Ping, in gaming parlance, is the time taken for an input (e.g., pressing a key) to reach the server where its impact is felt and relayed to other players. If you want to compete at the highest levels, you want as little ping as possible, and playing with high levels of ping is typically seen as a big disadvantage. This is why LAN events are held up as the gold standard of competitive integrity, as it levels the playing field. Due to the ongoing global pandemic, high ping is an issue that has really impacted some players and teams: The 2nd generation Vancouver Titans roster, in particular, suffered from this, with the otherwise high-calibre off-tank KSAA being a noted victim, but many teams were forced to deal with it in some capacity.

It’s not always a catastrophe though: one player succeeding in the face of a ping disadvantage is not uncommon at a Contenders or OWL level, but this usually extends to “Fielder” situations, where a single strong player is picked up from another region. At the Contenders level, we typically see EU players going to NA (occasionally vice versa), and this also happens regularly between the (now defunct) PAC region, China, and Korea. And whilst we have seen NA and EU teams pick up individual Korean players, I don’t think we’ve ever seen a full Korean team enter NA Contenders Trials, and we certainly haven’t seen one put up the same performance as newcomers “200 ms”.

Who are 200 ms?

200 ms is an all-Korean roster made up of players from the Korean ladder or loaned from Korean Contenders teams, who finished 2nd in Group A for NA Trials October, picking up Malibu’s abandoned Trials spot. They finished with a 4-1 match record, and +5 map differential, only losing to Karasuno on day two and actually beating the first-placed team Odyssey 3-2 on day three.

Group A October Trials results, taken from Liquipedia

And whilst I introduced the team as “newcomers” they’re only really newcomers in the NA scene, and you’ll doubtless recognise some names if you’ve been following Contenders closely (you have been following Contenders closely, right?). This was the 200 ms roster for their run through Trials:

  • Felinz, DPS
    • Sydney Drop Bears, World Game Star Chick
  • Finale, DPS
    • Bravoss gaming, Team Imperial
  • MuZe, Tank
    • Eternal Academy, Talon, WGS Phoenix,
  • Violeta, Tank
    • Starlight Gaming, Gen.B,
  • vigilante, Support
    • GGTC/BATTLICA, Triumph Gaming, World Game Star Phoenix
  • DDobi, Support
    • GEEKSTAR, World Game Star Phoenix

Since qualifying for Contenders proper, DDobi has gone back to WGS as an assistant coach (where he helped WGS to a close victory over RunAway), and 200 ms have picked up ‘owo’, formerly of a lot of places (OZ Academy, Gen.G Academy, Lucky Future Academy), and she’s now looking for her shot alongside the remainder of the 200 ms roster.

Learning more about 200 ms

To find out a little more about the team, I reached out to team owner, SZNS, who was kind enough to make time around schoolwork and managing their team, to talk a little bit about their goals, ethos, and players.

SZNS, please tell us a little bit about yourself first – what’s your background in OW? Where might people have seen you before, if at all?

My name is Leo “SZNS” Gzebb and I am a former Contenders Main tank that has played in NA earlier this year. I was also a former owner of the NA team Malibu, that participated in contenders this season (September 2020), but unfortunately ended.

First off – congrats on finishing second in Trials this season, did you expect to place so high when you started this?

I personally expected the team to reach top 2 in the group and make the October Contenders Tournament, but there is always an unknown when you have players on very high ping. I expected them to perform well, just because I have never in my Overwatch career, have seen a harder working team environment from this group of players and coaching staff. Just for example, for Korean players to scrim during NA times, most players are expected to wake up at 7 AM KST, (sometimes 5 AM for earlier scrims). This alone shows their dedication and effort the team puts forth to reach the goals they set.

Where did the idea for ‘200 ms’ come from? Obviously, there is a history of individual high-ping players in Contenders NA, but I don’t think there has ever been a full KR team in NA Contenders.

The name behind 200 ms is from the average ping (Latency) Korean players will play on when on North American East Servers (MuZe came up with this name last minute). After the disbanding of Malibu, a Korean Overwatch Contact of mine, who has been involved with teams from Korean/Pacific contenders, had a group of players wanting to play in NA for western exposure and preparation for their next step in their careers, (hopefully OWL). This team is currently the roster of 200ms.

Was there any inspiration taken from players like Fielder in the OWL who have this kind of big ping disadvantage?

Fielder’s play in OWL this season was very interesting as he looked so dominating/a top player of his role when playing on high-ping. I believe that when a player has such a high level of game knowledge and can adapt to many situations they face mid-game, the player can perform well regardless of a decrease in mechanics due to high-ping. 200ms was a separate idea/inspiration from KR players on high-ping this OWL season.

Was any of this related to seeing NA as a “free region” for KR players, in the way that teams like some NA teams did with South America?

I think the consensus from KR players/teams about the NA contenders region, is that the level of team play/macro is not the same as it is in Korea, but NA as a region is very unpredictable from what you see from teams/players. The players on 200ms don’t really know many names in NA so no matter who they are up against, they will respect the other team and never go into the match thinking any match is a free/guaranteed win. The team still realizes that playing on high-ping is not an easy task so they will not take anything for granted.

How did you begin to approach players to take part? You’ve got some pretty well-known players, like MuZe, were they immediately onboard? Could you maybe tell me a little bit about how everyone came together?

The players as a group were originally already wanting to play in NA, (maybe even starting from Open Division). Since there was no Open Division in September, the players would have to wait until November to play in Contenders Trials, if they participated and managed to reach Trials from October Open Division. I just took part in giving the players an earlier opportunity to play in Contenders through transferring the spot Malibu had to 200 ms.

It feels weird to ask, given that you finished second in trials, but: how big a disadvantage was playing on very high ping? Does high ping change a lot about the way you have to play the game? Are there any strategies or heroes that you can’t use in this environment?

I think having NA teams mixed with 1 or 2 foreign players on high ping isn’t a huge disadvantage, as most Individuals can adjust to what is expected from them in the team play/role. However, when you have a full roster on high-ping I think it becomes exponentially harder for the team to adjust. The server response for ability/ult timing (even just aim) is slightly behind for every player in their role. The roster of 200ms overcomes this disadvantage, through the strong Korean team play/macro and decision making. The game as a whole is still played the same, but the players definitely need to have concise decision-making mid-match and have a clear understanding of what their role is during team fights.

How have the players reacted to this success? Do they intend to keep competing in NA?

From my perspective I think that the players have not really reacted to their recent performance in trials, with the hard work they have put into adjusting to the high ping and scrimming on NA times, I think the team understands their results have reflected their dedication and grind working as a team. I am not sure what many players are looking to do after this season on NA contenders, I hope that their talents will be recognized in NA, and promising opportunities will be available for them to take the next step in their playing careers

Have there been any challenges in communication across the team / with officials?

Fortunately, since 200ms has great staff, Mobugi (Head Coach) provides a clear and understandable structure that I even can pick up on, and with the help of Cuddlemaster the team’s translator, the transition of the team to be playing in officials that are English only has been smooth. Obviously, if the Contenders admins, come across any problem with matches, etc, I am always on standby willing to help out.

You’ve already seen one player move on to a team in their region, do you intend to keep filling the roster with KR players indefinitely, or is there a point at which you’ll start adding regional talent?

Honestly, we will see at the end of the season, if there are any roster shakeups with players maybe wanting to return to Korean Contenders after playing in a season on NA. I am not completely sure, but I think it would be very cool to set up a team structure/environment to include NA talent with a mix of Korean talent under Korean Coaching, I think it could be very beneficial for NA players to learn different perspectives and how Korean players/coaches think about the game

So, 200ms: a team performing well in the face of ping adversity, looking to make a name for itself in an unconventional setting, with twenty Overwatch League teams currently considering options for the 2021 season? Sounds like a good reason to watch Contenders, starting up October 28th over on the Contenders YT channel (Maybe it will hit the OWL channel like Contenders Korea did? Remains to be seen.)

Stay up do date with how 200 ms are doing in the run up to Contenders by following their socials: