Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Ko “NamedHwi” Se-hwi, Overwatch coach for FaZe Clan, via email to talk about Overwatch League, Overwatch Contenders and Western teams signing Korean rosters for Overwatch League.
Andrew Kim: Are you adjusting well to your new everyday life in North America?
Go “NamedHwi” Se-hwi: Yes. This is my first time coming to America as I joined Faze Clan, and I think it’s much better than I thought. I’ve only ever been to Europe before, and I get the feeling that both regions are different in atmosphere and culture. That includes the food culture as well. I ate a lot of burgers and steaks after coming here, and the burgers in particular are much better than the ones at home. So I’m trying to eat as many different brands of burgers as I can. Also I enjoy drinking quite a lot, and the beer here is way better than in Korea, so I’m drinking it whenever I get the chance. Oh, and America is really big!
AK: How did you get connected with Faze?
GSH: I joined through the main healer for Faze, Joemeister. I was casting for a tournament during the closed beta called the Beat Invitational, and a team called Code 7 was in attendance. The strongest teams at the time like Team EnVyUs and Cloud9 were also all there. Seeing how Code 7 was comparatively lesser known, I thought they would get stomped, but they ended up being a hidden dark horse. They managed to get second place after beating Cloud9 3-2 twice and losing to EnVyUs in the finals. The main healer for Code 7 at the time was Joemeister, and I got close to him as I conducted an interview with him via chat. A couple of months later when I was a part of Laser Kittenz, I kept in contact with him through Discord, and he told me Faze was looking for a coach, so I decided to try out. After about a week of tryouts, I officially joined Faze.
AK: You’re known as a coach and caster in Korea. What are some similarities between those two roles?
GSH: I think they are similar in the sense where both roles demand a high understanding of the game. When casting, you need to understand the ultimate charges on both teams, analyze the situation in-game, and explain what a team fight might look like. But when casting with just ultimate charges in mind, it can lead to less detailed analysis of the team fight, or make wrong predictions altogether. If one does have a high level of game knowledge, they can analyze and somewhat predict how the team fight will go through a number of possible outcomes, how the ultimates should be utilized by both teams, and how a team can respond to the team fight properly. A coach’s role is to increase the players’ understanding of the game and teach them strategies for use in matches. This will be impossible unless you have a deep understanding. This is why I spend a lot of time experimenting and analyzing. But unlike a caster, a coach also needs to be in control of factors outside of the game as well, so I personally think being a coach is more difficult.
AK: Faze is riding high in Contenders right now. How is the team atmosphere?
GSH: We were able to qualify for the offline tournament of Contenders as we defeated Envision for a record of 6-1. Right now our morale is quite high, since the only loss we had was against Team EnVyUs, the strongest team in NA. Right now I think the team is confident that we can beat any team we go up against in the playoffs. To be honest, the team’s goal is to beat EnVyUs. Both I and the team really want to beat EnVy and take the No. 1 spot in NA. Of course EnVy is the most powerful team in NA in many ways, so we know it won’t be easy. But it’s not a team we think we can’t beat, so we’re working hard so that we can beat them!
AK: There are still a lot of people that have objections about the game’s balance, and I would like to know your opinions on the topic.
GSH: In some ways I do think the game is unbalanced. For instance, the most recently patched Mercy is now able to functionally fly forever when she activates her ultimate, and I think this is something Blizzard needs to address because flight is an incredible benefit in Overwatch. Another thing that needs to be looked at is Junkrat’s infinitely wall-riding Rip Tire. Making quick adjustments through patches will always bring its own set of side effects, so I think Blizzard will get better at addressing concerns as the pros and players voice their opinions. I am also of the opinion that Blizzard needs to more actively reflect player feedback in balancing decisions and make more quick adjustments. I’d also like to see new heroes added more quickly.
AK: Do you personally have high expectations for Season 1 of the Overwatch League?
GSH: Yes I have very high expectations for OWL! It makes me feel excited just thinking about local teams from NA, EU, and across Asia will be able to compete against one another. The OWL already had a large amount of money invested into it, and recently announced its inaugural season. It would be impossible for me to not be excited. I look forward to seeing international teams compete against one another!
AK: With the first season of the OWL being locked in at 12 teams, how much does the league have to expand to be a global league in your opinion?
GSH: I personally think it needs to be at least 16 teams. Increasing the number of franchises means more local fans and more players with the chance to participate in the league. But as the OWL is in its infancy, I think 12 teams is just about right for now. I think they will have to steadily expand with on-point tournament management and proper revenue steams.
AK: Right now there’s a trend where teams in the OWL are signing entire Korean rosters. Do you think this is a beneficial or harmful trend?
GSH: I am personally optimistic since more Korean players are afforded the chance to be on the international stage. I believe that as more Koreans are able to perform well on the global stage, Korea will solidify its position as an esports powerhouse. This is more of a personal hope, but I don’t want only Koreans to dominate the league. It’s more fun to watch a competitive match between Korea against a foreign team, wherever they’re from.
AK: What kind of hero would you like to see added to Overwatch?
GSH: I never thought much about this. I do have one that popped in my head: a hero that uses a flame thrower as its main weapon!