Team Australia faced a tough challenge drawing Team South Korea right off the bat, but still fought admirably in an 0-3 loss. Despite the one-sided score line, players such as Ashley “Trill” Powell proved why they have the capability to play at the highest level. Australia is not the most talented region, but there are nuggets of talent that always show up at the Overwatch World Cup. Team Australia talked to the media following the games.
What are the differences between playing in Contenders and the World Cup and what was it like playing against the South Korean team, which was so experience in Overwatch League?
Akraken: For me personally, it’s obviously a huge jump in skill level. I think that game for me highlighted a lot of the reasons why they’re the best players in the world… and sorta highlight how I need to learn. Some of the stuff they were doing… you don’t see it much else[where]. They take really big risks and make really good plays. It’s kind of hard… coming from Contenders where people aren’t nearly as good. It’s hard to get around that.
Hey guys, what’s the takeaway to improve for next time?
Gunba: I think we need more time to compete with Overwatch League players. I think they’ve had a year of this or more of this kind of intense training… I think we showed what we can do in two months and I think that’s really important for these players.
How do you feel your performance reflected on your ability to get an Overwatch League contract or at least upcoming trials with any teams?
Trill: Personally, I think I played fairly well on Blizzard World and showed I can be a top main tank in NA and the global scene. Right after the game, I got a message from Muma saying that I was nutty so that felt really good, coming from him. I think I can get there, it’s just a matter of time. I just need to get given the opportunity and I think I can make it. I have so much more to improve and build on.
Akraken: We’re all getting trials and we’re getting 200 ping because we play from Australia so obviously they’re really hard. We did put up a good fight against South Korea and they have some of the best players in the world so I think, maybe, that showed off what we can do in Contenders or possibly in Overwatch League.
Trill: Also, trialing for me in NA… because where I live back home is a small beach town. My ping and my internet can be really questionable sometimes and unstable so I’m trialing from 230 ping to 300 sometimes. I got really close to making some teams this season, but unfortunately I didn’t.
Coming from the Contenders scene, what do you think Australia can do from a developer’s side and third party’s to help grow the Overwatch scene?
HUS: I’m not so sure about the local scene, but changes made to Contenders like LAN finals can really help Australia. Other than that, I think the best bet we have is the internet in Australia getting better.
Akraken: Yeah, there’s not a lot of money in Australia so if people keep investing in it… I think that will give players the opportunities to pursue their career full time.
Gunba: I think the LAN experience is the most important thing. I think coming into this stage with 8000 people in the crowd, that’s something that South Korea has a little more experience with. It’s essential that Australians get that opportunity as well. I mean, imagine how well they would play if they were on this stage more than once.
CKM: I also think if we were able to show ourselves internationally on a stage outside of the World Cup, that would really benefit everyone. Like, somewhere where Contenders teams from different regions can come together so we can show that we actually have the skill to play against those people and not stuck in our box.
Speaking of Contenders, a lot of you guys are playing with Syndey Drop Bears. How do you think your experience playing as a team in Bangkok and now here will help you in Australia Season 3.
Akraken: Uh, I’m pretty sure we should smash Contenders Season 3. And wipe everyone out, so that will be fun.
Trill: I think it gives us a huge advantage because honestly being coached by Gunba, we pretty much know all the steps we need to do, especially in this meta. We still got in there and we know what we need to do to get better. We still play together all the time so I think I’m not being naive by saying we’re going to beat the Australian teams.
HUS: I think Gunba has given us a standard of how much work we need to put in. If we match that standard more, we’ll win for sure. Obviously, it’s a drop in competition so we don’t expect to have any trouble, but there are still some really good Australian players that could be really strong.
To touch on Contenders a little bit more, especially CKM… you mentioned how nice it would be for there to be more opportunities to compete at a higher level. Do you believe the Contenders system has created a system where the top team will sit at the top of the funnel and kind of stomp on the other Contenders teams, without having a chance to play on that stage? Do you think there should be an international circuit?
CKM: I think that would be the biggest thing. For us, we’re kind of expecting to stomp AU Contenders and if we stay together as a team, that will most likely continue because we’re quite far ahead of everyone else in Australia. So yeah, if they could take the top team from each Contenders region and have them play against each other, it could show that we’re capable of competing in NA Contenders or Overwatch League, rather than just AU.
Akraken: It’s the same in South America as well. Brazil Gaming House has won two seasons in a row… unlike other more competitive regions like Korea, NA, and Europe. It can get a little stagnant. There’s not many good players and most good players tend to group up in one team and dominate forever. If we could see more international competition and give something more for players to fight towards and show how good they are.
Trill: Also, let’s be real, no scout… or I highly doubt any scout will look at any Contenders at all. So if we got this thing where the top Contenders teams from each region and these Australians popped off against these big names, then scouts will watch that for sure. I guarantee you that they won’t watch Contenders Australia though for sure.
This question is for Custa. As the person on the team with a lot of experience against all the players you faced today, were you able to bring anything in preparation for your team to help elevate your performance?
I think the experience of playing on stage brings a lot… Being able to sort of keep things level-headed at times. I know all the tendencies of the players so I try to identify and adjust. So, a lot of those little things that you learn at the time, having a lot of experience playing against these guys on LAN, helps you re-focus.
This one’s for Custa as well. Last time you didn’t participate in the World Cup, but throughout 2018 you’ve impressed many fans throughout the Overwatch League playing for the Fuel and Valiant. Going into this, did you feel like it was a personal goal of yours to improve so much this year and since you’re the veteran of this team, do you have any advice for these guys moving forward with their careers?
Yeah, in 2017, I supported Team Australia sending Blank Esports which consists of a lot of these guys. It was the best chance Australia had, especially with how hard the practice is. I really have a chip on my shoulder from that, but I just wanted to improve for Overwatch League and be the best I can be. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.
For these guys, the most important thing is getting out of Australia which is a very hard thing to do. It’s a very limiting experience and one where the skill-ceiling is limited. If they can get out of there and start playing at the top level consistently, that would be great. It would be amazing if there were regional matches or finals, but for right now, getting out of Australia is the best thing you can do because that’s the reason I’m sitting here today.
Photo: Robert Paul, Blizzard Entertainment