Reprize gives the London Spitfire roster high praise ahead of their 2021 debut.
To say Justin "reprize" Hand is well versed when it comes to coaching competitive Overwatch teams is an understatement. Having worked with the Florida Mayhem’s academy team, Mayhem Academy, as well as assisting the Los Angeles Valiant during their 2019 Overwatch League season, his experience is only topped by his versatility. On top of his resume as a coach, he is also the owner of the successful esports organisation, Revival. For years, reprize has been a man of many hats, however with the new year comes new beginnings. Now he has been appointed as the Head Coach for the 2021 London Spitfire as they prepare for the upcoming Overwatch League season.
Reprize spoke with GGRecon about the Spitfire’s recent performance at the Steel Series Invitational, how the DPS rotation could play out during the regular season, as well as giving his own personal take on just how good the new-look London Spitfire actually are.
Coming off an eye-opening performance at the Steel Series Invitational, how do you feel after taking the Los Angeles Gladiators so close? Does this performance track with how the practice has been in the pre-season?
We really wanted to beat them and knew we easily could, so to be honest we were gutted when we lost on map 5. Overall though we weren’t surprised at how well we did at all, given the strides we’ve made as a team and our overall scrim results. I won’t go into too much detail but our scrims have been going very well and we’ve been getting better and better each week with no signs of slowing down.
Diving into the match, it felt as though Johannes "Shax" Nielsen was getting the best of Kim "birdring" Ji-hyeok for the majority of Blizzard World. Then, on your defence leading into the third point, we saw Shax scout and destroy birdring’s Translocator. Was this something he was constantly doing that led to those earlier kills or was this just a read he made in the moment?
Just a read in the moment. But also any time you have a mismatch like Sombra Tracer vs Sombra Echo, your tracer is free to hunt TPs since she doesn’t need to worry about mirroring the enemy Tracer for map control or to help her backline.
We didn’t show off a ton of our flexibility in the tournament, but this is easily the most versatile team I’ve been a part of.
- Justin "reprize" Hand
From the four teams invited, a very diverse meta-picture was painted, however, flex tank seemed to really stand out as open. Could you go into the decision to run Mikkel "Molf1g" Djernes on D.Va over Zarya for the most part? Do you feel like there is a correct or best choice at the moment or is it more dependant on comfortability and style? Do you expect that to change with the experimental patch?
That’s something I think teams are discovering for themselves currently, and we definitely have our own theories for what is better given the comp you are playing against, but in general, I think D.Va is just a great default that gives you so much versatility. Zarya might be better at one thing, Sigma at another, but D.Va is pretty much rock solid in rush comps vs almost anything. She’s a bit of a jack of all trades.
With the experimental patch, I don’t think much will change at all for off tanks. Zarya is still good at enabling teammates and doing crazy damage in long fights and Dva will still be good at denying enemies and finishing kills. I could see Sigma making a return on some maps with his lowered shield [cooldown] but we’ll have to wait and see.
Looking at the DPS rotation, you’ve got quite a deep toolbag to work with. While William "SparkR" Andersson won’t be available until late into the June Joust, has he been seeing practice time with the team? When it comes to SparkR’s role in the DPS rotation, how do you see that playing out?
SparkR has been scrimming with us since the beginning, but lately has transitioned to mostly scrimming with Hurricane now that the season is coming up shortly. As for DPS rotations that is something you will have to wait and see, but expect SparkR to make a name for himself very quickly in the Overwatch League, that dude is absolutely cracked.
Expanding from that, what would you say is Dominic "Hybrid" Grove’s role in that lineup? What would you say is the best metagame or game state to see Hybrid step into the starting lineup?
The best meta for Hybrid’s debut would probably be anything regarding Ashe or Widow, but he has a surprising amount of flexibility so don’t expect him to be a one-trick pony by any means. Regarding hitscan though, this guy is absolutely insane and has already been proving it to established vets in scrims. He’s also one of the smartest players I’ve worked with and I can’t wait to see some clutch calls from him during the season
You’ve coached your fair share of teams and players over the years, how does the 2021 London Spitfire measure up alongside some of your past teams? What’s different about this team in your eyes?
This is definitely the best team I’ve ever coached. And I know you expect me to say that, but the thing that makes this team so special in my view is their intelligence. They prove me wrong about so many things on a daily basis that it truly is humbling and a reminder to constantly study the game. Top that off with crazy good coordination and raw skill and you’ve got yourself a team ready to prove those pre-season power rankings dead wrong.
When looking at their schedule, the Spitfire start with their bye-week. Would you say this is preferred or would you rather play one week, then have off-time to work on things and prepare? Does your answer change when it comes to the months that you’ll have to work within the hero pool format?
We would prefer to have the extra time to prepare for the next opponent, but we don’t really mind either way. At the end of the day we need to be ready to beat anyone at any time in any meta, and that’s the general attitude we take as a team. We didn’t show off a ton of our flexibility in the tournament, but this is easily the most versatile team I’ve been a part of. I can put them on literally any comp and they will know how it works and what the win conditions are before I say one word, and then on top of that, they will go out and execute it like they’ve been playing it for two weeks straight. It’s actually bizarre to witness.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment