Numlocked talked to us about his career
I didn’t want to get back into OWL to prove to anyone else that I could do it, it was to prove to myself that I could do it.
A player who’s been playing at the top competitive level since Overwatch’s beta, Seb “numlocked” Barton finds himself once again returning to the Overwatch League as the Toronto Defiant’s newest main tank. Once finding himself departing from the LA Valiant after the 2018 season, numlocked spent the last two years grinding out the competitive experience in Contenders, eventually becoming a NA Contenders champion in 2019 with Team Envy. But every player’s goal is to play in the Overwatch League, and while he found some success in the tier 2 scene, numlocked would not be satisfied until he would be able to return to that top level of competition.
Firstly, congrats on making it back into the Overwatch League. Now, when I first spoke to the Toronto GM at the start of the season, they were pretty confident in their tank-line. What qualities did they see in you that they want on the team?
I guess helping with in-game leadership, they were potentially lacking some decisiveness previously. Especially that’s what’s been mentioned by other players and what I’ve seen myself. I think some more veterancy and experience helps. I've been around quite a while and I've been through a lot of ups and downs, so I know how to navigate those sorts of things better than a lot of other players.
What does it feel like for you and this team in relation to the players? The big thing about Toronto was that, regardless, the players would be friends with each other. How do you find yourself sliding into that?
Really well honestly! I’ve known a lot of the players before joining. Obviously, Agilities and Kariv were in Valiant season 1. Kruise I’ve known since the 2016 World Cup. In general, I know a lot of the guys any, so I feel good about just sliding in.
In terms of team dynamics, this past weekend you faced off against the Vancouver Titans and you didn’t drop a map. What clicked this weekend?
The level-headedness that we have from map to map or round to round or fight to fight. It seems that we have a direction, something happens, and we have a purpose for the next reaction to the enemy. We’re on a similar wavelength to what’s going on. I think that really helps us… But I’m in England so right now I play on 130-ish ping.
You’ve been on a lot of teams so far, so has the coaching on Toronto been what you’ve come to expect from teams or is it something entirely new and you’re learning day by day?
Learning day by day basically. I really like the process where we have a moment, each day it’s building a little bit towards our end goal on how we should play a comp or map. And each day we build more towards that and perfect it. I love that and it feels like it’s working.
What was the process of joining the Defiant? In the past, I know you’ve said you’ve participated in tryouts for other teams but nothing came from it. What’s the story here?
So, originally, I was contacted about coaching. And I spent a week helping them with that, focusing on tank coaching mostly. I got told halfway through the week that they’re interested in having me on as a player, be brought on as a coach but sometimes be played as well. At the end of the tryout process they offered me the player contract instead of the coaching one.
I was a little hesitant at first because it’s been so long since I’ve been competing, the last time was with Montreal [Rebellion] before COVID and I’ve kind of accepted the fact that this was the end of it. I've already grinded a long time and played in Contenders and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it till the end of the year in hopes of getting signed into OWL. So, it took me a long time from mentally being okay with not being a professional player because it’s all I’ve known since I was 16 and I’m 27 now.
So, it was a big ordeal out of game just having to tell myself it’s time to move on. And then as soon as I finally accepted that, I was looking for work outside of being a professional player, I get the offer. But I'm really happy about it. A player of my age, in general, is a big thing getting into OWL.
Well, after spending so much time in tier 2, what are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from your time in Contenders?
I’ll go even further back than that. The earliest lesson I’ve had to teach myself, as far back as NRG, it didn’t matter what Reddit thought of you. Obviously, back in NRG we had a lot of high-profile players and we didn’t necessarily achieve anything. So, there was a lot of shit talking all the time coming from Reddit and the fans. Obviously, unhappy with the performance of the team understandably, and they’re always looking for a single person to target and put the blame on. And that’s the case with social media still, and I think a lot of pros like to tell themselves that it doesn’t affect them, but I think deep down it does, and they need to learn how to able to take in strides or to not check social media at all around the times that they’re playing. That’s what I do now. The day of my games I don’t check social media at all. I just like to focus and get myself into a healthy state of mind, like a clean slate kind of.
This weekend you’re going up against the Atlanta Reign. While they haven’t had much success against the top teams, they’re consistent in taking on teams lower in the standings. Anything you can share on what you’re prepping for this weekend?
Nothing I can share but I’m excited to play against them. I’ve played against them outside of OWL before, I know it’ll be a good game.
Any pre-game trash talk?
No, no, no I’m not much of a trash talker!
Understandable! I’m assuming your comments remain the same for your next match against the Dallas Fuel. Now, after that it’s the Summer Showdown tournament, that’s when things get unpredictable.
That’s at least when I’m most excited to be playing because I’ll finally be off of playing Orisa.
Is this a consensus between the higher-level tanks? It seems that no one likes playing this hero, that you all want reparations for having to play Orisa.
I think so! I don’t think there are many tanks that enjoy playing her. She just slows the game down too much, doesn’t require too much thinking, too much mechanical skill. It’s very easy to slot in and play her, as opposed to tanks like Rein or Ball, you can do a lot more with those heroes.
Well, now that you’re in OWL you have that more direct communication to the developers. What feedback would you give to them, what’s holding her back from being engaging? Besides removing of her of course because they’re not going to do that.
That would be my first suggestion for Orisa. I think that it would have to be a whole kit rework in general. Her kit, it’s not her own, it belongs more to the team than her. With Winston, with Ball, with Reinhardt, there’s stuff you can do with their kits that is independent to you and you can decide how you use it. You can influence a fight as it’s happening. With Orisa, Pull is not really for yourself, it’s more for combos like Dragon, Flux, Pulse Bomb. Halt stops threats to your team like a charging Rein or a Doomfist punch. I think that’s an issue that she has, not the issue but an issue.
Finally, before I let you go, what is your goal for the Summer Showdown. Any team you really want to face and prove your worth against?
I think placing well in the playoffs would be nice, I think that’d be a real statement. In regard to who I want to play the most, I don’t think I’m in a position that I have to or need to make a statement to any team or player in particular. I’m playing for myself. That’s the mentality I’ve always had, I didn’t want to get back into OWL to prove to anyone else that I could do it, it was to prove to myself that I could do it. That’s what this journey is about.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment