FNRGFE’s Bani: ‘EnVyUs are not so untouchable that we can’t beat them.’
A team is only as good as the sum of their parts and Overwatch is no different. Today, we take a look at someone who is not at the forefront of every fight, but his contribution is felt throughout. Chris "Bani" Benell is the flex support player for everyone's favorite team, team FNRGFE. In Overwatch Contenders Season 1, they currently stand as likely favorite leading into Week 6 of the regular season and hopefully will be attending the LAN Finals come this October barring a strong performance and qualification come team FNRGFE’s games this weekend. Bani spoke with Esports Heaven about FNRGFE apparel, their confidence going into Week 6, and where FNRGFE got it’s name.
Leading into this, you said you’ve been keeping track of Overwatch Contenders, has anything surprised you thus far? Have you seen the Cloud 9 games today?
I haven’t been watching EU too closely, unfortunately.
Now, at the time of the interview we are currently watching EnVision going up against Team EnVyUs, what do you think on this one? Does EnVyUs take this pretty handily? Do you think EnVision could take a map anywhere?
Yeah, I think EnVyUs should have this sealed up pretty good. I want to say that they can take a map, but I feel like EnVyUs will still win. EnVision might be able to win Hanamura if they’ve practiced it, but other than that I don’t see a real chance for them to take much off of EnVyUs.
FNRGFE has not technically qualified yet, but as a team that could potentially take EnVyUs to their limit, what are you guys preparing?
I think personally, I’d still be putting EnVyUs as the number one seed coming into the LAN finals. They definitely are the team to beat, but it’s not impossible. EnVyUs are not so untouchable that we can’t beat them. I think it will be really close within the top four. I think we all are really good teams and we all have a chance to win. I think consistency is our main goal. We've got the skill to beat these teams already, now we just need to stay at that level and actually do it. How close our games were with EnVyUs with the little practice we had going into that game, really gave us some confidence we needed to make top four and to hopefully do well come playoffs.
Something I would love some details on is the backstory to FNRGFE and the story of how you guys formed as a team. You all have seriously become something of a fan favorite, could you talk a bit about how you guys “got the band together?”
I think before I even joined up with Gale Force Esports, Enigma, Clockwork, Muma, Pookz, Milo, and myself, we all played every once in awhile, just to stay practiced in scrimmage environments while weren’t on teams and stuff. then, I ended up joining Gale Force Esports (GFE). Shortly after Clockwork joins up with us at GFE. We didn’t really play much with the ‘scrim team’ much at that time, but once we were dropped we decided it was time to bring that back. We got buds as our last DPS player to try and make a run for it in Contenders Season 0 and it ended up going really well! So, we kept going from there. Enigma decided to drop out due to his own personal reasons, so to fill his spot we managed to pick up Coolmatt which was a pretty huge addition to the roster. Realistically, one of the best pickups we could have gotten.
Now, who is responsible, because I’ve asked Muma, Buds, and Boink - and no one seems to have any idea on where this “corn dog, dog” has come from or why it’s the logo. Do you have any insight on the logo and who came up with the alphabet soup that is FNRGFE?
I think the corn dog is an inside joke that I’m not completely in the loop for. I think that's a Clockwork and Enigma type question. So, I just Googled images of corn dogs and found the ‘corn dog, dog’ and I was like ‘Alright, let’s use this as our logo.’ And everyone was like ‘Yeah, let’s do it!’ So, that’s how we settled on the ‘corn dog, dog.’
And naming teams is always kind of a mess. No one really has that strong of opinions on one particular name, but everyone is always super critical of names when you suggest them. So, we had a couple of ideas floating around. We were teasing the idea of being called ‘Team Energy’, but thought it was a little too close to Team NRG. I think it was Enigma’s call to just use an acronym of all the team's names and it just kind of stuck.
Here something to think on; someone who never really gets much kudos in esports is the support staff. Could you give a shout to the guys who do all the backend work for Team FNRGFE? What do they really bring to the table? How much do they really help you guys succeed?
Yeah, I think our coach, Aero, has been a really great coach. He just came in as a trial to see how he fit with the team and he gave us all of these resources like all of these stretches and exercise tips and diet type things - not that we always follow them, but we try as much as we can. But he really came in and gave us a bunch of resources to make sure we stay healthy and as effective as we can be. Aero has also given us this really nice structured environment, which has been great. He makes us check in about a half hour before we start the day, just so that he knows that we’re up and ready to go instead of having to wake up minutes before scrims. He allots time in the week so that we can sit and have meetings and go over VODs or discuss gameplay and strategies. He seriously is an extremely important part of our team because of all the structure he brings.
Now, I can’t say all that about Aero without mentioning Tikatee and Jcb as well. Tikatee has been our VOD recorder for a while now and he’s been very helpful and very consistent. He’s there all the time, in every scrim and we’re able to use them whenever we need to. And Jcb who’s another one of our coaches. He’s really good at helping us really refine our playstyle and everything. So, I think our support staff is really important and they’ve all done a really good job.
Talk to me about some of your favorite moments within Team FNRGFE. I’ve asked most of your teammates and they all have their own favorite stories to tell. So, what’s yours?
I think my favorite memory with FNRGFE is during Contenders Season 0 when we went up against Selfless. Who we thought was one of the, if not the, best team in North America. We were really scared going against them and then we just somehow won. We did it. And that was the moment where I realized you know ‘Wow. I can really do this. I can be a top player.’ I think that’s my favorite memory.
For you, where does the drive to compete come from? Are you naturally a competitive person? Did you compete in anything growing up?
Yeah, I think I am a really competitive person. I’ve always naturally tried to be the best at whatever I was doing. I came from Dota 2 and I tried to be as good as I could in Dota, but I was not quite good enough to make the cut, but when Overwatch came out I thought I was good enough to go for it. So, I went all-in on Overwatch and now here I am, hahaha. Playing for Team “corn dog, dog’ and hopefully making the big bucks someday!
Speaking of the ‘big bucks, could you speak a bit about what your plans are for the upcoming Overwatch League? Do you have anything in mind that you’d personally like to do?
We’re trying to, if possible, to get signed as a team, but we have decided that we are going to prioritize Overwatch League tryouts whenever we can. So, yes, we have been trying out for different teams. I cannot say who or where, but we definitely had a couple of try-outs and done our own individual things. But, yeah, if possible we would love to be signed as a team and not be broken up.
If you guys do make it to the LAN Finals of Overwatch Contenders Season 1, do we see FNRGFE jerseys? More importantly, do we see the ‘corn dog, dog’ jerseys?
I hope so. We’ve got some things in the works so that we might be able to offer some ‘corn dog, dog’ apparel to the fine folks at home. I’m not sure how far we want to go with it, but I think we’re hoping we can get jerseys, shirts, hats, whatever. Details are still a bit odd, so I’m not quite sure what we're going to be able to offer quite yet.
That’s pretty much all I’ve got for you! Let the people know where you at, let the folks at home now where they can find you.
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLG’s of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at @Volamel.
Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.