Overwatch League’s Andy Miller on building a winning Shock team and plans for Year 3

A famous quote states that victory is claimed by all, failure to one alone, something that many eSport teams may have felt over the years.

But having seen his team transform from raw newcomers to Overwatch League champs, it’s fair to say that the co-founder of the San Franciso Shock can share in their well-earned triumph.

And speaking before the big win against The Vancouver Titans, it was plain to see what an important role an owner can play.

And not just when it comes to opening up the purse-strings and spending on talent.

Speaking to The Express Online, Andy Miller discussed putting together the San Franciso Shock team that smashed their way to victory in 2019, starting with how you become an owner of an OWL franchise.

“I’m a co-owner of an NBA team, but I started with a Minor League Baseball team,” Miller explained. “One of my co-owners is a guy named Mark Mastrov, we own the Sacramento Kings, and he owns a famous fitness chain.”

According to Miller, the link to Overwatch League began with the two owner’s kids playing video games together.

“We started seeing it and watching them play – about four years ago – and we started getting really interested in what we were seeing.”

They saw the Overwatch League and how they planned to franchise it as a great opportunity to get more involved in eSports, having already founded NRG Esports.

Skipping ahead to the year in which Shock became the favourites to win the Overwatch League Finals, and there was plenty of work along the way to achieve those goals.

“We knew we had no chance of winning last year, we were left mixing and matching for the first half of the season,” Miller adds.

“We were left praying that Super and Sinatraa would be as good as advertised and then quickly realised they couldn’t carry a team, even if they were gods, which they are.

“We kept building infrastructure around them, and we were very fortunate to get the coaching staff we have around them, Crusty was incredible.”

But the nature of how the meta changes in Overwatch also has a massive effect on how teams are planned.

This includes putting together a group who can communicate well but also who can play multiple roles.

A deep bench is a key factor, according to Miller, who revealed: “We made sure that our philosophy was that everyone we picked up could do multiple things.

“We also went deep, we bought Striker for a lot of money, and he didn’t play the entire year until this stage.

“Look at Super, he is a superstar, but he isn’t playing much this stage because the meta doesn’t fit so well right now.

“Fortunately, we have a deep bench, we have a Rascal, we have an Architect, a Striker, and we have a Smurf.

“Literally the MVP of this team could be Smurf or Striker, two players who didn’t play much of the first half of the year.

“You have to have that flexibility and the coaching to teach people how to communicate and play as a team, to be a championship team in Overwatch League.”

Another factor that has proven part of the winning formula, according to Miller, is knowing your team.

Miller says he sees his team as more of a family and due to the age of the players, it’s important to spend time with the families of those who are part of it.

“This is a young sport; we weren’t going to sign Super unless I spent a bunch of time with his dad and he trusted us.

“I have the disadvantage of being an old bald dude in this game where many teams were started by players who are much cooler than I am.

“But I have the advantage of having run some businesses and having had some experience; I get along great with the parents.

“They trust us, and they know we are not going to put their kids in a bad situation either physically or emotionally.

“We’re going to look out for them, and their needs come first, that’s for sure, and that helps a lot.

“I think the players really like playing for us and NRG has always been an org where if something doesn’t work, we’re not going to hold anybody, not some 17-year-old, to some contract where they can’t get out of bed in the morning.”

When it comes to the future, it seems the Shock have all the key players tied down for another year.

Moving forward, it will be hard to keep everybody on board, but if the Shock can hold onto their essential core, more honours beckon in 2020.

“I think we have a chance with this team to keep a core together for quite a while. As you have seen with Sinatraa, someone who has played three heroes at an insanely high level, we don’t have anyone on the team that’s just a one trick-hero guy.

“I don’t think it’s possible to keep a team together for a long time in Overwatch, unfortunately, but I think we can keep a core group.”

The Overwatch League Season Two Grand Finals ended with a 4-0 map victory for San Franciso Shock against the Vancouver Titans.

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