[ENG] Interview with Eternal Academy’s Team Manager : Skwal !
Our patience has finally paid off : the new EU Contenders season is upon us! Everything didn’t go as well as we might’ve hoped for our roosters-in-the-making, who are falling back down to Contenders Trials, but we’re sure they’ll land on their feet and bounce back stronger than ever.
In the mean-time, it’s a great chance to learn a bit more about the team. Our chick-detectives got a hold of some backstage Eternal Academy passes and returned carrying an exclusive interview with Skwal, the Team Manager.
Can you quickly present your career so far ?
Hi ! So on Overwatch, I was a T3/T2 player at first. Then, around mid-2018, I became a manager. I started out in T3 or T4 teams, to learn the role properly, then I got recruited to Angry Titans, my first T2 team, in February of 2019. And it’s also in 2019 that I became Team Manager for the Overwatch World Cup’s Team France.
How’d you end up with Eternal Academy ?
After the 2019 Contenders Season 2, we talked with the Angry Titans owners, and they made us understand that they were facing some budgetary restrictions. They’d be happy for us to stay, but they wouldn’t be able to pay our salaries anymore, so if we wanted to, we could look for better opportunities. So we all tweeted our”Looking for opportunities” tweets. I also contacted several OWL and Contenders teams. After several long months and lots of discussions with several teams, I just clicked the best with the Paris Eternal staff. On one hand, the project was really interesting and on the other, Paris as a city was a huge draw to me. Even if I grew up on La Réunion, with my whole family from there, I was born in Paris and the city also was a huge part of my story. I’ve always been a fan of the city and a fan of Paris Saint Germain. So I was interested right way and it happened that way late November, early December.
How’d you think up the recruitment process?
Regarding the coaches, we had several candidates and the Paris Eternal staff always asked my opinion on each person. They each went through an individual interview and the staff told me those they liked. That’s how David and LeRenegat came out as the best choices. I was really happy to have LeRenegat in the staff with me so I approved the choice right away.
After, my idea was to hold the trials and form the team with the coaches, because I didn’t want to force them to work with players that I had chosen. So that’s how we started our trials.
Did you have an idea of the team you wanted before you started recruiting ?
Oh yeah, even before the end of the previous Contenders season, I already had a list of players I liked — and no matter the team I landed in, I would’ve had them trial for me. And today, I’m pretty satisfied because several of them are in the team.
Is there a particularly important criteria you need to see in a player ? Or a criteria that’ll put you off?
I pay close attention to their attitude, not only in-game but also out of it. It’s really important to have players with a professional attitude, first and foremost. Also, it’s something I really like with Angry Titans, all the players were really friendly — and it’s always nicer to play in an environment where you like the people around you. After, you need to find the right balance to not be too friendly. You need to be both friendly and professional.
There’s several criteria that’ll put me off, but I think the worst one is tardiness. One person is late and the whole teams pays the price — sometimes two teams if a scrim is planned.
How many candidates did you get for open try-outs?
We got a hundred or so candidates for open try-outs. Obviously, we didn’t get to try everyone. We had to select the players we wanted and it was a lot of work. We had to check all their answers, the VODs they’d sent, etc.
How’d the trials go (organisation, personal impressions, etc)?
So it was really intense. So we had Closed Trials, meaning trials only on invitation and Open Trials, which were on applications. When a player stood out in Open, we’d move him up to the invitational trials.
We had to prepare several blocks per day, have them play, re-watch the VODs, each player’s POV… Those were really long days, and lots of work.
Did you have a specific project for Eternal Academy this year (cf. the “EU project” present in Paris’ PR last year)?
We had as a project, like each Academy team is supposed to, player development. That’s why we have very experienced players like Hafficool or AFoxx, and other very young players like Patiphan who’s only 16, or even Erki, who has lots of experience on paper, a great record, even though he’s only 20, which is pretty young. I’m convinced that if we succeed with this project, players like MuZe, Patiphan, etc are going to be tomorrow’s OWL stars.
What do you think of the new Contenders format? How will it change your work?
The new format is really interesting in my opinion. It’ll allow Tier 3 teams to have more chances to face Tier 2 teams and prove their skills. On the other hand, it’s really risky for Contenders teams, that face falling to Tier 3 more often as a consequence.
For managers, it also obviously means a lot more work, more pressure, etc. But it’s probably a good thing for the competition and I’m excited for the season to start.
Are you in contact with the OWL team (scrims, warm-ups before OWL games)?
We have a great relationship with the OWL team, for example, their players sub for us often, when we need it. We also have a few scrim blocks planned. We’re in almost permanent contact with the OWL team staff and it feels great to belong to the team and really have the sensation that you’re a part of the Paris Eternal family. For warm-ups before OWL games, it’s possible that we’ll help them with that when the time comes.
Will Eternal Academy have a team-house, work together in LAN conditions?
So that’s all in discussion. For now, we don’t have a team-house, but we are doing bootcamps with the Asian players.
Can you tell us about the back-office staff for Eternal Academy? How do you function? Did you choose with who you wanted to work?
So yes, I more or less chose the members with whom I’m working. I first suggested LeRenegat. I’d worked with him for Team France and when I heard that he wasn’t with British Hurricane anymore, I absolutely wanted him on my team. For David, the Paris staff suggested him and I accepted. Obviously, they both passed individual interviews with the Eternal staff. But now we work a lot together, starting in the mornings where we meet up, we talk and prepare the day’s scrim blocks, our objectives, the things we’re going to focus on, etc.
Can you tell us a little about each Eternal Academy member ?
So I’m going to start with the staff — David, the head-coach. He’s not someone I knew well before, because we’d worked only a few weeks together with Angry Titans. He’s very pragmatic, very organised in his work, very focused on communication.
Not much to say about LeRenegat except that he’s very efficient — I don’t think there’s a harder worker than him currently in Europe.
MuZe, our Korean main tank. Young but already really experienced, very smart, he’s probably going to be one of the best main tanks in the world one day.
Hafficool already has so much experience, an excellent game level, probably one of the best, if not the best off-tank outside of OWL.
Patiphan, really young but already very talented. Probably one of the best DPS in Contenders right now, in terms of mechanical skills.
Erki, a player I had back in Angry Titans. Really talented DPS, very flexible, but also very motivated and really professional in his attitude. The kind of player any manager dreams of having on his team.
Tsuna is a really good hitscan, he’s a part of those young players that already have quite a bit of experience. A very solid DPS, but also someone that’s very, very nice, always listening.
AFoxx, according to me, is one of the best flex supports in Contenders, very experienced, always solid, he’s becoming, in a way, like on Angry Titans, the team captain, by his attitude, his leadership, etc.
CQB has a very good Lucio, he would peel for anyone and brings a lot in terms of ult-tracking and his in-game comms in general.
After Eternal Academy’s elimination from the Seeding Tournament : is the team very disappointed ? How do you deal with defeats?
Honestly we’re okay. We weren’t necessarily expecting very good results. We didn’t want to lose either, obviously, but the pre-seeding itself isn’t the most important tournament. Now the important thing is to prepare for Contenders Trials. The team is more motivated than ever. The defeat was like an electric shock to many of them, you need to take it like a crash test. In a few hours, it allowed us to understand our weak points and what we needed to rework.
According to you, what caused these defeats in the pre-seeding tournament?
We didn’t have much time to prepare, honestly. On top of that, we have 3 players coming from Asia and we had to practice with them on 300 ping, which is almost unplayable. After, the team itself is pretty cosmopolitan, not like the other teams that formed during the off-season. We have some players coming from EU Contenders, Haffi’s coming from NA Contenders and 3 are coming from Asia, so to get all those players to work together, it’ll take time, despite them all being great individually.
You’re now heading to Contenders Trials, do you think the team has a chance to come back to Contenders?
Yes, 100%. We have a bit over a month to prepare, so if the whole preparation goes as planned, we should be able to get there without too many issues. On paper, we have the best team in Europe in terms of individual players, I think. They just need to learn to play together. They all work very hard and I trust them 100%.
That’s all for now, folks! We’re cheering for the Eternal Academy chicks with all our hearts and wish them the best going forwards. You’ll be able to cheer them on with us during the Contenders Trials, whose dates should be announced soon.
Thanks again to Skwal for taking the time to answer with such precision. With such a manager, they can only be in good hands.
Translation by Gaila.