Overwatch esports is no stranger to young prodigies rising the ranks and accomplishing greatness and Michael "RhynO" Willoughby fits that bill.
Climbing the rungs alongside teams like Odyssey, Uprising Academy, and now with Afterlife, RhynO sets his sights on the summer split to Overwatch Contenders.
RhynO sat for an interview and spoke about the folding of his former team, how Afterlife fared during the Spring Series and more!
Before we get too far in the weeds, we wanted to bring a spotlight to Odyssey's departure from Overwatch Contenders. You mentioned on Twitter how much that team meant to you, but is there anything else you like to say on behalf of one of the most prolific North American Contenders teams? Any stories or fond memories to share?
I just think the team would like to say thank you to everyone again.
I know I enjoyed every scrim and every moment I had with that team and anything we went through was fun.
I know we also always played American Tornado and usually lost, but I would like to thank them for making us better too because we knew we had to push ourselves.
Overall I think the best memories I had of the team were made outside of scrims because even though scrims were fun when we were messing around and winning, I think when we would just chill in voice chat with each other while playing comp or any random game was the best.
I always love watching back old clips I have or old clips on Malthel’s, Rak’s, or K1ng’s Youtube channels.
As someone who has not only been competing since they were barely a teenager but also someone who has been spotlighted as a talent in waiting, what has it been like quite literally growing up in Overwatch? Was that a weird experience to have people bring you so much attention at such a formative age?
It was a little overwhelming having so much attention at such a young age and I think I definitely let it get the better of me early on.
I just had a big ego and whatnot and I definitely didn’t deserve it. However, after I started to kind of just focus on myself and my team with Odyssey, I improved a lot and I think I matured a lot too.
I don’t think it has been the weirdest thing though, especially because I stopped streaming so I didn’t have direct contact with people outside the scene as much.
To Overwatch Contenders, talk to me about that WISP upset. You mentioned it on Twitter, but this was the top seed against the lowest seed, how did that statement win feel?
The win honestly just felt like a win.
It was nice to get upset but that was all it was. I was confident going into the match in my abilities and I underperformed in my eyes but I was proud of my team for being able to pull through.
If we could pick your brain for a moment, let's go back to the Genji/Echo on King's Row Point A. We see you guys identify that you're playing into a Ramattra and then commit everyone to diving the high ground and winning the fight. Was that the general game plan for that composition or something you guys called on the fly?
It was kind of something just called on the fly because we have done it a few times in games or scrims after seeing the Mayhem do it in Overwatch League and we know it’s a solid strategy with the correct setup.
Once we knew their comp and knew their bap would be on the high ground alone, we just decided to go for it. We were confident it would work, even though it was still really sloppy from us.
Also read: Molf1g interview: “Twisted Minds are a really good team […] I hope we can make an upset and beat them.”
Going into Push, those first few fights you had to manage against a Reaper, something that feels fairly dangerous as a tank player. As Winston, how do you approach that Sojourn/Reaper matchup? Is this a case of sit and wait until Wraith Form is off the table or what are some of the specifics you're looking for?
As Winston is into that composition, it is genuinely really difficult to get value until mid-fight. However, their comp will lose over time so eventually they have to make the first move unless someone on your team feeds.
So I just approached it by chilling in the main, playing to farm Nano Boost and baiting them onto me so we can surround them and get angles.
I think getting out of Wraith Form is an important cool down but it definitely isn’t the end-all-be-all for the enemy team because if I decide to jump in on the Reaper or the team after that I can still get burned.
So I mainly just end up playing for ultimates like Nano and just playing for my team because I can hold a lot of space as Winston as long as I don’t die.
Obviously, those remaining matches against O3 Splash and Timeless didn't turn up in your favour, so what do you think went wrong?
I think that I had some bad Primal Rages and could’ve made some better fight plans and whatnot, but ultimately it came down to many individual mistakes paired with bad macro from us.
I know we could’ve done a lot better but our team genuinely did play a lot different from scrims to officials and ultimately it was in the way that we played worse during officials.
I don’t want to make excuses though because it was an embarrassing performance and ultimately I’m just focused on the mistakes I made because I definitely could’ve done a lot more on Winston.
Any predictions on who you think takes the Spring Series? Is this just another Saints sweep or is there someone who you think can challenge them?
If Saints didn’t win the Spring Series I would be genuinely surprised.
They pretty much have the best players in every role and they’re all friends so their synergy is really good too.
They’re all my friends so I’m wishing them the best and I hope they sweep and get another win. If the Saints somehow don’t win though I think it could be Trick Room that may go crazy because their macro is good and they play well as a team.
With the health of esports as a whole and especially within the Overwatch League, have you had to tackle some serious questions as of late? More specifically; after giving the better part of four years to this game, what are your goals for next year? Are you shooting for a league offer or is something else on the table for you?
Ultimately, my goal for myself in Overwatch is to continue to just play.
Whether it is for fun or to compete, I just like to win and I have a competitive drive that keeps me playing.
I definitely am keeping myself open to league offers but given that nothing concrete has happened, I am focusing on preparing myself for college as I will focus on my studies and hopefully compete on the Overwatch team at either UCI or UCLA depending on where I go.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment.
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