The Los Angeles Gladiators have qualified for the Stage 4 playoffs, clinching the 1st seed. As a result, they picked the Los Angeles Valiant as their opponents. The ultimate Battle of Los Angeles will occur this afternoon. In the overall season, the Gladiators finished in 4th place. Aaron “Bischu” Kim, off-tank star for the Los Angeles Gladiators, stopped by to talk about the Gladiators’ success as well as his life prior to Overwatch.
Is being a pro gamer in Overwatch League less stressful than League?
Bischu: I was not at the full pro scene in League, so I had this financial burden. Same thing with Overwatch until I made it, to be honest. Right now, I’m really relaxed and I can work on myself [more] than in League. As an amateur, I had to think about many other factors. I’m not sure which one is necessarily easier though, but they’re both hard in some way.
What’s one thing you brought from your League days to the Overwatch League?
Bischu: A lot of it had to do was me. I was not receptive to criticism very well and got complacent easily. I started off as a streamer and was more focused on making big plays as Nidalee. Being young like 17-18 years old, I get compliments like I’m the best. Those compliments got to my head, especially at that age. I stopped myself from improving coming into Overwatch League because I thought this was my last chance. I threw out any ego I had and [had] to improve as fast as possible. Another thing is just communicating as a teammate was a significant thing I picked up from League, especially since not many Overwatch pros have that coming into Overwatch League. I know how important communication and keeping morale up is. It’s very undervalued in my opinion — no one thinks about it, but saying the right things helps your team. I try to be aware of my mistakes, but coming into a pro team, I still make small mistakes. I feel I could have done things more efficiently but the coaches really helped me clean that up.
Do you still keep in contact with anyone from League?
Bischu: Not so much to be honest. After I stopped playing, there were not many chances to talk to them. A lot of the time, I was trying to dip my foot in the Overwatch scene and just trying to network with people. Getting your name out there was initially really hard, and to be honest, I was pretty sad. Coming from the League scene and starting from the bottom was stressful, but I’m here now and it’s worth it!
Improving Team Synergy
The Los Angeles Gladiators have been on a positive trajectory since Stage 1. They did not qualify for stage playoffs in Stages 1 and 2, but with the addition of former London Spitfire tank Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek and the signing of Jun-woo “Void” Kang, the Gladiators started to find their stride from Stage 3 onward. Bischu shared his thoughts about the addition of Fissure and Void.
Since Fissure and Void joined the team, it looked like the team synergy is better than ever before. What improved the team synergy?
Bischu: I think even if those two weren’t in the team, by Stage 3 and 4, teams started to figure out their identity and they knew how to play around their strengths more. I think that kicked in during Stage 3 for us especially because I started having a deep understanding of the game. In Stage 1 and 2, it wasn’t that good, especially in Stage 1. I was translating a lot and a lot of the time, it was annoying. Every time I wanted to think about what I wanted to do or fix, I’m just translating for someone else and it completely took my mind off of what I was thinking about. That really delayed my improvement, but it worked out when Asher and Fissure were learning English and they learned super fast. Then I was like, “I’M FREE!” and I started trying really hard at the end of Stage 2.
The team went through a lot of reverse sweeps, more recently against the London Spitfire. What does the team talk about in halftime to mentally turn it around?
Bischu: I think the reason we survived these reverse sweeps is that the players matured so much since the early stages. Having a performance coach is very underrated and we were lucky to have a performance coach who knew what they were doing. A lot of teams in LCS have a performance coach but it was just for show. A lot of people aren’t qualified and teams don’t even know what a performance coach even does, but they get one because every other team has one. There are few performance coaches in Overwatch League, but no one does their job like ours. He helped Shaz and Surefour so much like those two players are completely different from Stage 1. It’s a little corny, but sometimes these days whenever I need to check something [on the Overwatch League site] or check the schedule, you see the standings and I actually went from Stage 1 to 4, and notice our standings slowly going up. Just seeing that makes me really happy.
What’s the plan between swapping you and Void into the lineup?
Bischu: I think it’s mainly because of king of the hill maps and certain maps doesn’t require that much communication. It’s mainly making individual plays and having good game sense. Working around your team with certain maps like 2CP and payload requires a lot of popping off. On top of this, it only makes sense for me to play on these maps and have Void run the rest if we were to have 2 off-tank players. We can just split maps and the thing about D.Va, if you literally think in your mind, position really matters a lot. You tell your teammates to position here if they have this comp and they are coming from this way. Those are a lot of things to memorize and it’s really hard. Before Void came in and split maps, I thought I should go out of my way to make these notes so I can never forget about these things and have a strong mental checklist. Eventually after a long day of scrims and coming home, I’m not thinking about Overwatch so I never went out of my way to really give it my all. Now that I have off time, I go through every single VOD of how other teams play. Like why did these teams play here — is there anything better that I can learn from it? Watching VODs gave me a lot of confidence going in because I know what to do in every situation except today [against London Spitfire]. However, I feel confident I don’t lose time hesitating and I’m happy to split maps with Void. He is an amazing Zarya player and had questionable ults, but it happens! Like do you see my grav ults, I was so nervous and shaky. Twitch chat could be going like “NA ULT” for sure.
Name one thing you would like to see in Overwatch League next season.
Bischu: I think our rooms can be a bit nicer like a window [in the players’ lounge]. Other than that, I think we can have a better schedule. Sometimes, it could be a little rough and I want to say maybe we should do something so that players would burn out less. On the other hand, maybe I shouldn’t be thinking like that and it should be up to the player to balance things so you don’t burn out. It can be incredibly draining to play back-to-back games. For example, it’s hard to fully prepare for the 2nd game because we still have to prepare for the 1st match. There’s only so much we can go over. I think there could be a better schedule especially with the new teams coming in.
You guys are on a roll as of late and on the border to getting to the League playoffs. How can you rally your team for that final push?
Bischu: I don’t think we need to do anything special. The system we have is working really well. Our coaches know what they’re doing, we just have to balance our schedules correctly and not get cocky. It’s really simple but important. Learning how to play at our own pace is really important too. Every time we try to adjust things, just because they [our opponents] are doing something different mid-game, we get caught up and it just messes everything up.
— Zach Scuderi (@Sneaky) April 11, 2018
I don’t know if you’ve heard recently but Cloud9’s Zachary “Sneaky” Scuderi has been cosplaying different League champions. If you were to cosplay as D.Va, which D.Va skin you would like to cosplay as?
Bischu: So here’s the issue, the thing is the spandex! That’s all I have to say. It’s so hard for guys to pull that off, so we’ll see!