Dallas Fuel Head Coach Aero Explains His Philosophy for Substitute Players - Dexerto

Dallas Fuel Head Coach Aero Explains His Philosophy for Substitute Players

Published: 17/Jul/2018 3:02 Updated: 26/Jul/2018 12:07

by Joe O'Brien


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.


Jeff Kaplan reveals his ideal competitive Overwatch meta

Published: 8/Oct/2020 3:13

by Theo Salaun


Blizzard Entertainment’s Vice President and Overwatch’s beloved Game Director Jeff Kaplan has revealed what he thinks is the ideal competitive meta for the expansive title.

Overwatch exists in many forms, from its highest ranks to its lowest, but the game’s competitive meta at the professional level has also varied greatly since the original release back in May 2016. 


In the olden days, teams prioritized dive compositions led by Winston’s jumps and Tracer’s blinks. Then, in 2019, fans around the world either groaned or cheered as the divisive GOATS meta took center-stage, featuring a hefty squad built entirely with tanks and supports. 

Now, Kaplan is explaining his perspective on the game’s ideal state, following criticisms he levied back in July against the game’s double-shield reliance. Examining the game’s departure from a static, Orisa and Sigma-dependent environment, he dissects his compository ideology. 

Brigitte stuns Junkrat on Volskaya
Blizzard Entertainment
Barriers have held an uncomfortably powerful role in Overwatch for a long time.

As discussed in an interview with the Loadout, Kaplan is both aware of the professional scene’s interests and the casual base’s tendencies. Coupling those factors, he believes the game is at its best when there is some blend of high skill caps and diverse team compositions.

“The most ideal, healthiest state of the game is when the meta is somewhat fluid, when the meta is more map dependent or team match up dependent than it is static. We’ve all seen those moments when the meta has been completely static and all six players will just play the same six heroes every time. I think that’s fun from a mastery standpoint, but I think it’s a lot more exciting for viewers when creativity and curiosity come into play,” he said.

When Kaplan refers to a “static” meta, the simplest example is 2019’s GOATS, where three healers (Brigitte, Lucio, and Moira) were coupled with three tanks (D.Va, Reinhardt, and Zarya) and would barrel into opponents.


It took tremendous teamwork to be pulled off successfully against other professional teams, but many fans considered it more tedious than entertaining after months of gameplay.

In its current state, Overwatch is not completely balanced, but there is a degree of variety to it. That diversity seen in the Overwatch League spans downward into the casual ranks. Kaplan indicates that this is in line with his department’s hopes.

“I think most of our players would say in the ideal meta, all our heroes would be viable in some way competitively. I think as a competitive goal from a game designing and game balancing perspective that is extremely challenging, but it’s obviously what we strive to achieve.”


While he assures that Overwatch would be completely balanced in an ideal world, in the meantime, his team would at least like to push toward a game that varies to some extent based on coaching, player preference, and map.

It remains to be seen if current and upcoming patches can accomplish that, but Kaplan’s emphasis on “fluidity” is a welcome driving force.