I’ve been chasing the chance to represent Singapore in the Overwatch World Cup ever since I was climbing the path to pro as a player.
This year, I finally got that rare opportunity to wear the red and white of Singapore and represent my country as their coach.
That chance, this honor… it’s one of the reasons everyone loves the Overwatch World Cup. It brings you a different type of satisfaction and happiness than the Overwatch League does.
You go in wearing your country’s colors knowing that you’re the best the country has to offer. It instills you with nationalistic pride that just doesn’t happen with the Overwatch League.
Then there’s the chance to see unknown players from around the world, real “no-names”, pop off against the pros you’ve come to know over the year. You get the chance to experience these organic stories that develop as they take on the titans of Overwatch.
But you have to get there first, and that’s no easy task. It takes a community and a lot of support to make it to BlizzCon.
We had all of the same problems many of the other teams from smaller countries had, most notably finding funding. Our community lead, Nicholas Tay, did an incredible amount of work on this front and I can’t thank him enough. He literally had a list of companies that he went down one-by-one and trying to sell Team Singapore.
Everyone on the committee worked incredibly hard to get us to BlizzCon. We had to learn how to write professional letters and how to canvas support from the Singaporean community.
When we put out a call for volunteers to help us out we were expected to get maybe five or six applications in total. We got dozens. We had to reject volunteers because of all the people that wanted to help us out and we honestly felt bad about it.
The thing that surprised me the most was that the team was even covered in some newspapers and Yahoo interviews, something I would never imagine for a community as small as ours.
Despite all of the good news, the funding was still a problem. It’s been a problem for many other teams too. Sometimes, our players wondered if they were practicing for the OWWC or just for the sake of practicing.
For many of them, it would be the first time they would travel outside of the country. It’s enough to make anyone nervous. On top of that, everyone knew that they had to rise up to a different caliber if they were going to perform against players like Masaa and Shaz.
It may all sound futile, knowing that 99.9% of fans, even our own countrymen, expected us to lose, but that wasn’t going to stop us. In reality, it’s a relief to not have those expectations foisted upon you.
The team put on a competitive display when we took a KOTH map against Finland. It was that moment when the players really thought that we had a shot at winning.
There’s a saying by a great Chinese general, I think it’s attributed to Sun Tzu and I may be paraphrasing here: If you know weaknesses and you know your strengths, then half the battle is won.
The way I interpret that is: You need to know what you’re capable of if you’re going to stand a chance against your enemies.
We needed that mental boost of that map win to properly compete. Team Finland is really good, but you have to always think that there’s a chance to win. That you are equal, that you are better. Without that, you go into the game thinking you’re going to lose and will inevitably do so.
The moment the players realized that Masaa and Shaz were killable, that was when it clicked in their heads that we maybe stood a chance.
We all know how it turned out. Like many of the other teams at the OWWC we got 3-0.
I’m incredibly proud of Team Singapore, regardless of the result. I remember checking the Discord after our match and saw that everyone was overjoyed at how well we did. We won our fair share of fights against Finland.
As for the future? I hope that next year the Singaporean community is just as supportive as they were this year and that I get the chance to be on the committee once more.
That we are in the situation where we have to reject even more applications than we did this year. I know it sounds bad, but being able to reject people means we have more support than we need.
I hope that coaches get more opportunities to shine during the OWWC. That there are more interviews with them about their strategies; about why they would do something crazy like running Symmetra/Torbjörn against one of the top teams. There’s an incredible opportunity to elevate and scout coaching talent from the OWWC that I think is being missed.
Finally, I want the players in OWL to realize something that I learned from the OWWC. They, without a doubt, work extremely hard to stay on the top of their game. But I think many of them don’t realize just how many sharks are in the water circling them.
All of the OWWC players are eyeing their slots. They want a spot in OWL and they’re willing to grind incredibly hard for it. I saw enough evidence of that working with Team Singapore. It may not be this year, but I think in few years OWL players will start being replaced if they aren’t dedicated to improving.
My time on Team Singapore is over for now, but I’m taking my experiences from the OWWC with me to the Washington Justice. I’m taking that passion and drive from the OWWC and I want to see it replicated on the Justice.
Because, at the end of the day, we must enjoy the game. The day I don’t love the game, the day I realize vod review is boring… is the day I quit and go back to studying. We need that passion and drive that the World Cup players have to succeed in the Overwatch League.
That’s how we’re going to be a top team. When we have that passion and that drive to succeed.
Keep an eye out for us.
Jeff Yabumoto assisted with the creation of this article