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Harsha: “ […] many of the players are really skilled at other games. JJANU and Stitch were Challenger in League of Legends recently […] ”

Volamel 2019-03-12 03:09:48
  Harsha "Harsha" Bandi, coordinator and coach for the Vancouver Titans, has been a mainstay of the Overwatch community since nearly its inception. From content creation to analytical thinking, he’s always had a foot in the door for both sides of the discussion. Within the last two years, he’s seen a meteoric rise being called up to work directly with the San Fransisco Shock and now, the Vancouver Titans. Esports Heaven spoke with Harsha shortly after the Titans emerged victorious over the Chengdu Hunters in a match that had fans, and experts, on the edge of their seats. We cover what it’s like working directly with such a beloved team, what that means to him and his thoughts on the stage playoffs.
Last time we spoke I asked you about what a normal day looks like for you on your previous team, the San Fransisco Shock. What are some of the major differences between your work on a day-to-day scale from the Shock compared to your current team, the Vancouver Titans? My work on Shock was pretty volatile because of staffing changes, but towards the end of the first season with the addition of Crusty, my day-to-day routine consisted of watching practice all day and discussing adjustments that needed to be made for the next matches, while scouting on my own time. These days, while I still work closely with the Titans coaching staff for practice and match preparation, my responsibilities also include some management duties, and more generally, I try my best to help our players adjust to their new lifestyle in America. Has it been surreal at all knowing you’re working with RunAway, a team that has been so historic and beloved? Walk me through the moment you knew that you’d be working with players who you’ve watched for so long It is pretty crazy to be working with players who competed in the first season of APEX, a tournament that I watched as a fan with almost no following. I distinctly remember staying up late in college to catch matches and still remember all the original montages of Haksal, for example. I didn't think about this too much when I was in the process of joining the Titans, but I do often think about how lucky I am to have received this opportunity.     In that same sense, I think people tend to put this team and their players on this crazy pedestal that would define them almost as enigmas. Could you shed some light on the players and who they are as people? What’s a fun fact or some piece of trivia that people wouldn’t know about the team? I think that working so closely to the entire Overwatch League scene has spoiled me a bit in the sense that I don't see these pedestals anymore. Envy was a legendary team that I wrote numerous articles about as a journalist, yet last season I lived in the same apartment complex as Dallas Fuel and interacted with them really frequently. At some point, I probably subconsciously stopped placing pedestals beneath these teams and started seeing players as simply people. In terms of fun facts about my team... many of the players are really skilled at other games. JJANU and Stitch were Challenger in League of Legends recently, for example, while Haksal is apparently a top player in Sudden Attack, a CS:GO rip-off. Walk me through the Chengdu game. Obviously, you guys ended up pulling out the 3-2 victory, but where do you think do misstepped? What was the locker room like after the game? I think that match came down to executing our gameplan incredibly poorly. We were adequately prepared but did not get to test our preparation in practice, as no teams play like Chengdu in scrims. Despite missteps on Temple of Anubis and Hollywood, the players buckled up and took the final two maps to win. I think we probably felt more relieved at the end of that match than anything. The game was pretty eye-opening and motivated everyone to try even harder for our next set of matches. With eight new expansion team, there are bound to be a shakeup in terms of power. Out of all twenty teams, name one team that disappointed you in stage one. What is one team that impressed in stage one? I always rated Valiant lower than other people, but I never expected they'd fall to 0-7. They have to be my biggest disappointment. Despite their admittedly hard schedule, it's hard to excuse losing every match for an entire stage. Perhaps Atlanta impressed me the most this stage. I thought they definitely had a talented roster but didn't expect the team to click so quickly. It feels like that team has managed to mask weaknesses and gaps in communication to put out a cohesive product that's incredibly fun to watch, and they have a good chance of ending the stage 5-2. The Titans have clinched your first stage playoff berth. What’s the atmosphere like behind the scenes, what are some of your expectations for stage playoffs? Anything you want to prove? To be honest, we didn't celebrate or even pay much thought to clinching the playoffs. Our goal is to win the whole stage, and qualifying was just a stepping stone to that goal. These players aren't strangers to success, so I'm sure they all feel as though the real test is still to come. The team proved that they were the best in Korea—now they want to prove that they're the best in the world. For your last match of the stage, the Titans will have their rematch against the Guangzhou Charge. Coincidentally, the Charge are another team that took you guys to the brink. I’ve got to know, what specifically are you guys preparing for and will they take you to game five again? Charge are a really diverse team in terms of depth and strategy, so they'll certainly be hard to prepare for. Rio's flexibility is key in swapping between DPS compositions and more standard 3-3, and Shu is incredible as well. I think that with more games played, we will have a more clear picture of how to play against this team than we did in the second week. We'll study their footage as I'm sure they've studied ours and make sure that we win faster than we did last time.
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.

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