Slingshot’s Andrew Kim caught up with Daniel “Boink” Pence, flex support for Overwatch team FNRGFE. They talked about his origins in the game, thoughts about Overwatch League and some of the game’s big picture issues.
Andrew Kim: How did you get into professional Overwatch?
Daniel “Boink” Pence: In my past, I played Team Fortress 2 competitively, but at the time you didn’t play TF2 for the money. You played it for the passion. I had to take a break to finish school and after that, it was just lucky timing where I graduated the exact same month that Overwatch was officially released. I ended up loving the game and it came naturally to move from TF2 to Overwatch.
AK: What are some things about TF2 that are better than Overwatch and vice versa?
DP: I think the main thing in TF2 that’s slightly better than Overwatch is that the individual impact for each of the role was so large. If the Soldier was so good on one team, he would carry the game, or if the Scout was much better, there was no stopping him. You don’t see that in Overwatch often so it has its pluses and minuses there. Its nice to know you have so much of an advantage in terms of individual skill at times.
On the other hand, the game modes with five Capture Point (CP) was the most standard for TF2 but it created a lot of stalemates and down time. In Overwatch, even with two CP it has less of that because offense doesn’t lose the point after capturing it and defense only gets more time.
AK: Would you say that there is room for great solo carry potential in Overwatch?
DP: I think Overwatch creates situations where that is possible. You see a lot of DPS players praised for how they’re doing and how they’re carrying the team. They take control of the game, but that’s what the DPS is designed to do and be enabled by the team to achieve that. Even though Overwatch doesn’t have the most solo carry potential, it’s still there from the fan base, even though it’s the whole team making it happen.
AK: There are a lot of concerns surrounding the current state of ranked play. What are your opinions on the matter?
DP: Right now the ranked experience isn’t that great partially because of the one-tricks and the small number of heroes available. In a lot of the ranked situations that rotate around team play, you have people that don’t want to to work together sometimes and if they don’t want to work together, it creates situations that you don’t deal with in pro or competitive play, which makes for bad practice. It’s frustrating as a player playing Lucio, which is 100 percent different from playing him in ranked. When it comes to ladder, all you do is try to do the most you can with your hero: get kills, get space, and don’t use the fact that your hero is a support.
AK: What can be done to make the ranked experience more useful for practice as a competitive player?
DP: It’s really heated because a lot of ideas are going through Blizzard, who are measuring them all out in terms of pros and cons. I think role queue will be good since there are times when you don’t have more than two support players on your team. I think Blizzard can combine the East and the West Coast servers to create higher skill rating games. I know you can play on either right now, but it’s very rare and alienating for the player pool when more balance games are possible.
AK: With details about the Overwatch League just coming out and a lot of pro players looking for teams, how do you evaluate the current state of the league and pros still looking for a home?
DP: Right now the OWL situation is creating the wild west where people have no idea what they’re doing. They could be getting offers to try out where it can have a small or a large amount of people. Right now not enough time has passed where it leaves the majority of the players happy. You have people trying to make it to the league but they don’t have ways to showcase themselves, given random chances once in the less than ideal situation, or just have a lot of people trying out where you’re going. A lot of people are scared, and I think it’s creating a sort of hysteria where people don’t know what’s going to happen. It does does concern me a little bit because you’ll have a large number of people quitting because they don’t make it in, and that’s always bad.
AK: There’s a current trend of Western orgs picking up entire Korean rosters for their OWL teams. In your opinion do you think it’s a positive thing or a negative thing?
DP: You need to have a team that’s of one culture or have a team that can adopt one. Having a team that has a lot of mixed up culture can go poorly or great. Immortals for example, some of them look like they’re gelling really well, but that might not be the case for others. You have teams who want to succeed and want the best players, but those players might not do as well when doing it in a foreign culture. I think in terms of marketability, they’re going to suffer a bit and you don’t know how they’re going to play once they play outside of Korea since the region itself is very good for competition and structure, which isn’t the same in the other regions. There’s a lot of variables going forward, but i don’t think it’s a bad thing overall but at the same time, some teams might not function as well as they would think.
AK: You mentioned Overwatch’s small hero pool. What kind of new hero would you like to see?
DP: I haven’t given too much thought about a new hero but I think a support hero would be nice considering there’s a lot of options for other roles. They have so many heroes to pick from unlike supports or tanks. Lucio plays a key position and is needed almost 100 percent of the time. Maybe a new hero that offers similar heal and speed buff or if the meta changes that doesn’t require the Lucio and play someone else might be nice. I want to see a hero that increased the skill cap and has a lot of mechanics involved in it.
AK: What kind of advice would you give to players who want to break into the professional scene through ranked play?
DP: If you’re very good at the game as in aiming and able to analyze decision making, it’s easiest to go as a DPS. Ranked is about pushing the limit and getting the most out of your hero, and you won’t be punished as much as you will in a competitive game for doing so, but you can still show potential if you can carry against top players. But one role that doesn’t have skill needed in the scene is the main tank role. I see my main tank play and he carries as a main tank and not a lot of people can do that. So if you want to be known as a carrying player, it’s easier to do as main tank but it’s harder to show since it is team dependent and reliant. I would recommend a main tank role to who’s good at looking at the game and decision making.
AK: Is there a city you’d like to play for in the OWL?
DP: I’m an hour away from Chicago. I’ve been there a couple of times I lived there most of the time. I would love to play for the Chicago franchise.