ChrisTFer – Mosaic’s new tank on the org, Contenders, and his Overwatch New Year’s Resolution

In the days leading up to Christmas, Christopher “ChrisTFer” Graham, formerly of Hammers Esports, Team Singularity, and the United Kingdom World Cup team, announced that he would be joining Arizona-based Mosaic Esports.

I caught up with ChrisTFer during the holidays to ask him about the newest stage in his Overwatch Journey.

Photo: Robert Paul

Congratulations on the new team! How does it feel to be back in the grind, playing competitively again?

It feels really good. Things can get pretty stressful when all you are doing is trailing around and waiting for information. If you are playing with a different roster every day, it feels like you are wasting time with no real reason or way to improve. It’s great to finally be able to do a vod review again.

Sounds pretty stressful. How many teams did you trial with before you got the offer from Mosaic?

Five, I think. Some of them weren’t very long; a block or two.

Mosaic is a brand new organization, and Overwatch is their first esport. Tell me a bit about them. What attracted you to their team? What was the recruiting process like?

The existing roster was the main reason I became interested. Certain roles in OW feel pretty hard to fill, and I think that the three players already at Mosaic [Luddee, Emil, and Kodak] are really good. It would’ve been hard to find better if I were to have built my own roster. Once I sat down and had a conversation with the owner about the organization and the goals for it, the decision became very easy for me to make.

The roster re-unites you with Fischer. You played with him on The Chavs/Hammers throughout the middle of the year, and then on Singularity during Contenders Season 1. What does a partnership that long bring to the table?

It brings synergy both in and out of the game. Fischer is one of my best friends, and we know we can work together. We often see the game slightly differently, and we are always comfortable calling each other out when we disagree, which makes it very easy to improve certain parts of each other’s game.

Did you and Fischer trial together for Mosaic?

Mosaic trialed different people every day, and I did a bunch of them, so sometimes it was with Fischer, yeah.

Aside from Fischer, the rest of the team is Luddee, Emil, Kodak, and Vallutaja. Who are you most excited to work with going forward?

They all bring something different to the table. Vallu is mega experienced and we know he can perform at a world class level in the biggest events. Emil is very fun to work with, as it feels like we had a great synergy almost from day one. It already feels easier to play with Emil than with any other offtank I’ve played with. And the support duo is all about their potential. Both are 17 and playing roles where there isn’t much talent left outside of OWL, so I’m confident they will become the best support duo in contenders.

What makes playing with one off-tank easier than playing with another? Is it skill? Communication? Positioning? Strategy?

All of the above, really. Comms are the main thing though. With Emil, we both seem to see the game in a similar way, which makes it easy to go for certain things, as he almost instinctively is doing the same thing I am.

Looking forward to Contenders 2018, the format is going to look a bit different this time around, with more teams, fewer games per team, academy teams, and a new prize pool structure. What are your thoughts on Contenders’ new look?

I think everyone was pretty worried about how Contenders was going to look; we all heard rumours about certain rules which made it difficult to foresee getting a livable salary whilst doing Contenders. Thankfully Blizzard knocked it out of the park with their ruleset. The buyout clause is perfect, and the way the prize pool is done per map should make it way more enjoyable to watch for a spectator.

I hadn’t thought about that. It gives teams something to play for even if they’re already down 3-0 in a game, or have lost a few matches. On the subject of watching the games, another big change with Contenders is that there are now seven regions, all of which will be playing at around the same time. With so many games to watch, what are your plans for making Mosaic’s games “must watch”?

I think all eyes will be on OWL, but I will still follow the games from NA+EU+KR, as there is still a lot of talent that will inevitably break though.

Since it’s the end of the year, I have to ask you the cheesy end-of-year questions. So here goes: What was your favorite Overwatch memory/moment from 2017?

World Cup qualifiers at Santa Monica was by far the highlight of 2017. The biggest LAN event I’d ever played, and to win all our games in such dominant fashion was great. I also got to spend a week in LA with Team UK, who I consider to be really close friends of mine, so the whole week was excellent.

Do you have an Overwatch New Year’s Resolution?

The easy answer is to say to “get into OWL” or “win Contenders”, and whilst this is true, I want to put more focus on myself as an individual. I want to make sure that by the time the next OWL trial period comes up, I feel like I am at 100% of my game on all the heroes, and make it an easy decision for the teams to trial me.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with me over the holidays; I wish you the best of luck over the coming year. Where can we find you on social Media?

I’m @ChrisTFerOW on Twitter and Mosaic Esports is @MosaicGG.

 

 

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Interviews Overwatch Contenders

Three Key Takeaways from Monday’s Contenders News

Late Monday afternoon, Blizzard released the official rules for Contenders 2018, as well as a list of teams invited directly into Contenders or to the Contenders Trials. The new information paints a much clearer picture than we had before about how the Tier 2 scene will look in the coming year. Read on for the biggest takeaways.

OWContenders_S1_Playoffs_Day_Two__(1)

Blizzard has set a Contenders-wide transfer fee for players joining the Overwatch League

As Overwatch League teams worked to assemble their inaugural rosters, several players were either passed over, or nearly passed over, because of issues securing contract buyouts. Some organizations were asking for unreasonable fees, and others just weren’t responsive. London Spitfire claims that buyout issues were the primary reason they scrapped their plans of building a European roster. All in all, it was a mess that Blizzard was keen to avoid going forward.

The new Contenders rules contain a trio of provisions to address the issue.

  • If an Overwatch League team is interested in a player, their Contenders organization must allow the player negotiate terms with the Overwatch League team
  • If an Overwatch League team signs a Contenders player, their Contenders contract is automatically terminated
  • If an Overwatch League team signs a Contenders player, their Contenders organization receives a one-time fee equal to 25% of the player’s salary and signing bonus

The streamlined process protects both the Overwatch League team and the player from having the deal derailed by the Contenders org. The big question though, which only time will answer, is whether the financial incentive for the Contenders team is strong enough to entice endemic organizations back into Overwatch. Dreams don’t put food on the table; for Overwatch’s talent pipeline to thrive long-term, players will need to be able to earn livings in Contenders.

Every region has the same format, and it’s a doozy

Each Contenders region will have twelve teams, split into two groups of six. Each team will play a single round-robin with the other teams in their group, one game per week, for a total of five games during the regular season. With quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, the team that wins it all will do so having played only eight games.

While there will be several Contenders seasons over the course of a year, each season will present limited opportunities for players to showcase their skills. In a season that lasts only two months, a single meta is season-defining, and a single bad game could be season-ending. Add on to that that all seven regions’ seasons heavily overlap, and players – especially outside of NA, EU, and KR – will have to go above and beyond to have any hope of standing out.

One positive to the shorter seasons with smaller prize pools: there’s room in the schedule for other tournaments, and a bigger incentive to for teams to participate in them. A LAN with the winners of each region would be an obvious draw, and we may even see the return of community-organized tournament series from earlier in Overwatch’s history.

Nine Overwatch League teams will field teams in Contenders, but many other Contenders slots are in doubt

The twelve Overwatch League teams were given an opportunity to field teams in the Contenders region of their choosing, and nine took Blizzard up on their offer. Seven of the nine will be fielding teams in North America, Dragons will field a team in China, and Spitfire in Europe. Dynasty, Valiant, and Fuel will not be fielding academy teams.

With seven academy teams and four invited teams (assuming that all four are willing and able to assemble a roster in time), there’s potentially only one spot up for grabs in North America through the Contenders Trials. For established pros, that’s not necessarily bad thing. While some of the slots will likely go to Korean or European players (Flower and aKm are speculated to be part of the NYXL academy team), there’s plenty of roster spots to fight for, and academy teams will likely pay better, and offer better exposure, than other Contenders organizations.

Europe, China, Korea, and the Pacific all have a large number of teams that have been invited directly into Contenders as well. Some of those teams – Miraculous Youngster in China, Libalent Supreme in the Pacific, and Singularity in Europe, for example – no longer exist, and are unlikely to claim their spots. However those regions will have a decent mix of established talent and new blood fighting for Contenders glory.

Other tidbits

  • Players will be able to stream their Contenders games on a three-minute delay. It will be interesting to see how many players take up that offer, as doing so would mean exposing team comms to the public, something that teams have been reluctant to do until now.
  • Up to nine people can be on a roster, and substitutions will be allowed between maps. There’s nothing in the rules indicating a limit to the number of substitutions.
  • The prize pools for South America and Australia are incredibly small. If a team wins all eight games on their way to the championship, they walk away with $8,676 ($1,446 per player on a six-man roster). While it’s great that the regions are getting attention, with those prize pools and no region locking, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the best South American teams attempt to land spots in North America.
Analysis Overwatch Contenders