The Washington Justice are visiting Australia for an exhibition match against some of the region's best Overwatch talent at this year's Melbourne Esports Open.
Riding high on the team's recent turnaround in Stage 4 of the Overwatch League, we spoke to Corey Nigra - one half the team's DPS Duo - ahead of the game.
Last year's Melbourne Esports Open had the LA Valiant's Custa attend as a special guest. This year, the Washington Justice are doing an exhibition match. Why? What drew the team to Australia and MEO in particular?
It’s an honour to be invited to MEO after ending Stage 4 on a positive note. I’m really excited to travel to Australia and be able to take part. The opportunity to play in Australia and meet Overwatch fans across the world is exciting.
The narrative around the Justice has changed radically over the last few weeks. From your perspective, what was that like? How did it happen and do you think this sort of thing will become more common going into 2020 and beyond?
Winning makes a huge difference to perspective within the community and fanbase. With the meta changes, we’ve been able to show fans and other teams the potential that this roster and organisation has had all along.
Additionally, when I was with Gladiators Legion, I got to work with our new GM, Analynn Dang, so I’m excited to continue working with her now that she’s leading the Justice in the 2020 season. Lynn will bring a lot of spice going into the 2020 season, we aren’t sure if the other teams are ready for us.
After the first two stages of OWL Season 2, there were a lot of fans making comparisons between the Justice and last year's Shanghai Dragons. Do you feel like those comparisons are justified? What do you think was holding the team back in those earlier stages?
It definitely took longer than we all would have liked for our team to completely sync together and play to our full potential. Considering how the Dragons won Stage 3, it’s hard to really count any team down and out in OWL, and our Stage 4 performance only reiterates that. I feel like we’ve grown as a team considerably throughout this season and overcome whatever hurdles there were that were holding us back.
You and Stratus have a lot of on-stage and in-game chemistry. How long have you two been friends?
Stratus and I met each other for the first time when joining the Washington Justice. When we met in person in LA, we realised that we had a lot in common (games and anime) and the same sense of humour. It was really easy to click with him and we’re now great friends.
How about the other teams? Who else in the OWL family do you get along with? How do you think those friendships/relationships will change as OWL moves to the home and away model in 2020?
Blasé on the Boston Uprising is one of my closest friends who also moved up to the Overwatch League with me in 2019. We played together on Gladiators Legion and still hang out all the time. Even though we might be moving to different cities, we still hang out online by playing ranked together or watching anime. Boston isn’t far from DC at all and we’re going to see each other at a lot of the homestands so I’m not worried at all.
Role-lock is arguably the biggest change that Blizzard has made to Overwatch since the game launched. What do you think the long-term impacts of that change are going to look like?
The game is now going to be easy to balance which also means it is going to be easy to change the meta to what Blizzard sees fit. Trying to balance a game where there are no roles is exceptionally hard, so I am glad to see that role lock has come to the surface.
What's it like working with WizardHyeong? He seems like a character.
He is definitely a goofball when it comes to doing activities outside of Overwatch. When it comes to the game, he is very knowledgeable and really goes in deep when looking at specific topics.
It sometimes feels like teams that sit towards the bottom of the OWL ladder only really get negative feedback. How do you deal with that?
Even though teams may be at the bottom of the ladder, there is always a light to follow. Not letting the negativity get to you and always looking ahead to improve yourself as a player and a teammate is key. If you do not let yourself falter, you will keep inching towards your goal.
Do you think that Overwatch is updated too frequently? Some former players have claimed that the combination of changes across both the growing number of heroes and maps in the game make it much more difficult to keep up with versus other esports? Would you agree?
All teams within the League have the same parameters placed around them with the updates and meta, and that’s what makes it an equal level of competition and a thrilling esport to watch. It’s hard to compare Overwatch to other esports because they’re all so different, and the communities and players adapt to changes differently. Arguably, the constant character updates keep the game fresh from a competitive standpoint.
Who do you think is going to take home the trophy in the OWL 2019 playoffs in Philadelphia?
Personally, I think it is hard to tell who the powerhouse is right now. If I had to choose, I could see a final where Charge and Shock play each other.