Trick Room interview: "Just months ago, people would consider most of us T3 players"

Trick Room interview: "Just months ago, people would consider most of us T3 players"
Images via Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Joseph "Volamel" Franco

Published 

5th Apr 2023 18:00

Trick Room shocked the world. With their upset win over the San Francisco Shock, Trick Room has jumped the queue and has become one of the most notable Overwatch Contenders teams in North America.

GGRecon spoke with James "MagicM8Ball" Macpherson, Mason "Boat" Earle, Anupam "Pummy" Terkonda, and Boston "Infekted" Fine about their performance at the Pro-Am as well as what the future holds for the promising team.

After your win over Redbird Esports in the lower bracket finals of the Pro-Am qualifiers, you mentioned that perhaps the Las Vegas Eternal or New York Excelsior would be the easiest OWL teams to beat. Did anything change from then leading up to your eventual win over the San Francisco Shock? How would you say the team dynamic is after such a statement win?

Magicm8ball: Regarding the weakest in OWL I would still say it’s Vegas. They had some promising showings in the Pro-Am but they’re still a way behind the other teams. New York Excelsior on the other hand I think got too much flak from the fans this pre-season.

The only reason I expected them to be weaker was due to their very mixed roster that might lack synergy and play remotely from EU and KR. Their roster is good with a strong support line so I wouldn’t count them out for the regular season.

Regardless of our opinions on these teams from an Overwatch League standpoint, we knew we were still punching up and tried to give all our opponents an appropriate level of respect. 

Leading up to the Shock game we began to hear whispers of weakness in their team which invigorated our team. I think the big turning point was in the second round of Control because we realized how winnable the game was.

At this point, we had all realized how talented their roster was and could feel the pressure each one could apply on their own. However, it was clear that they also lacked a clear game plan and their play started to show cracks against our unorthodox strategies.

I remember on Hollywood our plan was simple: completely out-tempo our opponents. 

In hindsight that was the perfect way to exploit a team without a game plan but a large part was just catching them off-guard and winning the mental game. After some match-chat banter, Boat’s pulse, followed by their C9 and more match-chatting, we completely trusted each other and were all-in focused on the game alone. 

Looking back, every team fight win felt like a miracle. However, after Hollywood defence we knew we were in complete control of the flow of the game. After that, Colloseo felt like a confident win despite how incredibly close it was. I’m a big fan of Shock and their players (especially their tanks) and I think they’re incredibly talented, Park "Junbin" Jun-bin can be the best player on an individual hero in the league, calling it now, so I’m hoping to see how far they go this season. 

Unrealistic fan expectations and inevitably, disappointment, especially of rookies, is completely unfair so I’m wishing the best to the players of Shock and Maryville and many more. 

I think the win strengthened the team’s synergy and trust greatly. The support from the fans was incredible that night and I’m really grateful for that chance. However, not everything was positive.

We tried not to let the win get in our heads and promised to forget it and avoid mentioning it the next day. But we couldn’t completely escape it, especially with people, including future opponents, bringing it up.

I think the win made us weaker for future games and changed our mentality despite our best efforts, which made losing maps and rounds more frustrating. We also got stuck playing only the composition that gave us our original success.

I think in the back of our minds we thought we had climbed to our peak and refused to change out of fear of falling. Those games aside, the experience of the Pro-Am was unforgettable and we’re all incredibly grateful for the opportunity. There’s so much higher up we can go from here and we’re excited to show it in the next Contenders season.

In that same interview, you verbally grabbed Redbirds by the collar and told them that 'they were not the main characters.' Heading into the Spring Series, is Trick Room North America's T2 protagonists? 

Magicm8ball: The phrase 'You are not the main characters' was moreso a callout to Redbirds and a lot of other teams. A lot of teams will do well or have good players and think they shouldn’t practice or strive for better. 

I wasn't calling out Redbirds’ work ethic, but rather using the chance to let everyone know that no one is above the rest of us and no one is too good to lose, especially in a game like Overwatch.

After all, nothing demonstrates that statement better than the previous champions being taken down by a team of players who came together because no other team wanted them. 

While I think the best part about esports is there are no main characters, there are some incredible storylines to follow. If I were to suggest what the main plot of the better part of last year was, it would be the arms race of Tr33 versus Lethal.

That was the clear story to follow for fans but there are so many more little ‘side-arcs’ that go largely unnoticed. In our game versus Maryville in the Pro-Am qualifiers, there was so much history between our players that Liquipedia only tells half of. 

I hope this Pro-Am is the start of making Contenders about more than just the gameplay and I’m excited to see what sort of storylines are in store for this year.

You have such a unique hero pool, showcasing Sojourn, Hanzo, Cassidy and Bastion in the Pro-Am qualifiers. However, what is quickly becoming apparent is that your Sombra is a threat at the international level. What do you think separates your Sombra from your peers? Is there something you prioritise over the rest?

Pummy: Sombra is a unique hero in Overwatch because she doesn’t have a lot of overlap with other heroes. What I think separates my Sombra from everyone else is twofold.

Firstly, the number of hours I have on the hero. I picked Sombra up after joining a Wrecking Ball one-trick team called G-Force. We played ball everywhere and Sombra with it 75% of the time. After a year of playing on this team, the hours racked up were already way more than my peers.

Secondly, my leadership. A lot of hitscan DPS players are known to be quiet and lack leadership qualities. I like to communicate, a lot. 

We kind of coined the term 'Pummy podcast' when I play Sombra due to the amount I talk. I was the one to set tempo, find targets, and coordinate dives.

From Saint Louis to becoming a worldwide Sombra ace, you've not only made your mark but established yourself and your team on the world's stage. With such a strong start to the year, what comes next for Trick Room for the remainder of the year? What are the next goal for 2023?

Pummy: Overwatch is a game that requires consistency, however, I don’t feel like the tournament cycles that we exist in do. It’s about heating up at the right time, getting a good read on the meta, and defining your play style in the sea of everyone else. 

The goal for the rest of the year is the same as the one going into my first Contenders cycle six months ago: to show the best versions of ourselves. Primarily, we want to demonstrate that the win over Shock and our second-place finish in the qualifiers were not flukes.

You've been a part of quite a few different teams in the North American Contenders space, how is this team different from some of your other experiences? The narrative from the outside is that this is a "team of friends", would you say that is fair?

Boat: In all honesty, I wouldn’t say our team fits under most people's definitions of a 'friend team.' 

That’s not to say we haven’t built and formed friendships as a result of our time together. I’ve been on plenty of other teams that would be considered a team of friends, and the biggest difference between these teams and our current roster is the actual improvement in terms of gameplay. 

Most people will be unwilling to hurt their friends' feelings and may be afraid to bring up certain things they think their teammates can improve on. Here we are very open in our communication, if we are unhappy with something we make sure our voice is heard and we work to improve it.

Magic said it in his interview after beating ISU I believe that we were the hardest working team, and I couldn’t agree more. 

Just months ago, people would consider most of us 'T3 players' and there were plenty of teams that weren't interested in giving us tryouts. Months later and those same teams who wouldn’t give us a chance are losing to us.

I think that is the biggest thing that separates Trick Room and other teams I have been on, everyone's dedication to winning and the lengths they will go to in order to accomplish that goal.

I've got to ask; has there been anything about practising chess that you've taken to Overwatch? Maybe something like problem-solving in the late game helping your vision mid-fight? Any transference there? 

Infekted: Yea I think chess has actually helped a bit, specifically with trading resources, for example in chess there’s always a good time to trade pieces and a bad time to trade pieces, sometimes you just want the pieces to keep that tension, in Overwatch sometimes you want to use cooldowns to get cooldowns out of them for bigger plays, like slamming their team to get out Suzu so Boat can land a pulse, but also sometimes you just wanna chill and let the game play out naturally.

Coming into the Pro-Am, I think a lot of people expected to see much more Wrecking Ball in the metagame at large. However, more and more teams are opting for Ramattra, Winston and, like yourselves, quite a bit of Reinhardt. Do you think there is still room for Wrecking Ball to see play time or is it map/player dependent? 

Infekted: I think it is definitely more map/player dependent and I honestly wished we picked up the Ramattra and Winston compositions sooner because we didn’t realise how good those were before it was too late and we were just sticking to what we played to get into Pro-Am and what we beat the Shock with.

Joseph "Volamel" Franco
About the author
Joseph "Volamel" Franco
Joseph “Volamel” Franco is a Freelance Journalist at GGRecon. Starting with the Major League Gaming events 2006, he started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee, before transitioning from viewer to journalist. Volamel has covered Overwatch for four years and has ventured into VALORANT as the game continues to grow. His work can also be found on sites like Esports Heaven, HTC Esports, and VP Esports.
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