Envision iShiny: “Overwatch has been my first opportunity to pursue a game with no obstacles in my way.”
With the next chapter in Overwatch’s Path to Pro upon us, EnVision Esports journey to Nieporaz, Poland to compete in the Overwatch Contenders playoff finals and leading the force is Bryan "iShiny" McCarthy. As a seasoned main tank player, iShiny has played on teams like The 1 Percent and Counter Logic Gaming. Floating around the lower end of the amateur scene for some time, iShiny has now found back to back silver medal finishes with EnVison Esports. As one of the most promising teams in Overwatch Contenders, EnVision’s own iShiny took some time during his travels to speak with Esports Heaven about his history in collegiate esports, his competitive past in Heroes of the Storm and Halo, and how he personally continues to find success.
Let’s start with a throwback: if you were a travel advisor and had to plan a day’s itinerary for a trip to Woodland, Washington—your hometown—what might be on that list? What is there to do in Woodland? What would you recommend?
Oh man. I am from a very, very small town. If you're going to be visiting Woodland, then you better have a car and you better be ready for the outdoors. If you want to stay very close to Woodland, I would recommend tubing/swimming on horseshoe lake or visit the tulip festival while it's in season. If you are willing to drive a little, then I would recommend spelunking through Ape Caves, boating/water sports on Lake Merwin, or hiking/mountain biking on the trails by Mt. St. Helens.
Here is a name you might not have herd in a long time - what does the name “Tofushift” mean to you? What would you say is the most important thing that this person taught you?
That's a throwback right there. Tofushift is a person that I would consider to be my first gaming mentor. When I got into my first MOBA (an arcade game on Starcraft 2 called SOTIS), Tofushift was one of the top players in the game and I was horrendous. He took me under his wing and brought me up to speed when it came to playing MOBA games. He brought me along on the transition to League of Legends and was always there to provide advice and to bounce ideas off of. The most important thing that he taught me was to always look at myself when it came to criticism. I used to be a toxic player that always found the mistakes of others to pinpoint my team's losses on, but I evolved into only evaluating my own mistakes in order to improve.
Systems and “games” seem to have been a big thing in your life. Do you think that stems from having a structured life from a young age? Do you attribute any of that to your Dad?
Absolutely. My parents were always adamant on emphasizing the importance of problem-solving skills and competitive drive. They were both very focused on structuring my life around the most competitive opportunities from the most difficult academic programs and the highest level of competition and personal training for sports. They knew I really liked video games so their solution was that I had to get straight A's in school and play a sport to the best of my ability, and if I did both of these things, I had unlimited access to video games and didn't have a bedtime. When it comes to structure and learning how to be a leader and play on a team, I attribute a lot to my Dad as he always provided me with the opportunities to be a better soccer player, from access to private training, access to playing on travel teams that played around the country, to grinding for a National B soccer coaching license.
You have a laundry list of competitive titles behind you - League of Legends, Heroes of the Storm, Starcraft 2, and oddly enough, Halo 3. You had top ranks in everything except for MLG and Squad Battle and that’s impressive on its own. On top of that, you were winning local events in the 7th grade. Do you have any fun stories from your days grinding in Halo? Anything you can recall on and look back fondly on?
Halo will always have a special place in my heart, and I definitely think that it's where I found my competitive stride. I was around rank 17 (out of 50; 50 being the best), in every queue in Halo 2, but when I started getting into Halo 3, something just clicked and I rose to the max rank in almost every queue. Since it was such a popular and widely played game, Halo 3 was probably the first time my classmates and peers realized that my niche was gaming. I will always look fondly upon winning my first LAN tournament in the 7th grade because it was practically something out of a dream. I was, by far, the youngest person in the tournament that progressed further than the first round, but to take it all the way to the finals and see the look on the admins face as I beat a college guy by one...good memories. It also won me a spot at the front of the line at a nearby game crazy for Halo: ODST which was pretty cool.
Did you have a personal inspiration from Halo? Anyone in particular that you were inspired by? Anyone who you really would have loved to be on a team with one day at the time? Maybe a favorite professional team?
The only players that I was really inspired by were lil poison (since he was both better and younger than me) and Tsquared since I was a Str8 Rippin fanboy. I would've loved to play on a team with Tsquared.
You played Collegiate Heroes of the Storm with former Starcraft 2 professional player Lok-Yin 'Adrian' "KawaiiRice" Kwong. Do you have any fun stories from your collegiate Heroes of the Storm career playing for the University of Washington? Did you pick up anything from him at all from the time you two played alongside one another?
Competing in Heroes of the Dorm was always an uphill battle. Adrian was the only pro-HotS player that passed through UW so the rest of us were Challenger League of Legends players that had to grind the game in a month to a point where we could compete with the pros of other colleges. Playing on the team, while Adrian was on it, was the first time I started to understand what it was like to play on a committed gaming team where everyone is putting in the effort and the time to practice, do VOD reviews and plan out comps/strategies. Little did I know then that I would be inspired to found Washington Esports and emulate a lot of these structures for the teams we would form in other games. Even though we were knocked out in the quarter-finals each year, it was awesome seeing and meeting a growing fan base in the local Seattle area.
Something people might not know about you is that you were instrumental in helping to found the Washington Gamers Association (WGA), which not only is continuing to help collegiate esports in Washington state but creating communities for people to thrive within. Is it cool to now look at it from an outside perspective and have pride that you helped start something that positive?
Yeah, absolutely! I didn't think that going pro was a possibility for me so I was passively playing on an amateur team while my primary focus was on building Washington Esports, Washington Gaming Association, pursuing academic-gaming integration w/in UW administration, and of course, my academics. Surprisingly at the time, I made it pro and gave it all up to pursue my most passionate dream. I'm glad that they've been making so much progress and continued to match the passion I had for collegiate esports, and I might actually get to speak at the opening of an event that represents the fruition of a lot of my goals while I was helping build WGA ;).
In that same light, you did quite a bit of administrative work while you were in college. On top of that, I get an incredibly mature and driven vibe from you. Would you ever consider coaching for esports even outside of Overwatch, or is that competitive fire, as a player, still your driving force?
While I did compete on some of the teams within my own organization (Washington Esports), I did an immense amount of administrative work with Kevin Hoang and Jordan Houghton. I partook in coaching, managing, analyst work, marketing, social media, sponsorship and the other miscellaneous necessities of building an esports org from the ground up. My truest passion is to be a player, but I would absolutely consider coaching, and I firmly believe that I would be a very capable coach that could get the absolute best in performance and mentality out of my players.
Now, Overwatch. You and Envision have qualified for Overwatch Contenders playoffs hosted in Poland and have made another top four. What does it mean to you that you’ve made another LAN?
Oh man, it means that I've got a prophecy to live up to. I've been to three LAN events since committing to professional gaming, and I won all three of them. So obviously, we're destined to win this one, right? RIGHT?! We're definitely excited, and we feel very prepared so now we've just got to perform.
Something that is a bit cliche, but is always entertaining is how your gaming handle came to be. Now, for you, I have one of your original handles that I’d love some backstory on. How did “Glowy” come to be and how, or why, did it change to “iShiny?”
I used to go by a flux of hardcore anime sounding names with a rotating compilation of clan names while I played Halo 3. However, I met a player named Glowy in Halo 3 that kind of inspired me to have a very clean, OG looking name so I straight up yoinked his name and made my Starcraft 2 account name: Glowy. Moving to League of Legends, Glowy was taken, and I didn't want the standard prefixes like xGlowy or iTzGlowy so I just went with iGlowy. Turns out, I sucked at League when I started and the players were too good and I disliked losing so I made a smurf so I could pound on noobs, and I named that smurf iShiny. I ended up buying $100 of RP on that account and decided to make it my main, made a name for myself, and never looked back.
Last question for you: you’ve always been able to learn the system and learn games incredibly quickly. How are you approaching Overwatch differently from other games that you’ve played competitively? How does that translate into, what I can only assume, is your dream to enter the Overwatch League?
Overwatch has been my first opportunity to pursue a game with no obstacles in my way. I don't need another job, I don't have to worry about school, I'm not dabbling in and juggling other opportunities; my focus is purely on Overwatch. I've never felt so passionate about something in my life (and I've pursued a lot of things to a high level). I'm hoping that if I stay driven, hungry and tenacious, I can continue to improve and showcase myself as a player worthy of training with and against the best in the world.
Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs 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.