They met curbside at LAX as two 17-year-olds from opposite ends of the country.
Two years later, Jay "Sinatraa" Won and Matthew "Super" DeLisi returned to that airport as close friends, esports royalty and champions of the Overwatch League with an appearance on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon booked for later that night.
In between their full-circle journey, the San Francisco Shock duo has accomplished quite a lot. They won the Grand Finals in September and the World Cup the next month. Sinatraa was awarded league MVP. It is not something any duo in the fledgling league can say they’ve shared.
“It’s not just them liking each other or having common playlists,” Shock general manager Chris Chung told USA TODAY Sports. “They share something more than what other players didn’t have the opportunity to have. … Any given day they’re all having their bromance moment."
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Overwatch League MVP Jay "Sinatraa" Woo in action at the Grand Finals. (Photo: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports)
After their initial airport meet-up, there wasn't immediate success. Overwatch rules prohibit players under 18 from playing, so they spent the first half of the season on the bench. During matches, they had no one to talk to but each other.
"It’s just kind of the way the pieces fell together," Super told USA TODAY Sports.
The classic teenage friendship is rooted in sarcasm and put-downs. Asked to describe Super, Sinatraa immediately fired back with "silly stupid kid." Super's assessment of his buddy wasn't much different — "stupid funny leader."
Their shared inclination for a good time helps them to gel. Nobody wants to practice 10 hours a day, sometimes more, with people they don't enjoy spending time with, anyway.
"We always like to have fun with whatever we’re doing, which makes everyone around us want to have fun and want to be there and want to be great together and have fun at all times," Sinatraa told USA TODAY Sports. "We’re always cracking jokes and all that stuff."
Matthew "Super" DeLisi hugs NamJu "Striker" Gwon after winning the championship. (Photo: Bill Streicher, USA TODAY Sports)
In Overwatch, six players fill a variety of roles to complete assigned objectives against another team. Coordination, communication and teamwork are essential, and the Shock are best at those facets compared to the other 19 Overwatch teams, according to Super.
"Chemistry is so important in Overwatch. I would even say compared to other sports," the Philadelphia native said. "It is such a team game. It’s so hard to solo carry in a game like Overwatch. When it comes to Shock, no team has our level of good relationships. I really think that’s the most important thing when it comes to building a team."
It wasn't always that way, though, and success didn't come at first, either. When Super and Sinatraa, who is from Seattle, became eligible, expectations for the Shock skyrocketed. They took it hard when the winning didn't follow, but the losing brought them closer.
"It’s still hard to grasp what happened," Chung said. "My guess is that they weren’t fully prepared to handle that pressure and perform on stage. They shared that together. They definitely shared that pain together."
Team bonding became an emphasis for the Shock when Chung and coach Dae-hee "Crusty" Park took over prior to the league's second season in 2019. The Shock moved from individual apartments to a house near Los Angeles, with matches taking place at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California. During the season, they eat every meal together.
Currently, the team is in South Korea to hold a training camp while the team's Korean coaches and players apply for their visas.
Honesty develops if you spend that much time with someone, Super said.
"I think our Season 2 roster was something really special," Chung said. "Obviously every general manager, every owner is going to uphold their team, but when people actually come to our team house and see how we are, people see that there is a reason the Shock are different."
And it starts with their stars.
"Super and Sinatraa definitely have something special going on," Chung said. "I think their friendship will probably last a lifetime."
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