n the current competitive Overwatch ecosystem, there’s been some outstanding team performances. Stage 3 of the Overwatch League saw Boston Uprising go undefeated in all 10 of their series and win the Stage Playoffs. In Contenders China, LGD Gaming in Season 1 and now Lucky Future Zenith in Season 2 have gone through the regular season only dropping 1 map. Masterminds GC in Contenders Australia went through the regular season in Season 1 with 19 maps wins and 1 map draw. However, no team has had a perfect season.
Step up Sydney Drop Bears. Assembled at the start of 2018 to compete in Contenders Australia, Sydney Drop Bears were made up of the scraps of Kings Gaming Club. While they were considered one of the stronger teams, many didn’t consider them as being able to break into the Masterminds/Blank Blue/Dark Sided top 3 after their roster changes. However, with arguably the most difficult playoffs run in last season’s Contenders, they beat Legacy 3-0, took Dark Sided to 5 maps, then swept Masterminds 4-0 to win.
Heading into Season 2 as firm favourites after picking up Colourhex from Masterminds, they have shown no mercy. Although Legacy and Bin Chickens had to forfeit their matches against the Drop Bears, the talented squad made light work of ORDER, Tainted Minds and Dignity on their way to a 20-0 season.
They are heading into playoffs as firm favourites to defend their title. I sat down with coach Sam “Face” Merewether and DPS duo Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse and Jordy “Jordation” Frish to talk about their super season, creating a new dynasty in Australian Overwatch and expectations of playoffs.
Let’s talk about the perfect season. There were 2 forfeits, but it’s still a perfect season. It’s the first in Contenders history across the world - how does it feel to one-up Masterminds’ effort last season?
Jordation: I don’t think we really acknowledged it too much. It was always the goal for us. After we 4-0’d Blank Blue (now ORDER), we basically knew we would get 20-0. As long as we took all the games seriously, it was very unlikely another team would take a map off us. Forfeits aside even, that wouldn’t have changed the result of those games.
Face: I just wanna win playoffs. The regular season for us is irrelevant.
Jordation: We could go 20-3 and not make LAN, so it’s all about playoffs performance. All you have to do in regular season is qualify for playoffs, then you’ll have a chance of making LAN.
Face: So now we are in playoffs and these are the games that matter. We’ve got to ramp up our workload and make sure we are playing well. Our goal isn’t to be the best team, but to be the most dominant team in the region.
With that mentality then, do you think you could create a new dynasty, kind of like what Blank did?
Face: I don’t really consider Blank an Australian dynasty because they were never here. They were always competing in Pacific tournaments.
Well then, are you guys the first dynasty of Australian Overwatch?
Face: Technically we will be a dynasty, but we don’t care for it. We are just obsessed with winning. I don’t think anyone thinks about going back to back, or thinks about future events. You’ve got to be looking at the game in front and make sure you have the best possible shot of winning.
Jordation: It’s a bit harder as well. There was an element of luck involved with Blank starting out, even existing, and getting the opportunities to go into Pacific. For me, it’s all about being in the moment now and being the best I can be as an individual.
Face: It also means that any loss is a failure. There’s a lot of pressure on us to win.
How far do you think you’ve come as individuals and as a team then? Drop Bears itself is a mash-up of 4Legs/Kings and other players around the region.
Face: Everyone individually has improved an insane amount since the start of this year, especially in their understanding of the game. As a team in Season 1, we started off terribly, and we were really bad. We improved through the season, then during the postseason we got Hex. Getting Hex was a big thing for us, and we improved significantly in a lot of areas.
Speaking of Hex, you still haven’t lost a map in Contenders.
Everyone: Well, in regular season anyways.
Colourhex: I’ve drawn a single map, but not lost!
Yes, not in regular season. How much of that is on you, and how much of that is on your team?
Jordation: Go on, you know what you want to say.
Colourhex: I’m not going to say what you want me to say!
Colourhex: I don’t know man. It’s hard to say. Overwatch is a team game. You can be as good as you want, but if you aren’t working well as a team you aren’t going to get wins. I can’t take all the credit.
...but you’ll take some.
Jordation: He’ll take most of it.
Colourhex: I mean, I’ll maybe take a little bit. It does feel good to have never lost a map in regular season.
I guess at the end of that though, you haven’t won the Grand Final yet so…
Colourhex: Not yet. Not yet, anyways.
Do you think you can make it through playoffs without dropping a map then?
Jordation: 30-0 is the dream.
Face: It’s really close though. Overwatch is a funny game though, and realistically it’s so easy to drop one map against everyone. The main priority is just making sure we don’t drop a series. We will aim to win every map, and then see what happens.
Do you guys get a lot of international scrim block time? Do you look for it?
Face: We mostly focus on Australian scrims, with a smattering of international scrims. With Blank back in Australia though, that gives us a really high quality local scrim partner we can play against. The trade-off to doing an international scrim as well is the ping. Because it’s on such high ping, you don’t get a lot of value out of it.
Jordation: Everyone tilts on high ping.
Face: What you can learn on high ping is very specific. Currently, everything that we can learn, we can learn from domestic scrims. There’s no point in going international, especially when we play Contenders on Australian ping. If we were to scrim a team of the same quality as us on 150-200 ping, we would get absolutely dumpstered. You can learn new strategies by playing different opponents, but you don’t need to go out of your way to force it.
Do you then keep an eye on the Overwatch League and the other Contenders regions to try and adapt that into your own game?
Face: We try to keep up with every region.
Jordation: It’s important to watch everything. Overwatch has this weird thing where metas inbreed themselves into different regions. You notice entire metas change in between scenes because one team in a region will try something and it does well so then teams will counteract that. That’s why EU runs a lot more tanks than other regions, it works over there.
Face: And because their meta is developing differently, the players develop differently too, and that in itself promotes a new meta. You have EU which loves tanks, but you might have another region which really favours dive. The meta defines what the region’s strong point is. It’s not like different regions are working together to find out what’s strongest in the game, they are just evolving to their playstyle.
If you could take another meta from a different region that you’d love to play, what would it be?
Face: I don’t think it’s like that. Because we are really isolated, our Contenders is a melting pot of every region. EU and Korea have really distinct styles of gameplay, whereas Australia plays a bit of everything. Australia is a lot less developed, so instead of everyone looking inwards for strategies they are looking to the other regions and taking from that.
Jordation: What works for one team might not work for another, so they take a different meta. It’s very varied at the moment.
Will the new changes coming through with Hammond, Symmetra and hitscan buffs change the Australian meta a bit then?
Jordation: The big ones are the hitscan changes for me, but every change has changed the meta a bit.
Colourhex: I think the current meta is still in its infancy, and it’s not well developed. I’m not sure how much you’ll see in Contenders playoffs, but some teams might try some stuff in official matches.
Jordation: We have enough time that teams aren’t playing scrims to play their best comps and win. They are playing scrims to figure out what works more than anything.
Face: It’s a very weird time in scrims at the moment with everyone figuring out what works and whether it was working because it was better, or if we outplayed them, or if they were playing bad or had the wrong comp. You have to look at your own comp and decide if it’s superior to every other comp. It’s like taking a stab in the dark at what works. You have to take a bunch on info based on what works for you, what works against other teams and then how you want to play, and then try something out. I think you’ll see the new metas in our LAN.
Alright, a different tone. This is a bit more directed to Colourhex because New Zealand aren’t playing in the World Cup…
Jordation: Because they suck!
...but what would you field as a World Cup team if you could?
Face: You have like 3 players.
Colourhex: Me, Hoowoo (Blank Esports), Cantus (Dark Sided), and not really sure on the others.
Jordation: Lord Dale? Hello?
Colourhex: Oh, Signed, Signed (ORDER)! Oh, yeah. And, main tank and aim support, not too sure.
Face: You have Legabril (Avant Gaming) and Joker (ex-Masterminds GC, now retired).
Colourhex: Yeah, Legabril. I’m pretty sure Joker’s quit the game. But for aim support, there’s no one in the top 4 who is from New Zealand.
Face: You know for the longest time I thought Dalsu (ex-Avant Gaming) was a kiwi?
Colourhex: I wish dude.
Face: Oh yeah, Tub.
Jordation: You got 5, that’s not bad.
Face: I think the best option for New Zealand to fill out that 6th role is to get someone who plays another role at a high level and put them on Zenyatta. Roro (Kanga Esports) maybe?
Colourhex: I could see that actually.
New Zealand World Champions 2019?
Colourhex: I don’t know about that one, but we’ll give it our best shot.
Jordation: Put Colourhex on Zen.
Colourhex: Hmm…I can shoot balls but that’s the end of my expertise.
And lastly, what’s with your fascination with Sesame Street over at the Drop Bears?
Colourhex: I mean, we used to have the whole team as Sesame Street characters, but then Jordation dogged us and he isn’t Elmo anymore.
Jordation: But we have Big Bird (Quatz), Bert (Bertlog), Ernie (Akraken), Abby Cadabby (Colourhex), Snuffleupagus (Shoyo) and Oscar the Grouch (Face).
Face: We even changed our Battle.net names on our mains too, except for Shoyo.
Any final words or shoutouts you want to give anyone?
Jordation: Colourhex is bad.
Colourhex: Say that one again? I didn’t hear it.
Jordation: Colourhex is bad and has a tiny brain!
Face: We’d like to thank Dave Harris and everyone at Sydney Drop Bears, our analysts CommanderX, Surfs, and all our sponsors.
Colourhex: What about everyone else on the team?
Face: Nah, stuff them.
Sydney Drop Bears have a couple more hurdles on their way to Season 2 glory. Their next match is against SereNity, who are making their debut on the playoffs stage.
You can watch Sydney Drop Bears try and create a new dynasty in Australian Overwatch on Monday 13 August at 12pm AEST on Twitch. You can also follow Face, Colourhex, Jordation and the Sydney Drop Bears on Twitter.