The Crazy Rollercoaster of an Off-Season

It has been such a crazy off-season for the Overwatch League. From teams gutting their rosters, reuniting bromances, and the retirement announcements, this has definitely been an interesting off-season to watch. Even the Uprising has made some surprising changes. It has definitely activated major hype mode for me, filling a void that needs to be occupied until Overwatch League season 3 starts.

The biggest announcement from the weekend, and a surprising one at that until you think about it one at that, was JAKE’s retirement. He was one of the primary faces of the Overwatch League, groomed to be a representative of the league to turn it mainstream. He is also one of the most easily recognizable with Rawkus, until Sinatraa and Super started making their rounds. Last year, he started taking on casting roles for the Overwatch World Cup where he turned his passion for the game into intelligent and interesting insight. He was sort of like the Tony Romo of casting: He may not have been the best player in the league, but dude knows his stuff. And that translates well into casting.

As shocking as this move may have been, it kind of wasn’t. He was doing well as a caster. With localization happening in the league, a potentially ambitious but amazing way to put eSports on a more mainstream level, there would be a need for more casters or desk analysts. I honestly applaud him for choosing to walk away rather than not give it his all. Some other players should take notes. I can’t wait to see what’s next for him. The same thing goes for the “shock” announcement of Pine’s retirement. It was sad, but not surprising. I can’t wait to catch his streams as well.

Another mention is the announcement of the Boston Uprising’s President HuK’s annoucement of another Q&A. Every time he does one, I expect a train wreck and end up pleasantly surprised. He seems to be interested in changing perception of him and offering an illusion of transparency. He has been primarily successful in that, but there’s one thing to be completely transparent in an off-season than it is to explain things during the season. Like why didn’t you make a swap in the map with a different player when things are clearly not working? Why are you sticking with a tank that has not proven consistently that he’s more than a GOATs Reinhardt one-trick? If he does a weekly Q&A during the season, I’ll consider that transparency. Until then, you know he’s just going to make an announcement. Likely the venues for the homestands. Which should be in Foxborough though they say they are picking Boston venues.

There is still some time before the season starts, giving plenty of time for more shocking turns and bets on “How long Fissure lasts this season”. I say mid-season break. Until then, we’ll see what happens.

Boston Uprising, Season 3

I was hoping by the time today happened, we’d get some sort of roster announcement finalizing our team for the upcoming season. Teams needed to have a minimum of 8 players signed to the roster last week. Considering we haven’t heard any punishments placed on teams for not meeting this deadline, we can assume the Uprising have met this deadline. Or they didn’t and got an extension or this just isn’t something that is going to be enforced.

In case you’re not in the loop, the Uprising again practically gut their team. All that’s left from their Season 2 roster is Axxiom, Colourhex, and Fusions. I was originally excited about the potential of blasé staying since both him and Colourhex had been under contract. Until they traded blasé to the Houston Outlaws for “cash considerations”. (They sold him off.) At the end of last season, I mentioned that they should keep blasé for his versatility. Colourhex because he clicks heads well. Axxiom because he’s a better tank in my opinion than Fusions. Fusions because even though he’s a Rein GOATs one-trick, he was good at it. He’d be a good backup. I wanted Nevix to pick up the off-tank role (spoiler: he went to Toronto), Swimmer as a main support (who we signed) and I got hopeful for maybe a Sleepy flex support. We got an amazing flex support out of Myungbong and I don’t know anything about our DPS pick up Jerry. Mouffin was signed on a two-way as a flex tank, which means that he’s probably not going to be their main. But he seems like a solid player.

Which means we need a main off-tank for the last spot. We also should be smart like other teams and fill up with a max 12 person roster, so that we have some backups to prevent burnout and such as travel starts in Season 3. There has to be a reason why Mouffin has a two-way contract. Maybe they want to try him out on the big stage before committing to him. I’m not sure. No other big off-tank names stand out as who would be a good fit for us. As for the other positions? Let’s just get some good bench players to actually sub in during matches/play when the starters are sick or otherwise unwell. (Fran to Uprising?)

As for my hopes for Season 3? I do think Swimmer is a massive upgrade to Kellex. Except now I have to buy my son a Swimmer jersey because he’s a swimmer (butterfly), he loves the Uprising as much as I do, and because Uprising blue and yellow looks very close to my son’s blue and gold colors. I liked how solid Colourhex was when he wasn’t on Zarya. I’m still not sold on Fusions and I was even less sold watching him during the World Cup. I do think they should take the off-season to move to Axxiom as the starter. It was there fault for putting all of their eggs in the Fusions basket and when GOATs died, we failed miserably.

I also hope that maybe, just maybe, this is the year that the Uprising learn the value of subbing players in and out. Some players just do better on certain characters on certain maps. We had 0 flexibility, primarily due to the fact that we never swapped players. San Francisco Shock had stacked their DPS (4 or 5 if I recall), swapping around as needed for the best results. You know what happened to them? They won the Grand Finals. People were concerned on maps when Muma didn’t play, thinking there was a problem and Muma was being traded. His response? “I’m just not good on that map”. I have maps I’m terrible on. Many players do. Forcing players to play characters they aren’t great at (Colourhex on Zarya) or on maps that they aren’t great at (Muma and said map. I believe it was King’s Row, but I can’t find the quote) is the same as throwing.

This doesn’t mean that everything is final. They can still trade up until June. But what this does mean is that I’m scared we aren’t going to play it smart and have a full 12 for our roster. I’m scared that they won’t learn their lesson and just stick stubbornly to the same 6 people throughout the entire match and just hope for the best. Fans deserve better. They deserve more transparency.

I don’t want to be a laughing stock of the league again. I want to go back to the time when we were an underdog that overcame everyone’s expectations. I want to be excited about matches again. I was so disappointed that this was one of the many reasons I didn’t buy tickets for the homestands. Plus, I didn’t like the fact I was expected to shell out a fortune to see players that I have no attachment to since they keep gutting the roster every year. I won’t even buy a named jersey for that reason. I don’t like the idea of paying money to a venue that doesn’t exist yet. I don’t want to go to watch my team flunk out because the coaching/management consistently fails the fans. I’d rather do that at home in my sweatpants without dealing with the long drive to Boston or the anxiety of being around that many people. I’m a full-fledged Boston fan and will cheer them on with as much excitement as I did last year. But I really hope the team surprises us this year. I won’t hope too much though because I’m a lifelong Boston fan that has been burned too many times by my teams.

New Season, New Team?

This seems to be the model for many teams in the Overwatch League during this off-season. While the Uprising taking the time to completely implode their team into oblivion wasn’t shocking (the blasé trade for cash did sting a little.. but not shocking), other teams have decided to scrap 90% of their team and staff. I will take some time to talk about some of these interesting moves, my focus is primarily going to be on the Uprising. (Though, please Spitfire, you’d be dumb not to keep Fury. Please keep him, he’s the only reason I started following your team.)

There have been some changes already, some of which was already leaked during the infamous Sideshow accidental stream from last week. Kariv is now a member of the Defiant (though no announcement on Agilities yet. The theory is because they want to film some great teaser with him and Kariv. Maybe this didn’t happen yet due to World Cup scrims?) Space is now a Gladiator. Things are starting to fall as the “Sideshow” leaks said they would.

But what about the Uprising, a team that is more known for its cutting/trading their entire team at the end of every season? Most of us Uprising fans when into this time of year and get rid of everyone. At least we had the comfort of knowing that blasé, Colourhex, Axxiom, and Fusions would be around next year. Until the surprise announcement that they had traded blasé for “cash considerations”. At first when the trade was announced, I wondered what we got from it. Did we pick up the talented and chill Danteh? Seemed like a long shot considering the “No I don’t play for Boston” joke, but it would’ve been a good trade for us. Nope. It was cash. We just sold our most flexible and standout player. It wasn’t too shocking, but it did hurt almost as much as the NotE/Gamsu departures.

Now, with a few weeks left until the November 15th deadline to have 8 players signed, we have 3 players. Potentially 4 if the leaks are true that the Uprising picked up a solid flex support in Myunbong. That’s only half a roster. Boston has a reputation for being a “farm team” or “moneyballing” but how accurate is that? This could be smart on his behalf, considering some teams are rumored to have money problems due to overspending in previous seasons. This is partially due to the new investments in homestands and traveling, something that was a goal for this league from the beginning. Maybe everyone else had poor planning and HuK actually knew what he was doing after all. (Yes, this pained me to say.) Now he has the money to spend on talent and on travel, while still working to get a discount whenever possible. That’s the Kraft way.

Tonight, HuK is doing another Q&A which surprisingly didn’t go so terribly last time. In fact, I did find that he was as candid as he could be without A) bad mouthing a player outright or B) other secret constraints such as contracts being finalized. He promised us to be more transparent and this 2nd Q&A shows that he’s trying to keep that promise. There will be some interesting questions, like why trade blasé when he was easily the most reliable player on the team? What about everyone else? Do we have new signings that you are going to announce? What about a venue for the homestands? I personally haven’t bought tickets yet for two reasons. One, I don’t know where it’s going to be and I don’t want to suffer at an awful venue. Two, I don’t want to pay money to support a team that I don’t know will exist.

It’s hard to be an Uprising fan and I wonder how long they can keep up this business model of imploding their team every year. No one will buy named jerseys if a player is barely going to last the year there let alone the off-season. They might buy jerseys or you might piss them off enough that they go for another team with more stability. As a lifelong Patriots fan, I accept that this is the way things go for the team. But it’s a rough life, especially when you go from one of the top teams to one of the worst teams in the league. We got them to stop laughing only to become a joke again, and the fans aren’t laughing. Hopefully this Q&A can revitalize the fans into being the avid supporters again.

Overwatch League: Season 2 Nears Its End

With the upcoming Rivalry weekend comes the end of the regular season for the Overwatch League. There have been various ups and downs this season that the league can learn from. For instance, Comms Check makes my day every time that I hear it. I enjoy watching the players have fun and it’s great to show off their very colorful personalities. The new pre-show/post-show Watchpoint moments are also great. The desk is great, though I do miss Reinforce playing a bigger role as an analyst. The new All-Star set up was also great, as was the longer breaks for the players. I felt these were things that made the league better for the players. The Homestands were fantastic, showing what energy was capable when the teams moved to their home cities for matches.

The Boston Uprising has 2 matches this upcoming weekend and I really hope that they pull off a win in one of those matches. This stage was supposed to be great for us, with our star DPS set up. What was the Uprising’s issue this stage? As much as I think Fusions is a solid guy who is talented and passionate, I still feel like he’s a GOATs Rein one-trick. His Orisa is slowly getting better but it’s not great. I feel like next year if Sigma is a good pick, you should keep him to off-tank as Sigma and give Axxiom the main tank role. The fact that they haven’t even put him in with the season over already anyways is annoying. The fact that they aren’t playing Aimgod is annoying. The reason this stage was tanked is solely on the backs of the management who are making these calls with 0 transparency at all and expecting fans to just accept it. The times of “In Huk we trust” are long gone. As Patriots fan, we still live by “In Bill We Trust” because even when he trades someone off or doesn’t play someone we think he should, it works out. It doesn’t work out for Huk. He is no Bill, no matter how hard he tries to run his team like he is.

I don’t blame blasé for the issues. He’s doing the best he can as a DPS being forced into an off-tank role, for whatever reason he’s playing. (The general consensus is that this is because rCk has an eye injury, but again, 0 transparency so who knows.) I think Colourhex (I know I hated him as Zarya, but that Widow tho) and Stellar are great and I hope that we keep these 3 DPS stars. I think we rebuild the team around them. Presumably they are selling off Aimgod as soon as they get the chance, but I also think that Fusions and rCk are going too. Persia may be good if he gets some better coaching, but I’d rather just get a solid player instead. Kellex, I could give or take him. He’s the only remaining player left from the original roster and he does show some technical skill.

So next year, I say our roster should consist of blasé, Colourhex, Stellar, Axxiom. Maybe pick up Nevix or Geguri as the off-tank. Then, maybe move Swimmer up from the Uprising Academy and Sleepy for your support duo? I’m picking players that may not be the best only on the grounds that the Uprising won’t pay top dollar for the big stars, so I’m sticking with players that I feel are “budget players”. Of course, this is assuming that they don’t just release everyone like they did last year and pick up players we probably never heard of.

Maybe the Uprising will surprise us and actually try something new for Rivalry weekend, which could give us a win. I just don’t want to go 0-7 this stage, or any stage really. But, we’ll see what happens.

Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 4, Week 3: Will Boston Go Winless?

This week was a little less crazy than last week, with matches going mostly as expected. I won’t focus too much on that. As an avid Boston Uprising fan, I’m going to focus on that. Because, ffs. Wtf. Srsly. Those are the best ways to explain what is going on right now.

First of all, the only good news out of the match: At least we did better than the Titans did against them. And… well, blasé is actually good at Roadhog. Not the best D.Va, but neither is rCk so we didn’t lose too much there. blasé has proven to be such a versatile and valuable player to our team that can fill any role. Maybe next, he’ll take the role of Persia since apparently we’ll never see Aimgod again. Of course, we all know what this means: Boston will sell blasé after the season is over because they always sell off their good players.

When LiNkzr was playing instead of Jake on roles that Jake excels at and LiNkzr, well, not that great at, the people did what they normally do: why did you make that call? Now, when we ask why Aimgod isn’t playing, we get nothing but radio silence. Not even some BS excuse. Nothing. The organization doesn’t respect their fans enough to give us any answers. At least lie and say he’s not feeling well or injured. But the Outlaws? They gave an answer to their fans. Something is going on internally and that decision was made as a result. The Outlaws respect their fans enough to give them some answer. It may have been vague, but it was something. As an Uprising fan, we deserve something even something vague. That shows you that they don’t value their fans.

Why didn’t rCk play against the Justice? It could be because his Roadhog wasn’t great. When fans saw blasé in the tank role, most knew that he’d been practicing Hog/Orisa with Fusions, so it made sense. But Persia over Aimgod? There is still no way that makes sense. Even if he has been outperforming Aimgod in scrims, something is happening on stage to make everything fall apart. This would be like sitting Tom Brady without giving any reason at all. Let’s tank a season without giving any answers while a star player is sitting the bench. Is it because of an internal issue and you don’t want to talk about it because it will ruin the trade value? Maybe the problem is with the organization, not the player? You would think if you wanted to increase his trade value that you would play him to get more value for him. The tank line isn’t working. The support line isn’t working. And the team management/coaching decides not to even try anything new, like maybe Axxiom over Fusions. But, we’ll put a DPS player as an off-tank. I don’t get it.

I’m a Boston sports fan. These are my home teams. I was raised to support them when they fail, because we’ve seen a lot of fail in our time as Boston fans growing up. But it’s really hard to support a team that doesn’t value their fans as they should Will I support them still? Unfortunately, yes. Because they are the hometown team. But it’s getting really hard when the fans seem to care more than the organization does.

Overwatch League: The Final Stage of the Season Begins and a Watch Party

Stage 4 and the 2-2-2 lock has officially begun and honestly, there were some surprises but mostly things have gone as people thought. A big surprise was that the analysts thought that the Boston Uprising would start destroying this stage, since their DPS duo had such great potential. I guess that’s what happens when analysts finally believe in the Uprising. Here is a brief summary of what happened with this massive change to the league this week, and my more in-depth Boston Uprising discussion.

The fact that Houston lost to Paris was a little shocking to me, but they took a win home against the Gladiators to go 1-1 this week. NYXL struggled this week and Shanghai is still on a tear, especially since pulling out what is now known as “Roadfrog” with Geguri making a solid tank line with her Roadhog and Gamsu’s Orisa. Honestly, she was spectacular and it was great to see her back on the stage. It was also great to see Fragi and Bischu make their first appearances on the stage this season. All that’s left really is to see Pine freed from GOATs jail and all will be right again. Most of the other games went pretty much exactly how you thought they would, such as Titans showing that they aren’t GOATs one-tricks and it paid off for Shock to stack their team with star DPS players.

Boston Uprising Watch Party in Foxborough

Normally they do the watch parties in Boston, so to have one that was easier to get to in Foxborough was really exciting. Naturally, we had to attend. We left earlier in the morning to ensure that even with Cape Cod traffic, we would make the event in time. I’m glad we did. We ended up with a great parking spot, got to enjoy walking around the facility without the mass amounts of people that were there during my first trip to Patriot Place. (Apparently there was an Irish festival going on.) We ventured to the ProShop, happy to see that they had a lot more Uprising gear there. Then after some waiting, we went to the place where the watch party was being held.

The restaurant was pretty big, but honestly the fact that they had such a small section for the watch party setup was a little disappointing. The fact that all of the chairs were a foot off the ground was also a little annoying. (Plus the food was meh at best.) Still, they had giveaways and free Uprising stuff so that made up for some of the annoyance. To my surprise, every other television in the bar was switched to Overwatch League. This was good considering that about 80% of the people in there were there for the Uprising match. There were some “oohs” and “aws” during the Valiant match, but the real excitement came when the Uprising were on.

Until.. there was nothing to cheer about. The match was a quick 4-0 domination by the Charge. It was awful. As a fan, it was painful. There have been some bad losses, but this felt different. This was the first time that I was actually really salty over the game. Primarily because I think that my points have been proven about this team. Obviously I have no insider information or even know how their scrims go, but they did so poorly that you have to wonder if they even scrimmed during the break. Fusions is only good at GOATs Rein. I said that he was a “GOATs Rein One-Trick” so many times that I feel like a broken record pointing that out again. The one reason we picked up rCk was his versatility to switch between a mediocre D.Va and a decent Sombra. We gave away NotE because he could only really D.Va and Roadhog. Well.. now we’re in a 2-2-2 lock so we can’t use rCk for his versatility. But NotE… now NotE gets to shine on D.Va and Roadhog. On another team. The tank line is definitely one of the weakest links so far in this stage. They have no synergy and they just can’t seem to get the job done. On one map it almost looked like Ameng got his Hammod alt 3 times before Fusions even got one. That shouldn’t happen. But it’s been a consistent problem for him… since he’s a GOATs Rein one-trick.

The DPS line did well enough. Colourhex seems much more comfortable now than when he played Zarya. There were some shots that I found myself screaming “You need to make those”, but overall he had a solid performance. People were mocking blasé but honestly I felt like he was doing the things that he was supposed to be doing. That’s always been the problem with blasé. He does what he’s supposed to do, maybe without Colourhex’s flash, but he gets the job done. I don’t think the DPS was the problem.

Then.. there is the support line. Kellex has been doing well, and I admit I have been very critical of him since the beginning. But he has shown to be a versatile support that makes the big plays when he needs to. But then there’s Persia. Admittedly, he did better this weekend than he has in the past. But even in this “better” state, he’s still not even close (in my opinion) to Aimgod. You can count on Aimgod to also make those big plays… and to survive most fights. Sure, Persia made some good sleeps and his Moira was fantastic. But I didn’t see a lot of purple enemy players when he played Ana. I saw Colourhex ask for heals to not get any from Persia as he was standing next to him. I saw his problems with positioning and staying alive. Persia may be doing better in scrims but that has not translated to him playing better on stage.

Saturday was a disaster, but at least Sunday wasn’t as awful. It’s still disheartening to see as an Uprising fan. This is supposed to be a meta where we were going to shine. Instead, management seems to want to throw the matches rather than win. Why isn’t Aimgod playing? Why hasn’t Axxiom scrimmed or been given a chance? You’ve given Persia plenty of chances on stage, but not Axxiom. Axxiom is supposed to be an amazing and versatile tank who probably only didn’t start because Fusions’ GOATs Rein was better. But we’re not in GOATs anymore. I hope during this bye-week that Uprising figures it out, because it’s one thing to lose because we’re being outplayed. It’s another thing to lose because you’re too stubborn to stick with what works or try something completely new. I think the fans deserve better from the management, or at least some answers.

Overwatch League, Season 2 Stage 3, Week 1: AKA, WTH Boston?

The first week of Stage 3 has concluded and there were a lot of interesting things that went on. Including some shocking movements from Boston. What were the biggest surprises? What on Earth happened to Boston? This was quite a week for matches, so let’s get into this.

First match of the week was Stage 2 champions San Francisco Shock up against the tragically underwhelming Atlanta Reign. Though, honestly what should have been a 4-0 match where the Shock easily trounced the Reign, the Reign actually put up quite the fight bringing the match into the tiebreaker map. Did the Reign get better or were the Shock having an off-game? Considering the Reign took a map off of the Titans, both situations could have been the case. Do I think they are a playoff contender team? Still, no.

Another amazing moment this week was when the Houston Outlaws decided to take a different approach to their match against the NYXL. The casters and analysts have long been calling for them to play to their strengths and not stick to GOATs, their obvious weakness. This week, they may have lost against NYXL, but they made the match go into a tiebreaker, proving that maybe the analysts were onto something. It was great to see them smiling on stage again, looking like they were having fun.

NYXL also had a fun surprise up their sleeves in probably their strongest showings this entire season. On the stage, appeared the one and only SBB. Saebyeolbe. In what seems like forever when we saw him last. Like, back when Tracer was in the meta, SBB showed a different side: Sombra. And he was utter destruction. I feel like the team played stronger with him out there and that he was a huge part of their 2 wins this week.

Finally, the Boston Uprising. My beloved team. They did some out of character things for them this week. They didn’t play the typical 6 men that they have played 90% of the year. Against the Spitfire, they started Alemao over Kellex and Persia over Aimgod. While I never felt like Kellex was the strongest support out there, Boston has never been known to “try something new” in terms of the players they start every week. Persia, as much as I hear he is a beast, never seemed like a stronger player than Aimgod. This was proven when on the second day, they put Aimgod back in for the matches. Boston lost both matches in a very disappointing way.

On Friday’s game (which I enjoyed at the first Western Mass Uprising watch party), they were easily 4-0’ed by the Spitfire. Why? The support line lacked support, Colourhex had his normal level of performance on Zarya, and Fusions seemed to not be getting any real big plays. It was a mess. It was hard to watch. They got stomped. Granted, Spitfire looked the strongest they have looked all season. But it was not a great match. Paris, which should have been a much better match, wasn’t. Aimgod was back to his amazing self, Alemao was decent but different from Kellex’s playstyle, but the problems were still with Fusions and Colourhex. Colourhex dying all the time doesn’t help. Him seeming like he never has energy doesn’t help. When he’s on DPS characters, he’s great. But he’s forced into a role that he’s obviously not comfortable with and definitely not consistent at. Fusions still has a terrible Winston. He wasn’t getting those big shatters he was known for. It was a mess to watch.

What does Boston need to do to get back on track? First of all, fail less would be a huge start. Was the performance that bad because Kellex is just really good at calling the other team’s alts? Maybe that would have helped the couple times that rCk seemed to be flanking while his team was getting grav’ed. I think that the time has possibly come to put in Axxiom over either Colourhex or Fusions, because we know from the first week that his performance on Zarya was far superior to Colourhex. Statistically speaking, he’s a more technically skilled main tank than Fusions. Giving him another shot could be a great thing to try. I think in their first match, their starting 6 should be: blasé, Axxiom, Colourhex, Aimgod, and Alemao. If that doesn’t work, then they should try the same 6, only replacing Colourhex with Fusions and Alemao with Kellex. At this point, trying everything can make a difference. Oh, and maybe if you’re going to get rid of NotE because he “can’t Sombra”, maybe try pulling out the Sombra. I feel like it wasn’t productive to get rid of an amazing D.Va if you’re not going to use the flexibility that you traded for.