Interview, Overwatch

Bicykeele: Finding Your Own Meta

Keele University is no stranger to esports, having participated in the NUEL for years and a member of the Twitch Student Program. Stricklen, captain of I Want To Ride My Bicykeele, reflects on how the team has fared this Campus Clash and how the team sees the recent drastic changes to the game.

We played freer because we put less pressure on ourselves to win.

Stricklen

Going into Week 7, Keele had come off narrowly missing the playoffs and their chances at a first place in Swiss dimming as well. “Just after playoffs went, we focused solely on winning the Swiss. However, we focused a bit too hard and put too much pressure on ourselves.” That said, a change in mentality proved to be exactly what they needed to tie up both games with 2-1 victories. “After losing both games the week, before we noticed that it was gonna be very difficult for us to win Swiss so we just did it more for fun.”

While Keele are a top team this split, they didn’t do as well in the Winter tournament. I wondered what had changed to cause such a drastic increase in performance “Our roster kept on changing because our star player decided to quit Overwatch so it was all over the place. This time it’s been much more consistent and we’ve been scrimming once every week so more consistency I feel has lead to us playing better.” In a sense, Keele took advantage of the Winter split as preparation so as to be able to truly shine in the Spring. “I would say it was sort of just testing and trying out, getting used to the team.”

Coming back to the Spring tournament, I asked what Stricklen thought of how the split had gone as a whole. “Our goals from last season have changed quite significantly to this because we lost our star player our goal was to get close to playoffs and we did achieve that. I feel like it’s been a very good split for us.” The team has grown a lot over the Spring as well with the more experienced players taking leading roles in their development. “The GM players have been able to teach and been able to grow as a team and the synergy has become a lot better because of that so overall I think we achieved what we wanted to from the start of the split.”

Using the tournament to develop as a player is a point that resonates very personally with Stricklen as he elaborated. “When I started playing I was reasonably low ranked and I just wanted to play because I didn’t find solo queuing very fun. When I joined the team and we played in NUEL it was something I always looked forward to because its very fun playing as a team.” Even as he aspires to truly go pro, the Campus Clash still holds a special place in his heart. ” I’ve also joined an open division team so its sort of helped spring board me higher up but I still love playing for my university because obviously I can actually meet the people as well.”

I really look forward to playing Baptiste because he’s a very fun character to play and also, as a flex support, I like being able to switch between a lot of heroes.

Stricklen

There have recent been some major balance changes to the game which threaten to up end the current 3 – 3 meta. Stricklen however is unfazed by them owing to his team’s aggressive playstyle. ” We’ve never been a team to want to play the meta. Even last year we never really played the meta, partially because we never found goats fun, but also because we found it fun challenging the meta, finding weaknesses in certain teams.” That said, he does think that the changes could be detrimental to other teams who might rely too heavily on the 3 – 3 composition. “I do believe that the three three comp is much less strong and can be exploited much easier because they are less mobile because Lucio’s speed nerf and the discord nerf are quite huge.”

The biggest change though, has to be the addition of Baptiste and while he won’t feature in the Spring tournament or Grand Finals, he is likely to be seen in the Summer. Stricklen is still unsure of how he will shift the current meta. “There are lots of different ways that I see this can go. I personally believe that dive might become a lot more meta but maybe not Winston, D.va, maybe run Hammond with possibly either Lucio or Zen healing.”

In previous interviews, many players have mentioned taking inspiration from teams in the Overwatch League in how they play the game. Keele however stand out in their defiance of the pro meta. “I feel like there’s always going to be the majority of teams who follow the Overwatch League and pay the meta comps, however, there’s also always going to be the minority like us not wanting to do that and wanting to break the mould.” That said, season 2 of the Overwatch League has seen more variety in teams’ styles of play from Chengdu’s Wrecking Ball to Atlanta’s Torbjorn. Stricklen is optimistic for the effect this might have in the long run. ” I do think that as more strats are introduced to the Overwatch League people are going to just play to their teams strengths because I’m a firm believer of ‘you play to your teams strengths no matter what the meta is and you find out what your team is good at and define your own meta within your own team.'”

To close off, I asked Stricklen for advice on how teams should approach watching the pro scene without falling into the trap of attempting strategies they might not have the ability to carry out. ” I feel like the mistake that a lot of people make when watching Overwatch League and Contenders is, they don’t think about exactly why they’re doing what they’re doing.” While there’s a lot to learn from the pros, it’s important not to take what you see at face value.”They need to go ‘Why did they play this in the Overwatch League? is it because they wanted to shut down JJonak or was it more to do with taking space?’ Just understanding why  certain comps are run and strategies are called in Overwatch League.”

We wish Keele the best of luck in the last week of games and look forward to seeing them compete in many tournaments to come.

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