I started playing PC games when I was 12. This year, I get to represent Japan for the second time at the Overwatch World Cup.
Growing up, I played Team Fortress 2 and competed in a couple of Southeast Asia tournaments. I placed second in some tier 2 tournaments, but I didn’t do anything else in TF2. I switched to CS: GO, but I didn’t do anything of any note there either.
When Overwatch came out, though, everything changed.
I was just playing casually with my friends from my TF2 days, but I couldn’t join tournaments or anything because they were region locked to Southeast Asia. Even so, I was always at the top of the leaderboards.
I realised I needed to find a team in Japan if I was going to start playing the game competitively; at the time I was just playing with a bunch of people who I’d picked up from ranked matches.
Then a player name CLAIRE recognised me and invited me to join a team he was on. I didn’t see why not – they were one of the only teams that had a gaming house and I thought that would help me a lot to achieve my goal.
So I joined CLAIRE and his team, and since then I’ve won every single tournament in Japan except for one. All up, it’s about seven tournament wins.
When it came to international tournaments, we weren’t able to attend Season 1 of Contenders this year, because I and one of our other players couldn’t go to Taiwan for two months.
So we gave up on competing in Contenders back then, but we did later beat the team that won that season of Contenders; we beat them in one of our Open Division matches.
That says something.
Last year, we honestly didn’t have many expectations going into the Overwatch World Cup. We only had about a week of practice, so we were basically just going to the group stage in Sydney to have fun. But then we started scrimming, and we were just like: “Hey, maybe we’re not so bad…”
I honestly don’t know how we compare this year to other teams in the World Cup right now, especially in a LAN environment.
Even though we’re going up against some of the tougher teams, we’re not doing anything too special to prepare. We just want to stick to the basics and try to understand the meta.
We want to beat the teams in our stage as a team because we appreciate that their individual skill is probably off the charts for every single role.
That’s the reason I play Overwatch – I’m not that mechanically skilled, but there’s always a chance you can beat your opponent by working as a team. This year, Team Japan’s roster is the same roster as my Contenders team, Cyclops Athlete Gaming.
For DPS there’s me, Dep and AmeKen. Dep is one of the most insane Widowmakers that I’ve ever seen. I would say he’s at the same calibre as Overwatch League players like LiNkzr and Carpe and he’s quite confident in himself. I’m pretty sure he can put on a show at the World Cup.
Then there’s AmeKen, our main Pharah player. His Pharah is quite good – his barrages seem to always kill like three people, but overall he’s a solid player. Not too flashy, but not bad at all.
For our tanks we have kenmohororo, our flex tank player and SamuraiD, our main tank player. kenmohororo is an ex-DPS player, so his aim is fantastic. He’s been playing D.Va for over half a year now, so I’m quite confident in his D.Va play and his Zarya is really good as well.
SamuraiD is usually very quiet in scrims, but during tournaments, he starts screaming. That’s why we call him Samurai, he becomes a different person; a real warrior.
For supports, we have CLAIRE and SABAGOD. CLAIRE is the brains of the team. Even after we have our post-scrim talk with our coach, he keeps talking with him for another two to three hours.
SABAGOD is just a very solid Zen player. There’s nothing but sustain from him, he’s just so good.
As of right now, Overwatch is not my full-time career. I’m still a high school student in Japan. I still need to study for university entrance exams.
My team knows that, so they try and practice at night when I can participate. They usually scrim for around 6 hours a day, 3 blocks, along with talks with our coach afterwards. I usually only attend one or two of those scrim blocks.
In Japan, it’s hard to go full time. The money is not good and you really can’t live off of it.
I’m pretty sure our team, Cyclops, is one of the best-paid teams, but even then, without sounding ungrateful, it’s not great. If it was sustainable, I would play Overwatch full time but that’s not possible right now.
Blizzard is doing its best to support us. They have the Pacific Contenders region, which is a good tournament. They’re just not going to have a random Contenders Japan for no reason.
The Japanese teams need to step it up and get into Contenders if they want to make the local scene better.
We do scrim Contenders Korea teams, who I would say are close to the same level as Overwatch League teams. Nonetheless, it is a bit nerve-wracking, going into the World Cup and facing some of the best players in the world.
I wouldn’t say Team Japan is confident of getting through the group stage, but I would say that we know what to expect.
Last year’s World Cup was truly one of the best experiences I’ve had playing Overwatch. I just hope this year’s World Cup is as good as last year or, who knows, maybe even better.
Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment