AVALLA And Faustus Reveal Eternals' Roster Plans For 2023 And More
While the Paris Eternal's 2022 Overwatch League season might have had a rocky start, both general manager Kyoung Ey "AVALLA" Kim and coach James "Faustus" Frye hold a sense of hope for the future. Both pillars of the Eternals' front office spoke to GGRecon about their early steps towards the 2023 season, what attributes they're prioritising moving forward, and what they're proud of from 2022.
One interesting theme that seemed to stick out from Faustus' Watchpoint interview was the idea of synergy. Both from the many roster changes the Eternal made and also from his history with Angry Titans and their internal attributes. Is this something you're prioritising next year?
AVALLA: "I think a lot of the things that we valued with Overwatch 2 were more so than mechanical play, of course mechanical play is important, but team play could go far. And I think some teams have shown that team play is important.
When you have different experiences coming into the league, then when you play your game, it is likely you're all going to do something else. We thought it would be valuable to have a team that was from the same roster and if you include [Jesse "Dove" Palomo] that makes four players from Odyessy on our roster. The experience of them continuing to build together would be valuable."
Faustus: "Being able to have players like that who've built trust with each other, you know, winning a lot. They performed well many, many times. So for them, they know how to win, they know what they need to do to win—for themselves at least. To also know that each of their teammates could give them that, like what they need to win, it helps to build this mentality that even if they are losing they understand that they are in the Overwatch League now, this isn't just Contenders.
It's going to be tough, but they know how good their teammates are and how well they're going to play and how much they're going to work towards it. If you have that kind of environment it's way easier to have a good mentality, to help each other, and to be more of a family—like I said with Angry Titans—then it is to just pick up one person from every team.
If you did that, who knows how they'll be together. You don't really have the time to figure it out either with how the roster was changed. The fact that they know each other that well even with the season not being the best, it's still better than it would be if we had a bunch of random players from a bunch of random teams."
Looking ahead to the 2023 season, do you feel like this pre-built trust and understanding is something you hope to carry over into the next season or is that still too early to say?
AVALLA: "We built this roster with long-term success in mind.
What that means is that—say we brought this roster in at the start of next year then we'll have to go through all the same experiences of the nerves of the players playing their first matches, the trust issues they might have because we have a new tank and the lack of experience in the Overwatch League.
We would have to go through all that again, with the addition of pressure that they need to win.
This year was about experiencing that beforehand so that when we go into next year we'll be a lot more prepared and a lot more ready. We understand our players were not put in a fair spot because these players have half a season of Overwatch League experience, practising and coaching they didn't get because they were in Contenders. We understand that, and honestly, we don't put pressure on them.
We didn't bring this roster together to go directly to play-ins and playoffs this year. We didn't bring this roster together to have success in stage three. That's not what this was about. It was more about building the experience that was necessary to succeed for next year.
I know this is early to say but right now, in our minds, we will be keeping the majority of the same roster if not all of it."
So the offseason started early? Sounds like the planning has been laid out for a while now.
AVALLA: "Yeah. We already knew that going into midseason we were 1-13 at the time. And that's already GGs for playoffs and most likely for play-ins.
Those are very slim chances, so we wanted to utilise that time to rebuild early and look forward to next year knowing that these players were not going to perform excellently and become world-beaters—that was never the intention.
It was more so us giving them the opportunity to learn and grow and giving them a space where they don't feel pressure from us on having to win.
And we've been clear about this plan from the very start.
About why we brought them on and what we're looking to do and what are plans are for next year, that was very clearly communicated from the start, and I think that's why even though multiple loss streaks the players look happy and the players look positive."
Faustus: "Something that happened in that first stage with the Junker Queen meta, was that I told them the expectations should be that we want to win but we're going to lose. And we're going to have to understand that we're going to lose.
Like AVALLA said, it's more about improvement and every single week, everyone was always like 'Yeah, we're losing but I feel way better. I feel like I'm playing better. I feel like I'm getting better as a player.'
And something that people don't understand is that if you are losing but you constantly have something you can work on, you're not really losing, you are getting better. It sucks to lose but you're getting closer and closer to climbing that mountain. At that point, it isn't as bad and you can be happier about it. I've had this happen with players a lot of times when they play ranked that they want to rage and get mad at their teammates but when you have something to apply and work towards, they just don't care [about the loss] as much.
And that applies to Overwatch League matches themselves, as long as that's your expectation."
AVALLA: "Coming from the internal side we see the players' growth more closely, right? This group of players is the hardest working group of players I have ever worked with. It is not uncommon for some players in the league to lack the work ethic, whether that is grinding ranked or showing up to feedback sessions on time or wanting to talk about issues within the team.
Some Overwatch League players get complacent and don't really want to contribute, but these players, because they come from the same team because they are friends at the end of the day, they want to improve together and want to get better together.
We truly feel that, whether it comes down to communication or how we perform, it feels better and everyone is taking that next step. We're judging things really positively. If they weren't getting the wins, getting complacent and I can see they aren't really putting in the effort, then that would be an issue.
Since they're so hard-working, I can all see the progress that's being made."
Many of these post-season interviews end up focusing on what went wrong, what you wished you could have changed, and your regrets from the season. For both of you, what are you proud of this season? What do you feel was a 'win' from 2022?
Faustus: "For me personally, it feels nice to be able to come into a team, know next to no one, and still have everyone talk, listen to one another and try to work things out. Sometimes you lose some effort here or there, you know? You can't be happy-go-lucky every single day. That's physically impossible. You're not going to give 100% every single day. It's just not going to happen, even if you're winning.
So that's going to happen, but the fact of the matter is; they haven't boomed at all.
Not a single player has felt like they don't want to play. They all play, all the time. They talk all the time and despite all the losses, they are still a team, they still like each other and they don't feel like they don't belong. They just need to get better.
I think it's wonderful that it is like that.
Especially coming into an environment with two new players they had never talked to before, two coaches they'd never talked to before, a different practice schedule, and a different structure. Everything is so different, yet they still try their best every day."
AVALLA: "Now that I think about it, given the extreme circumstances where we had to change our roster in a week's time, I'm just thankful I was able to gather a group of talented players—and some players turned out to be better than what we expected.
For example, I expected [Josh "MaltheL" Gonzales] to play well but I didn't expect him to play this well. He's had some really carry and clutch moments this season. So I think what I'm really glad about is that we have these hard-working individuals on our roster that want to improve together and want to play together.
And they have such great personalities and they're really funny. The thing with most Overwatch League players is that they hate shooting content. They hate they have to do this instead of practising or playing ranked or whatever, but all of our players completely love content shooting. We have some hilarious content we're waiting to release in the off-season. Being around them is such a blessing because they're super funny, they make a lot of troll comments, and the environment is always upbeat.
I'm really fortunate to have this great group of players working with me."
It seems really apparent that there is this familial bond or this light-heartedness that's emanating from the team. Do you think that's the recipe for success? Do you think more people need to shift their focus in a similar way to what you sound like you have?
AVALLA: "This is what I would say; if you had absolutely all the money in the world you could spend and you're not restricted by any kind of budget. 100% getting the best players in the league will get you a better result, in my opinion.
Considering that we're a budget organisation that operates under some restrictions you can't get the best players in the world let alone getting players with two or three [seasons] under their belts because if one other team is also interested in them, the chances are you probably are not going to get them.
So in those limited circumstances, the best you could do is to pick up younger talent that hasn't been scouted yet and try to develop them with the coaching that you have. Given our restrictive budgets, this is the best way to go about it. Obviously, it would be more optimal to get the best players in the league and try to create a championship roster but sometimes things are outside of your control."
Faustus: "I'd have to agree with everything AVALLA is saying. There is no way to get the best players in the world with the budget that Paris has, but you can try to build players up off of each other to be better and you're not going to get that with a bunch of random guys. You're going to get that with people who want to improve and get better and these guys are doing that thus far. You can even look at bigger teams and even if they do spend a lot of budget.
Obviously, Dallas Fuel's players are very, very good, right? But most of them have played together for years. They were on Element Mystic together, you know [Choi "Hanbin" Han-been], [Kim "Doha" Dong-Ha], and [Kim "SP9RK1E" Yeong-han] they've played so much together and that synergy makes them win even if they aren't playing the meta. They play their own stuff and still win with it but then you'll have teams like the Gladiators, obviously, they've had players who have played together, right? But they always pick up the best players, they have a huge budget, they tend to get really mechanical players and I'm not saying they don't do well in team play but it's clear that their team is going to do well regardless.
When you can't pick up the best players the only thing you can really go for is people that want to improve, people that want to be better, and people that want to actually work. The players on this team constantly talk to each other like 'Oh, I don't think this is great, I think we should change this.' They are confrontational in a healthy and good way."