NeptuNo: “I wanna be a team that can upset anyone”
Coming into the 2021 OWL season, the Paris Eternal has completely retooled it’s roster. After suffering from lack of exposure for years, the European scene has a team of homegrown talent to rally behind. With a combo of fresh rookies and veteran leaders, Paris is looking to change the region’s perception in the wider Overwatch landscape.
Hotspawn sat down with main support Alberto “neptuNo” González and head coach Zouheir “GetAmazed” Baba to get their thoughts on coming together as a team and representing Europe.
Hotspawn: Let’s start with your appearance in the SteelSeries Invitational preseason tournament last month. Coming out of that event, what were your big takeaways? What was exciting about your performance, and what do you need to work on before the season starts?
GetAmazed: I’m actually really happy with our performance. I like the fact that we lost on just small mistakes, really fixable mistakes. I’m really proud of the atmosphere we had during the official. Even if on paper we lost, for me it’s still a win because we played really well, I think, despite some mistakes.
neptuNo: I felt like because it was our first match, the first map we played, we were a little bit slow and scared. We didn’t hit them first, and I think we know for the next time that we shouldn’t be afraid and play with a fast tempo from the beginning.
Hotspawn: For the most part, teams seemed to be playing either Wrecking Ball comps or Reinhardt Rush comps. Do you think that will hold up as we get closer to the season? How wide-open do you think the meta is right now?
GetAmazed: I think comps change a lot. I think it’s still too early to talk about meta. I’m pretty convinced people will aim to play some rush comps. Most of the time, people are just following blindly, I will say. They just copy without even understanding the comp. I think every team will find their own comp and they should play to their own strengths.
Hotspawn: What has been the focus of your preparation so far? Is it learning specific compositions and how to play them, or are you focused more on the fundamentals and building teamwork?
GetAmazed: What I was doing was focusing on all the big things, the communication, the team play, the synergy, all that stuff. [Assistant coach] JMAC is doing an amazing job going really deep into details, into really deep strategy. For now, our biggest goal is to be a really strong team, to play for each other.
I think we have to not lie to each other and just accept the fact that we are not the best players right now in the Overwatch League. Maybe with time we will be the best players, but for now, we are not. We should definitely play our own game to win matches. I’m really aiming to have a family thing. I know I say that a lot, but I really want to have a family, not just a team.
Hotspawn: With a new team of players that haven’t played together in the past, how do you go about establishing that synergy and coordination? Is there anything in particular that you do at the very beginning to get it off the ground?
GetAmazed: At the beginning, you just let them play and discover each other. You try to realize their weakness. As soon as you realize the weakness, you focus on it and make sure the weakness disappears. The first thing you have to think about every time is the team play—the communication and the team play before anything else.
Hotspawn: Let’s discuss some of the rookies you have this year. You were heavily involved in trialing and selecting these players, so I’d love to hear what stood out about them and why they were chosen, starting with Kaan. How do you think he will measure up coming into a stacked role like flex support?
GetAmazed: Kaan, if he manages to just play his game and not overthink, he will probably be one of the best. I have absolutely zero doubt about it. I’m not even delusional. I’ve been watching a lot of flex support, and I can tell if he gets some more experience, more game sense, and confidence, he can be one of the best for sure.
Hotspawn: Naga is going to be the only real flex DPS player on the roster. You must have a lot of faith in him as a player.
GetAmazed: I think Naga is probably the best teammate you can ever have. His motivation, skills, and game sense are really strong. It’s really nice to have someone like him in the game. I think he’s a really good player, so I’m really happy to have him.
Hotspawn: Last but not least is Daan. We’ve been told that the choice came down to Daan or [former Eternal main tank] BenBest. Was it a situation where you felt Daan had more potential to unlock versus the known commodity of BenBest, or was there another reason for that decision?
GetAmazed: When I wanted to give my opinion on a player, I was taking into consideration whether he had experience already in the Overwatch League or not. A player like Daan was close and even better on some picks than BenBest, but he had no Overwatch League. That means if Daan gets the same amount of time in the Overwatch League, he should just be way better. Daan was way more flexible, and other players really like to play with him, so it was really easy for me.
Hotspawn: When constructing the roster, was there a conscious effort to mix new talent with experienced picks like neptuNo? How important is having that veteran presence on board?
GetAmazed: I think it’s extremely important to have someone like neptuNo on your team, especially when you have that many rookies. Because coaches cannot talk during maps, it’s really nice to have someone who has the knowledge to self-coach the team. He can coach a bit in-game and share all of his experience. He can calm the tempo when we are in-game.
Hotspawn: neptuNo, you’ve pretty much seen it all throughout your career. How have your experiences on Philly and Guangzhou helped prepare you for a leadership role in the team?
neptuNo: It kind of evolved over the years. I’ve always been a person who talks a lot and gives his opinion because I want the team to improve. I’ve also never been consistent with shot-calling, so I had to force myself to do it in a way until it became more natural. It’s something that I improved a lot in the time I was in Guangzhou, but because I didn’t play because of COVID for 8 months, I lost it. Now I’m trying to do it again. It’s been rough to relearn, to be honest. In my opinion, it’s something that requires too much brain process, to play your own game and the macro game in your head at the same time.
Also, in terms of leadership, I feel like I can do a better job. I’m trying to improve myself in leading the team, especially with the vibes. I feel like the atmosphere kind of snowballs your gameplay. That’s what I want to focus on now. Having a good atmosphere is super important because we’re gonna lose games, we’re gonna win games. I don’t want our results to have any say in how we feel. I would like the team to have a reason to keep going and keep trying every day.
Hotspawn: After the crazy season you had last year, constantly dealing with visa issues and travel amidst COVID-19, what are you looking forward to most this year? Is it knowing you don’t have to worry about playtime or the stability of playing from Europe?
neptuNo: To be honest, what I’m most excited about is to play with people that haven’t proven themselves or are not that known. Also, I’m really hyped to play in a team that has no expectations. That gives me motivation to try. I don’t think too much about proving myself because I’ve been playing for so long, but I want to help the team to be a good team, at least a solid team that everyone respects.
Being a mid-table team, that would be good for me. Everyone is placing us bottom five, but I want to be a team that can upset anyone. We don’t necessarily have to be the best or top-five team in the league, which is possible. I think we have the talent to do so. I don’t put a ceiling to our improvement, but at least I want to make sure we improve.
Hotspawn: What are your thoughts about being this all-European team? Does it really matter to you guys? How does it feel to represent a region that has been somewhat ignored at the highest level?
neptuNo: A lot of the best players from the OG times were Europeans, but it’s true that as a region, Europe has been the weakest these last years. People don’t play the game enough, and there’s not enough competition. There’s still good players and good talent, but because Europe has no exposure, people forget about European players, which is unfair.
It means a lot to represent Europe because I’ve always been proud of being from Spain and Europe. I don’t like that the league has so many people from Korea and not from Europe or NA. I would love to see more players from those regions. Korea has taken over. It’s fair because they are good, and you try to take the best players. But I would love to see Overwatch grow in other regions like it does in Korea.
GetAmazed: I think everyone is proud to represent EU. We have a lot of friends in EU who would love to be pro and join the Overwatch League, so they count on us. I believe if we have good results, people will start looking at EU more. We can open the gate. We are doing it for them.
Eternal GM Avalla: One thing I want to add, I’ve been on a full-Korean team and a mixed team. This is my first time on a full Western team. The level of communication you can get in a full-Western roster is kind of huge because you’re not limited to the kind of planning you can do in the game. Because they’re all from a similar culture, there’s less conflict in and out of the game. That can be really valuable. I’m surprised every day by how much communication and self-improvement we can do. There is no language barrier and that European mentality that helps the players.
Hotspawn: Does that track with your experience on a mixed roster in Guangzhou?
neptuNo: Of course, in Guangzhou, there were communication issues that we needed to solve. The cultural difference makes some interactions not possible. To be honest, Guangzhou did such a great job making a good team atmosphere; it was crazy. Still, it’s what Avalla was saying. Because we are from the same culture, it’s really easy to get deep into details.
The Overwatch League returns to action on Friday, April 16th. The Eternal plays its first match in Week 2 as they take on the Vancouver Titans on April 23rd. All matches can be viewed on the Overwatch League Youtube channel.