The San Francisco Shock opened last week making us wonder if they were all that was cracked up to be after they lost against the Valiant 0-4, but by the end of their night against the Shanghai Dragons, activity was definitely showing on the richter scale.

Spirits were high at the press conference before their match against the Valiant. Babybay and sleepy were discussing who was going to get the first kill, and all the guys were building up a rivalry against the Valiant, with Babybay exclaiming he wanted to beat the Valiant “so bad,” and another firing shots towards the Valiant’s PowerPoint presentation for the press earlier in the day.

01.jpgPhoto credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

At the press conference I also asked Harsha Bandi, analyst/manager for the Shock, what he felt the weaknesses of the Shock were. With a firm tone he responded, “Inexperience, emotions, and nervousness.” If that were true, it wasn’t showing as these guys were some of the most energetic and charismatic we had seen all day, seeming natural in front of the crowd.

Day 1 began and the Shock played in the opening match of the Overwatch League. Sadly, the hype train derailed quickly and they suffered the hard loss with no maps won against the Valiant. Though Babybay did get that first kill, taking out Kariv (Mercy) less than a second before sleepy eliminated Unkoe (Zenyatta), things looked dire after losing the first map. Watching their face cams, it was clear that the guys were becoming more and more unfocused as the games went on, despite having a few good chances to claim victory on maps 2 and 3.

In the press conference after the match, the excitement from the previous day was all but gone, and the happy young faces from the day before were now sullen, with some members trying to hide into their hoodies. They were in agreement, the reason for the poor performance was that they let the losses got to them.

Something needed to be done. Between their two games this week, Harsha told me in an after-event interview, that there was a massive meeting between the players, coaches, owners, and investors, including the former Philadelphia Phillies first baseman, Ryan Howard. During this meeting, between the discussions and pep talk, the end message being, “You guys can get emotional, but you can’t let it overcome you, let it take the best of you.”

02.jpgPhoto credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

It must have worked. The Shock had a fantastic set of matches against the Dragons, going 3-1, and didn’t seem to let their loss on the second map get to them.

I spoke with Babybay and Danteh after the match to see how they felt, and how they felt about how things were going in the Overwatch League in general. Babybay jumped right in before I could even ask anything:

Babybay

We tried going in and not underestimating them [Dragons] because they’ve been having better scrim results since they lost against the Gladiators, and I think they are getting better. You can’t sleep on them, you need what I mean? We knew coming in that…

Danteh

We knew Boston was pretty close preseason. Boston, I think they’re really strong.

Babybay

If you don’t play your game in the high level of play that OWL is, like, it doesn’t matter what team you are, you can get beat by anybody. So we tried to come in there and just play our game, and then we lost a map but… I don’t know. Why did we lose that map?

Danteh

We kind of like, shut down. We like, panicked, I guess.

Babybay

I could tell nerves were setting in because we were too hyped from the map we won before. And then, like, we were paying attention to the clock too much and we didn’t thoroughly think about how we should be approaching things

Danteh

We tried doing too many different things at once. We were trying to farm [Valkyrie], we were trying to dive them, we were trying to bubble…

Babybay

(laughing) We were just not on the same page! So I think that was just like, from the hype of winning the last map because we were super stoked.

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Junkertown, you were steamrolling on Round 1, and you suddenly shut down. What happened?

Babybay

We have a historical thing where we steamroll the first two points and then can’t cap last. I mean, look at the Valiant preseason match, you know? We had like 6 minutes left against Valiant and we couldn’t cap! I think we need to go over that play.

Danteh

I think we need to go over it, and different things, like, I guess we’re not versed in, normally people don’t stay on Widow for last point, so I guess we’re just more used to it.

Babybay

As soon as the Widow stops working for us for that map and that last point, we don’t know what we’re running.

Danteh

No no, I’m talking about their Widow. We don’t really know what to do, but I think we just needed to outlast where the bottom mega is because there’s really short sight lines…

Babybay

…instead of going around wide, we should have cut in closer to the Widow.

Danteh

We just autopiloted.

Babybay

Yeah, we went into autopilot mode. I could tell people were starting to get nervous, so nerves were coming up. I remember I was sitting back, sniping as Widow and my tanks were right next to me and I was like, “Wait. Why are you guys right next to me?!” They were relying on me to outpick this guy. That Undead guy, he’s not bad. He’s a pretty good at Widow. He was like a 6040 for me, maybe less. He was out sniping me a little bit. It was like, “Damn! This guy’s pretty good.” We like, need to work on our dive with the Genji, like coordination and stuff, which is not easy.

Was anything said during halftime to get your heads back into the game?

Danteh

We just talked about it and were like, “Whatever. Who cares?”

Babybay

We just had to move forward. We made a mistake playing Valiant for the first time in a regular season match where we let a loss get to us, you know? So we’ve learned from that and it was amazing seeing we were able to overcome it for this match. It’s not easy to take a loss like that! I’m just proud that we all kept our emotions in check and were like, “You know, forget it. This doesn’t even matter, we have two more maps that we can win. This is nothing, this is going to happen. There’s going to be times where you get cheesed and maybe something’s not working. So what?

Danteh

Yeah, just yesterday Mayhem beat London the first map. If London shut down, if they let that get to them, the could have lost more and who knows how it would have went if Mayhem got up two. They just overcame it.

Babybay

We were just looking forward.

What do you do to overcome the emotions? Is there anything you can do?

Danteh

We kinda did this meme where dhaK was like, “Okay guys, take a deep breath,” and it’s just funny. I laugh whenever he says that.

Babybay

We just have fun. We all want to win and we all know that if we stay tilted, we’re not going to win. You’re going to lose one map against many teams throughout the season, so it shouldn’t matter. You’re not going to 4-0 every single team, it doesn’t matter who you are.

04.jpgPhoto credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

What’s a strength you’ve been able to rely on this week?

Babybay

Koth (King of the Hill; Control) [maps]. We’re really good on koth I feel like.

Danteh

We’re actually a good koth team.

Babybay

Against the Valiant I feel like we choked a little bit, but we still won a map, right?

Danteh

No. (with a sad smirk)

Babybay

No, we won a koth round! (laughing)

Danteh

Oh yeah! We won a koth round, but next one was like…

Babybay

The ones we lost were like 99 or super close, but I think that our Pharah/Mercy is one of the best in the game. I don’t know how because I just started playing Pharah. I don’t know when I became good at Pharah! I only have three weeks of experience on her. I think we’re really good on Pharah/Mercy and obviously Widow-based comps. We just need to work on our Genji/Tracer, and that’s all about coordination. We just haven’t found it yet.

Danteh

I think me and baby, obviously we don’t have the best off-heroes, but we can still flex off-heroes, like I can play Junkrat pretty well. He can play Genji decent. It adds value to be able to do that. If we were actual one-tricks, for example, baby, basically he only played Widow in preseason and teams figured it out so we were like, “Okay, London smacked us. We can’t only run Widow,” so we started playing new comps and we’ve been practicing more.

Babybay

Yeah, I think flexibility is a big thing.

We’re seeing more Moira/Lucio. Does that affect you guys in any way? Is this in preparation for the Mercy changes or is it something you just started doing lately?

Danteh

I think they reason they[Dragons] did that was, it was actually really smart of them. We only got like one and a half ticks, so if they just kept forcing point with their Sombra and Tracer, we have to go down and one person can’t go down, the whole team has to go down and by that time our whole team’s there and they just get free EMPs, they get to focus on it, so they’ll just out sustain us.

Babybay

So just in general on Horizon, I think Seoul ran that [comp] for the first time because Widow’s very popular on that map, and so is Junkrat, so what you can do is just build EMP in like a second and no one should get a pick because you’re all mobile, and then you just do a massive surround and you’ve got EMP and all these ults. Zen dies in a second, so that’s why it’s really good.

Boston today played Moira/Lucio with triple tank McCree on Oasis and we used to run that comp against them and it’s funny seeing that, but it’s really smart how they’re running it, in my opinion, is because everybody’s running Zen/Mercy, right? It’s really immobile, so all they’re doing is like, speeding the [Road]hog to get a free hook, and they’re just hooking anybody in the backline. I think DreamKazper had like 88% hook accuracy, and it seems like his hooks were insane, but in reality, he’s getting sped into a person who can’t move, you know what I mean? It’s really smart! If you’re going to play a Reinhardt-based comp with Roadhog, you need the Lucio and the Moira heals to sustain all the damage and go speed into them. I think that’s really smart.

Danteh

I think Dallas, they use Boost really well. If you watch their matches, they’re constantly using Lucio and they play around it really well. They make the enemies have to do something. They force a play with the Speed Boost, they don’t let the other team decide exactly what they want to do. They force the engagement.

Babybay

I think it’s very viable.

Danteh

It’s kind of like in preseason against Valiant, we were playing Lucio/Moira on Control Center, right? We saw their Zen alone in the back so we just sped on him, killed him, and then he was unrezzable because we were all in their spawn. That’s one of the advantages of using Speed Boost.

Babybay

We just didn’t run Hog with it. We were on hero off! (laughing)

Danteh

Yeah, if we were running Hog it would have been really strong.

Week 1 is done. How do you guys feel?

Babybay

We feel good! Well, I feel good. We got smacked the first game ever in the Overwatch League, but we bounced back and that’s the important thing, so now we just look forward from here.

Danteh

Yeah, I’m hyped! I love playing. So basically, my team [Arc6/YIKES!], we didn’t get into Season 1 Contenders, it was pretty unlucky, but in August, I could have probably joined a Season 1 Contenders team, but I tried out with NRG in early August, right when the signing period opened, we started doing tryouts and I made it, so I literally watched like all of Contenders not being able to play, and now I’m finally playing six months later. I was literally signed in August and now that I’m finally playing? It’s super hype.

Babybay

Yeah, matches are amazing. They’re so much fun.

Cover photo credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment