We spoke with the South African coach of ONIC G, Martin “Ewok”, about his journey in the esports scene before moving to VALORANT, joining Indonesia’s ONIC G as their head coach, and preparations regarding VCT APAC Stage 2
Despite never qualifying for Masters or Champions tournaments so far, it is clear that Indonesian VALORANT teams have been a regular presence in the forefront of the APAC VALORANT scene since the game’s inception, and ONIC G are one of the teams that people should keep an eye on.
The VCT Indonesia Stage 2 Challengers champions are currently in the midst of their 2/2 international appearance this year and are hoping to be the first Indonesian team to play in a Masters-level tournament.
ALSO READ: ONIC G unveil ExiledEwok as coach
In an interview with VALO2ASIA.com days before the start of VCT APAC Stage 2 Challengers, ONIC G coach Martin “Ewok” chatted about his esports journey prior to joining ONIC G, the team’s atmosphere heading into one of the most important tournaments this year, in which a Masters 2 spot becoming a non-negotiable goal for the team, among other topics.
VALO2ASIA: Before you became a coach in VALORANT, how was your esports career before?
Ewok: I used to play and compete quite a lot in Dota 2, a game that I began to enjoy quite a lot on the strategic side, and that made me want to compete in esports. After that, I moved to play Fortnite where I started to coach some European players in trios and squads from esports teams.
VALO2ASIA: What were the reasons you started taking an interest in coaching, especially in VALORANT?
Ewok: So I started out wanting to become a pro player in VALORANT. I just enjoy playing the game, and I always feel like I have a pretty good understanding of the game. I also did some observing and shoutcasting in the South African VALORANT scene. After I did some observing and shoutcasting, I found that I could do some analysis of teams and what to expect from them. I have always enjoyed the technical and analysis side of VALORANT.
VALO2ASIA: Tell us more about how you became the coach in VALORANT before you join ONIC G as a coach?
Ewok: I started as a coach for White Rabbit Gaming, an esports team based in South Africa. We were dominant in the South African scene by winning [tournaments]. Some of the players [from the team] are now part of ATK Esports
As South Africa does not have a VCT circuit yet, I wanted to challenge myself, so I did quite a lot of trials as a coach for some APAC, North America, and European teams. I also work as a coach for Aimlab and some collegiate teams in America.
I did a trial as a coach at Global Esports for one month. I learned quite a lot by working with them, however, we felt on both sides that it kind of did not work out, so we mutually parted ways. After the end of the trial, I joined ONIC G on a trial basis, literally on the next day and I began as the coach of ONIC G two and a half weeks before VCT Indonesia Stage 1 Challengers.
VALO2ASIA: How do you feel about working with ONIC G so far and which player are you most close with?
Ewok: I really enjoy working with all of the players and we feel very confident for a moment as we have two weeks off now and we are not used to long days off so we are excited to play again.
As for the player, it will probably be Michael “SEVERiNE” Winata because it is important for the in-game leader of the team to discuss anything from what we agree and disagree on the team’s direction so that both of us are on the same page. Besides Michael, I get along with other players very well together, especially during bootcamp. It has been really nice.
VALO2ASIA: What is your opinion regarding Indonesia and the APAC VALORANT scene as a whole?
Ewok: I am really impressed with the Indonesia VALORANT teams as there are three Indonesian teams in the top ten of VLR.gg’s APAC rankings, so the competition is always tough in Indonesia.
As for APAC, people think there are one or two dominant teams in the region, such as Paper Rex and XERXIA, but [in reality], there are many other teams in APAC that can upset the best team in the region.
VALO2ASIA: In contrast to VCT APAC Stage 1, ONIC G joined a more favorable group in APAC Stage 2. What is your opinion regarding the team that you faced in the group stage compared to the previous VCT?
Ewok: Compared to the play-in and the group stages, [it is] probably a better group for us in this VCT APAC, but I think there are some other teams that we should respect. I think Made in Thailand are a good team and in the play-in stage they were more consistent and improved compared during Stage 1 so I think they are a team that should not be taken lightly at all.
Gaimin Gladiators (previously LaZe), which they beat Paper Rex before [in VCT MY/SG Stage 2 Challengers]. We rather not look at the match as a fluke win; we would rather give respect as they beat one of the best teams in the region and it is going to be a hard game for us.
VALO2ASIA: What is your expectation regarding VCT APAC Stage 2?
Ewok: Our expectations are that we want to go for Masters. That is our goal. We want to represent Indonesia and the APAC region, so anything besides not qualifying is not a job done.
VALO2ASIA: Who is the team that should be watched out for in VCT Stage 2?
Ewok: I think XERXIA Esports are in good form at the moment, and we would like to play and meet with them again. Paper Rex, of course, are a very difficult team to play against because of the mechanical raw skills that the players possess. So we are really excited to play against both of them
Outside of the two top teams, I think we have a pretty good shot of making the top two. Outside of Paper Rex or XERXIA Esports, we do not necessarily have to think about it too much. We just want to get revenge, especially against XERXIA and finish in the top two for Masters.
VALO2ASIA: Any message that you want to say to ONIC G fans?
Ewok: I just want to say thank you so much to everyone that has been super kind whether we win or lose. The people on live chat who still cheer for us even when the round goes wrong or we get eco’ed. There are diehard fans that say it is not over. So I just loved that people kept believing even though it is hard sometimes.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Cover photo courtesy of ONIC G – VALORANT Esports Indonesia