Once the Overwatch League was announced, I felt pretty confident that I was going to get on a team. I probably shouldn’t have felt as self-assured as I did.
At the time, I ranked highly on the ladder consistently, but really, that was about it. I was presented with a couple of opportunities to play for Contenders teams, but I held off and was offered a trial with San Francisco Shock. I was quite lucky.
I took the Overwatch League tryout offer and played solidly throughout. After signing for the team, I felt fairly certain that I would find my place within the team as SF Shock’s DPS. Babybay and I were the only two players from our DPS lineup that our coaches wanted to play in Stage 1, until Sinatraa was able to play in Stage 2 and Architect joined the team.
Reflecting on Stage 1, my main problem was inconsistency; I was playing pretty well during scrims, but on stage, I was very hit and miss. There wasn’t any middle ground with me, I would either play well or I just wouldn’t.
I wouldn’t even call it ‘stage fright’ since even during the online tournaments I had played in before Overwatch League, I had struggled with my consistency. I highlighted it as the main thing for me to focus on and improve.
I was a really quiet and timid player when I first joined the team, probably because I didn’t want to be loud when I was still living and playing back at home – I remember my parents used to get mad if I was talking late at night because they didn’t want me to wake up my brother.
I started placing more emphasis on my practice, taking it increasingly seriously – the more practice I got, the more consistent I got. I’m a lot more vocal in scrims now and it really helps the team.
I’ve never had any issue putting the hours in to keep up with the schedule. I’m generally just a really ‘scheduled’ person and that fits nicely with how the Overwatch League works, for me, it’s just like going to school: we wake up, we go to the office, we scrim for six hours, repeat.
Some people tried to do too much though – like xQc did when he was in the league – he would do all the hours of practice and then go home to stream for eight hours, then only get four hours of sleep… you need your sleep.
Even on our team, there were a couple of players who were getting tired. Our coaches noticed it right away and were like, ‘ok, forget about streaming, it doesn’t matter at all right now.’ Obviously, they weren’t going to force us not to stream, they were just reminding us that we have the entire off-season to stream in our own time. It made sense to me and so I sacrificed streaming to ensure that I was giving my best to the team.
I’m glad I did that. If I want to, I can stream every day during the off-season, it just doesn’t matter that much right now. If I was only getting four hours of sleep a night, I can guarantee that I wouldn’t be playing as well on stage as I am right now.
I always knew that Sinatraa was going to come into the picture at the end of Stage 2, but I assumed I was still going to get some playtime. I think I started to play extremely well in Stage 2; I felt confident and my stats were looking good, even when compared to the top Tracers like Striker and Saebyeolbe. I think at one point during that stage, I was even ranked first for the majority of Tracer stats – at least three out of five of them.
My overall performance with our team was consistently good, so I was confident that I would be able to prove that I deserved a spot in our starting lineup. Eventually, we started trying new compositions like Widow/Genji, with me playing Genji, who I had played a few times before in ranked, but not much in a team environment.
I never talked to the coaches about it, since I don’t think they ever intend to perma-bench anyone. I figured that everyone would find their niche roles with the lineup. If, for example, there was a good Sombra or Junkrat map, they weren’t going to put someone who wasn’t confident on those heroes in to play instead of me. I never lost confidence that my hero pool would mean I saw at least some time on stage.
For the most part, I feel pretty content with the maps I play right now and why I play them. I specialise in flankers – I’m the Tracer player with added flexibility – if you need a Tracer who can swap to Junkrat or Sombra midway through the map, that’s where I provide value to the team. The straight-forward, pure Tracer maps belong to Sinatraa and Architect is the DPS player who can play pretty much whatever we ask him to.
I feel a lot of pressure when people refer to me as the best Sombra in the league. When you’re known as the best at something, whenever you have a bad game, critics are quick to point fingers: ‘oh he’s washed up, he’s not that good. I don’t know why people call him the best.’ It adds a pressure that I don’t want right now.
It’s really hard for us to make the end of season playoffs now, probably like a 2% chance. Obviously, we’re not going to give up and we’re still going to try, but it’s really unlikely. Stage 4 playoffs are what we’re really looking towards, we can focus on that on that for now. Overall though, I’m playing far more consistently on stage now and I’m maintaining my focus in scrims too.
I was playing well in maybe 70% of our scrims and performing poorly in 30%, but as the season has gone by I’ve really found my place within the team. Now, I would say I only underperform in around 5% of our scrims and I think that’s reflected on-stage.
Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment