Overwatch League Debut
In their Overwatch League debut, the Toronto Defiant did something absolutely amazing. A first-year team came into the League and reverse swept the powerhouse Houston Outlaws. Even though they went down 0-2, they came back won the next three maps in a row for the series win. A reverse sweep is always amazing to watch in esports, but what makes this even more special is both the context and the situation. This was Toronto’s first ever match in the Overwatch League, and it was against a team who have an entire season's worth of experience playing on the big stage. Incredibly, the Defiant still managed to keep their composure and stay focused. They dug themselves out of a hole to beat the Outlaws. Here's how.
Toronto's Mental Game
A successful reverse sweep by tells you a lot about a team, especially for a team like Defiant who did this in their very first game. As an ex-pro player, I know exactly what it takes to execute a reverse sweep. The most important thing is staying focused and having perspective. When I say having perspective, I mean that every player on the team should understand what they are playing for. Yes, this is just a video game, but this is your livelihood and your honor.
If you give up because you're down two maps, you're not only letting yourself down, but you're letting your teammates, organization, and most importantly, your fans, down. In order to keep the ship afloat, all six teammates must remain focused and confident that you will still win. Losing the match should never cross your mind.
Another important factor is keeping morale high. After losing a couple of maps, team morale often rapidly drops. This can lead to a player not performing to their maximum potential performance. Low morale will affect communication during competitive play. When a player calls with no intensity or spirit, this can really have a domino effect to the rest of the team. People can get so tilted when they start losing that they even stop calling completely. This is unprofessional and unacceptable on any level of play in Overwatch.
Teams need to keep the energy high throughout the series and at the same time keep calm to manage the pressure. They must find a sweet spot. With that said, I'm so impressed that a new team like Toronto that should be susceptible to folding under pressure with minimal overwatch league experience managed to pull through when they needed to. This is a milestone that even some of the most established teams can't claim.
Toronto's strong mentality has helped them develop even faster as a team. This sets them up for a bright future in the OWL if they remain on this path. Now that we covered Toronto’s first win in the Overwatch League, let's talk about the roster itself. Coming into the Overwatch League, everyone was excited to Neko and Envy, the two undisputed star players on the roster.
A Roster That Works
Se-hyeon "Neko" Park & Kang-jae "envy" Lee
Ex-Boston Uprising support Neko played a major role in Boston's success as top-tier support Zen. Envy, the team captain and off-tank for Toronto, is simply one of the best D.v.a’s in the game. During his time with the LA Valiant in Season 1, he was one of the most polished and consistent D.v.as' in the league, and he continued this in his Defiant debut against the Houston Outlaws. He was named "Player of the Match" with 129 eliminations and also showed his hero flexibility by playing Pharah and Sombra as well.
Envy is tremendously consistent, constantly putting up great numbers and playing his role to a high level. When he plays D.v.a, he pressures the opponent's frontline tanks before pouncing on the enemy backline. His Defense Matrix use is always on point. When you watch Envy play D.va., his positioning and play-making ability is almost unrivaled. It's not just Neko and envy, however.
Beom-joon "Bishop" Lee
The next person I want to talk about isn't a player, but he's essential to Toronto's success: Head Coach Beom-joon "Bishop" Lee. Bishop's coaching experience with the London Spitfire comes in handy, especially when he coached the winners the OWL inaugural season. His exudes a powerful influence on the team; his players always respect him on a personal and strategic level. We saw Bishop communicating with his team between maps during the Houston Outlaws series, and I’m 100% he made sure his team remained focused and confident.
Having a coach with the experience and influence that Bishop has is important because that mentality trickles down to the players. What’s great about Bishop is even though Defiant is inexperienced, Bishop can pass on his own experience, creating trust between him and his players. This pushes Toronto in the right direction in the OWL.
My Experience in splyce and how the defiant can be great
The final thing I want to talk about is the organization itself. I'm lucky enough to be able to speak from my own personal experience since I played professionally for Splyce. Playing for Splyce was an amazing experience because they always prioritize the player first. I always felt like I was being taken care of, and I had a great personal connection with the general manager, Jae, Spylce's owner, Marty, and the rest of the staff. They always tried to make sure that they established a healthy and welcoming environment for their players and coaches. Before the Overwatch League even existed, I can say I really experienced a textbook example of how to run a team well.
An OWL player's schedule's should be filled with an organized and healthy regiment. This consisted of gaming practice, VOD reviews, team bonding sessions, working out, eating healthy, sleeping well, and much more. If Toronto can operate under the same conditions I operated under with Splyce, they can succeed in their first OWL season. With their star players, their experienced coach, and owners that truly care and support the players, there is no reason Toronto cannot compete for the Season 2 Grand Final. Keep your eyes on them!
Image Via: Overwatch League