Reinforce Interview: "I think the meta is quite bad"
Interview conducted by 'Caymus'.
Wrapping up one of the most eventful weekends in competitive Overwatch to date, Misfits tank player Jonathan “Reinforce” Larsson spoke to Caymus on preparing for IEM, the meta, and the future of Overwatch as an esport.
Heading into IEM Gyeonggi, the team recently went through roster changes resulting in four of its members being replaced. How has the team been meshing and what were your goals with such little time together as a team before the event?
Ahead of IEM Gyeonggi we had trouble getting practice in because Zave and Manneten were still in Luminosity's teamhouse over in Canada, so we had to wait quite a while until we were able to get practice going ahead of IEM. We ended up throwing a bootcamp at the house I live, thanks to James "2GD" Harding, for 3 days before we had to fly out. We realized it'd be ridiculously hard meshing fast enough to actually win the entire thing, but we progressed quite a bit and had a good feeling going in to the event, but I think all of us saw every potential win as a bonus at the event. It simply wasn't realistic to beat the solid Korean teams with such little practice.
What is the team atmosphere like? How is shot calling or communication handled in game?
The atmosphere is actually quite fantastic. I haven't laughed and had this much fun since early beta stages in Overwatch, the team really consists of a great bunch of guys and every member is unique and hilarious in their own way and contributes to the group atmosphere. And despite having so much fun playing together we're able to consistently practice seriously and look over mistakes in a good manner. We review VODs and people point out of their own mistakes and then we bounce opinions among us, with everyone respecting everyone else’s opinion and helping each other out to improve. I honestly don't know how it'd be much better at this point.
As for shotcalling in Overwatch there's no real shotcaller, everyone just contributes and calls themselves and we trust each other. Zebbosai is probably the most vocal one among us, it's really nice to have someone like him to always kickstart communication and consistently keep everyone on their toes.
You ended up falling down to Lunatic Hai, who would go on to top two at the event. What went wrong in that series? Were they just stronger overall?
Looking back of course we made mistakes, and we watch the VODs together the next day talking about them without any issues at all. We're accepting that we won't be able to play flawless Overwatch this early and we learn from it. I think we put up a really good fight, we wasted a few ultimates, some positional and team synergy issues, and those small details could easily have won us both Hollywood and Volskaya. It just came down to not having enough practice in the end, especially on Control maps.
Our attitude going into it was just to practice the triple tank composition as much as we could to play it to our best, but what ended up happening was we got counter-picked way too much on Control maps and we essentially didn't have time to practice anything else so we were a bit afraid to swap to random stuff we've never tried before and hoping we'd nail the team synergy with picks we hadn't practiced with.
If we had another week we could have given ourselves time to practice just another composition or two and I think we'd have a much better chance, potentially beating Lunatic Hai given our performance with the practice we had.
Before the event, there were some complaints on the lack of a draft system for the map pool. Now that IEM and MLG have passed with the pre-set configuration, is there an upside? Do you believe quality of games suffered at all, or did we actually end up with better matches as a result?
I mean it helped us a lot because we got to practice fewer maps, but a draft system with a map pool would essentially be the same thing. I think a smaller, seasonal map pool, would give us the highest quality of matches due to teams being able to focus on some maps more, and then I'd just like to have some way of dictating what maps we would play vs. other teams. It doesn't necessarily have to be a pick-ban draft system, I'd even be very happy with loser's pick system from a smaller map pool, but just giving us a chance to play to our strengths and abuse our opponents weaknesses without the battleground being random would be huge in my opinion.
Let's talk tanks. From what it looks like, there is room for variation in what is known as the tank meta, but is real change on the horizon? How are you enjoying the meta at the moment and what is your ideal way to play? What changes would you make personally?
I think the meta is quite bad; looking back there's always going to be something in a meta that stands out as too strong and is "abused" by players, but since this meta specifically relies on a lot less mechanical and individual skill the game becomes a lot more stale and it feels rather placid. Impact in the game is now made through good teamwork, rather than individual skill, and it leaves me as a Reinhardt player feeling rather useless as I can't have much impact on my own.
I can get good earthshatters, but 90% of the time I need my teammates to kill them for me. I can pin people, but I'll rarely finish the frontline tanks off with a charge alone given their HP pools, and meleeing is just like swinging a hammer at an inflated ball. If you put it in the right context, sure I still have a lot of "impact", but rarely does it feel that way and thus the game becomes a lot less fun.
I'd nerf Ana's healing output to make Mercy the go-to hero for incredible healing due to the nature of Mercy's abilities. I want to nerf D.Va slightly as well and her survivability, but then I just feel like the next meta would cater to hitscan heroes shutting down picks like Pharah's themselves and then we haven't progressed much. Perhaps small tweaks are needed on both D.Va and Soldier to open up the playing field a bit more.
Which heroes do you wish saw more play? Who would you play if you could never swap again?
I think there's a few base heroes that always need to be somewhat viable for the meta to not be stale. These include, but are not limited to, Pharah, Junkrat, Zarya, Tracer and Reinhardt. These heroes enable so many strategies that otherwise would be hard to put together with the amount of heroes currently in the game, so if they'd all be viable you'd see a lot more different type of compositions both on offense and defense.
Taking a look at the current scene, do you think most regions are on an even playing field?
Well, as for playing field I think NA has an awful lot more tournaments than EU as it stands, and it's hurting the EU scene badly, despite EU being more top-heavy than the North American one. I'd say Europe (yes EnVyUs is a European team) and Korea on their best days are actually quite close to each other. I'd love to see how the new Misfits and Rogue, with EnVyUs and Ninjas in Pyjamas would stack up against South Korea once we're all performing to our best performances.
With the Overwatch League in 2017, how do you feel about localized teams?
I mean I "get it". It makes the Overwatch League brand sound a lot better and you'd make it easier for newcoming fans to find teams to root for and for teams to build fanbases without going through the effort of only pushing content creation, personalities, and in-game performances alone, but practically it doesn't help me become a better player, and I'd be forced to settle down somewhere I perhaps don't feel like settling down. I don't see the need for it but at the same time I can understand why they'd do it.
Are you confident in the future of the game moving forward? What issues need to be solved for Overwatch to reach that next level as an esport?
I'm really confident overall about the future of Overwatch, and Overwatch esports. Blizzard cares A LOT, like, on a level we've never seen them support and develop something before. They're bound to make a lot of correct decisions, and I think Overwatch is going to encounter a lot less change season after season with "fixes", because I think Blizzard will research and discuss and brainstorm enough to make fewer, and more correct, decisions long-term. Just the production value of the Overwatch World Cup alone had me blown away, and it was the FIRST big Overwatch Blizzard event. They're not messing around with Overwatch that's for damn sure.
In 20 years looking back there's no way the continued development of Overwatch esports is going to be perfect, but I really do think they'll be revolutionary for their time, regardless of map drafting system put in place (hoho).
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