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Interview

Custa on leading LA Valiant, the Battle for LA Pt. 3, and why Australian football is the best

By Josh Lee
Apr 25, 2018
LA Valiant Support, Custa, talks difference between Dallas Fuel and Valiant's training settings, some differences in Australian and American culture, and how he acts as a leader.

Q: How does Australian humor differ from American humor?

I think it's a lot more, as you said, self-deprecating. You're looking to just make fun of yourself, it's very light-hearted. It's a lot of fun of making fun of each other and a lot of banter back and forth, at least from where I grew up. In America, people do take that sometimes, but there's a lot of people that don't really like that kind of humor and that kind of back and forth. So it's different between person, but that's something that I've had to be more aware of, I would say, is making fun of people, because if they're going to take it more personally, the joke isn't anywhere near as funny.

You know I'm gonna ask for an example of when you offended someone.

Off the top of my head? No no no.

Just give me a little example of certain things we might not say.

It probably happens more on my stream than anything else, like someone says something and I come back with a stupid, maybe slightly offensive, but if you know me I'm joking, but then some people get offended, and stuff like that. Just silly things like that.

You're the only Australian player in the league, right?

The only player. We have a coach on Valiant, and there's Uber as the caster.

Do you feel any pressure to represent Australia as a player?

Nothing seriously, because I think a lot of people don't link my play with Australia, but it's great to see Australians. I get a lot of fans from it. I don't feel a massive amount of pressure because there's a lot of great players, a lot of great teams, and honestly I'm just trying to represent our team, not as much my country at all times.

You're an Australian football fan right?

Absolutely.

First of all, what is up with the oval? That confused the hell out of me.

This is actually a thing. So I say, "Hey guys, let's go to the oval," and everyone not from Australia just looks at me like, "What?" "The oval, the thing that you go and kick the ball on." And they go, "You mean the field?" I'm like, "No, it's an oval." And they're like, "But it's not an oval, it's a rectangle." I'm like, "Doesn't matter, it's still an oval." It's this weird thing that I've tried to talk to everyone, and everyone looks at me just like you're looking at me, like I'm an idiot.

Well we don't have oval fields here! When I first saw pictures on Twitter of you going to a game, I was like, "What game even is this?"

It's honestly the best game in the world, I'll say it. In terms of sports, I think it's so much fun. It's fast paced, it's long, it's got everything you want in it. I'm sure I just lost a couple of fans, but you know, hopefully I gained some Australian representation.

Let's narrow it down in terms of sports, because let's be careful here. Football is a religion in America.

Yeah yeah.

So I'm guessing you're gonna say that Australian football is better than American Football.

Yeah.

Why?

Because the thing I hate about American football is how it is so stop-and-start, and it's so—the game can be decided off of very small, minute misplays by one person, which I don't like. I like the game structure where the entire team has an effect, and the team that wins is generally the team, that plays better not the one player who fumbled the ball and then the other guy runs back and hits the end zone.

Q: Your VAL teammates say you make the team environment very positive. How do you bring that impact?

I like to stay positive as much as possible. When you're practicing, when you're playing matches, going through hard times is always going to happen, and getting angry and getting frustrated never really solves the issue. It's something that I always try to alleviate from the team, make sure when things are going wrong that you're always focusing forward, and you're always focusing, saying, "How can we do better? What can we change? How can things be better?" If you sort of get stuck in that negative mindset, it's really hard to come back as soon as you start losing, and it starts a downward spiral. So I try as a player to alleviate that from my teammates as much as possible by keeping things positive.

That's great, because you came in the shotcaller role for Valiant.

Yeah.

So getting a little bit more specific in regards to leadership, what does a good leader or a good in-game shotcaller do, when it's so easy get your teammates hype when you're winning and you're doing well, but when you're losing, obviously it's a different story. So what specific things do you say, or how does your communication style change?

It's all about trying to refocus the team and focus them on not what just happened. Like today is a great example of our match, where we had a blowout on Anubis, we had a good defense but then our offense was garbage, and then we had the same thing on Junkertown. And it's all about helping the team take their mind away from that. It's done. Can't take that back, and then just focusing on the next thing, and just—what I generally do is I like to focus on the little things that we've talked about in the past and sort of bring them up, start reminding people the next game so they start thinking about the next map, start thinking about the next play. So therefore all the negative things are out of their mind, and they're starting to think about the current match.

Is Valiant the type of team to start arguing in game, or is it more quiet?

No. From my experience with Valiant, we haven't had many arguments in game. We have discussions outside of it, but I don't think I've ever had a situation where a player is noticeably upset that something is happening, and that it's actually going to bring the team down. Obviously people get frustrated every now and then, but one of the things that I think we're really trying to focus on the Valiant is keeping that out of the game. Keeping a very positive environment where everyone can feel that they can say what they want to say and do what they want to do without feeling attacked or frustrated, or feeling like they can't do anything.

Q: When you were on the Fuel, did you have a training facility?

We trained here.

Oh you trained here?

Yeah, so there's a bunch of rooms and offices that I think most of the teams utilize. It allows you to practice on LAN client, which is a really nice thing, but honestly I really enjoy the Valiant place that we have, because it's a lot more isolated, it allows you to focus more on your team and less on the people around. It's also got a lot of nice sunshine, nice areas, and there's a lot of positive vibes from that place, which is kind of hard from a studio, sometimes.

Can you give me a few examples of some creature comforts that the Valiant complex offers that you might not find at the arena?

One of the things that are creature comforts, one of the things that I love the most about the practice facility is we sort of practice in a really nicely decked out garage. But when you walk out the door to go anywhere, toilet, anything, you walk outside. And being outside and sort of disconnecting from being stuck in a stuffy room is actually a really nice thing. We have a coffee machine at our place, which I utilize a lot. But on top of that, all the staff, all the support staff, all the people from behind the scenes that you see at the Valiant are all there. So I've met all the people, I've been introduced, I eat with those people, so it's really nice to—it feels more like a family, because everyone's sort of living and working in sort of the same area.

Q: Who do you think was the Valiant MVP of the Battle for Los Angeles Pt. 3?

I think you've got to get the MVP to Agilities. I think he played a lot of really good heroes and at a really high level, and he really pulled us out of a lot of tough spots, Numbani especially. He was in integral in KOTH as well, because his Pharah was just putting in so much work. We were really questioning at times who we wanted to play in that kind of stuff, and Agilities really pulled through with what his Pharah and Genji play. It's really good to see him playing well, especially in such a high intensity match.

Q: Anything else you'd like to talk about or address?

I think the only other thing is big shout outs to the fans. The energy in the arena today was actually incredible. Definitely the largest crowd, most interactive crowd for both sides, so it was a lot of fun. Like I remember actually hearing, at the very end of that Oasis match, when they started pulling ahead their fans went nuts, and then when we pulled ahead our fans went nuts, like you can hear that from the crowd. You can hear that roar and the cheering, so it was a really interesting and exciting feeling to hear that.

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Interview
Josh Lee profile
Josh Lee
Josh is the lead Overwatch Producer at Blitz Esports. He's also been spotted casting a few Overwatch and League of Legends tournaments.
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