Editor's Note: This interview series was conducted by Sideshow four days ago, but we had to send him off to Asia on a top secret mission. Ever the craftsman, he had hoped to refine the content further, but circumstances changed and Phase 1 Week 2 is about to commence so we are giving it to you in a fairly raw state.
Read on the to get the inside track on North America's hottest unsigned property, Kungarna, from their devastating support player b1am. His perspective as veteran player and "one of the strongest Ana's in the game" on the keys to Kungarna's success, their weaknesses, how they view themselves and their rivals.
- Andrej "babybay" Francisty (DPS)
- Michael "mykL" Padilla (Flex)
- Taylor "b1am" Forrest (Support)
- Alex "Ajax" Jackson (Support)
- Connor "ConnorJ" Johnson (DPS)
- "iRemiix" (Tank)
- Kieran "KJP" Playfair (Coach)
First of all, I want to give you an opportunity to describe your team a little for anybody unfamiliar with Kungarna. Speaking for myself, this is the first event I've seen you guys play in and the first I've seen some of your players - how and when did the team form and what has your progression been like since then?
b1am: So it's my understanding that mykL started the team a number of months back. The only players that are still on the team from that period are babybay and iRemiix. They had a lot of success in amateur tournaments; they had a huge win streak at the time. I started playing with the team the day of the Rivalcade Arena Spectacular #7 and improved on what they already had. We beat bird noises and Splyce in that tournament to win.
Very shortly after that maybe a couple days we started playing with Ajax and ConnorJ from Kingdom and we were naturally pretty good. We had been playing with that six for I think two days before we went into the Winter Premiere and we beat teams like Rise, Selfless, compLexity, NRG, etc.
Everyone on the team is very mechanically strong on their roles and understands how to win as a team. Ever since we qualified in the top 8 for the Winter Premiere it's just been our goal to go to the LAN. It's really all there has been to focus on since we started the team and it's an awesome goal to strive for as a new team, so at the moment we are just trying to keep fixing the holes in our game as a new team and become more consistent.
How would you describe your main strengths and style as a team?
b: I think our main strengths are communication and teamplay, as well as being able to be flexible as players. We really like to play aggressive as a team and make our enemy play on their back foot. We still run a lot of "dive" comps because it plays to our strengths but we can also play what's meta.
Who would you pick out as key players, or heroes that they excel on, that allow your team to play that style well?
b: It's hard for me to answer this because I think it's really important for everyone on an Overwatch team to be pulling their weight for the team to be successful. If I had to pick I would say mykL, ConnorJ, and myself. mykL and Connor are amazing at both D. Va and Roadhog. mykL can create huge amounts of space for our team on D. Va and cause huge problems for the enemy team while Connor is always there to follow up with hooks.
I think I'm one of the strongest Ana's in the game at the moment. I consistently heal more than others and hit the right anti-heals that allows our team to really keep the pressure on our opponents. mykL's in-game leadership also is a huge factor, but I really can't stress enough that everyone on the team has played a vital role in our success so far.
Let's explore the in-game leadership a little more. How does the calling or leadership structure in your team work? I assume mykL is calling from what you said, how would you describe his calling style and the way he controls the team?
b: So this goes back to the everyone has a role thing I was saying, it also applies to our communication. Tanks, DPS, and supports all have different things we are responsible for calling. mykL makes a lot of calls about what we want to do as team offensively and sometimes (depending on the hero he is on) calls targets for us. Basically he is really good at taking charge and telling people what to do in the moment to make certain plays work.
You mentioned before that you are going hard towards this 4-team LAN final of the Winter Premiere. Coming into the qualifiers, what were your expectations of how far you'd be able to get?
b: Even when going into the Premiere with such little practice as a team we were very confident that we would make it out in top 8. We had been performing well in our scrims prior to the event and knew we had the skill to beat these teams if we showed up and played our game. From the beginning we wanted to go to LAN.
So far in the qualifiers and round robin you've beaten Rise, Selfless, coL, NRG, Method, and Liquid. That's quite a selection. Where do you see yourself in the broader span of the NA teams? Do you consider some of these results 'upsets'?
b: We are definitely at least a top 10 team in NA. Maybe to the fans these games may look like upsets, but we know we are a top team. Most of the team including myself are veterans to the OW competitive scene. We're still a new team though at the end of the day and we have holes in our game we are working hard to fix. This week we lost two very close 1-2 games to coL and LG who played Sombra comps. Teams are having to adapt and find different ways to beat us because we are so strong on the meta.
So how do you feel about your qualifier performance in general? You guys started really well by reaching the final of #1, but then in the next three you had some ups and downs. In #3 you just straight up lost to Spicy Boys in the groups, and although they're not an unknown team they're not the strength of Immortals for example who beat you the week after. How do you think you did overall in the qualifiers?
b: In the qualifiers we were so new there were certain things we had no idea how to deal with as a team that caught us off guard and caused us to lose games. For example, we lost to Spicy Boys because they ran the quad strat and we didn't know how to counter it or even play the comp.
We lost to this comp in the final of day 1 and Spicy copied it and played it against us a day later (similarly to the coL/LG Sombra situation), but now it's one of our biggest strengths and have tons of success with it and against it. Overall we always want to win but I think we are proving the potential of our team to the other top NA teams and potential sponsors.
Similar question but towards the round robin - you've had two close games against LG and coL as you said and then beat Liquid 2-0. Are you satisfied with your performance so far? Is that level going to be enough to take you through?
b: I can tell you right now we aren't satisfied with losing to anyone. We know we can beat these teams and are working hard to make it happen. We are confident in our chances of getting out in top 6 and look forward to performing better in Group Play Phase 2 against these teams.
How has playing outside an org affected you guys? I imagine you're actively searching if not in talks with orgs as the next step in growing - what would that specifically affect for you?
b: As players at this level we really just want to be able to focus on the game, so things were a bit hectic at first. This week we announced we picked up @KJP_OW as our Coach and Manager going forward which has helped us a lot in and out of game.
We aren't bothered by not being a sponsored team in this tournament though, if anything it motivates us to keep improving to get picked up by a great organization. Even without the resources these other teams have we have been able to accomplishment a lot in such a short amount of time. We know with time and a great org we can compete at the highest level.
As a last thought: what would you guys have to improve to get to a level where you're consistently beating these teams? What do you need to work on before you're the best team in the tournament?
b: As a team in Overwatch you have to be prepared to play against a large variety of playstyles and team compositions. It takes a lot of time to really figure out how you want to play all those situations and who is playing/doing what on every map as a team. Every week we've been getting stronger though. We are quickly adapting and becoming more flexible as team so we can counter anything these tops teams can throw at us, while also fixing little mistakes that add up and snowball in matches. If we keep working hard and grinding like we are now you'll be seeing us consistently at the top end of NA.