The Shanghai Dragons have had an incredible comeback story after their winless inaugural season, to becoming Stage 3 champions just weeks ago. While some of their success comes after replacing their line-up with an almost entirely new roster after Season 1, hiring BlueHaS as Head Coach for Season 2 has been a great boon.

Dedicated to his job and barely allowing himself some personal time, I was grateful for the opportunity to speak with BlueHaS to talk about his work in shaping the Dragons to who they are now. We discussed what has changed this season for the team, what to expect going forward, and I dug to find out a bit more about him and his style of coaching to maybe fine clues about where their successes are coming from.

This is part 2 of the interview where we discussed his style of coaching. In Part 1 we talked about the Season 3 playoffs and what is to come in Stage 4.

Basic question to warm up. Some fans don’t know what exactly an Overwatch coach does beyond having a vague, general idea. For you, what is a normal day like coaching?

It’s very identical to a lot of the esports structures that people have known in the past. It is just us waking up, practicing every day, doing scrim blocks and reviewing them, and then looking ahead on what to work on and what to develop further.

Coaches, including myself, are integrated into everyday life of these players other than their private life, which I don’t interfere with. Even during small talk with them, I’m always giving feedback and consulting with them, and always asking the players their opinions of my ideas. I also give them recommendations on what to work on and develop further.

2019_S3W5D1_0532_Shanghai Dragons Walkout_Ben Pursell.jpg Photo by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

What is your coaching style?

I think that I’m not aggressive or authoritative by any means, despite me being a head coach in title and what it may look like on the outside. On the inside I really do not like holding any distance or trying to separate myself from the rest of the teammates. As a result, I will often just be very friendly towards my team members, and try to act as an older brother to them.

I think that defines my style, where I try to approach the players in a friendly manner so they trust me.

Are there coaches from other sports that have influenced how you coach?

I don’t necessarily try to replicate a coaching style. I would much rather prefer to have my own attitude and my own philosophy. If I had to give shout-outs to one of the coaches I indeed respect, it would be kkOma from SKT for League of Legends since he is undoubtedly one of the most successful esports coaches of all time. [Kkoma is currently head coach of SK Telecom T1. His tournament results on Liquipedia.]

How much of any given map do players use a strategy created by you or the staff, and not just the players being good at what they do?

Even though a lot of people think that Shanghai is a very mechanically-intensive team, and that is true, but what a lot of people may not notice is how strategically adept we are and how we often play toward specific stratagems and exploits. As a result, I think despite there being deviations across players, since some are more independent than others, I think the overall score of strategy over player skill would be 50-50.

133440_S3W5D1_GuangzhouChargeVsShanghaiDragons_Stewart VollandD.jpg Photo by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

How do you work on team synergy to help everyone enable one another?

That’s a very difficult question because there is no set formula or set exercise that you do to increase teamwork, otherwise it would be too easy. If I have to provide an example, it would be that during scrims during feedback, I often emphasize overall cohesion and the overall structure of how the team plays, instead looking at individual mistakes or individual parts of the machine. Looking at the big picture often helps the team look beyond the individual and see themselves as a part of the team rather than being the players themselves.

What’s something that has proven effective for you in getting success out of the team?

I think the philosophy I’ve followed a lot is prioritizing my players, thinking of my players before the meta. I rarely enforce a specific character or specific strategy. If they pushed back and said that they don’t feel comfortable, I strive to find the balance between comfort and something that is competitively viable. As a result, I was able to break the mold that a lot of teams have set, like the GOATs meta. I think that was a major form of success that our team was able to get just because I had that mentality.

2019-S4W1D4-132423-Se Yeon -Geguri- Kim-Robert Paul.jpg Photo by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Last question, what do you find enticing about your job, or what makes you excited about your job when you wake up every day?

Esports is what I’m passionate about and what I love to do a lot. Since I have the ability to do what I love most and continue pushing forward, that is the main reason why I am so happy being an esports coach and feel satisfied.

Follow me on Twitter at Sabriality.

Cover Photo by Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment