When Isurus Gaming Isurus Gaming Contenders SA Rank #2 first came together as a club team in 2017, it was entirely Argentinean. The roster was made up of Argentina's World Cup squad and had two more Argentinians on the coaching staff.
The team in its first iteration representing Argentina at the World Cup.
The team today still holds onto its Argentine roots, but is now a little more diverse. The team's main tank is from Uruguay, its manager is Brazilian, their analyst hails from Canada and their head coach is an American.
The head coach is Jon, someone who began their Overwatch career in 2016 in the collegiate scene. In 2017, he began coaching Prestige Worldwide, the team that would eventually become Rockets Esports Rockets Esports Inactive . Rockets would eventually disband, but Jon would end up finding a new opportunity.
"After our defeat to Black Dragons in the first week [of Contenders], I realized that our team was lost inside the game with a very predictable playstyle," said team manager Ornellas. He wanted to bring in another analyst or coach to work alongside Bassoid and the first person he thought of was Jon.
Instantly, Jon got to work.
"Usually my main focus as a coach is communications; I feel as if these players are so gifted mechanically that they just need guidance to use those mechanics properly," Jon said. "A lot of the players will come straight out of the ladder and they'll expect it to play the same way, and that's kinda the gist I got from Isurus."
"Naturally, with my language barrier, I couldn't address this through comms, so, since they still understand English, I had to discuss it with them [to] teach them certain ways of thinking about the game," he said, talking about teaching the players teamwork. "I think that's the main thing I ended up teaching them that I wanted to stick."
While a language barrier exists in terms of in-game communication, it does not persist outside the game.
"They all speak English really well," Jon said. "The issue comes from when they are talking to each other and I have to kinda grasp what they are saying, in a sense. Same as if they're just talking to each other for comfort or whether it's in-game or just casually. There's a small barrier there."
Jon, as well as analyst Simon, are still able to find out what the Isurus players are saying in-game, despite the language barrier. Bassoid translates the team's in-game communications to the two so that the team's other coaches can follow along.
Since joining Isurus, Jon has risen to the rank of head coach. However, Jon says that has had no impact on the team's hierarchy.
"We kinda had like a partnership, Bassoid and I, but he has to manage a job, as well as a family, as well as everything else in real life and it stressed him out. So I ended up taking more and more of the duties and eventually I took the mantle of head coach," he said. "Although not much has changed, in terms of authority. We still all respect each other and keep things even between us, but it's my duty to take responsibility for things to happen, like things get delegated up to me if it needs to."
Bassoid's case is not an abnormal one in the world of South American Overwatch. Many players balance school or work with their Overwatch careers. Jon believes it is difficult, if not impossible, for a player to dedicate themselves full-time to Overwatch without an Overwatch League team or gaming house, something few Contenders teams have realized especially in regions outside of North America.
As someone who has worked in both the North American and South American scenes, Jon carries with him a unique perspective in the differences between the two regions.
"South America has been held back by quite a few things just coming up," he said. "There are ranked issues, they have higher ping because they're forced to play on NA [servers], the entire scene in general isn't as pushed forward as NA is, NA has that internal drive to move forward while South America hasn't had those opportunities. [South America] hasn't had much exposure in general until now, Contenders."
"Another reason why is that North America can get scrims from basically anywhere, the servers don't concern them as much, even though there are some ping issues," he continued. "But with South America, if we try to scrim NA we end up with a lot of ping, which causes issues when we try to scrim them and we can't get as accurate of scrims to try and pull ourselves up to their level."
In fact, Jon believes that giving South America its own server and fixing ping issues is one of the biggest things Blizzard could do to help the South American scene.
"Blizzard needs to implement servers for South America, they can't have them piggybacking off of other servers. The issue is that the players have to play ranked in North America, which makes no sense to me considering South America is its own region," he said. "There's no separate ladder and that kinda separates there ability. They can't stand out, so to speak, like a Tracer player on 200 ping compared to a Tracer player on 5 ping [take the fight very differently]. [Improving the ranked system] should be Blizzard's first step in improving South America as a region."
South America isn't just missing out on servers, however. For Contenders Season 1, South America was the only region not to finish on LAN.
"I can't speak for [the players] entirely, but I got the gist that they felt kinda cheated. It's especially because we already have a lower prize pool, a little bit less exposure because we're at a weird time," he said. "But at the same time because South America has suffered a lot already so not having a LAN angered some people but it wasn't entirely unexpected, I believe."
Isurus competed in the grand final last season, losing to Brasil Gaming House 4-1. To get back to the final, LAN or no LAN, and win a Contenders title, Isurus will need to adapt to what could be the game's most diverse meta yet.
#IsurusOW Caímos por 1-4 en la Gran Final de Overwatch Contenders ante 🇧🇷 Brasil Gaming House y salimos Subcampeones 🏆— Isurus Gaming (@teamisurus) April 29, 2018
Gracias a todos nuestros #Sharks que nos apoyaron desde el Stream, fue una temporada dura pero dimos todo 👊#GoSharks🦈 #HyperX🎧 #DominaElJuego💻 #AMD pic.twitter.com/05csOf2Lbg
"It's very hard to run a new composition nowadays. Everyone was used to dive, teams were built around dive, everyone lived and breathed dive, then occasionally some tank comps," Jon said. "But now it's like you've got a composition for this map, a composition for this map, maybe you can run dive here, but it's more efficient to run this."
"Even though we might not be running the most efficient of comps overall per se, it's more of us trying to build compositions around how we play and how others play," he continued.
How well Isurus and their opponents adapt to the new meta will remain a mystery for now. They won't play again until Contenders starts back up in July.