Go for Pro – Interview with Overwatch Sydney Drop Bears Head Coach – Jacob Clifton
When it comes to competitive Overwatch, Australia has proven, countless times, that we have a lot of homegrown talent that can clearly mix it up on a global scale! Player2 was lucky enough to sit down the head coach Jacob Clifton for the current #1 Overwatch Contenders team Sydney Drop Bears for some inside scoops on what makes this team so dominating.
(P2AU) Adam – As a Coach, what would you say are your main responsibilities to the team?
There’s a lot of confusion about exactly what the role of Coach means to an e-sports organization. It’s not about knowing everything about the game, it’s not about being the loudest voice. Simply put, being a Head Coach means it’s my job to make sure the team makes decisions that are best for the team’s success. I don’t have to know everything about the meta and I don’t have to be incredibly inspirational when it comes to leadership skills. I just have to execute the plan that’s best for the team and communicate that plan with clarity and authority.
That’s certainly a skill that takes a lot of practice to master, and I’m a long way off from perfect at it. However, your team needs to be convinced that you have their best interests in mind. They need to know you care about them, and that you put in work every week to ensure that the best decision is being made. Coaches should be working harder than their players, no exceptions.
(P2AU) Adam – What are some of the more difficult aspects when Coaching a Professional Overwatch team?
Definitely the distance. I’m a professional MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) Head Instructor, and I have a decade of coaching experience in Gymnastics, Mathematics, American Football, and other activities. However, coaching via the internet is a completely new (and challenging) experience. It’s sometimes difficult to communicate and connect with people that are, in my case, literally across the world.
A close second would be keeping up to date with the strategic side of things. Overwatch is an incredibly complex game that is always evolving. Keeping up with strategies and developing ones that work for your team is definitely a challenge. There’s not a lot of coaching resources out there, so we’re mostly on our own when it comes to figuring a lot of stuff out.
(P2AU) Adam – Do you keep the team under a schedule and are there any things outside of the game itself that you feel are also important? For example, Diet, Exercise, Social activities?
Schedule when it comes to scrims are tight, same with VOD reviews and such. I definitely believe that a disciplined lifestyle is a huge contributor to an individual’s success (things like limiting Social Media, not eating junk, limiting late nights, etc.). However, we’re not in a LAN environment, and most players are still living with family. Our hand in those things are relatively limited at this stage in the game,
(P2AU) Adam – When analysing other matches and teams, do you feel there are any differences between how the game is played at the Contenders level versus say the Overwatch League or World Cup?
Definitely. Ignoring the obvious of Contenders often playing on different patches, at the OWL level, simply being in the same building with your teammates/coaches can be a huge boon to organizations who have good player management. Teamwork and trust aren’t just imaginary nice sounding words- they are concrete concepts that are incredibly important for a team to find success when executing a game plan. Being able to build direct, personal relationships with your teammates is a huge benefit to teams that are able to enjoy the “real life” interaction that our OWL counterparts experience.
(P2AU) Adam – Let’s talk GOATS. It’s clearly a popular and dominating meta, but it seems to be dividing the community who claim it’s boring. What’s your take on it and do you feel that with recent / upcoming changes to the game that there will be an anti-GOATS meta?
Well, from a strategic side, GOATS definitely has a lot to offer, and that’s what’s made it appealing to a lot of people. However, most folks aren’t strategic analysts, and the confusion that occurs from clumps of 12 people smashing each other is inevitable, especially considering the vast majority of folks watching OWL/Contenders aren’t pro players themselves.
I think the composition forced a lot of analysts/coaches to find a way to “pop off” without the ability to blame raw mechanical inferiority in lost matches. That’s not to say that mechanics aren’t important in GOATS, but strategy, proper CD management, and communication are more important than they’ve ever been.
In terms of the future of GOATS? I think unquestionably it will die. Blizzard will see to that. How soon that will remain to be seen. Funny thing is, GOATS may already be an inferior composition in the current state of balance, but the amount of time and work that was put into GOATS for most teams means it’s unlikely that we’ll see GOATS “die” for some time. It’s simply unrealistic to expect GOATS to die when so many teams have reached a level of mastery with GOATS that we never reached with any other composition (even Dive).
We’ll see GOATS die when it’s nerfed to the point to where lesser trained non-GOATS compositions can beat it and/or Teams significantly up their mastery execution of non-GOATS compositions.
(P2AU) Adam – Every role is important in good team composition, but what do you feel is the hardest role to understand and perfect?
Eh, if I committed to a role (Tank/DPS/Healer), I’d have some angry people knocking on my door. Instead, I’ll go the easy route and state shot callers have a tough job. Shot callers are the players that call what the plan for the team is before and after team fights, including Ultimate use, and overall game plan. It’s tricky to do because shot callers have to be thinking about their role in the composition in addition to making the team’s plan. It takes a lot of work to learn what bad and good plans are when it comes to Overwatch.
Not every team has one shot caller, but it definitely adds a layer of difficulty to any role.
(P2AU) Adam – With the recent expansion in the Overwatch League, people on our side of the hemisphere were wondering if we’ll ever get to see an Australian team in the Overwatch league. Do you think this will be a reality in the future and how do you think Australia stacks up against other teams on the Global scale of Professional Overwatch esports?
Who knows? I’d love to see it. The population of Australia means it flat out has a smaller talent pool to choose from. That being said … the players I have worked with from the AU region are talented, work hard, and have phenomenal attitudes. At this point in the game, it’s just going to be how much improvement coaching staffs can get from the players and doing our best to show the other regions that we’re a region to reckon with.