Overwatch League Interview – Poko, Tank For The Philadelphia Fusion
Philadelphia Fusion's Gael "Poko" Gouzerch is becoming one of the most feared tank players in Overwatch League. Throughout the first three weeks of the season, Gouzerch has turned D.Va's Self-Destruct into a difference maker for the Fusion, often surprising the opposition with its timing and placement. Fans have latched onto Gouzerch's expert use of the attack, dubbing it the "Poko Bomb."
The Fusion have been one of the more entertaining teams to watch thus far, thanks in part to high kill counts coming from Poko, and teammates Carpe and ShaDowBurn. After handing New York Excelsior its first loss last week, the Fusion appear to be on the rise, and are in the hunt with a 4 and 2 record to start the season. I talked to Poko about his style of play, the league, and why certain heroes are not being used by any team.
You weren't in the lineup against the Shanghai Dragons. Why did you get the rest?
I obviously wanted to play, but it was out of my control. They wanted to do a different lineup. I think we have a flexible team and a deep roster so we can do that.
Who determines the lineup? I'm guessing it's the coach, but do the players have input too?
It's all of the coaches. They talk between each other to determine who is going to play based on the team. Shanghai is 0-5 right now, but we knew it was going to be a tough [match].
After the first two games against Shanghai, it looked like smooth sailing for Philadelphia. Shanghai made it interesting with two consecutive wins, forcing a game five. From your perspective, what changed in Shanghai's strategy?
We were up 2-0, and I think we lost a bit of focus on Oasis. They defended very well, especially [Roshan]'s Winston. He had a lot of flanks, and kept killing Carpe. They continued that on Junkertown.
Your D.Va ultimate is now called The Poko Bomb. You've had more kills with it than any other player in the league. Can you walk me through your strategy in using it? You often use it like a stealth attack.
If we are working against a dive comp, the first thing I do is ask my teammates is if there's a monkey bubble. We want that bubble to be free so the bomb can kill enemies. I find a corner of the map, making it hard for the enemy to hide. They have to make a decision of what to do, die from the D.Va [attack] or go forward and face my team. I think we are doing fine with it.
When you came into the league, people expected you to play Zarya. What happened there?
Exactly. I am known for my Zarya play. My previous team was pretty bad at dives, so we played a lot of tanks like Zarya. But now dive comp is pretty strong, so we had to play that style. With the new D.Va changes, a team absolutely needs her. When I saw the change, I said "I need to train with D.Va and play her all of the time." I did that, and now I play her for the Fusion.
What do you think of the new version of D.Va?
I think it's great. Before the changes she was a bit boring, but now you have so many possibilities. You can play aggressive, or do some stupid s--- like and try to do 1v1 against Winston. There are so many things you can do now. It's amazing.
You are lucky enough to have your own D.Va skin for the Fusion. When you aren't in the league and are just competing, what skin do you like the most for her?
Definitely the new cat one. Oh my god, it's so good.
What are you ranked in competitive play?
I'm eighth, I think. I didn't play the 50 games, so it's not official, but I think I'm up there. I'm at 4,600 ranking.
My highest ranking is 2,500.
How are you settling into the league so far?
Blizzard did a great job. It's so professional. I was used to competitions in Europe where you would be waiting for hours to get into a match. Now, I enter [the arena], I'm focused, ready, and I go on the stage to play.
You've done a lot of esports stuff in the past. You are no longer home. You're with your team at all times. Walk me through that.
I'm living dream. I didn't know what would happen before the league, but now I'm living in a big house in [Los Angeles], getting paid a lot of money. Everything is paid for – the food and transport. I love it. We are living in a big gaming house, all of us under one roof. It's so good.
One things fans don't like about the league is the lack of hero rotation. Some heroes like Symmetra and Zarya are not used. What does Blizzard have to do to make these heroes (or others) league ready?
I don't think they can do much about it. There are some characters that just won't be used. Orisa is pretty great so far, but you can't play her on every map. You won't stand a chance. Same with Mei. You can't play them all of the time.
What if Blizzard changed up the game types and inserted something like Mystery Heroes into the mix? I know it sounds like a nightmare, but that would force you to play different heroes. We'd see everyone that way. We'd get to see you play as Bastion.
That would be horrible. I am not good with certain heroes. No way. I'm not going to play if they do that. [laughs] We train so much every day that it would be a disaster.
I was somewhat shocked to here that you scrimmage against other teams in the league. That has to make it difficult to surprise teams.
Exactly. That's why the Fusion have a 12-man roster, so we can play 6v6 outside of those scrimmages. That way we don't leak any strategies, and people don't know what we are playing.
We don't know much about the future of the league. Did you just sign on to play this one season with the Fusion?
For now it's only a one-year contract. It's for just one season.
So that means you could maybe be on a different team next season?
When you came into the league, how were your approached about the contract?
I was known in Europe for my Zarya, and a little bit for D.Va. I placed in the top five for Overwatch Contenders [in 2017]. After that, Kirby, one of the Fusion coaches and GM, contacted me, and said "Hey, Poko, want to do a tryout for the Philadelphia Fusion?" I was like "Sure. Let's go!" [laughs] I had nothing to lose. This was such a great opportunity for me. I was in tryouts for a few weeks against a few players going for my role.
Are there any other heroes you want to play as either in this season or if you come back next year?
I would like to try a bit more of Soldier 76. I love him. He does so much stuff. He runs fast, and you can play aggressively or defensively. He can run along for a long time. Such a great character.
Blizzard isn't exactly up front with new heroes, but does enjoy teasing them. What type of hero would you like to see added next?
I would say another tank because the game is lacking dive tank abilities. There's Winston and D.Va, who can play aggressively. Another tank who can do some jumping would be great.
For people who want to play D.Va, are there any general strategies you can give them to help with their game?
That's a tough question. If you're trying to play as a team, don't try to dive too much. Don't be too greedy when diving. I like to play it safe.
When you aren't playing Overwatch, are there other games you play for either fun or to help with your reflexes and skills?
I play some Fortnite with friends. I mostly focus on Overwatch in my free time.
For more on Overwatch League, read our interview with Los Angeles Gladiators' BigGoose.