The main support for the Houston Outlaws, Christopher “Bani” Benell, joined me for a short interview. We talked right after their win against Dallas Fuel on day 2 of week 2 of Overwatch League. Bani, like most Outlaws players, previously played for FNRGFE and was a Flex-Support player in the past.
Barroi: To start this off, you just came out on top in the big rivalry matchup of Houston versus Dallas, was this big for you as well?
Bani: Yeah it was huge, this is our redemption. I feel like this is what we needed to be confident for the rest of the season and we are gonna ride that.
You said it there, your redemption. You played against EnVy as FNRGFE in the Contenders semifinals, and you lost 0-3, what do you think changed?
Bani: An absolutely huge amount of stuff. Now we have a staff, we have an org, we have people looking out for us, coaching us, all those kind of things. I think one of the bigger things is the way we changed our practice. After our loss against NYXL we changed the way we practice and it is unbelievable how much has changed in less than a week. We are like a whole new team.
What also changed from the past is, you played Flex-Support (Ana, Zen, Sombra) and now transitioned to main-support (Lucio + Mercy). Was that change hard for you to pull off?
Bani: I switched so long ago, I switched when I was still playing on tier 3, tier 4 teams. And obviously it’s not like life and death when I’m suddenly playing Flex-Support, but honestly I don’t think it was that tough at all. I have always been a player who just plays everything. Even now I still play DPS in ranked, I just play whatever. Just because I think it is good to know what is ideal, how to play ideally on every hero and how to counter it. Like if you’re playing against a support you know what they are going to do.
How does all the shot-calling work in your team, are you the main shot-caller?
Bani: I’m not really the shot-caller, I’m more of the “macro-tracker”. I kinda keep everyone on the same page about what ults the enemies have and what we should try to avoid and that kind of stuff. And once we have this information our tanks and DPS will call a play and what they are looking for.
Are you working with the coaches to develop strategies as well?
Bani: Yeah for sure. That’s one of the biggest things we have been doing in the past five days. We probably spent more time looking at VoDs than we have spent playing and it’s huge. We developed so many strategies, that have helped us in our past two matches.
For today, did you implement any specific strategy, maybe a certain player that you wanted to focus and shut down?
Bani: That in particular we didn’t do as much as we used to do. We realized that we have to focus more on ourselves than on what our opponents are doing. Obviously we know what they are going to play and how we should play around it, but we are not trying to build a strat around countering Effect for example. We still respect him as a player and we know what he is capable of. But first and foremost we are trying to execute what we planned, because we think that what we have is stronger than what anyone else has.
When you design a strategy, are you trying to focus on team-compositions or are attack routes more important?
Bani: The first step is to get a team-composition; what we think is the best on a specific map. Next is figure out who goes where, what our default positions are. How we can change those positions depending on what they are doing and so on.
You tweeted yesterday, you had the first “pacifist OWL map win“. How did this all come to be?
Bani: (laughs) Yeah, I mean I just started looking at the Winston’s Lab stats, because it’s always fun to look at stats after you win. And I just go through the maps and I see: zero kills, zero deaths, zero kill-difference. There should be some kind of reward, the “pacifist reward”. (laughs) Coming from DotA, there was a thing called the “Maelk award“, he was the first one to go 0 (kills) and 20 (deaths) and still won. I think it’s cool to have a little thing like that, where someone earns the Maelk award in the future. It’s really funny.
Just to close it off, how does it feel in Overwatch League, like being interviewed right now, is that something you enjoy?
Bani: Yeah, it’s really cool. I have always been kind of an opinionated person, I like talking and stuff like that. So it’s cool to have this spotlight and it’s really cool to live this life. I have never experienced anything like it, it’s amazing.
Featured Image: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment