Dallas Fuel and Team USA coach Aaron ‘Aero’ Atkins has revealed his approach to managing substitute players in Overwatch.
The idea of a substitute player is something of a novelty in western esports. While Korean League of Legends teams have long been using extended rosters, both in League of Legends and in games like CS:GO, most western teams have typically only utilized their starting players.
In the Overwatch League, however, by the end of the season every team had at least nine players, with many reaching the roster cap of twelve. With Overwatch being a six-versus-six game, that meant many players spending time on the bench, a situation that many Overwatch teams and players were unfamiliar with.
Different teams had different approaches to substitute players. Some cycled players consistently, some brought in specialists for particular maps or metas, and some stuck almost exclusively to their starting six.
One danger that arose in some cases was the possibility of substitute players feeling left out, and being left with little to do for much of the season.
During a recent stream, Aero explained his own philosophy for substitute players. In order to help stave off the apathy and disillusionment that can come with long periods on the bench, Aero believes all players, even if they’re not likely to see much play, should involve themselves in every team practice and turn up for matches in uniform and ready to play if the need arises.
Aero joined the struggling Dallas Fuel ahead of the fourth and final stage of the Overwatch League regular season, having previously coached Fusion University to victory in Season One of Contenders NA. Stage 4 was ultimately the Fuel’s most successful stage, finishing fourth and reaching the stage playoffs for the first time. Aero is also the coach for Team USA in the 2018 Overwatch World Cup.