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Sephy On Scouting Dafran and Sinatraa, Coaching Shock, S2 Atlanta Reign and More

Sephy On Scouting Dafran and Sinatraa, Coaching Shock, S2 Atlanta Reign and More

Written by 

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch

Posted 

4th Mar 2021 18:00

Brad “Sephy” Rajani has been around esports and specifically Overwatch for a while. Starting his career as a semi-professional in various games in the 90s and the 2000s, he switched to coaching and created the organisation Selfless, a name the seasoned Overwatch fan might recognise as one of the most iconic teams of early Overwatch esports. Catching players at the spawn door of their career, Brad has built several cradles for some of North America’s finest talents, especially for the DPS role, scouting names like Dafran, Sinatraa, Kevster, and more. While also managing to persuade elite players in the role to join his teams every season. 

In this first part of the interview with GGRecon, the DPS whisperer talked to us about how he found his way into esports, creating Selfless and building out the roster, what toxicity means to him, his coaching philosophy, the importance of ranked play and the grind, his time on the Shock, getting with the Reign and their first season, and the experiences he had with coaching Dafran.

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 requirement for context of some of the points Brad shared, we recommend reviewing the parts you are interested in on our YouTube channel with timestamps to navigate you through the topics and the sidebar to guide you through the general topic range.

About Brad's entrance into esports

- Brad says he has played video games competitively his entire life, participating in a Red Alert tournament at the age of 14, moving onto FPS titles like Quake and Counter-Strike later. He says he has played semi-professionally in about 15 different games in the 90s and 2000s 

- Says he feels at 38 he’s a hard stuck diamond player, most seasons only playing 20-30 games, though, with the length of this off-season, he has put in 200 games this year

Selfless Era

- Brad built the initial Selfless out of players he had played with in other FPS titles with known names from CS like Jeff "emongg" Anderson and Michael "Michael3D" Wilbanks

- Brad says that he feels Overwatch is a game that rewards grinding a lot

- Jay "Sinatraa" Won was scouted because he did very well on ladder and played a lot, which ran contrary to the belief at the time that it was a bad measurement for recruitment

- Sinatraa instantly started taking over scrims, popping off and shotcalling

That’s half of my job, convincing talented players to join the team

- Brad says that Sinatraa's parents were awesome about supporting his career, allowing him to move across the country to Atlanta even as a minor

- He got to know of Daniel "dafran" Francesca when the Dane stream-sniped other Overwatch streamers and did so incredibly skillfully, lighting up the kill-feed constantly. His only claim to fame had been playing for Denmark and not making it past the OWWC qualifier at that time

- He says Dafran loves to see the reaction of streamers when he destroys them live

- Brad recalls that in a tryout against Cloud9, Dafran immediately started shit-talking Surefour saying “This is so easy” in the general chat, falling in love with him instantly

- Brad says that Dafran was so good, they had to make sure he wasn’t cheating but realised the suspicious things they saw was ping-related

- Carpe played on Selfless for a couple of weeks to fill in after Dafran quit and was the only one they could find to fill his shoes. The team didn’t perform well with him because they didn’t have the people for a dive team, and the Selfless comp died

- Brad thinks Selfless would’ve gotten exposed in Korea by strong D.Va players at the time

- Brad confirms that he did help Kevster and bought him a PC and overall invested $3000-4000 into him. Kevster looked really smart on ladder but wasn’t heavily fragging yet, which is why he contacted him

- Brad says Kevin "kevster" Persson’s success is all through his own effort, and he’s one of the heaviest grinders in the Overwatch League, which shows in his gameplay

Brad in his Selfless Jersey, ca. 2017
Click to enlarge

What is toxicity?

- Brad says that he doesn’t stand for players making others feel less than

- Brad agrees that what Dafran did on the ladder with his throwing and wasted a lot of people’s time, but says he was generally cooperative and didn’t put teammates down

- Brad thinks that a lot of the toxic labels applied to his players over the years were usually attached because of their banter

Team and coaching philosophy

- According to Brad, the best team environment is when people are willing to speak their mind and push each other constructively, with everyone working hard towards the goal

- The Reign have made a concerted effort and a high priority to scout highly driven players who are into the grind and are “all-in” on the season

- Brad explains that he thinks when people are all-in, productive communications flows more naturally

Coaches need to motivate players, but players also need to motivate other players, and all of this is easier to do when everyone is working hard

- Brad says there is no real common factor between all of his DPS players as they are all very different people

- Brad shares that he really values ranked stats because they provide a quantity of data that reaches statistical relevance. He also says that private profiles hurt players from being scouted by him

- Brad thinks building a great team requires to balance the number of aggressive-minded players with defensive ones as an imbalance causes issues

- Dimitri "Silence" Couturet is the smartest guy Brad has ever known. Brad says a caveat is that he has a weakness towards designing for practical play instead of optimal

- Dillain "LegitRc" Odeneal is very good at getting players to talk about their problems and feelings, acting as a sounding board for the team, which is highly valuable in Brad’s opinion

- Brad thinks players are attracted by having great teammates

“The whole mindset of us against the world is very strong for team morale.”

- In Brad’s mind, the hallmark of a great player in Overwatch is to have consistently exceptional ultimate usage

San Francisco Shock

- Yiska shares that he heard from Overwatch League pros that Super was one of the best Pharahs in the League in season 1

- Brad was very aware of Matthew "super" DeLisi’s flexibility, thinking of even playing him on off-tank and an off-chance for DPS

- Minho "Architect" Park  and Hyo-bin "ChoiHyoBin" Choi were decided on by Harsha and Brad

- ChoiHyoBin was a package deal tagged onto Architect, which came at the recommendation of x6

- Jaewon "Junkbuck" Choi  recommended Moth because of their shared time on Toronto Esports

- Brad thinks Grant "moth" Espe was a great addition to the aggressive hard-carry that Viol2t is, being the ultimate support player and defensive-minded

- Brad felt less bad about being fired after he was told that Dae-hee "Crusty" Park, the winningest coach with a 16-game streak on Boston Uprising, was his replacement

Click to enlarge

Last Night’s Leftovers 

- Brad says that LNL helped him to keep going as a coach

- Kamden "Sugarfree" Hijada has been a dominant force since he was 14 and has some of the best stats out of all the players in line with Dong-hyun "Proper" Kim and Hak-yong "Stalk3r" Jeong, according to Brad

- Brad says Sugarfree is trying to get rank 1 in Overwatch and VALORANT at the same time, and he has already been top 20 in both

- Sugarfree wants to be a pro player but is limited by his age

Atlanta Reign in Season 2

- Brad says Silence, LegitRC, and himself did put together a 15-page dossier for the Atlanta owners, including scouting reports allowing them to start acting very early. He says he could sell the trajectory the Shock had under him, the success of LNL as a non-academy team having unprecedented success, and having a comprehensive plan

- Brad says they had a good idea that GOATs had lasting power after losing to the original team in a tournament with LNL. He says that the Reign was definitely built with GOATs in mind as he was a huge believer in the comp

- Brad wanted to sign Minki "Viol2t" Park for the Reign a while before the flex support joined the Overwatch League, but Crusty seemed to have secured him very early, months before he was officially signed

- Hyun-jun "Pokpo" Park , Dong-hyeong "DACO" Seo, and Joon "Erster" Jeongwere the first three signings for the Reign, which they put up a “tremendous amount of money for” with salaries, buyouts, and signing bonuses

- Brad says he only had to reel in Dusttin "Dogman" Bowerman for talking trash about his own team but was otherwise welcomed

- Brad says Erster is emotionally rock-solid and was never toxic towards anyone

- According to Brad, Erster’s biggest strength is knowing how to stay alive to an incredible degree, getting out of situations others would frequently die in. This made him an exceptional low-resource flanker

Coaching Dafran

- Brad shares that Dafran likely had what it takes to go pro in CS:GO and was already a semi-pro in FaceIt Pro League but struggled from commitment issues

This was the power of Dafran. He could literally, in the middle of a match, rope his teammates into doing some crazy idea. He had that kind of quality, that kind of effect on people. [...] He went to bed with a dream that he could do it. He woke up and found a way to do it. - Brad on the Dafran boost

- Brad says that when Dafran was motivated, nobody worked harder than him. When he couldn’t give that anymore, he quit, which everyone appreciated about him

- Dafran and Erster were great with ults, while Babybay had a history of wasting them, an issue he worked and improved on
 

This concludes the first part of our interview with Brad. In the second part, we get to talk about the third Overwatch League season and its challenges and in there the from motivational issues some players faced to the team’s scrim performances, the reasons why the team decided to drop the academy programme, how the Reign was allowed to sign Saucy despite his age, the heavy downsizing of the team, as well as the new signings of Kai and Pelican, the reputation the Reign has with players, the quality of the remaining staff and how good the Reign will be in season 4.

Images via Blizzard Entertainment & Selfless Gaming

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