Bani talks adjusting to the new meta and the American lifestyle
Last week, the Houston Outlaws came very close to being the first Western team to take down the Seoul Dynasty. The Houston Outlaws only fell to the Dynasty 3-2 in an intense five-map battle.
We sat down with Houston support player Chris “Bani” Benell to talk about the epic match, what it’s like adjusting to the Los Angeles lifestyle, and how he felt the Mercy changes would effect the Overwatch League.
Tatjana: How did you come up with the name Bani?
Bani: I have a decent story about that. I’m twelve, I just got World of Warcraft, and I’m leveling up a Night Elf Hunter. And I’m just out doing some quests. When I start walking out, there’s just this army of Horde running at the town, the Alliance town. At the front of the Horde I see this one shaman leading the charge named Bani. I’m like “wow! I wanna be that guy.” I want to be the guy leading the charge of Horde raiding a town. So the next character I made, I named Bani, and then I just stuck with it, you know.
So is it Bani or Bonny?
Honestly, not even I know the difference, haha.Â I tend to say Bani most of the time. But, you know, Bonny is whatever, yeah.
How did you get into Overwatch?
I think I saw streams and stuff of it in like the first phase of the closed beta. I was like, holy crap this game is really cool. So I wanted to try it out. I actually have a friend who used to work at Blizzard who managed to get us some closed beta passes. So I played the second phase of the closed beta and I really enjoyed it. And I thought, for the first time, that this is the first game I actually feel like I can be better than everyone else. So I stuck with it.
And here you are playing professionally.
Who is your favorite hero to play outside of the League?
Outside of The League? Doomfist I really enjoy, and Sombra is a hero that I actually play that I really enjoy.
How do you think the Mercy changes are going to affect the dynamic of the Overwatch League, starting with stage two?
I, like a lot of people, expect there to just be a lot more Lucio. I actually think that it might be more diverse than that. I guess based on how ranked has been going, you know, just like competitive matches. It seems like the four tank isn’t going to be as dominant as everyone expected. So, there might still be a lot of diversity. I think Mercy enabled a lot of diversity so we’ll have to see if it actually sticks the same way.
There might be a little less like Orisa / Hog, like, really, really fortify, fortify comps. I think they’ll still be a lot of like, two DPS, maybe four DPS, four tank sometimes. It just depends on the map, essentially.
Does it stress you out that you’re only going to have a week between stage one and stage two, to adjust to these changes?
It might be a little tough. I think whenever new teams are adapting, what happens is everyone tries whatever they want. And then, as soon as a match happens where one team runs a comp that works really well, everybody starts running that as well. It’s kinda just like a guessing game of who gets the best comp with what they experiment with. I guess it’s a little tough, but we’re really adaptable, and we just proved that today, too.
Absolutely. So you’re from Canada, right? How has it been been adjusting to living in Los Angeles?
I mean, it’s nice, like, the weather is definitely amazing.
Where were you from in Canada?
I lived in Ottawa. So that’s like a little bit east of Toronto. And you know, it’s obviously like winter like six months a year there. (Laughs)
I have cousins in Toronto. It’s very cold.
It’s nice just being able to walk out everyday without having to, you know, put on like twelve layers, haha. Yeah, I mean, it’s very similar though, you know. Canada and the U.S. aren’t too, too different, so it’s nice. The only criticism I have is people honk too much.
Have you been to Boston yet?
Nope, I heard it’s a lot worse. (Laughs)
It is like, I would say Boston in terms of honking, is worse than New York City. Which is really saying something.
Clockwork and Flame are both from New Jersey, and they’re like, “This is nothing. I was molded by the honk.”
It’s nothing, out here. Talking about living in America, have you been to Houston yet?
No actually, I haven’t. No.
How do you feel about eventually moving to Texas?
It’s pretty exciting. I think it’s going to be a lot different than anything else I’ve lived in.
I’m going to tell you now, you can see all four seasons in one day. But the whole Southern hospitality thing is very real. It’s similar to, you know, how we as American’s look at Canadians as nice people. I go to San Antonio a lot and people are really nice in Texas. It’s different.
Yeah, I heard that people just strike up a conversation with you, wherever you are. That’s pretty cool. Never really been in that kind of community.
How different is playing on your own time? Like climbing the ladder versus playing for the league?
I’d say it’s really different. You know, when I play competitive I kinda just like chill out. I really prefer not talking. I feel like my goal when I play competitive is to become as mechanically good as I can. So I don’t want to rely on things like communication, even though that’s like, you know, obviously a major part of the game. I want to practice aiming as much as I can, and just be good at that, so it’s a lot different for me personally.
If you don’t mind me asking, what is your most recent SR?
I think I’m currently number seven on the leaderboards. Something like that.
Oh wow, so the not communicating has still got you pretty far.
Yeah, I mean, I tend to communicate more just naturally at this point. But, yeah, like I just prefer not to I guess. (laughs)
Everyone has their own way. Would you say that almost prepares you for like disaster situations, in the League?
Yeah, definitely. What’s good about practicing in competitive is that you can go for crazy plays and your mistakes don’t matter really. It doesn’t really matter if you lose, who cares. So, like, you can practice going for crazy 1 v 4s or something like that, and then maybe that actually happens where you have to do like a 1 v 2, and it works because you’ve done it before.
Interesting. It’s really cool talking to different players and seeing different strategies. How does it feel to be the first fully Western team to come that close to defeating the Seoul Dynasty?
That’s really cool you know. It’s something that we, I think intentionally did to just like, have no Korean players. Just because we think that the ability to communicate, like fluently is like, a huge advantage. I think we’ll get there. We had very little practice with the roster that we were running today. So I think with a fully prepared roster we can definitely take maps off of, or take series off of the Korean teams.
That was really impressive. One thing I did notice is that you were subbed out on the control map, and then again on the fifth control map. Do you feel that Boink is stronger than you are on the control maps?
Yeah, I mean we want to run Boink just because there’s a chance we want to play Lucio, and he’s like really, really good at Lucio. When we’re not, when he’s not skriming with us, he is playing Death Match as Lucio. He’s just a nonstop Lucio player. So he’s really, really good. Then on top of that we think Boink has a more natural safe play style as Mercy, which tends to work actually pretty well on King of the Hill. Overall like really good for the team to have Boink play King of the Hill.