Thomas “Maid” Mok is one of the most experienced coaches within the Australian Overwatch community, with past team experience on top squads including Dark Sided and Athletico CAMO. Following a stint in the European scene with Singularity during Contenders Season 1, he made his return to Oceanic Overwatch as the Head Coach of Kanga Esports.
His help, alongside the addition of new players ChronoDota and JungleJazz, has led to Kanga greatly improving upon their Contenders Season 1 performance. With his team’s all important quarterfinals match-up against Legacy Esports fast approaching, Maid joined me to reflect on his personal experience as a coach in 2018.
So you started off 2018 in a somewhat different way to the rest of your career, coaching the European Contenders squad Singularity in Season 1. What was behind your decision to seek out a position in the European scene?
After 2017 I really felt, perhaps incorrectly, that I’d maxed out what I could achieve in Australia. In my eyes there really wasn’t much more room for me to advance in the scene and I was eager to face a new challenge. I decided to explore opportunities with European teams, seeking to learn more as a coach. Despite securing no trials, I wound up on Singularity after contacting someone at the organisation through a recruitment post.
What was it like working for a European team remotely from Australia?
In terms of what working for Singularity was like, the big difference was purely the different timezone. I’d be waking up around 3AM; first thing I’d do was get up, have a coffee and then jump into scrims. That was basically the start of my day, from there I’d go through VODs with my assistant coach and prepare notes on actionable content for my team.
It was definitely a little strange, I had a lot of very early nights. The fact the team spoke Danish in-game also required some working around, although I was happy with how we dealt with it.
How has your experience coaching Kanga this season differed from your time with Singularity?
The role of a coach is really dependant on the needs of your team. For Kanga I basically cover all managing, VOD recording, notes, mid-game discussion and research. Being a solo coach can be quite difficult, sometimes I have up to 12-16 hours of content a day that I can reasonably get through before I’m ready for a scrim. As a coach I need to have notes prepared from watching VODs and I need to be ready to help straighten things out during games.
During my time with Singularity my assistant coach KC was my partner-in-crime, he was the person I bounced everything off. It’s amazing having another person there to challenge your views.
Recently we’ve seen coaches and analysts rise up the ranks of the Overwatch scene by utilising content creation to expand their brand, as opposed to purely relying on their coaching resumes. Personally, you have streamed vod reviews and written articles before. Is it difficult for you to strike a balance between self-promotion and directing your energy towards bettering your team?
It’s challenging to work around, during the regular season I don’t want to broadcast any information out to a public audience. I personally feel that anything I say strategy wise is something that people will draw conclusions from when scouting my team. I’ll normally wait for the offseason before I publish any articles or VOD reviews. I believe there’s a big market out there for someone to be writing quality that focuses on informing readers about the strategic side of Overwatch.
You’ve been around the Australian scene for quite a while now, do you think that the Path to Pro system has changed things for the better? What could be improved upon to further improve the health of the scene?
Ultimately, I think there’s only so much you can get out of the Australian ecosystem as an Overwatch player or coach. Contenders has certainly helped to stabilise opportunities for growth within Oceania. Beyond this, I think there should be a clearer path to open up opportunities for yourself in other regions by proving yourself in the Australian system. The Overwatch League and more lucrative opportunities in the North American scene should be achievable goals for those that have the necessary talent Down Under.
Kanga have kind of made it a habit of playing with non-Oceanic players in Contenders, with your current main tank ChronoDota hailing from the United States. What was the reasoning behind picking Chrono up and what extra difficulties, if any, are added by fielding a North American player?
Originally, we needed a backup for two weeks of Contenders. People had told me Chrono was a hard working player with a good attitude so I messaged him out of the blue and he seemed keen to fill our backup position. Once we got him in for a couple of scrims it became clear that he fit our team well. His in-game communication was great, he clearly had great game sense and was doing all these things for the team that we didn’t have while running our original main tank. Thus, we decided to offer him a core spot on the roster.
You might think that there would be issues with the ping and different timezone but it really hasn’t been a problem. Chrono is always there on time and never complains. We’ve been really lucky to have him on the roster this season, he’s truly a great team player.
You ended the regular season with a rough bout against Dark Sided. What do you think went wrong in that match?
I don’t think we’re currently at that level if I’m honest. Dark Sided are a team that have been a contender for a long time, regardless of their roster changes. They’re loaded with talent and are backed by a capable support staff. I believe we’ll be able to challenge teams like Dark Sided given time, for now our job is to keep on putting in the necessary work to improve.
Many were caught off guard when it was revealed that playoffs would be played on the latest patch after the regular season was played on a much older version of the game. Do you see this change affecting your team’s performance?
We’ve taken a couple of days off to prepare for the patch. I’ve personally spent around four hours a day spectating American scrims in an attempt to get a read on what to do. I think teams will have difficulties preparing anything especially new, particularly in regards to utilising Hammond, before the quarterfinals. The most we’ll probably see is a drop off in the use of Hanzo and Widow and an increase in the use of heroes such as McCree. It’s really team dependant, some rosters don’t have the capability to run new lineups out of the blue.
Could you see any of the stronger teams like Dark Sided or the Drop Bears falling in upsets due to the abrupt change?
It’s unknown really, I think teams like Dark Sided and the Drop Bears will be fine but perhaps it’ll change the balance of the ORDER vs MGC game.
How are you feeling about facing Legacy in the quarterfinals?
We’ve had a great season, it definitely feels like we have some momentum behind us going into playoffs. It should be a great match, Legacy are a capable team. However, we’re confident we can secure a spot at the Melbourne Esports Open.
Kanga Esports takes on Legacy Esports on Monday August 13th from 2PM AEST – Catch the action on www.twitch.tv/overwatchcontenders