Overwatch League: The Quarterfinals

It was an interesting and quite surprising week in the Overwatch League, with the inaugural season’s playoffs starting this week. It was the Philadelphia Fusion versus the Boston Uprising and the London Spitfire up against the LA Gladiators. It was an extremely exciting week that I can’t wait to break down for you. So here we go.

The first day of matches was the 11th, with all of the teams starting off. The first match of the game was the Fusion vs. the Uprising. The Uprising got utterly destroyed in the first match of the game, which was set on Dorado. The Fusion just walked all over their defense and Uprising’s offense didn’t do much better. Uprising took the second map in a strong showing on Oasis. The next map, Eichenwalde, was a nail-biter but Fusion ultimately took the map away for a 2-1 lead over Uprising going into the 4th map. Boston must’ve felt very confident going into Volskaya Industries, a map they have never lost on. Well… until they did against the Fusion. The Fusion walked all over them, getting both points while holding Uprising to 0 points, winning the match 3-1. The next match of the day was the LA Gladiators and the London Spitfire. I can quickly sum this match up for you: Gladiators destroyed London 3-0 for the day.

As a fan of both of these teams, I was pretty bummed out about the matches. Still, I keep a positive attitude that my beloved Uprising would #RiseUp going into Friday’s matches. For the weekend, each sets of team would play the entire day. So the 2 matches on Friday were Fusion vs. Uprising and Saturday had LA vs. London. On Friday, Boston did #RiseUp in the second match, but it was a rough ride. Both teams played amazingly but Mistakes certainly stepped up and helped give his team the edge. I don’t care what he thinks, but his performance was much better than the 5.6/10 he gave himself. Also, Note was amazing and he deserves a lot more credit than he gives himself and other people give him. Back to the matches. In the first set of matches, I was pleasantly surprised how well they handled Hanamura, their worst map, which they won in the first match. The second set of matches gave us a different look at the team. Again, Boston destroyed on Junkertown as they did in the first match. However, after that things started going downhill. Uprising was wrecked in Lijiang Tower. Hybrid maps are pretty tough for them and they just couldn’t quite get Eichenwalde down for the win, a map that they chose. The probably the worst mistake HuK could have made happened. I see where he was going with it, but statistics matter. I don’t know if it was arrogance or he figured that they won on Hanamura once today so they could easily do it again. Either way, the safer choice would have been Volskaya, a map they have a much higher win percentage on. Boston lost, and Fusion advanced to the semi-finals against NYXL. More on my thoughts on this match after the recap.

I did lose a bit of hope in the Spitfire, a team that after winning the first ever Stage Championship went into a slump. I watched without too much confidence, expecting a Battle of the LAs in the semifinals. (Imagine the ratings for that.) However, London Swept both matches and advance to go against the LA Valiant in the semifinals. As for the semi-finals, I expect the Fusion to give XL a run for their money but I think XL will walk away the big winners of everything. Spitfire and Valiant could go either way but the way Spitfire played this weekend gives me hope that they could make it to the finals. I’m rooting for an XL vs. Spitfire finals. Then at least my 2nd choice team could win and I can walk away happy.

As for the Uprising, what happened? I’m not too disappointed; they made it much further than anyone expected. However, they had the potential of making it to the next round. They had the potential to make it all the way. They had the potential to win, being the only team to beat the XL as much as they did. So what happened? First of all when you run a single support, that support needs to stay alive longer than 2 minutes in every fight. Because you can’t really see what’s going on, it’s hard to say why he died so much but it was definitely a combination of factors. Maybe at some point they should have just tried Snow in his place (or even Avast) because if they were going to lose, mixing it up to see if that worked could have changed the entire outcome of the match. There is also the issue of being tired. The Uprising only has a few extra players to help relieve the core if they get tired. Unlike the Fusion, who seemed to keep swapping players in and out. They had a team with a break. We didn’t. That’s our fault. We also need to pickup some DPS player with a massive character pool. Mistakes can only do so much and Striker seems like a waste to be anywhere but on his signature Tracer. They have a strong core but this core needs to have a break at some point to keep them fresh. Also, what was HuK thinking when he chose Hanamura? That was a Belichick move: Genius if it worked, awful for him if it didn’t. Unfortunately this time that gamble didn’t pay off. I understand the thought behind it. Fusion put in Hotba, someone who played a surprisingly great Tracer that threw Uprising off on Volskaya and stomped them into the ground. To screw with them, pick the unlikely map to mess with their head. However, we were 3-8 on that map at this point in time. It was dumb. It really was a dumb call. Adjust to Hotba not screw yourselves over.

Adaptability and not resting their players is the biggest issue this roster seems to have. There is a strong core of players that you can work with, you just need to build up the roster even further to give the team more of the tools that they need to adapt to a variety of different situations. Good job though, Boston Uprising. I am proud to be a hardcore fan to such an amazing group of people. I hope they come back even stronger next time.

 

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Girls and Gaming

I’ve been an avid gamer for a long time. I’ve been big into online games since Vanilla WoW, though I’ve been doing more beta than live WoW these days. There has been a lot of talk about girls and their treatment by other gamers. I have decided to weigh in as someone who has been doing this online thing for probably just over a decade. I don’t really want to do the math because some days I already feel older than I’d like to admit.

Gaming was a lot easier for me before I started raiding and had to speak on Vent. Before then, I could just be a good player. Okay, mediocre at best. I had potential, I just get in my head and decide the living is more important than the meters. It was easier back in Vanilla. There were defined roles. Priests were healers, backing up their Paladins in the 40 mans. It was cut and dry. Then instead of just being a player, you became a “girl player”. That was that. Girl first, player second. Eventually, for a short period of time, I became a named GM as part of a council. My peers, male, were regarded as just being “boys”. If I had to reprimand someone or give orders in raid, I was the bitchy girl bossing them around. It happened. The guys laughed. It bothered me a little at first. Not because of what they were saying but because I know why they said it. Anytime I was in an Officer style position after that in WoW, it was the same thing.

When people made jokes about me, they treated me like a wounded animal. It’s okay, they’re just jerks. It’s instinct, right? Protecting the little girl. It sucked but you sucked it up because you couldn’t show weakness. I started mouthing off and not taking it. That’s an easy way to make you a heartless bitch again. You get over it. After a while, things in the game got better. Aside from comments like “we have girl players. Some of them are actually good.” You have to work harder than your male counterparts.

Games like Overwatch are much worse about this. I refuse to talk on chat, unless it is absolutely undeniably necessary. Why? Because despite being praised earlier on in a match, the minute I spoke and came out of my gamer closet as a girl, I was suddenly no longer a badass. I was now terrible at the game. I was playing the same level of play that I was earlier on in the match, but suddenly now I have to get off of competitive because I have no idea  how to play. They would have respected me more if I pretended I was a pre-teen boy who hadn’t experience puberty yet.

It does scar you a little bit. It makes you not want to fully engage the game. Sometimes you get lucky. Maybe there’s another girl in the group. Maybe there are some more open-minded gamers. It’s not even a majority of the time you experience it, at least in my case. If I’m on a winning streak with a group and got 3 PoTGs (Play of the Game) in a row, I’ll speak up and get comfortable. But when it does happen, it stings. I shouldn’t be afraid to chat while playing a team based game. Look at what happened to Geguri. She is ridiculously good, so she obviously has to be cheating as a player. I’m not entirely sure she would have faced the same scrutiny if she were a male gamer.

The moral of this story: it depends on the game and the people you surround yourself with. In WoW, my guild treats me as one of the guys. They don’t care about anything other than that I’m a team player who shows up and does my job. There’s still a little bit to go with games like Overwatch, but I feel as though part of the problem is the age and maturity of the players. As more women dominate this game, I think it will be a strong turnaround.

The Internet is a Scary and Dangerous Place

The horrors that you find online are terrifying. They lurk in the shadows of anonymity. You don’t even know they are there until… that moment when.. you log into your social media account. That’s right, I’m talking about the keyboard warriors that feign outrage as the tides tell them to. The ones that you respect until you see their social media posts and you wonder, “Who is that monster?” I get it. I’m terrified also anytime I log onto social media. In fact, I would probably avoid the whole thing entirely if my livelihood didn’t exist in this scary, anonymous world.

See the thing is, I have never said anything on social media that I would say outside of it. My blogs, as boring as they may be to some, are me. They are genuine and authentic. Sure, sometimes they are so dripping with sarcasm and mockery of things that I find ridiculous. But I promise that I mean every word that gets typed up in this little box. I really don’t have any care if people hate me by the time I’m done saying something. That’s their problem; not mine. My mom always told me to never say something behind someone’s back that I couldn’t say to their face. Unfortunately for her, the lesson took too well. Because I do just say whatever the hell I want and I don’t care if I say it to someone’s face. Good thing I can defend myself if I need it because I’ve seen the look in other’s eyes when words just come right out of my mouth. Honestly, I wish I could say I felt bad afterwards. But, I usually don’t. I take it back. I just don’t feel bad afterwards. I’m pretty terrible.

Back to the original point. I see the way people talk to each other online. It’s sad. “deranged lib”? You can not be a deranged lib and still think Trump is terrible. I think Trump is terrible and I make no secrets that I thought Hillary was also a horrible idea for president. There is a middle road, just more people need to learn to take it. I didn’t even really like Johnson but by the time I went through my list, I decided to vote for the Vice President I’d rather deal with. No brainer: Weld all the way.

People hate each other. Hate. It’s not one sided. The so-called “deranged libs” are just as guilty as the other side… I’m not even sure what the Republican equivalent is… I only see the “deranged lib” or “libtard” on my social media. The minute you even correct someone for their blatant (or misguided) disregard of the truth or point out their hypocrisy on topics, you are automatically a villain. Sure, I’m a villain that’s a fan of facts. Yes, the Space Force is a waste of money when there is already NASA and the Air Force Space Command. Yes, the wall is a waste of money. What about people who tunnel in underground? What about the ones who manage to sneak by an underpaid border agent that really doesn’t care or the ones that get bribed to look the other way? How about the people that come by taking a boat? Walls won’t help any of these situations. I’m a realist.

If I correct you on social media because of any of these things, it’s not because I’m a deranged lib or an alt-righter. It’s because it’s about time people worry more about the actual facts of a situation without following blindly with an “it’s us or them mentality”. It’s because I believe in civil discourse. It’s because I believe name-calling is wrong on all levels, especially when it’s over who you voted for or what your personal beliefs are. I don’t hate you. I don’t even care about your political beliefs. I have some people who I wholly disagree with on so many levels on my social media. I don’t mock them for it. I add in a comment pointing out that they are factually incorrect on something and stand my ground and then leave it alone because apparently people hate reason. Friends are friends and they aren’t worth losing over a hopefully short-term trend of “if you’re not on my side, you’re the enemy”. I won’t stoop.

I don’t think the baker refusing to make a cake for a gay wedding is the same as denying a Trump employee service. Following your morals, whether I agree with them or not, is respectable. I can just choose to not spend money in your business. Refusing to serve Sanders in a restaurant? Petty, but it’s the choice of the business. If you don’t like it, don’t spend your money there. Spoiler people: things really are just that simple. I don’t purchase things from Hobby Lobby or Chick-Fil-A because my beliefs don’t align with theirs. I don’t make posters bragging about that. They have their rights and I have mine.

People say, “Well Obama started it..” blah blah blah. Guess what? You can stand on your adult feet and end it. Change only happens if you care to make it. If you’re not trying to create change, you are part of the problem and have no, and I mean absolutely no, right to call anyone else the problem. People are spending too much time stooping. You cannot call someone a “libtard” or “deranged lib” then get pissed if they return the jab. Be better. Everyone needs to be better. I’m actually really sick of writing about this. I’m sure I’ve written a very similar post at least 5 times already. It’s disgusting. I’m disgusted.

I hope I have successfully berated all of you, no matter who you voted for or who you follow. United we stand….

First Impressions of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth

I start by saying that if you haven’t read “Before the Storm” yet, you need to. It was a fantastic book that really sets up a nice picture for the upcoming expansion.

I was fortunate enough to have participated in the alpha and then was later invited to the beta. I have been streaming my progress on the beta, which you can check out on Twitch: username Leighanneore. I have already leveled a character on both sides of the aisle to get a comparison of the story and try out different characters. Currently on my stream you will see my leveling a Lightforged Paladin, waiting eagerly to try out my boomkin Zandalari that I have been waiting so desperately for.

The first play through happened when the beta first came out. Despite all the bugs, the first zone I completed was Tiragarde Sound. I was disappointed because there seemed to be no story. What happened to Jaina? Do you ever see a resolution to the Ashvane storyline? (In a recent update patch, you did at least a resolution to the Lady Ashvane story.) The leveling was very quick in comparison to other expansions. My biggest problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a good story on the Alliance side. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any real story on the Alliance side so far. Drustvar has the most interesting quests and storyline as of this point, but that isn’t a knock to this zone. This zone has a really really good storyline to it. The bonus is that the zones on Kul Tiras are stunning.

The Horde side does have a cohesive story that was actually very well done. The zones are complicated and confusing to get around. So much so that you may see me on my stream just flying from one side to the other rather than traveling by mount. Though as soon as I learned the portal, I just did that to get back to the main city area from the docks. Still, flying to the docks is the quickest way to get there. Bwonsamdi is a nice touch to the zone (don’t want to spoil too much about this character), which I think helps to make this story better than the Alliance side.

Each side has their own positives and negatives at this point. Still, overall I have to say that I think this is an unimpressive expansion. Maybe they are saving a lot of the punch for launch, but as it stands right now it is just a little bit more interesting than WoD. I say that because at least I got my Pandas in MoP, but both of those expansions were unimpressive. Battle for Azeroth may not have even been that bad if it weren’t for the fact that Legion was such a good expansion.

Check out my Twitch channel for videos of play throughs. Eventually I’ll update my YouTube page with past videos. Maybe this week.

The Overwatch League- The End of the Regular Season

The final stage of the Overwatch League’s inaugural first regular season has finally ended. Shanghai never got their win, but they did get significantly better. Things are going to turn around for them next season when they work out their little issues, such as not being able to close up a match even though you fought hard. Here is a quick look at what happened this week.

Boston Uprising started off the stage with no wins but turned it around, winning every game that they needed to in order to stay in the playoff contention for the post-season. This team, that everyone predicted would finish in last, actually finished off in 3rd place and will cry home with their fancy  guaranteed $150,000 prize money on top of the $25,000 they won for second place in Stage 3. Just for getting into the playoffs, they will walk away with a minimum of $50,000. Not bad for playing a video game.

Valiant did not walk away with the first seed in the Stage 4 playoffs, but they did walk away with the championship. Valiant defeat the reigning Stage 3 and 4 champions the NYXL to take the $100,000 prize pot for the stage. This win wasn’t a surprise. Valiant had a solid Stage 4 and in the previous match, NYXL struggled against the Dallas Fuel to even make it in the finals. With no break in between to rest up, they weren’t the strong team NYXL fans have grown accustomed to. As much as I love SBB and Pine, I was glad to see another team walk away with the championship title.

The playoffs are a month away and these teams are going to be practicing non-stop to get their hands on the $1 million prize for the Grand Finals champion. I hope my Uprising makes it, but realistically it will be a NYXL vs. LA Valiant for a rematch. I hope to be surprised but that is my early prediction.

I also can’t wait to see what’s in store for the All-Star matches. I’m hoping for some Mystery Heroes or Competitive Deathmatch action. No matter what happens, that will certainly be a fun event to watch.

Amid the Parenting Struggles, It’s the Little Things

There are little things that parents who have had “normal” children take for granted. It’s ok. I get it. My oldest child has always been, and is still in a lot of ways, the “perfect” child. He’s so well-behaved that it feels like I have to pick at something small to make him seem worse than he is. Sure, he doesn’t help out around the house as much as I’d like but what teenager really does? He gets straight As, has a plan for college, and is pretty much loved by everyone who meets him. He won’t even pull out his phone in class without asking permission first. He is just too good. He crawled, walked, and spoke well before the milestones said he would. He could read at an early age and was reading at a college level before he went into middle school. He’s smart, athletic, and adorable. And most importantly, he’s kind and protective.

It’s a shock to go from that to a “abnormal” child. I use the quotes in both cases because I’m using society’s definition. No child is normal or abnormal. They just do things their own way. My youngest started following the same trends, hitting most of his motor skill milestones as early as his brother or in some cases earlier. I had no idea that there was going to be a problem. I knew at some point before his first birthday that he didn’t say his first word. By that time, my oldest had already started 2 word sentences. I didn’t think about it. Every kid is different. Milestones, blah blah. Except by 2, he was still practically non-verbal.

When I wrote “A Special Place for Noah”, I reiterated a simple point: every little thing matters. The joy I feel every time my youngest looks me in the eyes to have a conversation with me just can’t be described. He’s engaged. He makes eye contact. Even at 3 by the time he started preschool, he still barely spoke or looked anyone in the eyes. It’s tough knowing that you are doing everything that you are supposed to and still sucking at  your one job. He went from not speaking, to speaking at us, to now actively engaging in conversation. He reads visual cues from an expression on our faces. He’s empathetic, comforting his friends. He plays with kids now, not just next to them.

It seems silly to other parents that don’t understand. They don’t understand that every time a child makes eye contact with you, when they spent so much time avoiding it, is a huge moment. Any time that they don’t have a meltdown because their routine was messed up in some way is a huge moment. All of these little things matter. I don’t care if you think I’m ridiculous in celebrating these little things. Great, your child was potty trained by 2 and speaks exceedingly well for their age. Guess what? That perfect mom isn’t telling you all of the story, only the parts that makes her look like supermom. I used to look at my youngest after seeing posts like that and wondered how I screwed this all up. But I didn’t. I did everything I could. I’m doing everything that I can do. That’s enough for me to go to sleep fine at night.

Some kids just have a slower path but eventually they all get where they were meant to. Sometimes you just have to remember that everyone is different, some requiring a bit more time and patience.

The Power of Words

Today’s post was originally going to be a statement on parenting children with “difficulties”. As a result of recent events, I’ve decided to postpone that post for a treat on Thursday. Maybe this means I can get back to this more often? No guarantees, but I’m really trying to be more regular with this. Back to the point. I’ve decided to finally talk about something that I will probably get hate responses for. Honestly, I don’t care. I’ve made it along just fine not really caring what people think and at 34, I don’t really see this changing anytime soon. I’m too old to change.

As a writer, I understand the power of words. I make a living off of this power. I try to use this power for good. In my books, I write about some issues that may be tougher to deal with but there’s something that you can relate to in them. It gives comfort to others reading something that resonates with them. For instance “A Special Place for Noah”, has a mother breaking down over her child’s issues. Even if you don’t have a child with developmental delays or other issues, every mom has been in that moment where they just locked themselves in a room and cried alone. Just saying this now, you may have nodded in agreement that you have been there. You just connected with those words. Those words had power.

That’s the thing with bullying, isn’t it? People use those words, that power, to hurt others. They use those words to control or harm. And those words do sting. Sometimes those words sting for decades later. I can remember every word a bully said to me back when I was younger. It’s the reality that words are more painful than a lot of physical harm that someone could do to you. Back then, I’d rather someone punch me in the face than use their hurtful words against me. I had no voice then. But I did have one powerful left hook and strong kicks.

I take freedom of speech very seriously. I understand there is a line that you don’t cross. I understand toeing that line of offensive and not. I understand that racial epithets are never okay. Most decent human beings do. I understand that other words take on different meanings to other people and they may find it offensive even if I find it ridiculous that it offends them. It’s not my place to judge. I spend too much time judging as it is, I don’t need more to add to the list.

I understand that there is a big difference between using the word “ape” against an African-American person and the “C” against any woman, though both carry an offensive nature to them. I don’t care to get into debates about which word is more offensive and whether or not celebrities on either side of the aisle get unfair treatment over words. Both sides push their own agenda. For instance, Roseanne was just practicing freedom of speech and it wasn’t racist at all so ABC was just pushing a liberal agenda firing her just like they did with “Last Man Standing”. It’s just another way the liberal media is taking down conservatives. No. Facts matter, people. Don’t just listen to mouthpieces pushing whatever agenda they are paid to push.

However, you cannot say that she was expressing freedom of speech using a term synonymous with racism while demanding that Robert De Niro should be boycotted for saying “F- Trump”. You can’t place freedom of speech wherever you want to make it fit your agenda. If racism gets a “freedom of speech” pass, so does saying “F- (insert a president’s name here)”. I don’t remember seeing those people voicing such disdain when people kept saying “F- Obama”. If saying “F- Obama” is perfectly fine, so is saying “F- Trump”. You can’t have it both ways. It’s either wrong for anyone to do or right for everyone. Me? I say that it’s a perfectly acceptable way to express your opinions. Also, I have been called the “C” word many times in my life and it never even bothered me. They’re probably right. I know who I am. And I can be kinda a “C” word.

Words are powerful. We should be teaching our children to use them wisely. In fact, we need to be better about how we use our words. Our kids are watching us. How are you going to use your words today?