Australians love to watch our countrymen take their sporting prowess overseas and mix it with the best. Scott “Custa” Kennedy may not have come through the Australian esports scene, but the Adelaide native is still our man in the Overwatch League.
More Aaron Mooy than Jarryd Hayne, Custa is a humble man who, while not necessarily buying into the idea that he represents the entire country’s Overwatch community, is still happy to fly the flag as a support main for the Los Angeles Valiant.
With his team wrapping up a successful inaugural season that saw them finish second in the league as Pacific Division champions, we had the opportunity to speak with the man as his side prepares for their playoff campaign to begin next week.
The Valiant recently posted a feature-length interview with Custa on YouTube, which you should check out too.
The Roar: Was Overwatch the first game you really tried to ‘make it’ in? What had you played competitively in the past?
Custa: I had played games competitively in the past – mainly, Team Fortress 2 – but this was the first game that I had actually tried to make it to the professional level.
Esports had always been a passion of mine as I grew up, and Overwatch was the first chance I saw to actually make it to this level. I decided to give it everything I have and move from Australia to North America to compete. Fortunately, it all worked out for me.
The Roar: What characters were you drawn to initially? What led you to be a support main and, subsequently, use Zenyatta, Moira and Ana?
Custa: I’ve always had a lot of focus on Zenyatta as a character. The glass cannon style of gameplay for a support character has always been interesting for me, even when Zenyatta only had 150 health.
With that said, I really enjoy all the support classes and the unique play styles that they have. Throughout my career so far in Overwatch, I’ve played every single support hero at the professional level, so there’s a bit of love to all of them.
The Roar: What characters do you mess around with when playing for fun? Are there are any characters you just cannot get the hang of?
Custa: I like to play all the heroes, that doesn’t mean I’m very good at them though. I mainly enjoy playing the offtank heroes, like Zarya, D.Va and Roadhog, but also hitscan DPS heroes in McCree and Widowmaker. I sometimes mess around with Genji and Doomfist, but it’s not pretty.
The Roar: It looks like you really made a name for yourself in overseas Overwatch scenes. How did that come about? Was that by necessity or choice?
Custa: I knew once I moved to North America with no notoriety, I was going to need to stand out to make it to the level I wanted to be. With that said, I never thought it was going to be at the level I am at right now as fast as it’s been. I’m very lucky to have the amount of support and fans following me. It’s been overwhelming, honestly.
The Roar: When did you first hear about the Overwatch League and what were your initial thoughts and expectations? How does the competition feel different from other esports competitions you’ve played in?
Custa: During the early days of Overwatch, there were rumours Blizzard would be putting together an official league. I thought it was a great idea, and it would contribute to furthering the legitimacy of esports. It’s unlike anything I have played in priorly on so many different levels. The production value, professionalism and overall quality of teams and players is staggering.
The Roar: You started out with Dallas Fuel’s, who obviously had a very difficult season and performed below expectations. How hard was that to deal with at first?
Custa: It was definitely tough coming into such a well refined roster and struggling like we did. I felt it was really hard, from a personal level, to contribute due to the hierarchy that already stood. With that said, even though it was hard, I really enjoyed working with the team as a whole and miss the team a lot.
The Roar: I understand the trade to Valiant wasn’t something you requested or initiated – did you have an inkling you might be on the move beforehand or was it a total shock? How did you find the new environment?
Custa: The trade was something that was completely unexpected. It came just after the end of Stage 2, and I was already preparing for Stage 3 with the Fuel. As much as it was a shock at first it was a breath of fresh air once I stopped to consider it.
Joining a new team sort of recharges you and brings you back to ground level. I’ve been fortunate to slot so well into such an amazing team.
The Roar: You’ve been part of quite a turnaround for Valiant. They’d lost five out of six matches just before you joined – but went 16-4 (excluding Stage finals) after you joined. Did you feel the team was capable of turning it around when you joined? How much did the mood change across Stages 3 and 4?
Custa: When I first joined, the team was struggling, but after talking to the Valiant team, I realised it wasn’t just the addition of me that changed.
We had a lot of other moving parts happening, such as bringing Indy “SPACE” Halpern as offtank, and an overall switch of the way the team was run. I believed in the vision that was put forward when I first joined, and so does the rest of the team. I credit a lot of our success to that switch from the team.
The Roar: The playoffs have begun – and you’ve got the first round off. Is that extended break actually going to be too much of a good thing? Or did the team need some time to rest?
Custa: The first-round bye is very nice for the team, especially after such a long season, and the amount of work we put in to get to where we are now. With that said, we didn’t take too much time off to avoid getting complacent with such a long break between matches. We have a few weeks to refocus and show what we really have in playoffs.
The Roar: Who will be your toughest opposition in the playoffs?
Custa: New York Excelsior will always be the toughest opponent this season regardless of everything. They have such an incredible diversified roster that just plays so well together. I hope we get to meet them in the Grand Finals because they deserve to be on that stage. With that said, I’m confident in the team to beat anyone.