Grant “moth” Espe was brought on to the San Francisco Shock last season and quickly moved into a starting spot. Though the team added several Korean top performers in the off-season,
Currently, you are the only player on San Francisco Shock without a second player in your position. Perhaps more interestingly, it’s technically possible for Shock to start a full Korean roster on all positions except yours. Is this an option that you had to seriously entertain and what kind of precautions did you take in order to be able to manage the requirements of that situation? Did you for example learn the Korean calls?
This meta there have been a few situations where we ran a majority korean roster, I believe we played Smurf, Choihyobin, Architect, Striker, Viol2t and myself on Busan against Vancouver. I did have a conversation with staff about whether or not I should learn korean calls, but they didn’t think it was a real concern. All of our korean players with the exception of Viol2t have extensive experience playing on mixed rosters so we haven’t really encountered any pressing communication issues so far. If at any point we think it would be best for the team I’m definitely happy to learn.
I had the running theory that stage 1 will be a testing ground for your team. With Viol2t not yet eligible and some of the roles seemingly not clearly determined yet, it seems to be an opportunity to take the time to go through a similar roster finding process that London Spitfire went through. Smurf and Super are splitting maps right now too and there has been a DPS rotation. Seeing how teams without cores have historically had a hard time, how much is to that theory? Is Shock currently designed to peak at a later date?
We don’t see stage 1 as a testing ground for our team. We had plenty of time during the offseason to test combinations of players and analyze everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. In my opinion, splitting playtime between players only shows the depth of our roster, not that we are deciding on a core like London. Our coaching staff dedicates a lot of time to deciding which players get playtime based on playstyles and hero swaps. Additionally, this season could see far more meta shifts than last season now that the dev team wants to more closely aline the OWL patch to the live patch. Our roster is large enough that we should never find ourselves lacking the right talent for any meta, even if it becomes something crazy like four dps. Season 2 Shock wasn’t designed with the intention to peak later in the year, but like any other team we will continue to grow as the season progresses.
You’ve been described as a very cerebral player that can act as an extension of the coaches guidelines on the server, instructing fellow players as well as ultimate tracking and shot calling. What is your idea when going into a game? What is your focus on and by which ways do you think a main support can influence the tides of battle the most?
I’ve always brought a bit of everything to my teams’ comms just because it’s natural for me. Usually I will be the most vocal between fights for ult tracking, ult management, and macro plays, but during fights I also help out with rotations, info calls, and targets. I always want to make sure everything important has been vocalized within the team, so when any other player makes their own contributions I can easily work with them and fill in what hasn’t been said.
Throughout sports history, great teams tend to have one shared component: An outstanding captain. Who inhabits that role in the Shock and how does it manifest?
If I must pick only one player as the captain it would probably be me, only because I consistently make a lot of calls, but we don’t have that designation within the team. We’re fortunate enough to have several players with incredible leadership skills that could easily fill that role as well. Super, Sinatraa, and Rascal have all been heavily contributing to our decision making this meta.
The current meta requires main supports to play Lucio almost exclusively. A lot of season 1 players were recruited based on their proficiency on the pick and as a result, the mechanical level of play seems to be decently high with seemingly noticeable differences between the players. How important do you think mechanics are to Lucios play and what are the biggest difference makers one should watch out for in order to evaluate performances?
This meta, mechanical skill with Lucio is extremely important to the success of a team. Teamfights are often won or lost off of small differences in positioning, so Lucio has a lot of playmaking potential. The fact that the heroes in GOATS have a difficult time contesting a Lucio that plays high on walls also opens up a lot of opportunities. Like any other meta with Lucio, amp and beat timings are a big difference maker, but you can also look to see how many impactful boops the Lucio can get away with.
Your team made big moves this off-season. Many pundits have declared your roster a new super team in terms of pound for pound line up, as well as coaching. Given those expectations, what are your season’s goals, both as a team and as a player?
We want to win the grand finals this year, and with our roster and coaching staff that’s definitely a goal we can reach. Shock didn’t make a single stage playoffs last season, so we want to be in all of them this year. As a player, I just want to play my best everytime I go on stage and add as much as I can to my team.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment