Earlier this week, ESPN reported that a new European team had formed from the crumbling core of Bench Boys, branding itself Laser Kittenz. The former General Manager of Misfits, Ali "Alicus" Saba, picked up the pieces of the broken picnic bench after TwoEasy, Kryw, and HAL left to form a stronger team with OWL aspirations.
Adding to the present core of Winghaven, Greyy, and Kyb, three new players have joined: crems, Nesh, and Zaprey. The team has kept the spirit of Bench Boys, with four of the six players possessing experience from relatively high level teams at varying times over the past year. The team also has a coach, spazzo, who is ready to be used as a substitute if necessary.
Nesh became a notable player whilst with ANOX, which then became Slav Squad, but will have appeared on many fans’ radars when recently trialling for compLexity and NRG. His flexible hero pool will add firepower and offtank capabilities to the Laser Kittenz roster.
Winghaven and Kyb played together on REUNITED in the latter half of 2016, competing most notably for a 2nd place finish at ESL Atlantic Showdown before Kyb left the team searching for a sixth during APEX Season 1. Zaprey also competed at the Atlantic Showdown, playing for Misfits, though the team underwhelmed at that particular tournament and Zaprey soon left to focus on his education.
Zaprey was a true star DPS player back in the summer of 2016. He joined the original Misfits roster back when they were known as Graviton Surge, propelling them into a position solidly at the top of the European scene. For the next two months, Misfits looked like the strongest team in Europe, placing first in a number of small but competitive tournaments.
Unfortunately, he flopped individually in the Atlantic Showdown and the team was eliminated in 5th-6th. Zaprey moved to support for the team before leaving completely, with his teammates intimating in interviews that there was an issue of nerves and youth at play.
He has now returned to the Overwatch esports scene, back on DPS where he found his fame, ready to push Laser Kittenz and himself into relevance again. I had an opportunity to sit down with him in a written interview and pick his brains about the return.
Interview with Zaprey
Recently Bench Boys underwent a change, bringing in some strong free agents and rebranding as Laser Kittenz. How did that come about?
Kyb, Greyy and Winghaven wanted to stick together and rebuild the team. Alicus came in and asked me to trial, along with other players. After about a week of trials and some discord shitposting, Laser Kittenz was born.
Alicus, the brain behind this move and the former General Manager for Misfits, has high hopes for the team. Is the team solely focused on the Overwatch League?
Alicus is a god, he is very rarely wrong. We are focused on winning above everything else, but yes we plan to compete in the Overwatch League and hopefully win it.
Why was the Bench Boys core a good move for you, Nesh, and crems to join - although there are players with experience on the team, the team itself doesn't have any wins or promising results to its name.
I literally don't know anyone of the competitive players apart from the tier 1 teams so I just wanted to play with people I knew and in a team with good atmosphere and a vision.
How do you think Bench Boys will perform? What are your strengths as a team?
When we get comms rolling we bounce off. Seriously, though, I think we have a lot of potential and we always sit down and talk everything through after scrims, I really like that.
You were previously playing with Misfits in the early part of 2016, competing with them at the Atlantic Showdown. You took a long break then after shifting your role around, why is now the right time to come back for you personally?
I didn't want to miss my "youth" I guess, friends and parties but I kinda realized that I'd rather do esports. So when Alicus messaged me about his plans and the Overwatch League, I was like, hell yeah sign me up.
Around that time we heard from the other players that you may have struggled a little with the pressure of the big tournament, do you think that was the case? Is it something the break will have helped with?
The tournament was a really shitty situation, we couldn't scrim on lan days before the tournament because people had work, my first game ever on lan we went against fnatic and I've never thrown a game so hard with all the nerves I couldn't play normally and follow calls properly. After an unusually shaky performance from me at the Atlantic it just made me super sad and pushed the idea of school pretty heavily.
The meta for Overwatch has shifted significantly since any of the Laser Kittenz players were on top teams - what kind of style are you planning to run? What do you think works well for this roster in particular?
You will have your answers when you see us at the Overwatch PIT.
Where do you think you'll place in the Overwatch PIT Championship, which is your first tournament? You're obviously working at a bit of a disadvantage too, having only recently formed.
Misfits is too scared to scrim us so I'm not sure where we stand against tier 1 teams. I guess it will be a trial by fire.
The current Misfits roster contains only Zebbosai and Nevix from the team Zaprey played with, but perhaps an interesting rivalry will emerge in Europe if tournaments continue and both teams are competitive. Laser Kittenz will have to beat out the tier two teams to reach them however, including some teams like ex-Cyclone who beat the Bench Boys roster before.
Founder of the team Alicus spoke to Dot Esports on his thought process when turning to European Overwatch, saying:
I looked into the best opportunities and even though there were good established teams that I've spoken to, such as ex-Cyclone, I really liked some of the free agents that were available.
So I approached them and we held trials for a while and selected the best options, which was to roll with this seven man roster.
We have no doubt that the Overwatch League, which will be the highest level of competitive, is exactly where we belong.
The former roster with TwoEasy, Kryw, and HAL looked promising. The team competed in the Rivalcade Weekly #1 for Europe and beat two unknown teams before facing Cyclone and winning 2-0, falling to Movistar Riders 0-2 in the final. They then took part in the StriveWire Monthly Brawl in March, beating Vivi’s Adventure and ex-ROX in the group stage, going on to beat nerdRage. They exited the tournament after losing to Cyclone and then winning the 3rd place match against ALTERNATE aTTax.
The new Laser Kittenz will be hoping to build on that promising beginning and leap out of European tier two status over the coming weeks and months. The team has the names, and will have an opportunity to prove themselves in the Overwatch PIT Championship this week.