ZP on the South Korea vs. USA: “One of the best series to be played in Overwatch to date.”
Many games have their voices that the community immediately thinks of when it comes to the commentary of their respective game. Andrew "ZP" Rush is a serious front runner for that spot in Overwatch. With a competitive history in Tribes: Ascend, ZP is no slouch to FPS and quick gameplay, and caught on quick when it came to casting the GosuGamers Overwatch Weeklies. He and his partner Robert "hexagrams" Kirkbride have become a synonymous duo with witty banter and serious work ethic. ZP had a few minutes to chat right before the holiday season began.
‘Ello ZP! How are you doing today?
Doing well! Enjoying time with the family over Thanksgiving week!
Now that the chaos of BlizzCon is over, what are some of your most fondest memories? Overall, how was the experience for you?
Blizzcon as always was an incredible experience—a finishing point to the year where you get to catch up with everyone in the Overwatch community as a whole. This year was a particularly busy Blizzcon where due to the games being longer than expected (but also great!) most of my memories are simply of working the event. What fonder memory could one have however, than USA vs South Korea? One of the best series to be played in Overwatch to date.
There was a ton of content to cover, but we did see the culmination of the 2017 Overwatch World Cup. Were you surprised at any of the matches and their outcomes?
I always thought USA would be competitive, but I was definitely surprised at just how close the actual maps in that series were. It's one thing for a team to upset (or surpass expectations), but it's another thing for two teams to be so evenly matched at points that you get a series for the ages. That you can look back at the series and say that the United States came within two team fights of potentially going 3-0 is nothing short of remarkable. It's not the fact that the US was so close to winning, but rather the idea that the series was so close that two team fights alone could have swung it a different way, which is just incredible.
Beyond the USA / South Korea set, I was certainly surprised at how far Canada went. Canada's entire persona as a team was one of a fighter, where they had to surpass expectations to get out of Poland, fought there way back against a very strong Australian team, and managed to knock a favored Sweden team into the third place match. No playoff match was particularly easy for them, but I'd say that they surpassed expectations in just about every round of playoffs they were involved in.
Going forward, we do have the new support hero, Moira and the new Hybrid map, Blizzard World. I will keep this one short and sweet and pose this question to you: more heroes or more maps?
In a world where the dev team could only focus on one element of the game at once? Definitely heroes. The depth of the game grows considerably when you add a hero, just because of the ripple effects where a new hero being useful in X niche might unlock a different underplayed hero to support that niche in Y way. However, it's worth noting too that new maps can unlock different ways to use existing heroes as well; see Junkertown and it's unique affinity to both Pirate Ship and Widowmaker compositions.
You mentioned once that “to cast Overwatch [...] you have to be the ultimate filter.” What in your life did you draw upon to make that a bit easier? Was there anything that you could draw reference to?
If I had to pinpoint anything that could have inspired this from other life interactions, I'd say some very good professors in college who were more interested in concise writing rather than flowery writing. Effective communication is about getting to your point quickly while still including relevant details. Because of how fast paced Overwatch is, it's vital that you pack as much content into every word (while choosing the right things to focus on), otherwise you risk neglecting key elements of the game.
To the surprise of no one, South Korea stood victorious at the end of the day.
Was there anything that you could refer to in your personal life when it came to become and learning to become a broadcaster? Have you ever had to do something like that before?
The only tools I really had to start me off when it came to broadcasting was that I previously had competed in FPS games at a high level. I had spent the better part of two years being a streamer, and that as a general rule I enjoy speaking. It's been a crazy journey though going from that basic starting level to where things are today. Broadcasting is incredibly involved, and to this day I feel like I learn something new or refine an existing skillset with every event.
Looking at the new broadcast features that were unveiled during BlizzCon 2017, what was your initial impressions and what are your impressions now that you’ve been able to come home and collect your thoughts?
My initial impressions were that the new broadcast features would make the game much easier to both spectate as a viewer and cast as a broadcaster. I don't think anything has transpired between then and now to really change that opinion, beyond wanting a few tweaks here and there (i.e.: no more light blue vs white if possible). Overwatch is arguably the most frenzied Esport game out there in terms of the action, and it was absolutely crucial that every step be taken in order to make the action more clear to viewers at home.
We’ve seen the growth of Overwatch esports, but what about ZP? What is different from ZP a year ago and ZP now?
I think in broadcasting there's three main pillars that you would score a broadcaster on—game knowledge, vocal ability, and entertainment. While I'm always striving to improve on all 3, I'd say that my broadcasts a year or so back were a bit lacking on the entertainment side. It's important as a broadcaster to find ways to entertain your audience in periods of downtime, but doing so in a way that are organic and make sense. It's something that's easy to undervalue when you're focused on getting the other two pillars right, and an element of casting that's probably the last piece to be developed for most broadcasters.
Do you think there has been progress made when it comes to finding the correct or the most optimal amount of time between analysis of the game and going to the next game? Would you like to see more time allotted for analysis?
What I would like to see doesn't really matter in this instance. It's indisputable that when it comes to stream viewership, every minute that you're not in game is a minute that you're losing viewers. So the pressure is always going to be on the analysis desk to find ways to make every word count in whatever time is allotted, because the priority from a broadcast point of view will be to get into game ASAP at all times.
Now, I asked Doa and he is still undecided, but who (if anyone) are you leaning towards for the Overwatch League? Is there any team that has ZP’s allegiance?
In traditional sports, I have two regions that I root for, Minnesota and Boston. Minnesota because it's where I've lived for most of my adult life, and Boston because all of my family roots are from the area. In a world where I was only a casual fan of the game, I'd likely have an affinity towards Boston. However, speaking as a broadcaster, my answer would simply be that I'm rooting for excellence. I want to support whichever team is the most refined and exciting to watch.
That being said, to end, take me back to when you first heard about the Overwatch League. What was your initial thoughts about that? Now, that we are finally reaching the finish line and the Overwatch League pre-season is soon to start, does it feel real? What are you most excited about?
I didn't really know what to think when Overwatch League was initially announced because so many details were yet to be hammered out. As the details for the League became known however, I think I was most excited about the idea of regional teams. Regionality is a big deal for attaching people to the game, and we've already seen proof of that in Overwatch events to date (see: Sydney Group Stage, Blizzcon).
What I'm excited about most is the ability to see high level Overwatch on a consistent basis every week that draws in players from all regions of the globe. I'm also really curious to see how teams adapt with rosters larger than 6, and what evolutions coaching in Overwatch takes now that teams have more resources available to them than ever before.
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.