If you swim in Overwatch circles chances are you don't know who I am - no I'm not the Hearthstone analyst damnit! I'm one of these TF2 players you've been hearing about and seen tearing up your rankings - except old, bad and irrelevant.
I caught up with my one-time team mate and TF2 Hall of Famer, Seb "numlocked" Barton, current captain and DPS for G2.Kinguin to find out what exactly is going on over there. Here's what unfolded...
It has been a turbulent few months for G2.Kinguin. We saw the departure of original core members Tek and Flippy, but it seemed like you had hit the landed on your feet when ShaDowBurn and Forsak3n joined your ranks. Then came the twist when the Russians jumped ship for Quake Fortress. Since then we have seen no sign of Mike and a myriad of top tier players competing under the G2 banner - even a brief spell with EU's saviour TviQ - but no official announcements about any of them joining your roster.
Can you talk us through the what, the when and they why of everything that has been going internally?
So our original roster went through those changes because of either lack of time to play the game or they simply weren't adapting to the new game. It happens when you switch titles. Things were good with ShaDowBurn and Forsak3n for a while, but we ended up having a lot of communication issues with them and then a bit of a falling out between Forsak3n and KnOxXx, the former then being removed from the team along with ShaDowBurn.
They're both good players, it just wasn't working out internally. We also lost Mike around this period as he's super busy with university in his 3rd year and going on to do a masters too. While our results were good with TviQ, they were even better for him when he played with IDDQD as they won every tournament under the sun when he tried out, so obviously he'd join them.
Indeed! It is a great time to be a talented free agent in Overwatch. As an outside observer of the competitive scene it seems like a players are being passed around between teams with the talent pool being restricted by the artificial limitations of the closed beta. How difficult has this made your quest to restock your roster or are their other more important factors at play?
There really is a lack of talented players. Not everyone has managed the transition from their previous games to Overwatch. It's frustrating because we want to get going as fast as possible, but there seems to be an infinite amount of hurdles we're having to jump over.
There was a lot of fanfare around your acquisition by G2 and hype for the initial success of other Team Fortress 2 players, yet the realities of current top level competition, compounded by your roster troubles have seen mixed fortunes in your results. Despite all that GosuGamers are still ranking you as the 8th best team in the world. How impactful has this period been on your own motivation to compete and lead the team? What are your aspirations in the medium to long term - up to and beyond the game's launch?
It hits motivation super hard. Like when you're working 9-5, scrim from 6-11 and then sleep, it's so incredibly draining let alone if results/talent/commitment aren't there. Myself and KnOxXx have our eyes set on nothing but the top - always have and always will. It just might take a little longer than we'd have previously liked to get there.
...and still people say that we don't scrim enough!
Narrowing the time scale, let's talk about your last month of play where we've seen G2.Kinguin competing in the GosuGamer Weeklies, GameOn Overwatch Arena and Metatrone Cup with players including skipjack, Taimou, SoOnSM, uNKOE and more recently BUR1X. Just last night we saw Likely and SvartHeil lining up for you against Melty eSports Club. Which of these players are still in the running for a spot on the roster? Who has been impressing you and when might we hear something official?
We're in no rush to complete our roster. When we have the right players, then we'll finalise things. Until then we're still testing things. SvartHeil was a 5th last minute sub for the game vs Melty. All the people we tried prior had login issues.
OK I'll abandon my fishing expedition for the time being. Let's up the tempo so I can lull you in to a false sense of security...
How much impact do you feel G2 are currently having on the rapidly evolving meta we are seeing fuelled by regular tournaments and frequent balance changes? Can you do more than simply react with your current revolving door roster?
Well yeah, pretty much as you said it LOL! Hard to keep on top of things when you've yet to have a stable roster until we have something solid ourselves it's best to stick to what we know works.
What compositions and roles have you had the most fun playing as an individual and how does that relate to what is best for the team? Have you had to make any sacrifices for the greater good?
Well I started off playing support for the team, then I switched to tank and now I'm on DPS. All I'm currently doing is playing whatever is required, I've yet to properly settle into a role, although I'm enjoying DPS the most at the moment. Mercy was a lot of fun too. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed her given how much I hated playing medic in TF2!
With this experience as a kind of generalist in mind, do you feel currently games are being won or lost on individual plays and execution or through hero selection and grander strategies? Which of these aspects appeals to you more?
Given the way our roster is at the moment I definitely prefer games being won on individual plays, but it's 100% a little bit of both that win or lose you the game. Quickly switching to the correct counters etc. is vital to playing the game.
In TF2 days gone by you had a legendary calling synergy with KnOxXx. How well has that transitioned to Overwatch? Have there been any disputes on how best to play the game? Who wears the trousers right now?
KnOxXx does all of it. I've been unable to transition my style of calling over to Overwatch and almost play kind of silently, which isn't great for the team. I put it down to not being as comfortable with the game still yet, but I certainly hope to be as vocal as I have been in other titles.
Contrasted to other FPS titles there seems to be a lot more information available to every player. How essential is the leader/shot caller role in Overwatch right now compared to say TF2 where a team lives or dies on verbal communication? Do you miss KnOxXx when he's gone?
Even more so. There was at least a little bit of downtime in TF2 to set things up, or fights played out in specific ways and you would know what classes the enemy team would have and where they'd tend to be. In Overwatch that's all out the window and it's a lot harder to set those plays up or react accordingly when everything is so dynamic.
The chaos might be ever so slightly lessoned since we've just had Zenyatta's orbs nerfed by the devs in response to the rise of the Zenlotta composition. Was this the right change? Which heroes do you feel need to be reined in at present? Who do you secretly hope gets buffed before launch?
Not sure about it being the right change but it's a welcomed change and I look forward to seeing how good/bad it turns out to be. Personally I'd like to see an orb time limit change as to not hamper flanking classes too much. I'd love to see Hanzo adjusted just out of frustration for his scatter shot. There's no one that I play whom I feel is particularly weak, so much so that I get upset/feel useless when I'm playing them so not sure who I'd want to see buffed. I want to see more Roadhog played though, he's an awesome hero!
Yeah! As a pub scrub I feel like all the tank options are well implemented at present, but Roadhog is the most engaging. Where do you stand on some of the big debates over the competitive format? Hero limits? Payload versus Control versus Point Capture?
Definitely need a hero limit. Nothing quite gets me angry like 6x D.Va spam to defend last or some shit. I'd like to see a limit of two added by tournament organisers (not to pub itself). Coming from TF2 I'm obviously going to say that Payload is a very boring game mode both to watch and play, and that holds true in Overwatch. KOTH (Control) is currently my favourite type and I hope we see a lot more of them. CP (Point Capture) is currently severely underplayed as it's too punishing and snowbally so they need to be revisited.
OK finally swinging things back round to your team. How involved have the G2.Kinguin organisation been with your Overwatch squad so far? Some of the most prolific teams to date have been unsigned - although it seems only a matter of time before the likes of IDDQD and Classic Mixup make the leap. Do you have any regrets about being sponsored so early?
They've been there for us whenever necessary and I have a good relationship with the management. I'm sure it won't be long before we see the likes of those teams snapped up too.
One last try then... G2 Taimou when?
He's trialling with EnVyUs now, so we'll see what happens after that :P
Are you not worried that if you play the waiting game with your roster moves you will end up with no one?
Well I mean it was his decision to try out further with them so he's obviously not yet comfortable with this iteration of roster we had tried out in G2.
One day you wake up to find out I'm on your roster, Seb. Do you really want to go there again?!
Not if I want to stay on the team...
Haha! It would only be a matter of time before I cut you again. Thanks for taking the time to talk to over.gg - we are all excited to see what the future holds for G2.
Thanks for having me = )
Do you think G2.Kinguin can rise again? Who would you like to see interviewed next? Let us know in the comments.