With gamescom on the horizon, REUNITED have their sights set on the biggest Overwatch prize to date.
The player-owned organization has a strong shot at taking the $100,000 ESL Atlantic Showdown prize, although Europe's Top 4 teams boast similar skill level — in North America, Team EnVyUs has so far dominated their competition.
For Harrison "Kruise" Pond, who has played Lucio for REUNITED since he joined the roster in March, gamescom represents the ability to separate himself from the pack. Regardless of dominating North America, Team EnVyUs will now have to face their former region and prove that they can dominate them in the same way as NA.
Kruise took a moment to speak with theScore esports about his teammates, being a Lucio main, and whether Team EnVyUs' reputation is warranted.
How did you end up meeting and then joining up with REUNITED?
I was in a public game one day with [Hendrik-William "Vallutaja" Kinks] and I don't remember what happened, but it was something funny I think, so I added him.
I was playing for a team at that time as well, it wasn't a good team. We folded and I messaged him because I knew they were looking for a support, and asked if I could trial.
And I trialled, and the rest is history.
It's weird that you mention that, because it sounds like a lot of early roster moves happened because the players met in a pub. I keep hearing this over and over again from players.
It's pretty easy to spot a good player, you know? You know within like five minutes of playing with them.
But how easy is it to spot a good Lucio?
That's a little bit harder [laughs] ...
Thomas "Morte" Kerbusch: We just needed someone who could speed-boost.
Kruise: Ignore him, he's an idiot.
Morte: But seriously, I mean, it was not like we met randomly. We actually tested a lot of supports in a short amount of time, and Kruise was by far the best.
How has the addition of kyb improved the team? Has he expanded your capabilities at all, or is he just a strong replacement?
It's a bit of both, for sure. Kyb's super flexible. Whatever hero we put him on, he always does well. It's actually kind of ridiculous. He just picks a hero and you see him on the kill feed ... and he plays Genji very well, and Genji is super-heavy in the meta right now.
He's good at what he does, and can play everything.
How do you guys deal with shotcalling? It feels like a lot of teams handle this differently.
I play Lucio, and he kind of controls the pace of the game because of speed boost. So I do the engages: I call when to go, and fights in general. But everyone has a part to play in shotcalling. But as I say, I do most of it.
How much practice do you typically put in, and what have you been doing this week in the lead-up to gamescom?
On average we do eight hours a day, every day. That's normal for us.
For gamescom, we're bootcamping right now. We're playing, watching VoDs, etc.
I've heard plenty of griping about being a Lucio main, but what do you think of Lucio right now, as well as his current place in the meta?
I don't think it's boring. I enjoy playing him. But maybe I play him differently than some people.
You see a lot of players that don't play Lucio aggressively. When I play Lucio, I'm super aggressive, I'm in the face of offense heroes, and a lot of the time I can duel them and win. If you get headshots, you're going to kill them. People seem to think that Lucio does no damage, but if you get headshots, you're going to kill people.
As for his place within the meta, I've [seen some people] saying that he needs a nerf, because he's picked 100 percent of the time.
But it's because he's the only character in the game who can give speed. But if other characters come out who can give speed or something, some sort of movement, or a hero comes out with more slows, you'll see a lot less Lucio.
Is nerfing the speed boost the only way you'd see Lucio falling out of the meta right now?
Yes, but nerfing that is nerfing Lucio. If you nerf his speed, he's useless. He'll never be picked, he'll go from 100 to zero, I think.
Everyone's calling for the nerf, but it's hard, you know? Because no one really complains about playing against Lucio — people complain about playing against other supports. Playing with Lucio is fun, he adds so much depth to the game. So much more is possible when playing with Lucio, like combining speed boost with Reaper's ultimate. That's not possible without speed.
There's so many endless possibilities, and it makes the game so much more interesting. Nerfing it would be a bad thing. I think if they want to reduce the amount of time Lucio is played from 100, they need to buff the other support heroes, or produce heroes that have some kind of counter to speed like a slow, or another character that can add speed, you know?
It's not so much about nerfing always, I think.
Do you think the speed boost and the prevalence of flanker heroes like Tracer and Genji are related?
Kind of, yes, because it allows the other heroes to keep up with Genji and Tracer, you know? So they can be in the backline with them. I could see that, being one of the reasons that's making it worse.
I talked to a lot of teams that tried to figure out a way to make Ana work, and obviously that hasn't really happened. Did you guys try to play her? What do you think she needs to be viable right now?
We definitely tried her. I was, for sure, pushing for us to try her more than I really should have. It was pretty obvious that it's just not going to work.
I mean, it's not working because the other supports — Lucio and Zenyatta — are just too strong compared to her. I don't think you can buff her too much, because you could buff her to the point where she'd be ridiculous.
I've heard teams say that she could potentially become a third support, if she became too strong.
If you buff her that much, I think Ana would just become a DPS hero.
So it's more that there are just two really great support heroes in the game right now.
Yes, for sure.
The moment that you guys knew you were going to gamescom: what were comms like, what were you guys feeling?
Everyone was ecstatic and excited, everyone was just shouting. The whole atmosphere was just really good to be honest. There's actually a Twitter clip of one our games, it was on Ilios. There was a great comeback and everyone was just shouting. It was really good.
Heading into gamescom, everyone has their opinion about which team is the dominant team in either region. What do you see in the competition as you head into gamescom? Which teams do you see as legitimate threats?
Going into it, we're not going to underestimate anyone. We're going to go in, just play our best, and treat them like any team. Just treat them all the same, kind of.
I mean, you play differently against each team. But viewing every team as a threat is always good.
It's hard. All the EU teams are so close. We don't have so much knowledge of NA, because we haven't played them that much. We know that EnVyUs are on a good streak, but that's about all.
I was actually watching your stream and you made a comment about how Team EnVyUs hasn't played any EU teams in a long time, and about how the last thing they did before heading to NA was losing 3-1 to REUNITED. Do you feel that confident against EnVyUS?
Confidence is key, I think. We're confident against anyone. Everything should be confident. Going into a game where you're not confident is like an uphill struggle, an uphill battle.
Touching on what I said on my stream, I don't want to take anything away from EnVyUs, but it is kind of annoying when everyone's like, "they're the best team in the world." But they're only playing US teams. They're the best in US for sure. But you can't really say they're the best in the world.
But gamescom will prove everything.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is 100 percent German power. You can find him on Twitter.