Midnight’s goals for the new year: 'I want to start being more confident in my play without building up an ego.'
Mike "Midnight" Ryan formerly of Rise Nation’s Overwatch squad is back with his new team fondly named; Midnight Marauders. He sat down with Esports Heaven to chat about his newest venture in Overwatch, his reunion with his former teammates, and his goals as a player coming into the new year.
Doubling back, we’re starting to see the old core of Rise Nation roster re-emerge. How does it feel getting back into the swing of things with Phaz and xRetzi? Does it feel nostalgic at all?
It definitely feels nostalgic playing with Phaz and xRetzi again. I think we all have a new mentality about the game and a new outlook on what it takes to win and it’s great to be on a team with so many people who I consider friends that are also good teammates and skilled players.
On that same note, your also playing with some young guns as well. Could you shed some light about your other teammates and what they bring to Midnight Marauders?
I’ll start with KSF. When Selfless disbanded and the scene kind of broke down I ended up playing on a couple pug teams with KSF and I thought he was a really good Genji player, so when me, Phaz, and xRetzi started throwing out names for flex dps, I brought up KSF. We tried him out and he just fit in perfectly.
Gingerpop tweeted that he was interested in competitive Overwatch again. We sent him a message and he decided to try out. He fit into the team pretty well in terms of communication and mechanical skill, it was up to him if he wanted the spot, and he decided to take it. He brings a veteran perspective that is different than my other teammates which has been helping us immensely.
Moop3y has a bit more of a backstory. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but back in Season 1, Moop3y (who was named Killa back then) started asking me to duo. He was a Genji player back then and me and him together got high ranks on the leaderboard. Unfortunately I got picked up by Rise at some point during Season 2 I think, and we got disconnected for a while. While I was playing for Rise, Moop3y was working his way up in the t2 scene. I’m pretty sure he started as dps, moved to support, and then moved to main tank. So when we were struggling to find a Main Tank, I decided to tell my teammates that we should give Moop3y a shot. Like KSF, he fit in perfectly with the team.
That being said, what are some of your goals coming into the new year not only as a player, but as a person?
As a player I definitely want to keep working on my attitude moving into 2018, I made great strides towards the end of this year and I think if the progress continues it would help me immensely in the new year. As a person, I want to start caring less about the things other players say to/about me. I often let the things other players say go straight to my head and it definitely affects my gameplay and my attitude. Basically, in 2018 I want to start being more confident in my play without building up an ego.
Now that we’ve gotten to see just a glimpse of what the Overwatch League has to offer us with the pre-season, is this what you had expected? Does what you’ve seen so far measure up to the expectation that, as a player, you’ve been waiting for?
I think the pre-season actually exceeded a lot of my expectations. I was definitely not expecting some of the games to be so close, and I am looking forward to watching the regular season. I think it’s tough to say anything more about the league, as the main difference between OWL and other games/leagues is the whole franchising with Home/Away games. Obviously season 1 will take place fully in LA, so it doesn’t feel like the “full experience” yet. Other than that though, I seriously hope all the teams keep up the amazing performances they showed in the pre-season.
Midnight and his former team, Rise Nation, at MLG Vegas.
We finally have some sort of news with Contenders, where are some major things you think could be improved?
I still think the biggest thing that needs to be improved is communication. Blizzard needs to communicate more with organisations and organisations need to communicate more with players. I cannot describe to you the feeling of having to wait while someone else decides whether you have a career or not, only to just receive no answer at all. There is also still a ton of information that is unknown to players, such as who to contact if they are interested in tryouts for an academy team. I think a lot of issues could be fixed if Blizzard started talking more to the OWL/Endemic Organizations that are involved and giving them all the information they need early rather than later.
I also think organizations should have public contact information on the OWL website or something similar so that players don’t have to message random people who may be involved with the organization but not with the academy team. On the same note, I think organizations can do a better job of communicating with players. If a player asks an academy team for a tryout, I think most players would appreciate even a simple “No, we won’t give you a tryout” over receiving no response at all. On top of that, if players do get a tryout, as soon as the tryout period is over, a simple “Hey, we went with someone else” would be much better than sitting there waiting for the roster to be announced to realize you aren’t on it. To summarize; Blizzard needs to communicate more with organisations, and organisations need to communicate more with players.
One of the biggest factors Overwatch has going for it, is that Blizzard is investing quite quickly in the tier 2 scene. Do you think that the system overall the Blizzard has put forth will be successful financially for teams and successful in fostering talent in the long run?
I think the success of the system mostly depends upon the structure of the academy teams. Will the academy teams receive the same treatment as the OWL teams? (Meaning team house, coaching etc.) If Academy teams can make a decent salary, have a team house, and receive good coaching, I think the system Blizzard has created will create a decent “Path to Pro” as they call it. The only thing that worries me is the lack of lan client experience for Contenders players, but I’m sure there will be more LAN events moving forward.
Many Contenders teams have been announced and I’m sure you’ve been playing against some of them behind the scenes. Would you care to leave any breadcrumbs laying around as to which teams people might want to keep their eye on?
Oddly enough I think one of the best teams is one that has already been around. Toronto eSports is definitely an underrated team. I’m not sure if their roster is announced yet so I don’t want to start rattling off names, but they have some really skilled players.
Again, to go back to our old interview you mentioned that at the the time, teams like Selfless and Rogue were as good if not better than some of their South Korean counterparts, do you still hold that opinion looking back in hindsight?
I definitely still hold that opinion and I think World Cup/pre-season kind of showed that the skill level between the West and SK is very close. I am still of the opinion that the individual skill level of Western players is just as good if not better than Korean players, but Korean players play better as a team than Western players.
Would you say that the top Western teams now are greater than or equal to the top South Korean teams?
If we are talking OWL teams, I definitely think a few of the Western teams can easily beat the Korean teams.
In our previous interview, we talked about your history in games and you mentioned that “If a game is considered an esport, chances are [you] have played it at some point.” Having played many esports titles, which is Overwatch more associated with an FPS or a MOBA and why?
I’ll take the unpopular opinion here and say that Overwatch is more of an FPS than a moba. As the meta continues to move forward, the game seems to be speeding up quite a bit. You used to have a ton of time to think about a play, come up with a plan, and then execute it perfectly. That time has been getting shorter and shorter to the point where your window to come up with and execute a play is maybe 1 or 2 seconds. Since you have less time to come up with the perfect plan, each individual’s aim becomes more important. The game has shifted from encouraging reactive play to encouraging proactive play, and I believe making proactive plays requires better aim. Obviously abilities still play a large role, but I think having better aim as a team can “carry” your team to a certain point.
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 and MLG.