In part one we dig into the pre-Outlaws era of Harsha's career.
Having worn many differently coloured hats, Harsha Bandi has been around the Overwatch scene in various capacities, from journalist to reporter, from analyst to head coach, with none of the titles really ever defining his job responsibilities fully, pouring himself into roles as the moment requires and his personality sees fit. In this first part of our two-part interview with him, Harsha talks about his time in the Shock and experiencing Crusty’s magic, the failed move to the Washington Justice, his time in the Titans, his thoughts about the demise of the RunAway roster, and more.
We know that committing to an hour-long interview is hard, especially without knowing what’s inside. Therefore, we have summarised the most important points into this ‘too long; didn’t watch’ format. Given the nuance and delicacy of some of the points Harsha discussed, we recommend reviewing the parts you are interested in on our YouTube channel with timestamps to navigate you through the topics.
Harsha’s time pre-OWL and on the Shock
- According to Harsha, Brad "Sephy" Rajani is an incredible DPS scout, being the first to give Kevster a chance, buying him a PC without expectations
- Shock felt their stage 1 results were inadequate, hence why they brought in Jaewon "Junkbuck" Choi, whose style of coaching was very different from Brad’s
- Harsha shares that Dae-hee "Crusty" Park likes to mould players into archetypes, coaxing top performances especially out flex supports like Bdosin, Neko, viol2t etc.
- Harsha says Crusty has had a lot of great staff in his time, which might be an underrated aspect to his story
Harsha on the Washington Justice situation
Disclaimer: A summary may not do the full wording of this part justice, hence why listening to it in full is advised.
- Washington Justice’s offer was considerably more money than what he earned at the Shock, he also was looking to apply what he learned in a higher role than possible on the Shock
- The info that Harsha was aiming to sign with the Justice was leaked by Washington staff to the Shock staff which Harsha says forced his hand by Shock asking for a decision to be made
- Harsha says he responded to the ultimatum of which team to join more irrationally than he would now
- According to Harsha, he scouted for the Justice for four days, says that they didn’t want to give Corey "Corey" Nigra a tryout because they thought he wasn’t good enough, but Harsha convinced them to reconsider
- Harsha tracked Corey’s tryouts for a while, and he had an approximate win rate of 80% in trials
- Harsha asked multiple times to have the contract send over
Setting up the Titans
- Harsha got with the Vancouver Titans based on multiple recommendations
- He was asked to step into a dual coaching and general management role
- He Was initially sceptical, but bought in once he heard they were getting RunAway
- Harsha says he started with $1000 in his bank account, mentions that Shock was a very low paid team in season 1
- Harsha didn’t receive his first paycheck for four and a half months, which, paired with his financial situation, forced him to only have instant ramen, frozen pizza, eggs, and milk to make Los Angeles prices work for that time
- Harsha says he worked 112 hours a week in the beginning, having to set up the house by day and watch scrims by night
- The Titans had a mansion in the Hollywood hills, requiring three different WiFi-lines to connect everyone because the house was so big
Working with the RunAway Titans
- Titans had a 30-40% scrim winrate pre-season against Korean Contenders teams, but only lost a single scrim in stage 1
- The coaches gave the roster a lot of leash in stage 1 and 2 because they were so dominant, but later realised this lead to deteriorating play
- Titans had really big clashes in the team around running vanilla or Sombra GOATs, as their scrim win rate dropped to “only” 80% in scrims and they questioned their strategy
- According to Harsha, they regained confidence in stage 4, but misread the meta leading to Corey being able to dominate them and losing to the Justice
- Titans played Shock two times in the first week of playoffs scrims and “absolutely dumpstered them”, giving the team a lot of confidence to go all the way
- Titans had high expectations for the final and won consistently against the Bastion comps Shock were running, but nobody played it to Shock’s level. The Titans also tilted in the finals match
What happened to Bumper?
- Bumper’s motivation was waning, and the coaching staff wasn’t able to coax it out of him. His benching wasn’t performance-related
- Harsha says the choices for a second main tank came down to Jang-hyeon "TiZi" Hwang, Ji-Heon "ION" Lim, and Sung-woo "Mineral" Lee, with TiZi getting the edge because of familiarity with the team
- The most likely scenario, if Bumper had been able to play, would’ve been TiZi on Orisa and Bumper on Sigma, which he was incredible at according to Harsha, having much better stats in scrims than other Sigmas
- Harsha says that when looking at the root of the issue with Bumper, he feels in hindsight that they could’ve done more to notice signs of burnout or could've done more one on ones with him earlier
- As far as Harsha knows, Bumper still streams with the former Titans members from time to time
On the Titans falling apart
- Harsha says he knew the roster was going to fall apart and that it was “pretty obvious to [him] that the cracks were there”
- Harsha shares that he thinks the Vancouver Titans organisation wanted a team that they can build up as underdogs like they do nowadays
- From Harsha’s point of view, the Titans organisation wasn't "prepared to have a team that should contend for top 2 in every single meta who expect to be paid [...] and treated that way”
- Despite Titans giving him the best offer, Harsha decided to leave mostly because he thought the team was going to break up
- The metaphor of a family in regards to the Titans make sense to Harsha in the sense that they are like brothers, and brothers fight, don’t talk to each other for a long time, or are very close with each other
- Harsha didn’t expect Hyojong "Haksal" Kim’s retirement, though he thinks Haksal is having a lot of fun being a streamer
This concludes part one of the interview with Harsha. In part two of the interview which is soon to be released, he talks about why he chose the Outlaws, the autonomy on roster decisions that he had in season 3, what went wrong that season, what their goals are for season 4 and more.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment, Vancouver Titans, And San Francisco Shock