It seems that people forget that there are three California-based teams in Overwatch League.
I get it, the Valiant and the Gladiators are pretty fly, but there is a team that has been climbing the ranks, doing Northern California proud–the San Francisco Shock. It certainly helps that the team has great chemistry, great leadership, and solid tank play, especially from main tank player Matthew “super” DeLisi.
Talking with Super, I realized quickly that he aims to dominate in Overwatch League and that he has the support of friends and family to help him achieve that goal. I spoke to him after their game against the Paris Eternal last month about why the Shock are so terrifying this year, what it means to be personally successful, and finally get an answer to that age-old question: scrapple or nah?
I know a lot of the attention is given to the Los Angeles teams since Blizzard Arena is located here, but I distinctly remember during the California Cup last October in Oakland when I told a friend, “The Shock are going to be SCARY next year.” And I think your performances so far have really shown that.
Yeah, I think what helped is that we had a long off-season in general. We were one of the first teams to start regularly scrimming because we started scrimming around…the end of September/beginning of October, which is a lot earlier compared to other teams. Our first two stages last year were pretty bad, but stages three and four were better for us; we got 11 wins. But we wanted to be better than that, so we just said, “Let’s just practice early.”
It wasn’t too bad at first, maybe a scrim a day? A few scrims a week, a scrim a day, and then we started ramping up. When we went to the first California Cup [in Santa Ana], I feel like we weren’t taking practice as seriously as we should have at the time because we knew that the second season was still so far away. But we lost the California Cup there, so obviously we didn’t like that. So to prepare for the one in Oakland, we played really hard, had a lot of practice, and I think that’s when things kind of kicked into gear for us.
I mean, home field advantage certainly didn’t hurt.
Yeah! So overall, I think we’re fairly happy with the way things are going so far. We still had a tough stage to play, having played against New York and Vancouver, which were both close matches as well. We could have even won those had we done a few things differently. But we’re feeling pretty good.
What I had noticed watching different teams is the importance of chemistry and how it has played a much bigger role this season than it did the last. And a lot of that is based on how much time you spend with people. So of course, there is a stereotypical narrative about gamers that dictates the desire to be antisocial.
Last year, we all used to live in apartments, so it was different. Now this year, we have team houses, so now we have people all together, all the time, so we’re kind of forced to talk to each other and become friends and make things easier. A lot of that translates in-game as well; because you can’t really play with somebody you don’t like. So if you get to know someone and you get to know how they feel, what their personality is and stuff like that, I think that directly translates into the game.
It’s just like any other job–do you want to work with someone if you don’t like them? No! If they piss you off or something like that, it’s not worth it. So it’s definitely a big thing.
Stage One proved to be rather an interesting time for all of the teams and for those watching. Which teams have surprised you the most so far this season, in both a good and bad way?
When we first scrimmed against the Hangzhou Spark, we thought they were pretty good compared to the other expansion teams this season. Personally, I think Shanghai–I know they’re not new, obviously–but Diem played a really great Widowmaker when we faced them in scrims a while back. And we’re still figuring out what can be run against that and what can’t. His Zarya was pretty good, just everything that he did was great. So I think Diem, given more time and with a meta shift, would definitely be a star.
As anyone who’s on Overwatch League Twitter knows, you and Danteh are good friends, you stream together and poke fun at each other a lot, but sadly you guys won’t be able to play until all the way in June–
Stage 3, yeah.
So despite that being so far away, are you looking forward to playing against him?
I mean, obviously since he’s a friend of the Shock, it’s the games when you go against people that you know that are the most important to you, I think. Especially last season, when I went against Outlaws, I used to be teammates with Jake. So we played against him twice…and we won. I think playing against people that you know adds extra motivation.
What do you personally expect for the Shock this season?
I think that people generally rated us pretty highly this season. But for us, we just want to play to win. We don’t care about pleasing anybody, we just want to win. So at the end of the day, we’re playing games and we’re winning games and that’s all we care about. And that’s all that matters.
Last year was the first time that I moved somewhere else by myself–well, not myself, my parents were here as well, so.
Where are you originally from?
Wait–How did I miss that? I’m from Philly, too!
Yes! Born and raised?
I was born right outside in Wynnewood, then lived in Fairmount, West Philadelphia, and then South Philadelphia.
Oh, cool! I’m from the Northeast.
Oh, wow! All my friends from back in high school lived there.
Near like the Fox Chase area?
Nice! So I think just the idea of living by yourself teaches you a lot more about responsibility and I want to expand more on that this season. And to just figure stuff out on my own, like getting insurance, getting my own house, you know? Just the basic–well, maybe not basic stuff, but stuff that everyone needs to know in life, right? I think it’s good to figure that stuff out while you’re doing something else that you love.
That’s actually the smartest and most mature answer I’ve ever heard. But now that I know you’re from Philly, I gotta ask what you miss the most about it?
Honestly? I don’t know how many cheesesteaks you’ve tried out here, but it’s kinda embarrassing.
YES. I tried a lot and have been consistently disappointed. They are so BAD.
It’s the bread, it’s too tough! I honestly miss the rain–it’s rained a lot here in California which is weird–but it rains a lot in Philly and I miss the snow. I haven’t seen snow in two years. And you expect in winter that the temperature is gonna drop, but here it’s like…40 degrees minimum.
Last one though, the most important Philly question: scrapple or nah?
My man. (high fives) You just gotta eat it with toast!
It’s so good, I don’t understand why people think it’s nasty!
Exactly! Thank you so much!
The San Francisco Shock begin Stage 2 by going against the Los Angeles Valiant on Friday, April 5th at 7:30 PDT. You can see them on twitch.tv/overwatchleague and on ESPN.