Written By: Steve Vegvari
Exi has been embroiled in the Overwatch competition since the early days of the beta. After discovering what eSports may have in story for him, he has committed the time to honing his skills. Exi loves the notion of bouncing between roles, but often finds himself fulfilling the tank position.
Q: Tell the readers a bit about yourself.
A: Hey, my name is Nick Dudek, or as more people probably know me, Exi. I’m 25 and live in Montreal, and I’ve been playing Overwatch competitively for over a year now, since the closed beta.
Q: How did you first get into competing?
A: Competing in eSports was never something I’d really seen myself doing. I’ve been playing video games since I was really young– I learned to read playing Warcraft 2, but it was never something I’d actually considered pursuing as a career. When the Overwatch beta came out though, I got in and started playing quite a bit, and a team ended up asking if I was interested in playing with them. I was just finishing an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, and had no plans past that, so I figured I’d give it a shot.
Q: Who do you main while playing? Any tips for players utilizing that character?
A: I think one of my strengths as a player is that I’m pretty comfortable on a lot of characters, and have played quite a few roles for my various teams across my time in Overwatch. If I had to pick one though, I’d probably go with Zarya, given how much time I’ve spent playing her.
As for tips, I think one of the most important aspects of playing her is using her cooldowns properly. A good shield at the right time means saving your teammate while also getting yourself a whole bunch of energy; a bad one means you have no defensive utility, and probably won’t be doing too much damage either. It’s really important to get value out of each bubble.
Q: As Season 5 comes to an end, is there anything in particular you’d like to see added to Overwatch when Season 6 launches?
A: I think something along the lines of a ‘choose your role when you queue’ feature would be pretty good. A lot of the time you end up in games where people either can’t or won’t play certain roles, and it really hamstrings your team’s ability to put up a good fight. Something else I’ve heard is that there are all sorts of factors that influence how much rating you gain or lose in games, like which character you’re playing. To me, that doesn’t really seem right, and I’d like a more fair system for adjusting rating gains or losses.
Q: What is your daily routine look like leading up to a big event?
A: I don’t think I really have anything too special to prepare in terms of a routine. I guess the biggest thing would be to make sure to warm up beforehand. Ideally, that means playing a bit with your team, although even just on your own helps too. That and caffeine. I’ll usually drink a whole lot of coffee or something before and during the event.
Q: What has been your biggest hurdle in regards to competing?
A: One of the things I’ve struggled with at times has been consistency. I think my play can vary quite a bit from day to day, or week to week. Sometimes I’ll feel like I’m killing it, and then sometimes I’ll feel like I’m in a slump, and the stuff I’m trying to do just isn’t quite working out. It can be frustrating to know that you’re capable of playing better than you are currently, but be unable to reach that level for whatever reason.
Q: Have you figured out a way to push past it?
A: I’m not really sure I’ve completely overcome it, but I think the most important thing is to just keep trying to play how you normally do, and not worry about it. If you think you’re playing poorly and it makes you start second guessing your judgment or decision-making, it becomes a cycle. The best thing is to just keep playing how you normally do, and focus on just trying to play your best.
Q: What is it about Overwatch that always brings you back?
A: I love high-pressure situations with everything on the line. I know some people find it intimidating or get nervous, but for me it’s the opposite. The bigger a game is and the more it matters, the more I love it. I think it’s something about knowing that those games are the ones that you practice for. It’s the whole point of spending all those hours playing with your team and on your own, of reviewing your games to see what you could do better and what strategies you could use. Win or lose, you know that both teams are there to play their absolute best, and that feeling of giving it your all against a team that’s doing the same is why I compete.
Q: What has been the most rewarding moment when you look back on your career?
A: From when I first started competing and joined a team, my goal was to make it to a LAN. I hadn’t ever really wanted to pursue a career in gaming, and didn’t really follow eSports at all, but I’d always thought it would be awesome to play at a major LAN event.
We had a chance to qualify last September for the ELeague Overwatch Open, and after playing through a bunch of qualifiers, we were in the home stretch: a group of four teams where the top two qualified for the LAN itself. We had arguably the hardest group, and started off by losing to the team that was considered to be the best in the group, although we put up a good fight. After that, we faced a team that was expected to be the other one to make it out of the group, and beat them without too much trouble. That meant we had one last series to play, where if we won, we were in, if we lost, we were out. We actually started off losing the first map, but managed to bring it back in honestly the closest series I’ve ever played. The moment when I saw the ‘victory’ message pop up on the screen, and we managed to qualify for a LAN was a moment that will stick with me forever.
Q: Any tips you can give to readers pursuing a future in eSports?
A: I think one of the most important things is to realize the kind of commitment it requires. It really isn’t something you can do on the side, because there’s going to be someone out there who wants it more and is putting more time in. If you’re willing to commit that kind of effort, always be focused on improving and getting better as a player, and people will start to notice.
Q: Anything in store for yourself in the future? Tournaments?
A: Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. I’d love to keep competing, but with the Overwatch League coming out, I can’t really say what form it will take. Hopefully, I’ll be a part of the league, and if not, it’ll be the next goal I set for myself to achieve.
Q: Where can people find you online?
A: I’m on Twitter as @exi_ow, and also on Twitch as twitch.tv/eexi.