Team Ballistix and the eSports Juggernaut
During BlizzCon 2016, Team Ballistix surprised the world when they won the Heroes of the Storm Championship. We caught up with Patrick Soulliere, Global eSports and Gaming Marketing Manager for Ballistix Gaming to talk about the team, esports, and the future.
MMORPG: Tell us about Team Ballistix. How did you find one another? What’s the team’s history?
Patrick Soulliere: I’ve been in the eSports industry for almost 8 years now and I have been personally involved with the Korean eSports community for over 6 years now. During that time, I’ve built a number of great relationships with some of the most influential people in the Korean eSports industry. Additionally, I also have a lot of personal experience with the Heroes of the Storm scene since the Alpha in 2014.
With all that in mind, I looked for an opportunity to sponsor a team at Blizzcon if the right fit was available. At the time, the team was very new to the gaming scene and were playing under the name L5. After taking a close look at the team’s roster, it became apparent they had some amazing talent on their team. With my previous Heroes team, I’d made multiple offers to Jeongha, as well as sCsC and Noblesse who were on a team called “TNL”, so I was very familiar with their skills and gaming expertise. I knew this team had the potential to be world champions.
MMORPG: Are members selected for specific roles or is each person a “Jack of All Trades”?
Patrick Soulliere: In Heroes of the Storm there are some set roles. Swoy is always the support, sCsC plays the ranged assassin role, and Noblesse is always the warrior. However, with Heroes of the Storm the other 2 players are labeled as “flex” players. For example, Jeongha plays both melee assassins and the warrior role for multi-warrior comps, while NacHojin plays multiple roles on the team as well.
MMORPG: How do you select your team composition when entering a match? Do you have comps that you generally use?
Patrick Soulliere: Although I don’t coach the L5 team or help them with drafting decisions, as a former coach I can speak to this a bit. You tend to enter most drafts with some idea of what you want in terms of players to round out your team. It might be as simple as “we want to draft Sgt. Hammer”, or “we should run a double warrior comp”, but from there you have to make adjustments on the fly. So it’s more advantageous to save “surprise” or “unorthodox” draft picks for the last phase of the draft. The key is making the early picks seem as normal as possible.
You have to be very flexible to draft properly in Heroes at a high level. Sometimes you may make a plan (like drafting Sgt. Hammer) and mid-way through the draft realize that the plan will no longer work. You can’t undo picks so you have to now edit that comp on the fly to beat what the enemy is bringing.
MMORPG: How do you compensate for the other team if it is a difficult one for your chosen group?
Patrick Soulliere: Based on my previous experience working with eSports players, I do have some insight into what it takes to become a World Champion. Without a doubt, the X factor is confidence. Being nervous is completely normal, but the moment players or teams worry about losing, they will often lose.
In general, Korean players have a great mindset for eSports. I’ve seen Korean players or teams get crushed in a game, then moments later be laughing or focused on something else. They don’t let setbacks affect their mindset as easily as Western pros do. It’s not uncommon for them to come back and play a perfect game after being stomped in an early round. They know they are the best region in eSports and that confidence is a big factor in why Korea continues to dominate most eSports.
MMORPG: What was it like participating in the championships during Blizzcon? How aware are you of the audience, both in person and virtual? Does it affect game play much, if at all?
Patrick Soulliere: As someone who was not playing in the competition itself, I can’t speak to these particular questions. However, as someone observing in the crowd and being connected to the winning team for the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship at Blizzcon, the experience was a dream come true. By the end of the event, I was standing on top of my chair screaming at the top of my lungs! This win was very personal for me, it meant everything. I think I’ve watched the end of the last game and the moments leading up to their victory celebration about 450-500 times now!
MMORPG: Where do you go from here? Will Team Ballistix be participating in future HotS eSports events?
Patrick Soulliere: The initial terms of the L5/Ballistix team sponsorship were limited to the previous two events, so no new contract has been established with L5. Although we have not renewed our sponsorship of L5 at this point in time, we remain open to future opportunities and look forward to the team’s continued success. Now that Ballistix is part of the Heroes community, we want to continue to find ways to stay engaged!
MMORPG: What do you think about the current state of Heroes of the Storm? Where does it need work and where does it excel?
Patrick Soulliere: In my opinion, the Heroes strategy is very simple yet successful – it’s a quick paced MOBA that focuses on the action. Personally, I am a major League of Legends fan, but the laning phase holds very little excitement for me. I often find myself doing other things like grabbing something to eat, making phone calls, or checking email during the first 15-30 minutes of a LoL game. That’s totally not the case when watching Heroes, because missing even a couple minutes of the game could mean missing out on something huge. I like the non-stop, fast-paced action, and it’s great the developers are keeping this as a core theme. Heroes of the Storm is a fantastic game, and will likely be a MOBA that is around for many years to come.
Heroes of the Storm as an eSport is also interesting, and probably where I see the most opportunity for improvement. Throughout the 2016 season, inconsistency, scheduling, and lack of team stability have all played a role in hurting the HotS. In 2017, Blizzard has done a full overhaul of the Heroes eSports scene to correct some of these issues. Scheduling now appears to be consistent and transparent, teams will be forced to maintain stable rosters, and we will be able to enjoy regularly-scheduled, quality competition. I believe if the HGC is able to overcome some of the 2016 difficulties, the 2017/2018 seasons have all the makings to become a Tier 1 eSport.
Heroes of the Storm is one of the best games I have ever played in my life; to that end, their recent focus on making the game more skill intensive has been implemented well on every level. As an eSport, it’s got some catching up to do and 2017 is a critical year for Heroes eSports to begin its fight to the upper tiers.
MMORPG: What about other games - where else can we find Ballistix competing?
Patrick Soulliere: Right now we sponsor multiple teams playing multiple titles such as CS:GO, League of Legends, Overwatch, SC2 and more! Although these teams may not bear the Ballistix name, we treat each sponsored team as if they were our own Ballistix team and will be rooting for their success in 2017!
MMORPG: What’s next for Ballistix in 2017?
Patrick Soulliere: Our plan is to continue what we have been doing for the past decade…supporting the gaming community with the best DRAM and SSDs available. Additionally, we’ll continue sponsoring the best eSports teams and players in the world, as well as work with top influencers throughout the gaming community.
At Ballistix, we are hardcore gamers and truly love being part of the gaming experience and eSports industry!