Ajax on Korea vs West: "I actually think Koreans are really overrated."
Afternoon, Ajax, how is today treating you? Any big scrim blocks this evening?
It’s been a pretty good evening so far, just got done with scrims/streaming for the night. We played Tempo and Selfless. Selfless is always a great block for us, because we think they are a top NA team with their aggressive style and can always learn a lot.
Something people may not know -- you actually played Paladins and League of Legends at a very high level. Can you elaborate on that at all? Perhaps your favorite heroes/champions, what role you played, etc.
League I wasn't too good at -- I was only a mid tier diamond player -- but I did play Paladins at a high level. This was way back before orgs were in the game. Ironically I played with Moe and Mykl from Ghost/Splyce/Kungarna, and our name in Paladins was also Kungarna. They went on without me to become SoaR and take 2nd at the Paladins founders 100k tournament.
I had just got into Overwatch beta, I had just joined their squad, I wasn’t really performing and we had a lot of arguments, so it didn’t really work out. Luckily for us, we were able to look past all that and start fresh in Overwatch. In Paladins, I played Buck, who was a bulky initiator with a leap similar to monkey, and a wall similar to Mei. I called a lot of engages in Paladins and target focus which is a big reason why Lucio and Zenyatta come really naturally to me.
Now I have to ask, coming from Kingdom then to Kungarna and now landing with NRG, you’ve had quite the Overwatch journey. Is NRG it? Does this team feel right, to you?
So I have had some might say some really bad luck in Overwatch. Kingdom and Kungarna at their peaks were both top 5 NA teams without a question. On Kingdom, we placed 3rd in 4 Minors in a row ( 3 AMM’s, and the Carbon Masters) and on Kungarna we took 2nd at a Major (NGE’s Winter Premier), but I, unfortunately, I have been stuck in looking for a tier 1 contract limbo for about 7 months.
It’s been pretty frustrating; being there and just not being recognized, and then getting cut once I got that tier 1 contract at TSM was heartbreaking. I really felt NRG was probably my last opportunity before being forced to go back to school. Where I am at now is what I have always wanted, a generous income, where I can do what I’m passionate about, and focus on being number 1. To top it all off I am on a team with players that amaze me every day. This is definitely “it.”
We know that Dummy and Numlocked both have extensive shot calling history, but in the announcement video for NRG you mention that you’re the “in game leader”. This poses the question that has been racking my brain: who is actually calling for this team? Or is it more of a group effort?
So with the past iterations of NRG, they have tried a ton of different methods vocally to make the team “work.” When they decided to try a new line up, they had a specific intention of making sure their Lucio was also an in-game leader. In Overwatch it’s important everyone is vocal on a team, some teams can work with just everyone calling, some teams need a stand out voice to make a decision, that’s where I come in.
During Jeff Kaplan’s AMA on Reddit earlier this week, he mentioned some tuning and changes coming Lucio’s way. What are some of your ideas to make Lucio a bit more engaging and interesting?
I think the Lucio changes are pretty interesting, I have to do more testing, but he is definitely a lot more fun and interactive to play, although I’m not sure how it will affect pro matches just yet.
Speaking of scrims, In the latest “Around the Watch Podcast”, your teammate, IDDQD, mentioned that you guys may have tried out Orisa a bit. Can you elaborate on this at all? Any crazy combos you’ve seen or have tried first hand?
I think Orisa is an interesting character, but I think Blizzard created an unintentional monster. It feels like she was intended to a be Reinhardt replacement, but the result failed pretty hard. I think there will be some scenarios where she can work as a main tank, but mainly I feel like they added a flex tank that gives Reinhardt free 4 man fire strikes every 10 seconds.
March 21st will be patch day. With the Orisa patch almost upon us, does NRG take any time to scrim on the PTR? Do you think it’s worth it to practice on the PTR against other top teams?
We scrim on PTR as much as possible, but most teams are currently in a tournaments, so it’s pretty difficult to get them to agree. Since there are tournaments so frequently it’s hard for a lot of pro teams to find the time.
Both Seagull and Dummy have been to Korea to compete in OGN’s APEX Overwatch League. Would you be interested in traveling to Korea if there was going to be a season 3?
I would be really interested in going to Korea. I watch almost every OGN match and I would love to play against Meta Athena and Runaway.
From the small amount of interviews I’ve done in the past, I always like to pick the player’s brains to see how they think about Korea. How do you personally view the west compared to Korea? Will NRG be the heroes we deserve? ;)
I actually think the Koreans are really overrated. Don’t get me wrong; I think the Koreans are good, but everyone seems to think that Koreans are invincible and just can’t be stopped. One of the big factors [why] Koreans were so dominant in this APEX was because NA just couldn’t win on 2cp. NA had something like a below 15% win rate on that map type, and it’s largely because NA teams still don’t scrim the map type almost at all. NA teams were used to map bans for so long where 2cp was almost a non-factor that no one practiced it, where in Korea you are forced to play it in the 2nd map of a best of 5. These Korean teams are months ahead of NA on practicing these maps. NA is currently forced to play 2cp in tournaments, and some teams STILL don’t want to practice it.
From just the small amount of interviews you have in the public sphere, that positive and “growth” mindset of yours is already apparent. Do you think this is what sets you apart from your peers?
I think positivity is super important in Overwatch. There are a lot of aspects in Overwatch where a team can get ahead in small amount of time where it looks dark, but the same can also be said for comebacks, where a team turns it around and holds final checkpoint for 5 minutes. Constantly being mentally in the game is important to constant success.
Last but not least we’ve got the lightning round;
If you have to add a Champion from League of Legends to the Overwatch roster, who would it be?
Karma 100%. She was a super high skill cap support in League where you were super focused on skill shots providing movement slows and proving shields that increase move speed for carries.
Spring or Fall?
Temple of Anubis or Volskaya Industries?
Temple, because you get to wall ride all over the pillars.
You are now Zordon from Power Rangers. Only using Overwatch pro-players, who are your 6 teenagers with attitude; who are the Overwatch Power Rangers?
All of NRG, we have the best memes.
Tacos or KBBQ?
Korean BBQ, because I am a weeb.
Favorite Basketball player of all time? ;)
Shaq, if I say otherwise GG.
Thanks you so much for taking the time out to sit down and talk with me, any message for the fans or sponsor obligations?
Thank you to all my new sponsors that support me through NRG, check out nrg.gg for some discount codes. Also huge thanks to all the fans that stuck with me through the good and the bad times, you guys were so supportive and it means so much.
Interview written and conducted by: @Volamel
Images courtesy of @Ajax1OW on Twitter, NRG, Blizzard Entertainment