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"Yes, I Do Dream About Overwatch"

May 15 2019
Photo by
Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
Photo by
Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
Matthew (super) DeLisi
San Francisco Shock
Jay (sinatraa) Won
San Francisco Shock
May 15 2019

Matthew (super) DeLisi and Jay (sinatraa) Won compete for the San Francisco Shock, one of the top teams in the Overwatch League. They also spend a ton of time together and are reportedly friends. Coming off a huge victory in the Stage 2 Finals this past weekend, super and sinatraa agreed to sit down and discuss their sport, their team and … well… the conversation wandered a bit from there.


super

A big part of winning at Overwatch is just being able to trust your teammates. That’s really all that matters. You have to be able to be really critical of each other and what one another is doing.

sinatraa

Like, for example, when I say that you’re trash.

super

Exactly, what a great teammate.

sinatraa

We’re all here for the same reason. We all want to get better. And that means we’re constantly going hard.

We’re all here for the same reason. We all want to get better.

super

When you call someone out, it’s never personal. It’s always about making the team better. This is absolutely a team sport. Like even if you are using the wrong strategy, if your whole team executes that wrong strategy really well, you still have a better shot at winning than if everybody plays as individuals.

sinatraa

I would go so far as to say being critical is a good thing. You have to be critical if you want to be the best. The margin for error is so thin at this level.

super

We’ve all dedicated our lives to this game. We’re all around each other so much, and even when we’re not playing, we’re talking about the game. And even in our alone moments, we’re thinking about it. You even have dreams about it.

sinatraa

You dream about Overwatch?

super

You don’t?

sinatraa

No, I’m normal.

super

Well, yes, I do dream about Overwatch. I’m a professional.

sinatraa

That does not make you a professional.

super

Actually, it’s funny: I had a dream before our first match this season against Dallas. We really didn’t want to lose the first game, especially because we had a little hype surrounding us. There were definitely some nerves. Anyway, the night before the game I dreamed we were up 2–0, and then we got reverse swept and lost.

sinatraa

What happened next?

super

Everyone was really pissed.

sinatraa

Sounds about right. Then what happened?

super

And that’s about it. I was so angry when I woke up…. Then we went out and swept them 4–0.

sinatraa

You had to throw that in there?

super

Of course.

Megan L.C. McNally/The Players' Tribune

super

First console?

sinatraa

PS2. Jak and Daxter. That was the first game I ever loved. I played with my brother constantly. That game was the s***. What about you?

super

PS1 for me. Crash Bandicoot. So good. Overwatch was the first real esport I got into. I started playing back when it launched on this terrible computer at my house that barely worked. It was just covered in dust and super laggy and the frame rate was terrible. But still, I couldn’t stop playing. All my friends were hooked right away, and we all managed to hit top 500 on the leaderboards. Then we formed a team, and I got a better computer.

sinatraa

I got the sense that I could maybe go pro around the time I was 14 or so playing Counter-Strike, but when the time came it was pretty difficult to talk my parents into letting me sign my first contract. I was 16 at the time, and the offer came from a team called Selfless that was based out of Georgia. Of course, I was 1000 percent  in right away. It was a dream come true. I couldn’t believe it. But convincing my parents seemed like an even bigger challenge than getting the contract, you know?

super

Oh, I relate to that.

sinatraa

Like there’s no good way to say, “Hey, Mom and Dad, can I drop out of high school and move across the country from Seattle to Georgia to play video games?” I was so nervous to bring it up. Actually, I purposefully waited until Christmas time to tell them just because I thought they might receive the news better? Christmas cheer is a thing, right?

super

Logical.

sinatraa

At first they were very, very skeptical. And, I mean … fair. I was telling them some people on the Internet were going to pay me money to live with them in a house in Georgia and play games.

super

It doesn’t not sound like a super sketchy thing when you describe it like that….

Convincing my parents seemed like an even bigger challenge than getting the contract, you know?

sinatraa

Oh, they thought for sure they were just random people who were going to kidnap me or something. Both of them were super confused by the concept of esports in general. I actually had to get pretty much every member of the team to talk to them on Discord — like at length. They all got to know each other pretty well. And after that, my parents finally agreed to let me go.

super

My story was sort of similar. My parents definitely knew I was really into Overwatch. I would play pretty much every night until late, and I was always really loud.

sinatraa

You? No way.

super

My parents started getting really pissed because I kept waking them up. They didn’t realize that I was playing in online tournaments at this really high level. They just thought I was being a loud teenager. When I got my first contract, I showed my dad and said it was for esports. And he said, “What’s esports? I don’t know what that is.” He had no idea what I’d actually been working towards.

sinatraa

That’s perfect.

super

So he did the dad thing and googled “esports,” and the first thing that popped up was an article in Forbes, which was a magazine he’d actually heard of, so he relaxed a bit. Then he and my mom kept researching and found more and more stuff explaining everything. Once that happened, the tone shifted and they were supportive. But it was definitely a challenge when it came to talking my mom into letting me move from Philly to California. Definitely went through the same thing where my parents were super skeptical about the idea of moving into a house with strangers and thought I was going to get killed or something.

sinatraa

Yeah, I guess that is kind of a big barrier to becoming a pro.

Megan L.C. McNally/The Players' Tribune

sinatraa

Before I turned pro, I don’t think I really understood the mental energy it takes to play professionally. There’s this definite line between playing for fun and playing for a living. Everything just gets very, very, very serious very fast.

super

For almost all of us this is our first job. So it’s not just about the transition to being a professional, you’re transitioning to living on our own for the first time. You’re surrounded by new faces and you realize pretty quickly that you’re at work.

sinatraa

The one thing that triggers me the most is when I tell someone what I do and they say, “Oh, you play video games? That must be so easy.”

super

Oh, I hate that too.

sinatraa

Even if people don’t get esports, they should understand how difficult it is and how much work it requires, not to just go pro but to stay pro.

super

There’s a reason so many players burn out when they’re young. You have to constantly train to get better or you’ll fall behind. It doesn’t matter how naturally talented or instinctual you might be, if you don’t treat this like a job, you won’t succeed.

sinatraa

You have to figure out some kind of balance or the level of focus can burn you out. For me, moving out here helped me out a lot in a bunch of different ways. While I was growing up I really wasn’t that nice of a person. It wasn’t anything specific … I just wasn’t nice. But moving here and being in this environment where I literally live on the same floor as my coaches and teammates, it changed me a lot. It made me feel this sense of purpose that I hadn’t felt before. I think the experience has made me a better person, just being around and interacting with the other people on the team. And I’m definitely a lot nicer than I used to be.

super

Ehhhhhhhh….

sinatraa

Oh, shut up.

super

You’re toxic.

sinatraa

No, I’m not … well, maybe to you … but mostly in a joking way. Because you’re trash.

super

I will say that when you’re around the same people as much as we all are, you get to know one another really well.

sinatraa

Yeah, there was definitely a feeling-out process at first.

super

Beyond just getting to know each other, the majority of our team is Korean, and we both speak basically zero Korean.

Megan L.C. McNally/The Players' Tribune

sinatraa

Korean players have traditionally been really dominant in team-based games like Overwatch and League of Legends. The work ethic and team play is so ingrained in them. Their communication is impressive. Being surrounded by that culture has definitely made us better.

super

They have an English teacher with an expertise in esports who works with them and basically teaches them all the terms they need to know in relation to Overwatch. And that makes communication really easy. The English commands in Overwatch are very simple: Go top, Go left, Go right. It’s very basic to understand and communicate.

super

And, honestly, just being around your team so much, you definitely develop better communication naturally.

sinatraa

At this point it’s all just pretty normal. There’s just people speaking Korean everywhere.

super

And you just kind of hope they aren’t talking about you.

sinatraa

I mean, that’s not to say there haven’t been a few culture clashes.

super

Dude, Viol2t eats his pizza with chopsticks. I’ll never forget the first time I saw that. It’s etched in my memory.

sinatraa

He was eating ice cream cake with chopsticks. That’s not how that works.

super

He eats BURGERS with chopsticks.

sinatraa

Oh man, he doesn’t like to eat anything with his hands, but he does like McDonald’s. And anytime he gets McDonald’s late at night, he’ll order a quarter pounder with cheese. And then he takes a pair of chopsticks and carefully deconstructs the whole burger.

super

It’s disturbing to watch.

sinatraa

Then he eats it all out of order like one pickle at a time, or part of a bun and patty.

super

You know, part of me respects it…. And now he’s an All-Star.

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

super

After we lost to Vancouver in the Stage 1 Finals, I played “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter for a week straight. Nonstop. Just kept playing it.

sinatraa

Why did you do that?

super

Because I had a bad day.

sinatraa

I never want to hear that song again.

super

Well, we just can’t lose in the Stage Finals anymore.

sinatraa

So far so good.

super

But, honestly, just playing in that first Stage 1 Finals against Vancouver that first time was so huge for us. Especially because last season we just weren’t that good as a team. We had potential, but we just didn’t put it together. Seeing us scratch the surface of our potential was really encouraging. It just felt good.

sinatraa

Yeah, and it felt good to lose too?

super

O.K., fair. But it definitely gave us this confidence that set us up for the next stage. We’re playing as well as we ever have right now.

sinatraa

I already know we can get so much better. That’s the most exciting part about winning Stage 2. That was amazing, but it’s not the ultimate goal we have for this season. It was more just a sign of what we’re capable of.

super

We’re just getting started.

sinatraa

Yeah, but you’re still trash.

Matthew (super) DeLisi
San Francisco Shock
Jay (sinatraa) Won
San Francisco Shock