Since its inception, the Overwatch League has been no stranger to foreign players. As a matter of fact, the majority of the league had to leave home behind to pursue their dreams of being professional Overwatch players. In the past, we've spoken to many Korean players about the difficulty they face making the transition to living in the states, but one team who has been conspicuously quiet has been the Shanghai Dragons.
Keeping mostly to themselves, the Shanghai Dragons have been somewhat of an enigma, only really communicating with the public to apologize for their performance and to announce new players. So when given a chance to speak with Shanghai Dragons' DPS Diya, we took the opportunity to discover more about their team life, dynamics, and adjustments to American life.
(The following interview was conducted through the Operations Supervisor/Translator for the Shanghai Dragons Pngtao "Aaron" Xiang, and edited for clarity.)
Adam: What would you say that life in the Dragons household looks like? How does this team function? And how do they get along both inside and out of the game?Diya: Mainly in our house, we start at our daily schedule in the morning, and then we finish in the night around 10:30 and sometimes 11. We have basically everything we need in our house, like food and daily conveniences.
It’s a very good house; we like the life there. For interactions between the players, it’s all in-game because we will duo all the time, and play with each other in-game.
As for outside of the game like we don't have lots of communication actually, because we live in different houses and basically in the morning we get in the car, and then we drive here. After we finish the day we just drive back to our house. [In person] communication is mostly on the weekends.
Adam: Who would you say you're closest to on the team?Diya: So we're actually on very good terms with each other, but if I had to choose two out of the twelve, that would be first FreeFeel cause he is my roommate. We talk a lot with each other, sometimes late night talks. The second one would be Fearless cause he's so funny, he's continually making funny remarks that are very interesting. So I’m actually from the Northeastern part of China, which has a very distinct dialect. So I taught Fearless, who is Korean, like the Northeast terms in the dialect, so that was really funny.
Adam: What was the initial experience like coming to America for you? Was it a difficult transition to make?Diya: At the beginning, it was super hard actually because we come from China we have different food and different weather. The food and the weather are super hard to adapt to for us, but the team starts to buy lots of Chinese food for us, and then we start to adjust to the life here. So now we are good.
Adam: How would you say the team structure and environment helped you in this transition to the American lifestyle?Diya: So the team has helped a lot actually. So first with the food and then with our houses, they are in the Chinese community back in Arcadia, so that's a great help. The team also you know, organizes a lot of fun activities. For example, we like to barbecue, and also we go to the beach in Santa Monica, so that was a lot of it. It's not something like we think home is inferior or anything but [having activities] definitely helps. In general, the team is a great help to us.
Adam: We've spoken to a lot of Korean players that had trouble adjusting to American dishes and foods. Have you found any American dishes that you particularly enjoy, and if so what is your favorite?Diya: We order chicken wings from Fresh Brothers all the time, so that's like the best. (Laughs)
Adam: What has been your favorite aspect of both playing and living in North America?Diya: Basically the best part would be, um, there are a lot of things that I like (Laughs). The best part would be the people here. They're good-looking, they talk in a very nice way, and they're always super friendly. The life here is fantastic, especially the weather, so I would love to live here if I can.
Adam: What would you say is something that was the most surprising or unexpected aspect of living here?Diya: What surprised me a lot is that houses in the United States are wooden. Like if you walk on it dun-dun-dun, they’re like super noisy. Another thing is that the U.S. doesn’t have shower service centers like you go there, and people are always there to help you out like giving you big towel to use. Not like an ordinary towel, but one larger than you that is just for the shower.
In the Northern parts of China they take the towel inside the shower room and like use it to brush your body, but people don't do it here, nor in like the Southern part of China now. I couldn't find anything like that in the U.S.
Adam: During media day, it was said there was some trouble communicating with fans back in China, or that they weren't super aware of the league. Now that you've been playing for a while over here and you've had a chance to engage with the North American fans, what does the fan engagement for your team look like? And what is some of your favorite experiences been like with the fans?Diya: Actually I don't have a lot of interaction with the fans in North America because of the language. I don't speak English, but I can feel that the fans here are super enthusiastic and super supportive.
Adam: Beginning in Stage 3 Shanghai has started multiple new Korean players. How has the dynamic of the team shifted with there now being a language barrier between you and the new players?Diya: So the biggest problem is still language, but we're actually on very good terms with them, we are like close friends. But the language problems continue to exist for us. Sometimes there can be a communication gap where you couldn't, the Korean and the Chinese, they couldn't find a shared concept to express what they wanted to express. So we're still working on it and we have a long way to go, but we're definitely better than before.
Adam: To close out, you mentioned earlier not being able to communicate much with fans due to the language barrier. Now that you have the chance to Speak on an open forum with a translator, is there anything you'd like to say that you haven't been able to say in person?Diya: Sincerely I want to thank all the fans in North America. Since we're not one of the top teams, and we're not performing well, we're underdogs; but the fans have been super, super supportive to us, to the team and also to me. So I'm super grateful to all of the fans, thank you.
With a new stage and a dramatically new meta on the horizon, we here at Akshon Esports wish Diya and the rest of Shanghai the best of luck and look forward to seeing them win their first victory very soon.
Image Credit: Shanghai Dragons, Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment