FunnyAstro: “I can comfortably say I’m one of the best Brigs in the league”
Following a difficult season plagued by visa issues, the Philadelphia Fusion have fought their way to a berth in the OWL Playoffs. After taking down Seoul in the Play-In, they face off against the Countdown Cup champion Los Angeles Gladiators on Tuesday.
Hotspawn caught up with Fusion support Daniel “FunnyAstro” Hathaway ahead of the postseason to get his take on Philadelphia’s tumultuous year, their playoff chances, and the upcoming release of Overwatch 2.
Hotspawn: At the beginning of the season, what were you up to while you waited on your visa?
FunnyAstro: Before the season started, we tried playing with everyone on ping. High ping was a waste of time, so we changed once we got tobi and HOTBA in. After that, I would wake up at like 7 AM in England, watch scrims, and try to give feedback where I can like a sort of remote coach.
Hotspawn: What was it like as a competitor to watch your team play without you?
Funny Astro: It was depressing. When I got to Korea, it had been pretty much one full year since I had played in the Overwatch League. We were playing in Contenders Trials, but that’s not real competition with how strong our roster was. For me, it was useful to give me some of the competitive drive back, because after so long not playing in tournaments or big matches you kinda lose the passion. I settled into life in England a bit, which you don’t usually get to do in esports.
Hotspawn: Was there anything, in particular, you worked on while you were waiting?
FunnyAstro: Practicing a lot of Brig. It helped watching tobi at the start when he played a little bit. Of course, I spent a lot of time playing ranked, mainly just focusing on Brig because it’s kinda obvious how strong she is. She’s always gonna be part of the meta now.
Hotspawn: 2021 has been the year of Brig for main supports. That wasn’t always your most comfortable hero last year. How much has that changed?
FunnyAstro: Right now, I can comfortably say I’m one of the best Brigs in the league. Last season, I think I was one of the worst. I think I’ve really stepped up. I worked very hard on it. Feeling a lot more confident.
Hotspawn: How were you feeling when you first rejoined the team during the Summer Showdown? It seemed like the team really struggled to find stability towards the middle of the season.
FunnyAstro: I felt pretty rusty. It’s really rough integrating players one by one. With eqo coming in first, he must have had the worst of it when they switched from Korean to English. It’s really difficult because every time you add in one new player it changes everything. It changes the comms structure. It changes how they want to play the game, what team comps they want to play.
Hotspawn: Did you feel like you were behind relative to the rest of the league at the time? Like they had a headstart?
FunnyAstro: For sure, other teams had a big advantage. They had months to prepare their communication structure, their style, what team comps they like to play. We sort of had to figure that out in the middle of the season.
Hotspawn: How much do you think your experience playing with Alarm helped you catch up?
FunnyAstro: It was one less person to find synergy with. If I had to play with another flex support, if it was a completely different roster to last year, it would’ve been even harder and maybe taken another couple of weeks to find our stride.
Especially with communication, I have to find out what other people want to call and slot myself in and do what other people don’t want to do. Knowing how to work with carpe, eqo, and Alarm helped me coming in.
Hotspawn: More generally, what is it like having such a reliable support partner? How does Alarm take pressure off your shoulders?
FunnyAstro: Me and Alarm get along very well in-game. We talk to each other very efficiently. We’re both comfortable giving each other our opinions, how we think the other person should be playing.
Then, his mechanics are so good, that I can pretty much ask him to do anything and know that he’s gonna be able to do it.
Hotspawn: How far do you think the team has come in the few months you’ve been there? Going into the playoffs, what is your feeling about the progress you’ve made?
FunnyAstro: We’ve made incredibly fast progress. If you think about it, every team has had almost twice as long to synergize and figure out how to play different team comps. We’ve managed to sort of catch up in half the time.
When I came in, we were losing a lot in scrims. We can see the progression there and feel it in our match results as well, going from losing games that we shouldn’t be able to lose to finding our stride and winning games we shouldn’t be able to win.
Hotspawn: Last year, there were a lot of expectations for you in the playoffs. Do you think the pressure had an effect on the team?
FunnyAstro: I don’t think it was really a pressure thing, how we lost in big matches. If I look at it objectively, once we got to Korea we kinda knew we weren’t gonna win. Our scrim results were really, really bad. We’d struggled with that meta and we’d been avoiding that team comp all year. I know a lot of people seem to think we choked at the end, but it was just a team comp problem. It just didn’t fit our style at all. If the meta was different, I’m sure we could’ve done a lot more.
Hotspawn: This year, for obvious reasons, you haven’t hit the same highs. Do you think you might benefit from being more of an underdog this time around?
FunnyAstro: It’s nice to have no stress and no pressure. Still, we’re rating ourselves quite highly and other teams are as well with us being the last pick. I think people still expect us to do really well.
Hotspawn: Other teams clearly see you as a threat, but how dangerous do you think you can be? Have you had enough time to develop into a contender?
FunnyAstro: I think we’ve had almost the perfect amount of time now. We’ve hit our stride, and we’re ready for playoffs. We’ve also got the opposite situation of last year, where we had the meta change away from heroes that we’re comfortable on. This year, there’s not been a huge meta shift for playoffs, which is probably gonna benefit us quite a lot.
Hotspawn: Lastly, over the next week you and the rest of the Overwatch League are about to play your last professional matches before OW2. How does that make you feel? What are your thoughts heading into next year?
FunnyAstro: I really want to win a title in Overwatch. I’ve won titles in Overwatch, but a title in Overwatch League in the first version of the game as it is now. I think that’d be really cool, to be the last team to ever win playing Overwatch 1.
I’m excited for Overwatch 2. It’s gonna be fun to change games. I know other players who have been professionals or top of the ranked ladder in other games, but I don’t think I’ve ever been as good at other stuff as I am at Overwatch. It’ll be a whole new experience playing on a different version.
The Overwatch League Playoffs begin Tuesday, September 21st at 7 PM ET. All matches can be viewed on the OWL Youtube Channel.