players has shown that they have what it takes to be one of the scariest teams in Overwatch Contenders.
Days before their debut in Overwatch Contenders playoffs, I was fortunate enough to talk with the team and discuss the team’s philosophy, their successes, and setbacks, what they hope to achieve in Overwatch and their problems in school. Here’s a premiere interview with GC Busan Wave.
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on making it to the playoffs. What were your goals coming into Overwatch Contenders? And what do you think allowed you to achieve these goals this season?
Dong-Hoon “Ritz” Son (Team Captain) – After we got into Contenders, our goal was to get to the playoffs. We thought that was possible. Why did we perform well? Since we participated in tournaments, we were able to improve over time. So, I think our experiences allowed us to get here in the end.
“Group B” was considered the ‘death group’ because there were so many good teams. After going through the group stages, what were the experiences like? Were there any challenges? Or any proud moments?
Ritz – We thought that Element Mystic would be the hardest opponent because they were known to be one of the best. However, with the exception of Seven, every single match was pretty close, and I am proud that we were able to get those results.
As you played through the Group Stages, were there any specific teams or players that gave you a difficult time?
Ritz – Uh… I thought that Element Mystic’s Daco was really good. He also plays the same role as me, so he was the most memorable.
Myung-Heum “JJANGGU” Cho – Uh… Element Mystic’s Xzi. The reason is that I think he is good is because I think he is an amazing widow.
Ji-Hoon “DayDream” Song – I thought O2’s Ivy was the biggest hurdle for us. We like to run full dive, and Ivy’s Pharah gave us hell.
Joon “Fielder” Kwon – I think EM’s Daco. He is consistently a good player, so I remember him the most.
Young-Hoi “GodSeJeong” Lee – I thought that 02’s Ivy was the toughest for me. People think about Climax when it comes to 02’s DPS, but I think Ivy is kind of the main damage dealer of the team.
Jun “AlphaYi” Kim – 7’s Adora. His damage output as Tracer was incredible.
Tae-Hoon “Edison” Kim – Probably Yaki. Because his hero pool depth is really deep, and he is a really good player.
I am thinking that you were probably expecting to play Runaway in the quarterfinals, but because of MVP’s victory against Element Mystic today, you are now going to face Kongdoo Panther instead. How do you feel? How confident are you against them?
Ritz – We were already expecting to play Kongdoo Panthera and prepared for the team before Seven lost against Foxes. After that, we unexpectedly had to prepare for Runaway. But now we have to prepare for compositions that we are not comfortable with yet and practice… So, for now, my confidence is around 50%. We really have to go on stage and see, the match will depend on the mood and our conditions. That’s what I think.
DayDream – After our match against 02, we were preparing for Kongdoo Panthera the whole time until yesterday, we had to practice and prepare for Runaway. But when we found out that we were going to play against Kongdoo Panthera today, we had a difficult time scrimming back and forth for the past week… but, I agree with Ritz. We’ll just have to play the first map and see.
Nano Genji, Nano Reaper and triple DPS with Doomfist. These are some uncommon compositions. Why did you decide to run these compositions? What made you think these compositions would work with the current meta?
Jun-Hyun “Nick” Park (Director) – I cannot talk about it in detail for strategic reasons. But, besides strategic reasons, one of our mottos is not only to win games but also put on a good show for our fans. This is something I encourage players to do. Nano Genji was something that was played a lot during the old school APEX days, and there are some fans that are nostalgic about it and want to see it again. So, that’s why I have ordered the team to run Nano Genji and Nano Reaper. I also think that this is the reason why we have been getting a lot of attention and fans.
Yea… a lot of people were probably not sure why GCB would run Genji against a tank heavy composition, especially with Brigitte, and probably were questioning your decisions. But, it ended up working out well and it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen in a long time. As a fan of Overwatch, it was fun and exciting to see.
Nick – That means our strategy worked!
To the Director, you recently tweeted that you tell your players “to have fun without regrets,” it’s kind of the team’s Philosophy.
Nick – it’s my own personal philosophy, (laughs) I don’t know how other people see it.
How much of that philosophy is incorporated into GC Busan Wave’s games? Do you think it is one of the reasons for GC Busan’s success so far?
There are some people who say these things to relieve pressure off the players. But, if you think about it asking them to run suboptimal compositions [like Nano Genji and Nano Reaper] is putting a lot of pressure on them instead. It would be easier for them if I told them to run metas. However, we ended up succeeding most of the time and we were able to put on a good show, so it worked out for us in the end.
So, in a way… they [players] are like your victims.
Do any of the players have any comments?
Ritz – I personally like it a lot. First of all, these compositions are [uncommon so they are] harder to prepare for, so the opponents are often caught off-guard. It’s also something that the coaches thought of, and as a person running it, it feels really good when it works out well. So, I think it’s ok.
Nick – You can just tell him that it’s hard, and you don’t want to do it anymore. It’s ok.
DayDream – I think all of us pretty much think the same way, and it’s something we all agreed to do.
GC Busan Wave is a team that brings out a lot of different compositions. However, when certain compositions are not working out, the team, sometimes, refuse to switch out of them. Is there a reason behind this?
DayDream – We thought about using the triple DPS with Doomfist composition against Element Mystic on Oasis because they tend to use McCree and Tracer. So, we practiced that for about a few days. And then they brought out the GOAT composition, so we ended up running the inferior composition. But, we practiced that for so long, so we kept on saying “let’s give it a try one more time.”
Now that you have achieved your goal of making it to the playoffs. What’s the next step? How are you planning to achieve that?
DayDream – We have prepared a lot of different compositions. Our strategy is to look at the opponent’s compositions and try to counter it. But, since we used so many different compositions, we haven’t had the time to master any of them. I think we need to start mastering a few and prepare for them.
Jae-Hong “Andante” Hwang – We have to look back at our matches and reflect. Yes, it’s important to focus on our individual plays, but we also have to focus on, for example, taking certain positions, solving certain puzzles, [etc.] We need to look back and reflect on our decision-making. For example, “because I couldn’t think of this at that moment, we lost the fight, or because I did this, we were able to win.” We will try to look back at all the matches and try to fill those gaps and prepare for the playoffs.
Now that you are about to face some teams from Group A. Are there any teams that you would like to face? Which team do you think you can confidently beat?
Ritz – If we think about it, all 4 teams [from Group A] are really strong. If possible, we want to avoid Runaway. I think we can beat Meta Bellum.
So, are you saying that you would rather face Kongdoo Panthera over Runaway?
Ritz – Yea… I mean I know that we are not good against countering Pharah, but still… I think Runaway itself is such a scary team. So, yea I think facing against Runaway will be harder.
Nick – I want to play against Runaway.
AlphaYi – I want to face X – 6 because they were champions in Season 1.
Nick – Don’t you want to see us play against Runaway?
I REALLY want to see it. I thought it was going to be GC Busan versus Runaway at first and I thought to myself, “wow the first few matches are going to be insane”, but when it was switched today I was kind of disappointed, to be honest.
Nick – If you look at Twitch chat, a lot of people are saying that there’s a lot of similarities between last season’s Runaway and this season’s GC Busan. People think that it could be a fierce match. Our players don’t really want to face Runaway, but I really want them to face them (laughs).
You are starting to get a lot of attention and popularity. How does it feel?
Ritz – When we were playing in the Open Division, our team used to be called Maxtill FatCat, and we had quite a big fan base at the time. But, ever since we went through Trials and Contenders, our fanbase started to get bigger, and we are really thankful. When we hear them cheering for us, we can hear them loudly. When we hear that, we are reminded that we are actually professional gamers and we are playing in a big tournament, and it is a big help for us.
GodSeJeong – After our first match against MVP Space, we had a fan [meet-up]. There was a significant increase in fans and it was really fascinating, and it felt great.
Whenever GCB wins, we can see the team celebrating excitedly. However, when the team loses, the team tend to stay pretty calm and cool, and it doesn’t seem like the team tilts much. How do you keep cool?
DayDream – Of course, it feels good to win. However, there are some matches when we play horribly, and we sometimes fight and tilt. But, we try to keep in mind that there are fans watching us, and we should try to look positive. So, we kind of force ourselves sometimes (laughs). But, there’s a lot of time where we feel good after we lose. For example, when we played against Element Mystic. We lost because we made some mistakes, but I think we played really well overall, and even though we lost, we told ourselves that we played well, and we were proud of ourselves. I think it depends on the matches.
Andante – For the past 3 months, we played opponents that were getting harder and harder. But, I don’t think there was a time when we went through a slump. If we win, there’s always something to gain, and when we lose, there’s always something to gain. If we think about it that way, we start to believe that gaining something is sometimes more important than winning or losing. I think that’s why we can keep calm and cool.
I have a question for the Director. How do you feel about the way Blizzard is managing Contenders?
Nick – This is my first time getting into Contenders and I think there should be more publicity for Contenders and develop better conditions and easier ways for teams to get sponsorships. But to be fair, I can’t say that Blizzard is not trying. I think, well for Korean Contenders, all the participants of Contenders are asking Blizzard for more when we are not putting the same amount of effort ourselves. I think if all the Korean teams were to put more effort into making Contenders more entertaining and try to increase Contenders publicity, then I have no doubt that we can make Contenders viable for our players. In other words, yes it would be nice for Blizzard to publicize Contenders more and provide easier ways to get sponsorships; but, it's ultimately our jobs to make Contenders more interesting.
What’s the daily schedule like for GC Busan?
Nick – I am not sure about other Contenders, but for us, there are some players who have to go to school. Well, of course, they are on summer vacation right now, but we have some players that go to school, and the others that don’t go to school practice by themselves until they come back. So, usually, we would start practicing [as a team] around 6 PM and practice until around midnight. Other times, we analyze, give feedback, and have our own separate practice times.
So, some of the players practice until midnight and then go to school the following day, right?
Nick – Yes.
How many players are currently students?
(Ritz, Ion, Fielder and JJANGGU raise their hands)
It must have been so hard going to school and practicing. How do your parents feel about this double lifestyle?
Ritz – My parents, for the most part, try their best to support me. Our residence is in Busan, so I go to school in Busan and it’s been hard. They wouldn’t let me quit school, and it was really hard practicing until late at night and then waking up in the morning to go to school. So, I often fall asleep in class.
Do your teachers know?
Ritz – Yea, when we were registering for school, the director, teachers, parents and the principal held a meeting together to discuss my profession, and in the end, teachers understood my situation and allowed me to sleep in class.
How about others?
Fielder – I am in the exact same situation. I go to the same school as [Ritz]. My parents bought me equipment to help me become a pro player.
Nick – Your parents were not against it?
Fielder – No, my parents weren’t against it. They said that if it’s something that I wanted to do, then I should do it.
Nick – JJANGGU had the most difficulty.
JJANGGU – My parents were strongly against it. However, I told them this is something I really wanted to do and was finally able to persuade them, and they said they will try to support me as much as I can.
Nick – In his case, he goes to school here (Seoul) and can’t really come to our residence to practice in Busan.
JJANGGU – Now that I am in my senior of high school, it’s kind of hard for me to quit school. I have to attend a certain number of classes in order to graduate and I just needed to fill a bit more. And because of that, I couldn’t practice as much with the team as much.
Nick – How about you, Ion?
Ji-Heon “Ion” Lim – When I first told my parents that I wanted to become a pro gamer, I fought with my parents a lot. But, in the end, I was able to persuade them. They realized that this was something that I really wanted to do, and they said I should do something that I want. After that, they helped me by buying equipment and supported me.
Do you have any last words for fans abroad or in Korea?
Nick – If there is one thing that I want to say, I would say this. We have been playing non-stop since April and our players and coaches are really worn out. So, we are currently in an exhausted state and even with that we still try to play our best. But, we are reaching the end of our limit, and we are trying to hold on as long as we can to finish all the way. So, I hope the fans will understand that we are trying our best, and I hope that they can forgive us when we make mistakes here and there. We are also a new team and we haven’t gotten our coordination perfected ye, and there could be problems from time to time. I hope our fans can forgive us when it doesn’t really go our way. I am confident that we can do much better next season and I believe that we can have better results, and I hope our fans would have a good time watching us no matter what the results are this season.
Ritz – I am thankful that not only Korean fans but fans abroad have taken interest in us and continue to cheer for us. I hope that our fans can continue to cheer for us and believe in us.
DayDream – I think we are all thinking about the same thing. I actually didn’t know we had fans abroad until today and I am quite surprised. As much as we are getting love from our fans, we will return it with good results.