Custa on World Cup: “World Cup is a really good opportunity for up-and-coming players"

By not playing for team Australia, he's hoping to make space for new players.

Overwatch's Icon Katrina Weil · 9 Aug 2019


Photo via Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Change creates opportunity. Scott “Custa” Kennedy is highly familiar with both, having traveled around the world to pursue his professional Overwatch career. Now one of the more familiar faces of the Overwatch League, Custa not only recognizes the privilege of performing at the highest level, but wants to ensure others with less opportunity may join him. 

Custa surprised many by stepping away from Team Australia, but in an interview with Upcomer, he shared his reasoning for this decision alongside his thoughts on building a brand and goals for his career. 

You’ve had plenty of experience with the Overwatch World Cup, could you explain your decision to not represent Australia this year?

I did it last year, and with all the preparation that goes into Team Australia, the ping I have to practice on, and the timing of schedules, it’s really hard for me to practice. On top of that, the World Cup is a really good opportunity for up-and-coming players, and Australian players don’t get that opportunity very often. 

Last year, we played and were very successful, now we have Punk in Contenders and Trill in Overwatch League. You see that stepping stone. Knowing that Team Australia was already going to BlizzCon, I want them to just bring their best players and show what they have. Hopefully we can get more Overwatch League players from Australia. 

Before Overwatch League, when you were focusing on going pro, you lived in Canada. Do you think that if you had been living in Australia, would your chances of making OWL not have been as high?

100 percent. I’m an Australian person, but I wouldn’t consider myself to be an Australian Overwatch player. I never played the game in Australia. I’m considered to be an NA player because I’ve been in North America ever since the game came out. 

That’s why I built so many connections with the players you see in the League today. I’ve been playing against and traveling with them in the early Fanatic days, and the early days of Overwatch tournaments. That allowed me to make those connections, and without those connections, there’s no way I’d be in the league. 

Do you feel more prepared for next year’s geolocation due to your earlier travel around the world?

Yeah, I’m one of the oldest players on the team and I’ve lived away from home for the last four years in a bunch of different countries. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’m definitely prepared for it and am used to traveling, living in new countries. I’m pretty prepared, but it’s going to be a shock for a lot of these other guys who probably haven’t left the United States yet. It’ll be a really cool opportunity for them, and hopefully I can help out a bit.

If you could give advice for those players who don’t have your experience, what would you tell them?

No matter where you are, you’re going to have to find something that makes you comfortable. Having similar routines as the ones you do at home - obviously you’re going into a different cultures, but you need to have stability in your own life. It’s very easy to get homesick very quickly if you’re throwing yourself into the deep end.

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You have a mathematics and engineering background. Did that interest develop out of playing video games, and do you think that impacts the way you view Overwatch strategy?

I have half of a degree, yes [laughs]. I’ve just always been good at maths and science. That’s been one thing I’ve always enjoyed. I think it might help me with the way I think about games in Overwatch. I think very methodically. Everything is related to numbers, everything has a place, so I think it helps me a little bit⁠—not a huge amount.

In past interviews, you have spoken about the benefits of change, from Valiant’s roster and organizational switches to you transferring from Dallas to LA. Do you actively seek change?

I think change is always important to keep yourself fresh and to keep doing things differently. If you stay in one stop doing the same thing, it’s very easy to stagnate and not grow as a player. 

When I first was playing on Dallas, I was starting to get more playtime and look better. Getting traded from Dallas to Valiant at first seemed like a huge loss. I was very upset about it when I first heard the news. But after some time I came to terms with it and realized that this could be a really good opportunity for me, I could step into a different role on a different team and help out that way. Obviously looking back it was an amazing opportunity.

You are one of the faces of the LA Valiant and Overwatch League as a whole. Do you have to over-filter yourself or adapt how you act due to that pressure or attention?

Honestly, I have to act more professional when I’m in these environments, but one of the big things when I was building my brand as a player and was becoming more exposed, I was very focused on keeping my brand relevant to who I am as a person. 

I don’t want to be someone else in public and be a completely different person in private. I like to be myself as much as possible, because esports, as much as there’s anonymity on the internet, I feel like authenticity for esports moving forward is the most important thing. Especially because it’s easy to not be authentic right now.

Is branding vital for Contenders players to move up to the Overwatch League?

100%. I’m a prime example in that I don’t think I’m one of the best players in the league, but I think I have a big brand and that helps within the league as much as winning games, which is important. Everyone wants to cheer for a team, cheer for players, all those kinds of things, and that doesn’t always come with success. So building your brand, being personal, and working your hardest to make an impact whether that’s winning or losing, doing interviews, meeting fans, it’s all positive.

That engagement has been noticed with your weekly Custa News Network show, and last year you casted the Talent Takedown. How natural do you think broadcasting would be for you to go into when you decide to retire from playing?

It’s something I’m really interested in. Broadcast seems to be something I feel naturally good at. It didn’t seem like a huge leap when I was doing Custa News. When I casted, it feels very natural. 

So when I was getting into esports and I was playing, I remember looking at other jobs because you can’t play forever. What else could I branch out into in the future? Being on the broadcast as an analyst or a caster, all those things are very interesting to me, so somewhere down the line I’m sure you’ll end up seeing me there.

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