The Los Angeles Valiant started 0-7 and last place in the Overwatch League. Since that time, they are 8-6 heading into the Stage 3 playoffs. This feels like déjà vu when the Valiant had a bad Stage 2 record, only to come back and win Stage 4 last season.
Every Valiant player contributed to their recent wins. One player, Kyle "KSF" Frandanisa, played an integral part in the Valiant's turnaround in Stage 3. KSF spoke with Inven Global his growth in the Overwatch League, how the Valiant is turning losses into wins, and thoughts on his potential.
This season is your first full season in the Overwatch League. Can you describe your maturity since you first came in to the league to now?
Last season, I obviously didn't get much play time. Honestly, it was hard on me at first, but I got used to it - you find ways to improve yourself even if you're not playing on stage like spectating scrims and helping the team.
This season, I'm playing a lot more. It feels good to win overall and we've been improving. I'm taking that experience that I gained from last season into this season.
What do you continue to work on since you're basically playing every week?
I know it's kind of like a blank answer, but mostly, it's my game sense. Before, I was a ladder star. I just played a lot of comp in the game and was on a few Contenders teams. Getting picked up from Contenders and only ladder play to OWL, you have to learn a lot. It's basically watching a lot of my VODs and figuring out my mistakes.
It's crazy because in Contenders, it felt like people are fighting like taking 1v1s and everything. In OWL, it's completely different. There's so much deep-level strategy that the viewers don't know what's happening, they just see Widow 1v1s or GOATS play. There's so much under the water, there's so much going on like an ocean.
You mentioned how deep-level strategy differs from Contenders and Overwatch League. How is it different?
I'm sure every team is different. In general, using these micro engagements, in GOATS specifically. People in Contenders don't space as much as OWL teams do. Like you can have an off-angle here then Zarya takes off-angles. It pressures the Rein so much more.
Since coming into Valiant, who's responsible for your growth?
Probably our coaching staff. Our coaching staff improved my mental game and actual skill. Packing10 has been working with me a lot about the mental game and staying consistent. It's helped me a lot. Like all of our coaches are really helpful.
Let's talk about the mental game. We know each player is different. For yourself, what did you have to work on mentally?
I wouldn't say it's burnout but playing too much. Something I learned, even recently, is that you can play too much. It took a toll on me. I was on a small slump because I played too much. I was playing so much scrims, come home and only play comp for the rest of the night. Then, go to sleep and do it again everyday. I learned that you need to take time off and regain your composure.
The team had an up-and-down year so far this season. But now, the team is on the rise. What did you all learn from your slumps that helped you rise in Stage 3?
Overall, it is to trust your teammates. After Stage 1, we all lost trust with each other. We obviously rebuilt that and made changes. Right now, it's getting synergy with our new players.
We've seen other teams this season change their rosters. When they do, their playstyle changed. Has the Valiant's playstyle changed as well?
Before, we were playing a lot of Winston GOATS. Now, we're mainly playing Rein/Sombra GOATS. Also, we're playing more DPS because of the addition of Shax.
Is there more communication between you guys compared to the beginning of the season?
I'd say it's about the same. A lot of our communication is ability usage, plans, and calling ultimates between us and the other team.
Also, plans meaning going into a fight - what are we doing, what are we using, how do we want to set up, and how our opponents are going to engage.
In Stage 1, what do you think was the biggest issue with planning strategies?
I don't think we played that bad in Stage 1. Obviously, it sucks we went 0-7, but we had a bad schedule. Our first matches were Spark, NYXL, and Vancouver if I remember correctly. We took Spark and NYXL to map 5 and lost. From that point, it was downhill.
We were playing good at the start, then we started to lose trust and confidence in ourselves.
It's hard to regain trust in yourself and each other. In the end, the changes affected it most. It wasn't that one player was an issue or one coach was an issue. After a certain amount of time if something isn't working, you have to make changes and get new life. It helped us gain trust and confidence. Adding new people into the team adds new personalities and helps you get out of a slump.
What did you learn about yourself throughout these tough times?
Mostly staying confident in myself and my abilities. When we lose, I would take a lot of the burden upon myself. Even lately after losing, I would blame myself in my head. I've stopped doing that now since. Everyone makes mistakes so you can't take all the blame on yourself. You'll lose all your confidence and not play well. That's been key to keeping my confidence and playing consistently.
How do you spread your confidence to your other teammates?
Playing around and making jokes helps a lot. It's super light with the team. We don't get tilted like other teams very often. Most of the time, we're joking around. We play really well with it.
What are some jokes that you guys talk about?
It's just random - I can't even bring up one because it is the stupidest stuff that we find funny.
Where do you think the team's level is at right now compared to the beginning of the season?
We are definitely a top-tier team. We have a chance of making it into season playoffs. I know I saw some post where it said we have a 30% chance, but we can make it in play-ins. This stage, we want to be the Stage 3 champions.
What do you think about your own potential moving forward in your career?
I know I have the potential to be a top, explosive DPS player. I've obviously got to play more DPS these past few games than before. I think I showed some of what I can do in the past few games. Hopefully, I can bring that to Stage 4 as well.
We've heard so many rumors of the 2-2-2 role locking coming into the next stage. If this is true,
what kind of heroes would you like to play?
I would like to see a diverse meta. Like, you could play Tracer, Hanzo, Widow, and literally anything and it would work. I know it's hard to do but I think that would be the best meta. You can literally pick any DPS hero and have it be meta. Our team, specifically, is very diverse. We have all the heroes you can think of covered in our hero pools. That would favor us.
What comps do you think we would see in 2-2-2?
For sure, it would be perma-Orisa. She's pretty busted right now. I think I tweeted a couple days ago that Orisa is really busted hiding around the fact that GOATS is better still. If that happens, then I'm sure it's Orisa and D.Va.
Thanks for the interview and good luck in Stage 3 playoffs. Do you have any shoutouts to give?
Shoutouts to my family back home in Washington for always supporting me.
Writer @InvenGlobal | Freelanced at @overwatchscore @vpesports @GinxTV @Upcomer | Former CLICKON Media and Echo Fox.