The SF Shock caught the western Overwatch scene by surprise when they announced the signing of ANS to the team. With the loss of Nevix and no backup announced for either Moth or Viol2t, many people assumed the next signing they announced would either be a tank or a support. As a result, it came out of nowhere when the Shock signed a fifth DPS. It leaves us with a lot of questions, which will be discussed below.
Who is he?
ANS, also known as ANSANSNIPER, is currently a Korean streamer specializing in Widowmaker. This has led some to call him “the Korean Kephrii.” Tat comparison is entirely misleading when one looks past the surface. Unlike Kephrii, ANS has his roots in professional play. Originally a dps player for the Korean Contenders team BlossoM in 2018, with LIP and Illicit as his DPS partners. During his time on BlossoM, the team was the gatekeeper to Contenders, bouncing back and forth between Contenders and Trials. He retired in early 2019, returning briefly to professional play with his former teammate Mineral (not to be confused with Boston Uprising’s headcoach) on the first iteration of Goin Water S. In his retirement, he has built himself a career as a successful streamer and amassing 140k subscribers on youtube.
Is he good?
Watching his team get dumpstered in Korean Contenders for three seasons, you would be inclined to think that ANS doesn’t hold up to the expectations that the other Shock DPS have established for the team. Critically, he was mostly benched for as a Widow specialist that 3rd season in a GOATS meta. But if you watch recent footage on his stream and youtube channel, you will see that ANS is insane. Many skeptics saw the highlight reel coupled with his announcement and argued that any Widow player could look that good given enough time to collect footage. Fair enough.
Here is one game from November where he happened to que into Sinatraa, Smurf, and Moth on his team. In this one game, he hits difficult shots with such ease and consistency it makes your jaw drop. By the end of the game, he already has enough footage to make a small montage.
Now skeptics might also think “Well this is just ranked – Pro play is entirely different. This is a six man game and he will not be able to replicate his success with OWL-level tanks bothering him. Besides, we saw how he performed in a team environment and it was unimpressive”. This is also a fair argument, however it can go both ways. I would like to suggest that caliber of other players on BlossoM held ANS back.
In retrospect, it is clear that the DPS were the highlight of BlossoM while their supports and tanks were lackluster. When looking at the 2018 BlossoM roster, all of the DPS have made it to OWL. However the only other player who is still active is their offtank SeeYA, who now plays for Team CC. Swoon and dotori, who stayed behind on BlossoM, have recently left the team after failing to qualify for contenders twice in 2019. With Shock’s world class tank line, support line, and coaching staff, I am confident that ANS will be able to reach the potential he exhibits on stream.
How well does he fit in with the Shock team culture?
From his stream and youtube videos, he seems to be a great guy with a strong positive mental attitude. In the announcement video below he states that his favorite team last season was the San Francisco Shock. He says his goal for next season is “to be the team comedian so you can expect some more laughs”. The DPS role is a bit crowded at the moment in the Shock organization, but ANS does not seem to be the type to become bitter or stir up drama over little playtime.
Does this signing make the reigning champs better?
In the short term, only marginally. The Shock already have a world-class DPS line with immense flexibility, and several Widow players in Striker and Architect. That being said though, when Widow is meta, she dominates the battlefield. The team with the better Widow usually gets the first pick, and usually wins. For that reason, it may be a significant move to upgrade from a “great” Widow to “the best”. However, because ANS is a sniper specialist, until he adds other heroes to his pool the Shock telegraph a lot about their strategy the moment he steps on the stage.
They also wouldn’t have much flexibility to adapt to other compositions if their own plans get shut down. For that reason, I would not be surprised if we rarely see ANS this season outside of a Widow meta. Perhaps Crusty and the Shock staff will transfer his mechanics and gamesense on Widow to other characters. It is worth noting that according to SF Shock owner Andy Miller, ANS was handpicked by Crusty. Maybe there are some plans already in motion to develop him further.
Will the Shock release one of their players to make room for ANS?
Sinatraa, Striker, Architect and Rascal are all signed on for the 2020 season and possibly beyond. Unless the Shock trade one of them, it is impossible for them to drop any of their current players. It is also highly unlikely that they would trade any of them, considering the marketability of Rascal and Sinatraa, and Crusty’s love for Architect and Striker. No, the Shock will have five DPS this season.
What does ANS bring to the Shock organization?
This is the big question that must be answered to understand why the Shock signed ANS. I think the big thing people are missing is that ANS is an undervalued prospect with huge potential. If the Shock can successfully develop him under Crusty, they may be able to sell him to another team for a high price. The Shock have a history of player development, trading Danteh, and passing Sleepy and Babybay on to other OWL teams as well. I believe that they may be doing the same with ANS. He also brings a considerable fanbase with him that the org hopes will stay loyal fans.
In conclusion, ANS is a player with a lot of untapped potential. He was passed over by other teams and Crusty hopes to develop him. While Architect and Striker have taken on the role of the team’s Widow player with some success, they have never had a player who specializes in that role. This pickup fills that minor crack in the team’s heropool. If the Shock can help him reach his potential, they could show his potential to other teams and have them pay at a premium to buy out his contract. It’s a very low-risk/high-reward move by the Shock.