During the off-season between Stages 1 and 2 of Overwatch League, we caught up with a true industry veteran: Erik "DoA" Lonnquist. Once a star League of Legends commentator, DoA is back on home ground partnering with the legendary Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles as part of the OWL star-studded talent line-up.
In the interview, DoA discusses the roster shuffle of the off-season, the Mercy nerf and improving the specatator experience of the game.
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The Overwatch League was the coming out party for a lot of western players who were not fortunate enough to have exposure from tournaments. Which breakout player impressed you the most on stage and with their performances?
I’d say the one that surprised me the most since the beginning of the league is DreamKazper. I admit I didn’t know much if anything about him before Stage 1 began and he’s been great to watch on Boston Uprising.
In the debate of best Western team, there are three choices: Los Angeles Valiant, Houston Outlaws, and Boston Uprising. Valiant had the most consistent performance in the season, although Houston and Boston had higher peaks. Which of these teams is best suited for Stage 2?
Out of those three, I think Houston will continue to perform the best in stage 2. They’ve always had solid anti-dive, but more importantly, they’ve got the tools to play the triple/quad tank styles that are coming up really well. Combine that with a really high level of talent across the team and I think they’ll continue to be a top 3 or 4 team throughout the stage.
With Mercy rotating out of must pick territory, which teams will be impacted the most?
It’s hard to say after just one week, [the interview was taken on Feb. 27] but we’re going to find out pretty quick which teams were covering up poor positioning and execution with instant rezzes.
Does eliminating the old Resurrection (the most recent iteration) make casting easier?
Not only easier, but much more fun. Instant rez was the biggest hype killer in the game. It’s hard to get excited about great picks and impressive strategy execution when they just get reversed by two tanks being brought instantly back again. Fights lasted too long and I had to watch the kill feed a lot more than I prefer to when I cast since it’s the only place you can see the rez most of the time. A big part of casting is taking time to establish what each team is trying to do before an engagement and that’s also really difficult when the action never really subsided in the last meta as well. I’m glad kills matter again!
AKm is absolutely insane and he’s perfect for the new meta in that he might have the best Soldier 76 right now.
The off season was filled with a lot of big moves: aKm and Rascal to DAL, Fissure to Los Angeles Gladiators, sayaplayer and aWesomeGuy to Florida Mayhem, etc. Which team benefited the most?
I think DAL came out great with their additions and it already showed in Week 1. AKm is absolutely insane and he’s perfect for the new meta in that he might have the best Soldier 76 right now. I’d like to say DAL will benefit the most from the between-stage changes, but I’m really curious about how big a change the new Shanghai Dragons players will make once they actually get here. They got pickups in all the right postions as well and even if they don’t get a lot of wins immediately from them, they might still end up being “most improved” by the end of Stage 2.
Which team did you expect to pick up players — out of necessity to improve — but did not? Or to paraphrase: Which team was in desperate need to refresh its roster?
I honestly think everyone that needed players did pretty well. I’m a bit surprised by FLA’s pick ups in that I don’t know how well Sayaplayer and Awesomeguy will jell with the other players, but I guess we’ll see!
Who do you think will be the Boston Uprising of Stage 2 in terms of peak performances and exceeding expectations?
Philadelphia Fusion have a good start towards that type of stage, but if Fissure can assimilate into the Gladiators quickly they could also see some big gains.
Is bringing in Korean coaches the best way to catch up to New York, London, and Seoul?
Not at all! I think you can definitely find some really experienced people there, but the key qualities of being someone the players accept as an authority figure and someone who’s able to find and direct the abilities of your team’s talent are something you can find outside Korea as well.
The challenge now in my mind is about how you use the limited space on the screen to convey more statistical information without making things look too crowded.
How has it been working with non-endemic Overwatch talent, like Semmler and Crumbz (and even to some extent Mr X)? In terms of casting, how does the preparation process of casters differ?
I can’t really speak to the other talent’s prep methods, but working with them has been great so far! As someone who’s casting his fourth major esports title I know that any good caster/desk talent is capable of learning any game. It’s a matter of ability and strong work ethic and everyone we’ve got on the show has that!
How does your casting style affect what you look for in the match?
My style has always been to try to communicate the stakes of the match and help fans understand the implications of the game they’re seeing for the players involved. I also want to prioritize making my cast understandable by nearly anyone who watches. That doesn’t mean dumbing the content down, but saying things in a way that’s very clear.
Monte and I have pretty much always tried to maintain the dynamic where I get excited and hype the major parts of what’s going on and then he breaks down the finer details that you don’t see as a viewer the first time. In football terms, I’m the guy getting excited about the moves the running back is making as he moves down the field, whereas Monte is the guy who brings up the great block or the defender on the edge of the screen that tripped and allowed the back to make the play.
My foremost priority is and has always been, of course, to constantly remind everyone that I play Zenyatta.
The spectator and viewing experience for Overwatch have drastically improved since the OWWC and OWL. What is the next step? What is at the top of your caster wishlist?
It’s been really great to see all the improvements that Blizzard puts into the game! The challenge now in my mind is about how you use the limited space on the screen to convey more statistical information without making things look too crowded. I’d like to see more regular info pop up for players and heroes for fans to read while they’re watching. We get some stats now, but I’d like something a bit more consistent and robust.
Do you ever feel the draw of League of Legends? Do you ever think about a return?
Not especially. I really enjoyed casting the game while I did and have an enormous amount of great memories from those years, but I’m satisfied with what I accomplished in that space and glad that I left when I did. I still like the game a lot and watch LCK or Worlds occasionally, but I’m not in a hurry to go back. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to guest cast something fun at some point, but I doubt it’ll happen anytime soon!
What would’ve taken for you to stay in the game?
It was less about LoL and more that if you look at an opportunity to be part of starting an entirely new league for a new game on a scale as large as OWL and it’s impossible to pass up a challenge like that! You need to take those opportunities when they come even if it looks a bit unstable! Thankfully, Overwatch League looks like it’s going to be around for a very long time!