Although the professional Overwatch scene is still very much in its infancy, Team EnVyUs has had a firm grip on it.
The multi-esports organization is considered the best team in the world right now, and it this week qualified for the ESL Atlantic Showdown coming up at GamesCom later this month. Slingshot’s Jess Pohl had the chance to have a quick chat with Dennis “INTERNETHULK” Hawelka, ENVyUs’ team captain for Overwatch.
Jess Pohl: First of all, thank you for taking the time for this interview and let’s dive right in! EnVyUs is arguably the best team right now. You guys are on a huge winning streak at the moment, having just beaten Cloud9 again in the Beyond The Summit finals a bit ago as well as showing the viewers a dominating performance over Code7 in the BEATInvitational on that same weekend. To what do you owe this success?
Dennis “INTERNETHULK” Hawelka: We work really hard towards being and staying the best team in Overwatch, so mainly our work ethic. We train to be consistent and always keep a good and healthy team environment.
JP: How much is living together in a team house improving your in-game communication and general team feeling?
DH: At first it was really nice and helped a lot. Right now it already feels very natural. I think it’s an advantage but not a huge one. It was very important for us specifically because we joined up with EnVy and Talespin, who is from NA, so the ping difference would’ve hurt our practice in the long run.
JP: When you picked up Overwatch, did you plan to go pro in it? How have your surroundings reacted when you told them you will move to America to play this really new and not yet established game, esports-wise, for a living?
DH: Personally, when Overwatch was announced I knew one year in advance that i will want to go pro and put everything I have into it. Luckily it worked out, but I worked my ass of to create the team. Everyone around me was supportive towards my decision leaving Germany to go to America.
JP: Have you ever lived so far from home? Were you apprehensive about moving to America and how are you dealing with homesickness as well as cultural differences? What do you enjoy the most about America so far?
DH: I’ve never lived so far from home but I lived alone since I was 18 so it wasn’t much of an adjustment for me personally. America is awesome so far. I enjoy the food and weather a lot. The biggest difference so far is that you literally get free water everywhere you go, which is really nice. If I find free time outside of esports I might also look into American Football. It might be something I find interest in.
JP: What scenario are you expecting for the esports scene in Overwatch? There have been a lot of smaller online tournaments so far, one notable offline event that is coming up is the Overwatch Atlantic Showdown run by ESL at GamesCom 2016. Will it, given time, get the same numbers in events and prize money as, for example, League of Legends or Counter-Strike get?
DH: I believe Overwatch to grow as big as CS/LoL/Dota2 in the future, or at least close to it, but it really comes down to Blizzard. While I played many games where I hoped the publisher would support their esports scene more than they did, with Overwatch I feel like Blizzard is pushing the esport and will help grow Overwatch as a game and as an esport.
JP: Has your role within the team determined your hero pool, or did you already play your role and heroes before you joined EnvyUs? As you are the flex player, how does one learn vastly different types of heroes and how to switch between them with ease?
DH: I picked up many heroes as a Flex player and still do. My first Winston game was in a scrim or official with IDDQD. I can’t remember having played Winston before that on public more than one or two games. It’s mostly practice; the more you practice something the better you get at it. That’s why it’s way easier for players to shine who only play one or two heroes. As for switching, I feel a lot of it comes down to knowledge, having experienced many situations how certain heroes feel for you and your team against certain stuff. Of course, knowledge comes with time but my strength in other titles as well as Overwatch has always been knowing exactly what to do and playing smart, even creating new strategies etc. more than mechanics. So it is very natural for me to play the flex position.
JP: How important is communication in competitive play that is not in a tournament environment? A lot of you guys stream regularly and don’t communicate with the team, but still win easily. Is this due to raw skill or could low-ranked players technically also win easily without any communication in a random group?
DH: Communication is really important, I feel like if you put in the extra effort to communicate with your team in ranked and be positive you will have a much higher chance of success. I personally use ranked as relaxation right when I stream; I focus more on streaming as I am already a pro gamer and player in the best team in the world. So i don’t need to get a high rank at any cost. I used to play very serious ranked in League when I rushed World first Challenger in Season 4. While climbing, I tried to be as much of a positive influence as I possibly can. But yes, communicating at any level of ranked right now improves your chances of winning as long as you keep a positive environment and don’t “force” people on heroes they don’t like, unless they also only care about winning.
JP: What are your thoughts on Blizzard introducing the one hero limit in competitive? Is it a good change or does it kill strategic options you would’ve had otherwise?
DH: Introducing one-hero limit was definitely one of the best decisions Blizzard could make. It was just not fun to face multiple Tracers on king of the hill or a six-man defending Dva stack. The pro community has been vocal about one-hero limit for a while now and Blizzard did a great job listening to its Overwatch community. I don’t think one-hero limit kills strategy. You can only argue this way if you haven’t played competitive Overwatch during beta. No hero limit got very stale and didn’t call for many switches. Official matches between professional teams ended up in always having two Tracers, two monkeys and two Lucios on king of the hill without ever switching. That’s just one of the examples.
JP: Who is your favorite hero to play as of now and why?
DH: In scrims or officials with my team the hero I can be most effective with, currently Winston, Reaper, Symmetra as I’m consistently helping my team win with those. For solo queue I enjoy heroes like Hanzo, Tracer, Genji, very fun to play and carry with!
JP: Now let’s talk Ana, the new support sniper that will be joining the game soon. A lot of people seem confused as to what exactly she can do, as she seems to be a jack of all trades. What’s her exact role and where will she have the most impact? Control maps or payload/checkpoint maps?
DH: With the importance of Lucio’s speed buff and the changes to Zenyatta, we will end up seeing a lot of Zen and Lucio, some Symmetra/Mercy in defense only most likely, which leads me to believe Ana will be very niche in either three support attack comps or you will have to make the difficult decision to drop either a powerful Zenyatta or an important Lucio and miss out on the speed buff to play her. We will see how the meta will evolve.
JP: As their team captain, do you feel a lot of pressure on you? What are your main responsibilities within the team?
DH: The pressure is always on, up until now I have been responsible for almost everything regarding the team outside of the game. It’s way harder on you if you are not just concerned about your individual skill but instead think about all the small problems a team has and try to fix them. Speaking Overwatch specifically, I have to be honest and say a lot of things have just fallen into place on their own. Also my team is very mature and we mostly have a great atmosphere, which reduces any stress a team captain would have.
JP: Can you tell us about your dpi and sensitivity settings on your mouse? A lot of people are currently trying to find out what works best for them, so getting the settings of a pro player might help some of them as a rough indicator of what to use.
DH: 800 dpi / 6 ingame sens. I am one of those few players who change sensitivity a lot, though.
JP: For all the casual players as well as the competitive ones who can’t seem to climb, what is the No. 1 tip you’d like to give them?
DH: Communicate with your team! Also if your goal is to climb then take your games serious and stay positive. At the end of the day your rating is not inaccurate. If you are rank 30, chances are high it is because your current skill level is somewhere around there. No need to blame teammates. If you consistently think about improving yourself instead of blaming teammates, I am sure anyone will be able to improve their own skill and rating!
JP: Any last words, shout outs or the like?
DH: I would like to thank all my teammates for an amazing time so far in Overwatch! It’s a pleasure to play with all of them, and I hope we stay as successful as we are right now. Second, I would like to thank Team EnVyUs and every person behind it as well as all our sponsors Monster Energy, HyperX, elgato gaming, ZOWIE, scufgaming, NZXT and Twitch for all their support and love. Their support truly helps us become and stay the best team in Overwatch so far but more importantly also be happy while playing, being happy in my opinion is a key to success! Last but not least I would like to thank any person that cheers for NV or me personally. I truly appreciate each and everyone of you.
Headshot provided by Team EnVyUs, remixed by Slingshot