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Numlocked: “I just want to work hard to not necessarily prove those people wrong but to prove to myself that I am the player I’ve been telling myself I am for the past four years.”

Volamel 2019-03-16 06:43:29
  Seb "numlocked" Barton has been competing in Overwatch going on four years and is on the shortlist of veteran talent that still chases after mastery of the game. He and his current team, the British Hurricane, are poised to represent Europe at the newly unveiled Atlantic Showdown after a short playoff run last season which saw them draw Team Gigantti, the eventual champions, in the quarterfinals. The grizzled veteran spoke with Esports Heaven about his near four-year career in Overwatch, his time after the Los Angeles Valiant, and where his goals lie when it comes to the game.
You mentioned in your team’s Reddit AMA that you were concerned that teams wouldn’t give you the time of day after how your time with the Los Angeles Valiant concluded. Could you add some more context to that? Were you considering changing roles? Maybe stepping into the coaching sphere? Say for example you have two options: A main tank that’s played for a year in contenders/world cup, shown promise and is ready to go with the experience he’s gained—or you have a player that has played maybe one week’s worth of scrims for the year, didn’t get to spectate much, and has missed metas and is generally out of the loop in terms of in-game experience. In a role as crucial as main tank, in-game experience is crucial to be able to help you control the game and know what’s best to do/not do. I changed role before and ended up back on main tank very quickly. It’s just a better fit for a vocal player such as myself. I also do want to step into coaching eventually—it’s something I’ve always done on the side as a hobby across all the games I’ve played professionally—but I wouldn’t want it to be my next career move until I was no longer happy playing or felt my skill level dropping. I still have the competitive drive I had when I became a professional player, so I have no plans to do that yet. As a follow-up, did this stoke your competitive drive at all? Did you feel like you had to prove yourself in some way? Not at all. If anything, it made me hungrier. I absolutely feel like I have to prove myself. People think I’m washed, I was a bench player for a reason, didn’t deserve playtime, etc. I know all these comments are wrong and I just want to work hard to not necessarily prove those people wrong but to prove to myself that I am the player I’ve been telling myself I am for the past four years. Nearly two years ago we spoke and you were quoted saying that if Blizzard went ahead with their changes, at the time, that “we’re going to go back to deathball tank comps which are super anti-fun.” To add a bit of context, we spoke shortly after MLG Vegas 2016. Is the GOATs meta what you had in mind back then? More or less, yeah. I can’t remember if Brigitte was announced [or] released back then, but tanks were already pretty prominent in Europe and it was only going to stick further with the changes being implemented around that time. Would you say that you still agree with that sentiment that deathball compositions are not fun or have you found a way to enjoy the current metagame? I enjoy playing GOATs in a professional setting. There’s a lot of little ways to change [or] affect the way you play and the tempo the comp is played at is constantly changing. In ranked, however, I detest having to play goats. There are so many intricacies to the comp that it’s really easy to just get screwed over by someone using their cooldowns incorrectly. You’re very team reliant and it’s even harder to solo carry. You’ll join a list of very few remaining people as we approach the end of this year as you can celebrate playing Overwatch professionally for 4 years. What has the journey been like for you and what would you say was the single most impactful decision that you’ve made in the past forty-eight months? No other way to describe it than a rollercoaster. My time in EU initially was good with Creation Esports, before we signed with Dignitas, then I joined NRG and things went downhill pretty quickly, then I had the small redemption arc with Envision and things looked like they were on the up, then Valiant happened. I’d say joining NRG has had the biggest impact on my career. It was a great move for me in terms of moving to a better-supported region and having more resources than I would in EU. I also got to attend more international events. Even when I was released from NRG, the fact that I was able to stay in NA and grind while trying out for OWL teams really helped me. Recently, you and the Hurricane narrowly squeaked out a victory over Samsung Morning Stars. Now that you’ve had some time to reflect, could you touch on what exactly went wrong? I’d say our ultimate management was really inconsistent. It was at its worst on Blizzard World. We were really sloppy with our usage and our tracking and it made the fight against time back that much harder. In your post-match interview, you hinted at your practice results and how you weren’t expecting to have close games with many people this season. Who would you say is your biggest competition at the moment and why are they so strong? Probably Gigantti. They’re always looked at as the #1 GOATs team, but I think people are too scared of them. They’ll often plan to play DPS comps to try and beat them and avoid playing GOATs, but I think it’s the wrong way to go. I think they’re the best anti-dps team, but they can be beaten on GOATs. We almost proved that last season with Doomfist goats, which was super strong at the time, and we happened to have the best Doomfist in EU. What are some of your goals for this season of Contenders? I know a lot of people are shooting for their regions Showdown event, but I wonder from someone who has been in the Overwatch League sphere previously, are your expectations and/or goals a bit higher? I don’t think my goals are any higher due to that. We just want to get to the Showdown so we can prove EU’s strength and so that the players on this team won’t get overlooked by OWL scouts. I just want to show what I’m capable of with practice and get the redemption arc on the go.
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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