Doa on OWL’s support structure: “I think western players are going to be less able to slack off than they were before.”
Erik "DoA" Lonnquist has casted in esports for the last 10+ years. He’s has been in games like Starcraft 2, League of Legends, and now finds his home within Overwatch. The self-appointed ‘Doctor House’ of cell phone tech support, left his job years ago to pursue a passionate hobby in esports shoutcasting which landed him with a position at GOMtv. Soon, you will find Doa making Game of Thrones puns and applauding bloodthirsty supports in the Overwatch League set to launch with the preseason on December 6th and the start of the regular season January 10th. Doa stopped by after one hectic BlizzCon to talk Overwatch League and his thoughts for the future.
How are you doing today Doa? How was your BlizzCon?
Great! We got awesome games for the Overwatch World Cup! Korea looked mortal for the first time in a long time and Blizz finally announced my new main, Moira! (Note; that new main doesn’t mean favorite character. Zen4lyfe)
I know that you’re quite the Blizzard fan, so what are some of the biggest announcements from this BlizzCon that have got you excited?
I’ve been a big World of Warcraft nerd since release day so Classic and the new expansion being announced blew my mind. FOR THE ALLIANCE! I’ve always preferred the Horde vs. Alliance dynamic more than the “band together to fight enemy ‘X’” dynamic, so Battle for Azeroth looks so great to me. Classic is going to be really fun to go back and visit. I don’t think people remember just how much harder Vanilla WoW was, but it did give you a sense of accomplishment when you completed something because it was so tough. Having to form groups yourself and make your way to instances produced the best social experiences I’ve had in any game so it’ll be fun to have those back again. I still remember trying to sneak-swim across the lake by Undercity to get my Alliance group to Scarlet Monastery.
Coming from Starcraft 2 and League of Legends, what's one thing that you’ve learned from casting other games and applying it Overwatch?
I think the biggest thing is learning to quickly identify what the important factors in a game are. What are the key things that can happen that can tip the game one way or the other? What’s the little move that swings a fight in Starcraft? What’s the play that swings the game in LoL? Looking for those things are the key to casting any game.
During the latest OverSight, MonteCristo really drove home the significance of GC Busan’s run during APEX Season 4 and at APAC. As another name on the star-studded list of ‘royal roaders’ do you think that they will survive the test of time? Do you think we are witnessing the birth of a truly great team?
That’s a great question! It’s obviously pretty hard to say right now since Overwatch esports is still in its infancy. GC put together an amazing season and even after all the years I’ve spent in Korea it still shocks me just how many great players come out the woodwork for every game. The bigger question is whether or not this team is going to be able to thrive in a totally different environment in LA for Overwatch League. Being there as a group will help, but big changes like that can throw off newer teams. I feel pretty confident that Spitfire’s management can take care of them.
With the start of the Overwatch League coming in just a few months now, what are some of your expectations leading into the inaugural season?
I really think we’re going to have the highest level of competition in Overwatch yet. It’ll feel like going home to Seoul in a sense that I’ll finally be casting out of a studio again with all the players there in person to talk to. Can’t wait for that. I’m also pretty glad that I’ll be able to practice my Korean with some progamers again! Need to get some language exchange sessions going!
Speaking of the Overwatch League, western teams are going to be semi-forced to all have support staff. Do you think that this could help the western teams in their inevitable matches against high-level Korean teams like Seoul and London?
I do, in that I think western players are going to be less able to slack off than they were before. The biggest reason Korea’s been dominating NA and EU all these years is because they A.) listen to their coaches and B.) simple play much more than anyone else. I’m not trying to undermine the hard work some players are putting in here, because I know plenty that work like crazy, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve been talking to a western team in various games and they tell me they haven’t gotten good practice lately because X player has refused to ladder or scrim or whatever. Ideally, stricter management will prevent that kind of thing from happening as often.
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“If I’m paying someone 50k a year minimum and they didn't practice they’d be off the team pretty fast.” - Erik "DoA" Lonnquist
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I know you and MonteCristo both had a hand in helping to create the new spectator experience and it looks great, is there anything that you personally would love to see added?
It was a huge honor to get to be part of that process, which mostly amounted to meetings, emails, and giving feedback about the tools as they were being developed. The biggest thing for me right now is going back and seeing what things could be tweaked a bit. I do think that the Away Team jerseys might be a bit too white, but it’s such a delicate balance making the teams look different that I’d be in favor of leaving it for a little while longer to see if people get used to it. The beams effects for things like Mercy’s damage/healing need a bit of work yet. I’m curious if just leaving them the normal colors would be the way to go. Might not need to change them at all. I really really like that they got rid of the giant circle around Lucio and added the boost/heal icons above his head. As a viewer, you don’t really need to see what his exact range is.
The big thing I’m hoping we see more of in the preseason is the “mega-map” top-down view. I know they feel that it’s not polished enough yet to use a lot as a spectator feature (we had a separate monitor that was always on that view at the casting desk), but I really think it looks great already and would be an amazing tool to use during analyst desk segments among other things.
To all the aspiring casters out there who have not embraced the beast that is Overwatch, is there any advice that you’d give them that you wish you would have had?
The words of Illidan Stormrage come to mind here. “You are not prepared!” couldn’t be more accurate for anyone who wants to cast this game. All the prep in the world isn’t going to get you completely ready for the insanity that is casting Overwatch. Things are a lot easier now after the team color improvements, but there’s still a lot going on at one time to take in. The best advice I can give has been the same advice I give any aspiring caster. “Just make stuff.” The more you make, the better you’ll get and the more likely it’ll be that someone who can give you an opportunity will see you work and like it.
Last but certainly not least, what are you personally the most excited for when it comes to Overwatch League and where are you pledging your allegiance (if you're able to say)?
I’m just excited to get started! It’s been a great year, but it’s also been weird in that I haven’t gotten to actually cast that much! As far as allegiances go, I think it’s great if casters have a favorite team that they’re open to supporting. Being unbiased is fine, but a little bias makes things entertaining. I picked a good team in League of Legends with SKT so I feel a lot of pressure to make another good decision for the Overwatch League. I’ll let you know during an OWL broadcast some time!
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, OGN, and LoL esports flickr.