Overwatch League Playoffs 2020: The First Week

I went into the knockouts expecting the Boston Uprising to lose their first match. I still was going to watch and root for them, since I’m not the type of fan that just turns my back on my favorite teams. But I mean, they weren’t going to win right? Even if they were going up against Houston, who has had a difficult time lately. I would’ve been okay with a Houston win, since I like the team. They are good people, have great role models for kids, and are just generally hilarious when you read their social media or watch them stream. But then, the first match broke so many brackets. Because Boston won that first match!

I couldn’t believe it. They did so well the first map. They rolled out with different comps each match. They tried new things. They played aggressively. Our DPS played on characters that they were actually good at. Myunbong was on his apparently most amazing character ever (Ana) and just tossing out sleeps that seemed impossible to get. If this was the team that we had all year, we would have had more than just 2 wins in the regular season. While I admit that when I saw Fusions roll out on the Roadhog I was scared, it turned out so much better than I thought. He was able to play more aggressively, which seems to be his preference. Punk was amazing. They were all amazing. It was incredible and bittersweet to watch. We finally get a meta that works for us, and it’s in the playoffs.

Then the drawings happened for the playoff teams to pick their choices for the next round of knockouts. The first team didn’t pick us. (Gladiators) Then, Atlanta’s resident “villain” picked us. However, instead of his normal trash talk saying things like “ez”, he picked us because he wanted to see the drama and storyline about Decay (Justice) going up against his old team (Fuel) that released him while badmouthing him right before the playoffs.

Now, of course we lost the second round, but I’m not disappointed in the loss. They didn’t get destroyed. They put up a fight. They looked good; just Atlanta looked better.

The playoffs showed me that this team had talent. It showed that I was right; you figure out a way to let these guys play the characters they are good at rather than forcing a meta and they win. They look and play more confidently, which means that they are more aggressive. It was far more enjoyable watching the Uprising lose to Atlanta in the playoffs than it was to watch them lose practically all their matches all season long. Why? Because they played their heart outs. They looked great out there. They weren’t losing because they were terrible; they were just losing because Atlanta was just a little bit better.

What do I want to see next season? I’m definitely hoping for new coaches. Ones that can plan out better strats and work with the strengths of the players rather than forcing something that obviously isn’t working. Is it the coaching or HuK micromanaging? I’m not sure. If he is, maybe he should take a step back and let the coaches do their job. The playoffs showed the potential of this team. I wouldn’t be opposed to everyone staying now. I would even keep Fusions as a tank. I want the team to have more players next season, so that you can swap players in and out like other teams do. Because character picks can be dependent on the meta and the map, so the ability to swap players in and out means that you can get the perfect comps for each map. At least one backup for each position. I’m not asking for a lot here. And maybe next season, actually swap players in and out. Or change strats on the fly. Because there were so many games this season that the team just smashed their head against the wall repeatedly hoping for different results but getting the same exact stomping by the other team. Maybe then, we can have a winning team.

My pick for the Grand Finals winner is Shanghai. I have them in my now deceased bracket going against the Shock in the finals, but I’d love to see a Shanghai win. Plus, Fleta was my pick for MVP so I’d like to see that too. The Shanghai redemption arc would be so amazing if they could add “Grand Finals Champions” to their name.

Those Incredible People You Encounter When Gaming

I debated writing about my experience in the Shadowland Beta this week, but maybe I’ll focus on that another day this week. Today, I was inspired by my encounter playing games today in Overwatch.

I’m not the best Overwatch player. I’m decent enough. I would argue that I’m Mystery Heroes good. I play decently enough but I play because I have fun. I play Mystery Heroes because I was tired of being bullied in competitive, though I would have really loved to make at least Plat since I came so close before quitting. I would have loved to get a gold weapon for at least D.Va. Why did I quit? I primarily play tank or support. Both roles require chat, probably more than other roles. It’s insane how quickly people turn on you at the lower ranks the minute they hear a female voice.

So I don’t play any Overwatch that requires voice chat. I can have just as much fun and get the competitive experience just by playing Mystery Heroes all day long. Sometimes, on Tuesdays, the husband and I play together and he gets me to play quick play for the quicker queues since he mostly plays DPS. But I enjoy that because he can speak for me. I don’t have to worry about anything and he does the call out and I do what I’m supposed to. It’s simple. And I have the safety net of support when playing.

Usually things aren’t too bad lately. But today I played for a little bit before work and having to take my kids to their school to pick up their lunches and it was a nightmare. It reminded me of why I hate playing video games that require interaction with other people. Things were going well until we were getting held by 2 Torbs (Mystery Heroes, of course), and tanks on the final area of Dorado. Finally, we get a healer. I was Mercy. One of the Torbs on the other team Molten Core. This guy and the Rein decide to go through the fire, which would kill me. I stayed back to wait for it to go away and then went in to heal. The Rein died and this guy nearly died. Healed him up a little, then rezzed the Rein. Went back to heal him, he got focused and killed. Then someone says “Too bad we don’t have any good healers.” I didn’t engage, because I never engage. Then he said “Right Leigha?” (My gamer tag is Leighanneore.) Again, ignored it. Eventually we get a better comp, I’m back healing on Baptiste, and we roll through pretty easily after killing the Torbs. I had over 6k healing and gold and I was only healer for that last point. So, I guess super bad?

I paid such little attention that I didn’t even know who said it. I just endorsed everyone on the other team. I end up in another match. Blizzard World, again on attack. We rolled through the first point pretty easily but then started to get held on the last section again. I was Rein, trying to shield a Pharah from above and the rest of the DPS. I stayed with the payload, people were behind me, and I had my shield up to protect the team from the Pharah. The Pharah shot behind my shield and a baby D.Va died. . Same person as last time, “Nice shield, Leigha”. I rolled my eyes. I was getting frustrated because why take us losing out on me? I ended up on Torb, we destroyed through the map and again won. I even ended up with a terrible PotG where I killed a couple people, then dumped lava everywhere and killed more.

I ended up in another map with this same play, fortunately not on the same team. I felt bad for the other team because the way he was mocking me was ridiculous. And uncalled for because it wasn’t my fault we were losing. It wasn’t my fault Rein doesn’t have a dome 360 shield or that Mercy can’t heal through a dumb idea of running through lava. I know that logically, but it stung more than it should have. My team beat the other team and I got to knock him around as Brig. Then he went into another commentary about how everyone was bad at the game but him.

I didn’t want to stop the day on a bad note. A note of a reminder of why I avoid multiplayer games and social interaction in general. I get into my final match of the day and I was shocked by something: kindness. A teammate was being friendly and others joined in. We rolled and they were excited and being so awesome. I never interact, but I did comment in between rounds: “I’d legitimately like to say that this was my first positive interaction in the game today. I’d like to thank you for that.” I meant it. They were giving smiley faces and being generally awesome. I was Mercy, did moderately well, we won. They were happy and saying great job and everyone rocks and how fun it was. That one positive interaction made up for all the negativity for the rest of the day.

Just like in the real world, some people are absolutely trash human beings and others restore your faith in the other players in the community. The fact that they can be anonymous, a faceless bully makes them feel like they are powerful. But they aren’t. They are the same level of trash as people who bully in “real life”. They use their power of words to take people down because they are terrible people or because their life is terrible and they want to take it out on you or because they feel small. Knowing this doesn’t make you feel better in the moment. In the moment, you just feel small and without confidence.

It didn’t get into my head. I still focused up and played despite what will just become a minor inconvenience to my day. A brief feeling of never wanting to log on the game again because I can only block him for 7 days, so what’s the point? There’s no way to monitor someone harassing people on voice chat, so there’s no point in reporting him for toxicity. I even re-watched the moments where he acted like a fool to see if I made any mistakes. After review of myself and a second/third opinion, it wasn’t my mistake. But being right doesn’t matter. What matters is that people tend to ruin everything.

So what’s the moral of this story? For as much trash as there is in the gaming community, there’s even more good. I’ll still never feel confident enough or comfortable enough to play competitive and climb the ladder. But I can take be mostly ok with this and bring it to every arcade match. Because I don’t need to win. I don’t need to do anything but have fun and get better at the game.

Getting Close to the End of the Overwatch League Season 3

While the season has overcome the pandemic, bringing remote games to fans, there have been so many struggles for many teams. This includes, as usual, the Boston Uprising. The team had 2 matches this weekend, that unfortunately went exactly how everyone thought they would go. For the most part. Here’s a brief look at what happened this weekend.

While the Uprising didn’t get completely rolled (but kinda did, more on that later), it was still an upsetting weekend for Uprising fans. Their first match against Atlanta was going to be hard, but I was hopeful for a little bit. My guess was that if the Uprising could take a map against Atlanta, they would get so tilted that we would end up winning the series. Like magic, looking like a cohesive team with solid skills, the Uprising shockingly took the first map (which they never win a first map it seems), I was actually really excited. They looked alive. They looked like a team that could actually win the game.

Then the second map of Numbani, they looked solid still. Until things started to fall apart and questionable ults happened, as if they were so desperate to win. After what started to look like a solid hold against Atlanta’s attempt to take the first point, everything fell apart due to a Genji ult as usual and Atlanta easily rolled over them for the rest of the map and successfully completed it, putting the match at 1-1. Things continued to stay this way on Anubis, where the Uprising couldn’t quite take that map, putting them in the potentially series ending Havana. Where the Uprising couldn’t quite get to the second point, where they just tossed ults in, hoping for the best.

With the Patriots motto in mind, I went into “Onto Dallas” mode, a team that unlike the Atlanta, I would be okay with losing because I’m still a major fan of former Uprising players NotE and Gamsu. On the first map, Nepal, we didn’t look like an actual team. We looked like standout performers trying to carry, but not in a naturally seamless way. This was a team that was mentally boomed, trying to desperately get a win. The second map was Numbani, where we didn’t do much better. The Uprising couldn’t seem to adjust to Gamsu rolling out on Hammond and Hammond easily rolled us. (har har). The magic happened on the 3rd map, Anubis. This is where we started to look like things were coming together and we ended up winning the map after some clutch Jerry pop-offs.

After looking so capable of winning, I was going into Havana with high hopes. After a slow start of being spawn camped by the aggressive approach by Dallas, they managed to finally cap the first point. They were smart about their ult usage and made it through the second point. They even completed the map and they looked pretty decent doing so. Dallas also made it through the 3rd point, but with more time on the clock. In what started to look like a solid 2nd attempt by the Uprising, things again fell apart because… they didn’t know how to handle Gamsu’s Hammond. Then, they crumbled and were unable to touch the point and Dallas easily just kind of walked in there.

There was some hope that these matches were winnable. If any part of this last half’s schedule was winnable, it was these 2 matches. But they couldn’t do it and I don’t even really necessarily blame the players at this point. They do have talent. You see some glimmers of that talent at various points. But then desperation of not being the laughing stock of the league kick in and they crumble. It’s awful to watch as a fan and as a person. At this point, the coaches need to go. The upper management needs to go. They need to learn that a team full of talent means nothing if they don’t synergize together. Just because they’re talented individuals, that doesn’t mean that they are talented together. That’s the problem.

How does this get fixed? Well, first of all having the same team of players for a while helps. The fact that we always dump the entire roster and start from scratch every year means that we’re not getting a team that works well together. Look at the other teams, who have most of the same roster together for a season or two. They build up this solid friendship and can work together more seamlessly. If we are going to just dump this entire roster and start from scratch again, they need to get stuff done right away so that they can start working together right away. They can bootcamp over break before the next season starts. They can bring in coaches that actually know how to develop their talents further, who know how to create flexible strategies and have plans when things aren’t working to adjust rather than let them bang their head against the wall.

Should we dump this entire roster? I’m not sure about that. I definitely like Punk and Myunb0ng. Jerry is streaky, but if he can learn to stay cool and be more consistent he can be a solid member of the team. Colourhex should stay on, but to play those roles he’s more comfortable in. Maybe try being like other teams that have players and switch them in based on maps and metas for those maps rather than just forcing DPS players to play whatever is meta, whether they are good at that character or not. I would keep Axxiom if he’s healthy enough to play next season because I think he’s a more flexible and consistent tank than Fusions. But, I’m thinking Axxiom is going to be gone next year and that makes me sad because I was pro-Axxiom from the beginning of last season.

There’s always next year. I will still watch for the rest of this year, hoping maybe they’ll do something in the next tournament. We’ll see. Boston teams have done some miraculous things in their time.

Getting Close to the End: Overwatch League Road to the Playoffs

In a year that was supposed to be all about homestands and bringing Overwatch League to the fans, this was impacted just as everyone’s lives were by the pandemic. Fortunately, unlike traditional sports, the Overwatch League was still able to go on with online play. I’m happy that the league went on, and even more happy that I didn’t have to argue with myself about whether or not I wanted to sit through a homestand knowing that we were going to be embarrassed and the joke of the league. It’s easier to suck that up if the tickets weren’t that expensive. Sorry, the tickets themselves weren’t too bad, but you’d end up paying double with Ticketmaster fees, making those $40 seats $80 a piece, and taking an entire family? Eek. Back to the point.

As an Uprising fan, I didn’t go into the weekend very optimistic. Not just because we apparently can’t beat a Genji and Genji was still very meta this week. But because we were going against the reigning Grand Finals champions the San Francisco Shock and the often very difficult LA Valiant. It was going to be a rough weekend. I was hoping we’d put up a fight. Maybe even take a least a round. Or even a map. No such luck.

I don’t think we were being meme’d on by the Shock with putting Super on Genji, despite that being the talk of the day. I would assumed skilled players can play whatever role they want and still do well. But that didn’t matter. We were still a joke after the Shock destroyed us. I felt bad for the players, who honestly are just kids getting razzed on by the masses. The Shock is the reigning champions and arguably the best team in the league still and there’s a reason for that. They have great coaching, a support staff that actually supports the team, and extremely talented players that they put up a lot of money for. As the joke says, Miller’s wallet is what gets them all those wins.

I had more hope of us winning against the Valiant, but considering how extremely talented they are (and probably how angry they were that they lost on Saturday), it wasn’t going to be easy. And it wasn’t. They walked all over the Boston Uprising. There was some hope on Hanamura, when we practically full held the Valiant and only gave up 2 ticks on the first point. But then, they did full hold us. We had a win condition. We could have had the win. But didn’t. They panicked. They were boomed. They wanted that point so badly that it looked like a mystery heroes attempt at a point when you’re about to lose.

I joked with my husband. At least when the Patriots were bad, we went into the game without any hope. We knew how things were going to go. But the Uprising gives us hope sometimes, and then we feel disappointed. I can’t help but to feel really bad for those players because if we feel this disappointed as fans, they probably feel even more disappointed. Some of these players are the same age as my oldest son. Disappointment can be crushing for kids that age. No one likes to lose. People like to lose less as every time they lose they become some type of joke on Twitter and Reddit.

But why does this keep happening? First, I’m going to blame the coaching. They have a pretty talented group of individuals. But the problem is, they still look like individuals. They don’t look like a team with synergy; they look like a solo Q of talented players on Competitive Play. They seem to get along, so it doesn’t seem to be any hatred towards each other. That means there’s something else. Something isn’t clicking. That seems like a coaching issue. Another issue is that maybe stop trying to force the meta, and figure out a way around it. After all this time, we still can’t seem to win against a Genji? Colourhex is a decent enough Genji, but maybe don’t force him to play it? These players are slowly descending into madness it seems, hitting their head against too many losing battles and it doesn’t seem like the coaches are doing anything to help them.

It doesn’t matter anyways, I guess. HuK will completely gut the team at the end of the season anyways so we won’t have the same players. Which is probably one of the biggest problems. Teams like the Shock have essentially played together since the beginning, with a core set of players that have been consistent with the team. That’s 3 years to build up chemistry. Our team guts practically their entire roster and coaches every year, so we don’t get that benefit of extremely good synergy. There’s a reason why we don’t buy jerseys with players names on it; it’s spending $200 only to have them gone the next year. That’s probably the biggest problem of all.

Eventually, the team will stop making money. Why? First of all, people won’t buy the expensive merch, like named jerseys. Why bother spending that kind of money on a player that won’t even be there next year? It’s like when I splurged for an official Wilfork jersey, only to have him in Houston the next year. Fortunately, Wilfork is a lifer that will always be a Patriot, so it didn’t matter as much. Then, fans may decide to not bother going to the homestands. Why? Because we’re supporting a team of players we don’t know. We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the roster every year, especially with the produced videos that the team does. Why should we pay money to support a new group of players every year? I live in a place where I could go to essentially farm teams for the NHL and MLB and tickets are pretty cheap. You can’t charge full pro team price if you’re just a farm team.

As much as I complain, Boston Uprising is my team and I’ll support them all the way to the bottom. But it’s really hard to want to watch them right now because it’s heartbreaking to see their faces (or when they shut the facecams off in titled fashion) as they repeatedly fail. It sucks to watch them put so much into the league matches and just keep hitting walls because their coaches and management aren’t setting them up for success.

The Epic Conclusion of Overwatch League’s Summer Showdown

Normally watching any competition, you can expect some underdog to rise from the ashes. There’s never any super major shocks. But there’s always one team that gives analysts, gamblers, and bracket fiends trouble. In the Overwatch League, for the most part in the past competitions, things went pretty much exactly how you would expect. But that was then. This was the Summer Showdown, where nothing seemed to make sense and brackets were demolished within the first round of matches.

Going into the Summer Showdown the San Francisco Shock, reigning Season 2 champions and the champions of the May Melee, were the favorite. It wasn’t even a question in most people’s minds. Most people expected it to be a rematch of titans with the Shock going against the Mayhem in the finals. But things weren’t so easy this time around for these seemingly unbeatable teams.

3 of the favorites to make it into the quarterfinals didn’t make it that far. In those 3 matches, the underdogs ended up taking them 3-1. Houston took out Florida Mayhem, who thought that just because the last match between them was close that this didn’t mean that they would get that close again. They didn’t get that close again; they did much better. The Toronto Defiant made it look easy enough against the LA Valiant. Probably the most shocking of all, the Washington Justice (a team that has its fair share of struggles this year) ended up 3-1 against the LA Gladiators. These wins pretty much took out every bracket, but made everyone excited for the matches to come. This was surely an epic start to the tournament.

The quarterfinals practically went the way everyone expected. Philly went 3-0 against Houston. Houston fought hard, but they just couldn’t do it. Carpe is a freak of nature and easily shut down Danteh, which seems to be the ticket to winning against Houston. I didn’t think the team should be too down on themselves after that match. Philly is just a beast of a team. The Shock rolled the Justice in another 3-0 match. Paris beat Vancouver 3-1. The only real surprise of the quarterfinals was the Defiant going up against the Atlanta Reign. Defiant took the match to an exciting tie-breaker, winning and proceeding to the semifinals.

The start of the semifinals wasn’t necessarily that interesting. Philly easily took 3-0 on the Defiant. However, the match against Paris and the Shock was such a thrilling match that it really gave me mixed feelings. That was easily one of the best matches of Overwatch League I have seen in a long time. Maybe even ever. This exciting match when went all the way to the tie breaker, with SP9RK1E popping off so much throughout the match and helping make the difference to upset the Shock.

My fear was that the finals wasn’t going to be anywhere near as exciting as the semifinals was. That there was going to be a simple 4-0 and it’d be done with. That would have been such an anticlimactic way to end the match. Except that wasn’t what happened. In a game that felt like it would go on forever (in only the best way possible), this epic back and forth went all the way to the tie-breaker. The last map of the stage was just so incredible that if you didn’t see it, you need to go back. Paris failed to make it all the way to the end of Rialto, though they came pretty damn close. Philly looked like they weren’t going to make it past the first point, thanks to Xzi popping off as Widow. Except Eqo wasn’t going down that easy and took on the cleanup by himself. They looked like they were going to roll the next point as well, but then things started to go wrong for Philly. They fell apart (which at this point, unfortunately, choking is kinda their thing). After the team fell apart, Eqo tried to be the hero again and popped dragonblade in hopes to be the hero. Except he was shut down. Then Xzi did it again with popping off and cleaning things up, as if to say “not this time”. That’s where the match ended.

This tournament was such an exciting event. Normally things in these Overwatch League tournaments go exactly how you expect, but this time nothing seemed to be typical. I hope the next round of tournaments brings just as much excitement. And I hope the Uprising get their stuff together to actually participate in it, which will be rough with their upcoming schedule especially since they are playing the Shock.

Overwatch League: The Summer Showdown Play-Ins

I could talk about the entire weekend, but there wasn’t too much that was shocking going on. I mean, aside from the Shock vs. Philly game. Not because I thought that Philly would win it, but I didn’t think they would get absolutely steamrolled by the Shock. Titans finally coming together wasn’t too shocking, because they had a late start building up their synergy. Instead, I’m going to (as usual) focus my trusty Boston Uprising.

The thing is, I still actually expected the Uprising to win against the Titans. We took Paris to Map 5 twice. Taking the Titans seemed like it would be a much easier task. Except it wasn’t. It so wasn’t that the Uprising got 3-0’ed by the Titans, putting them into the Summer Showdown Play-Ins. Against the Washington Justice, a team that has been struggling all year long. Who just had a major overhaul to the team, so surely this would be an easy match that we could roll, then prepare for the play-ins.

….Except as any Boston fan knows, this is never the case with our teams. Just because it should have been easy, doesn’t mean that it is going to be that easy. And despite a strong showing on Map 1, it wasn’t. And it wasn’t even that the Boston Uprising were necessarily outplayed. Every team fight went the way of the Uprising. They worked well together. They conserved their ults/built them up fast. They made some mistakes and whiffed ults, but overall they were the better team.

However Ttuba had a Genji, which seems to be the Uprising’s greatest weakness. Anytime he popped off, we struggled. We lost half our team (sometimes our whole team) to practically every dragonblade. Had we been able to handle the Genji, we would have easily won. That and actually touching the point, which is also something we’ve been struggling with. Now we get to sit around hoping that they fix the issue come next set of playoffs. Which may be easier, if Genji ends up in the hero pool for the start of the next set of matches.

What should we have done? Colourhex wasn’t doing it on Tracer. Sometimes he pops hard and gets those flashy plays. Other times he just seems to toss out a pulse bomb and hopes for the best. Maybe instead, put him on a Genji to at least challenge the other Genji. Or put him on a pick like maybe Echo, a hero that Colourhex did very well at. (I’m not saying we lost because of Colourhex. I’m just saying maybe put him on a pick he’s most comfortable with and just let him do him.) Maybe even switch to a D.Va for the sole purpose of harassing the Genji until he decides not to play him anymore. Not an ideal solution, but just sitting there and taking it wasn’t the play. The only reason they lost was because they don’t know how to handle a Genji. Or make goofs like not standing on a point or whipping a Genji up in the air when you nearly won the map, so that he could just jump over the roof and kill the entire team and secure the match win for the Justice.

What needs to happen before the next round of matches? Synergy is there. But there’s something with the morale that is hurting the team. Even before the match, they seemed mentally off. This team, which seems to get along well together, has to have some struggles off screen that we can’t see. Is it the coaches? Is it the culture that HuK brings to the team, which would be the common denominator with the past players who couldn’t seem to wait to get out of Boston? Maybe the team should start working on fixing the culture in the team, remembering that these are still kids/young adults, and they need some time to goof off. Maybe they need to start working on strats instead of doing the weirdest approaches, like tossing a Torb out there whenever things aren’t working for them. At that point, why not just cheese with a Bastion and just win the match?

Something needs to change and I’m not sure that can be accomplished before the end of the season. I don’t want to see any of the players gone. These are seriously talented players that just need the coaching staff to mold them into a great team. They need a culture that makes them feel happy to be there. Those aren’t things that are going to be fixed by the next set of playoffs or even the end of the season. This is something that will take the entire off-season to handle. And changes need to happen. Boston fans are loyal to the bone, even if their team is losing. But they won’t sit around and watch their team be a farm team or just look like they are throwing matches every week.

Overwatch League: The Start of Summer Showdown

I do enjoy this exciting new approach to the season since the pandemic shut down the live events. This week went pretty much the way that everyone expected, but as an Uprising fan, I was very happy despite a loss. Why? Because they didn’t look like the same team that they were. I don’t think anyone expected a win against Paris, but I think most of us fans wanted to see something worth rooting for.

And I think that’s what we got. We didn’t get stomped in a 3-0 match-up; we took it all the way to game 5 in a thrilling back and forth match. We had things we rarely saw before: a substitution and adjustments. Wouldn’t you know that’s something that we needed to win matches? Or at least to not get rolled over every match. It was revitalizing as a fan to not walk away embarrassed. Punk is a great addition to the team and I feel much more confident with him as an off-tank more than I have since NotE. He’s flashy, but good, whereas Mouffin was flashy and mediocre. That fact that somehow we ended up with Mouffin instead of Punk to begin with confuses me. We could have had a much better record and I firmly believe that. The benefit of having such a godly off-tank? It can make up for Fusions mistakes.

I am actually looking forward to matches again. I wasn’t going to attend the homestands before because I didn’t want to spend an obscene amount of money to watch that nonsense they were doing before. But this is a team that I would pay to see now. This is a team that I’m proud to watch, even in the losses because the matches are close. They are showing that they are a stellar team and I think they are only going to get stronger as they get more used to each other.

Next week will be a rough one going against the Philadelphia Fusion, but they get tilted easily and can easily choke. They may even make the mistake of not preparing for us, though a Colourhex vs. Carpe tracer duo doesn’t make me too confident. But, anything can happen in any given match so it’s going to be fun to watch. I hope.

Something Amazing Happened with the Boston Uprising

Last week, I avoided Overwatch League talk as I would normally do during my gaming posts on Monday during the league play. I was tired of lamenting about the Uprising’s inability to adjust strategies and do something new. I was tired of talking about the same teams winning and losing. I’m not going to say I had given up on the Boston Uprising. I still watch them religiously, even though I go in without any expectations. Usually, I’m still very disappointed. But something happened this week that was shocking. And no, it wasn’t just that we won.

Prior to the match, I joked that it was only going to be a short and quick loss, then our family could just binge movies for the rest of the day. We saw CatBren pick Uprising as the winner. That wouldn’t happen. Poor Bren. The desk laughed. At least he was honest about the random pick, they said. But what happened was crazy.

It was like an entirely different team out there. Colourhex wasn’t forced on Mei. They weren’t forcing a meta. In fact, they showed us more flexibility than we had ever seen. They played different comps, not stubbornly sticking to the same exact strats and hoping for different results. They adjusted when they needed to. They put up a fight, even on maps that they lost. They looked confident out there. They didn’t look like a team that just wanted to bang their head against the wall for 15 minutes, giving up the loss as quickly as possible to end their own suffering. And ours, maybe.

It was a long 6-map win. It was a wild ride, but holy hell, even if they lost I would’ve been happy. They adjusted, even mid-map. They looked incredible. It was so nice to see their face cams at the end and seeing them all jump up and hug each other in celebration. It was a moment that brought me back to them.

I wasn’t lost because I hate losing teams. I’m a lifelong Boston fan. I’m used to losing. I’m used to being a joke. It wasn’t until recently that we knew the taste of victory. My problem is losing because they refused to fix a problem. And look what happened when they did. Was this a fluke because Mei was banned this week? Or did they finally realize that to win, maybe you need to make adjustments rather than sticking to a failing strategy and just hoping things will turn around on their own?

I’m not sure. I’m hoping that if this was a fluke just because Mei was banned that they will realize that things just work better when teams play to their own strengths rather than bowing down to a meta that they consistently fail at.

Using Gaming to Cope

Normally I would talk about the weekend of Overwatch League, then end in a rant about how poorly mismanaged my favorite team is, but I’ve opted against that this week. I would have ended up in a rant about how the Vancouver Titans obliterated their team, rounded together what T2 players they could in a short time, then spent the weekend bullying the Uprising while still losing their 2 matches this weekend. First of all, the Uprising get bullied enough. Joining in on that doesn’t make you the cool kid. Secondly, win a game, then you can talk.

The last time I left my house since everything happened was probably sometime in mid-April, when I helped my mom with something. Before that, was probably mid-March when I braved the stores early on to stock up on meats. I’m an introvert that doesn’t really enjoy going out too much. I like hanging out in smaller groups of my friends or family, but larger events can be overwhelming. In general, I like the fact that I can just stay home all day. But I do miss taking our family adventures to the park or doing something fun.

But I have video games. I’ve worked my butt off grinding hard in World of Warcraft, retail, leveling up as many toons as possible due to their XP boost that they are fortunately keeping until Shadowlands release. I’ve probably easily leveled 20 110 characters since the boost was released and I intend to keep going. That sounds insane to people, but it’s not to me. Not because I’m a gaming addict, but gaming does something to make you feel in control when there’s not much else you can control in the world right now.

I like that I can just put on music and mindlessly level away, without having to worry about how this pandemic has uprooted my life. I can talk to friends that I’ve made over the years playing as well as my “real” friends that also play WoW. It’s a connection to the outside world that even an introvert like me needs sometimes, when it just isn’t safe for me out there in the world. If I get sick, it’s because my husband brought it home with him by going to work or the store or other errands he has to take over because I can’t.

Gaming is the perfect escape in a world where everything seems so crazy. It has helped me stay more sane than if I didn’t have some sort of distraction to occupy my brain, which honestly isn’t a place anyone really wants to occupy. I can play WoW or Overwatch while working or sit on the couch relaxing with my boys while playing Animal Crossing, teaching my little one about the game. People who don’t game probably will never understand the incredible ability games have to offer social connections and distractions at a time when we need it the most. No matter what else is going on in the world, I still know what the outcome will be playing my video games.

In a few days, I may be picking up streaming again as I level a bunch of low level allied race toons in World of Warcraft. I’m interested in seeing how fast I can level them with the new XP boost, because I did level pretty quickly before that. I hope everything ends soon, but at least I know I have my video games to help me out.

Then, the Boston Uprising Shows Some Vague Signs of Life

It’s hard to catch all of the games with the new format, because I need sleep and all. But I do catch the games that I can, especially the Boston Uprising. This week was going to be especially exciting because the new hero Echo made her debut. It was really interesting to see the comps that played around Echo and watching people who I thought would be amazing Echo players do well. But how would a team like the Uprising with Echo?

The match wasn’t going to be a win. It was a rematch against the Florida Mayhem, which was an embarrassing slaughter last week for us. When the other team starts spawn camping you like you’re playing mystery heroes, you need to really re-evaluate your situation. The match looked like a professional team went up against a gold team that magically ended up in the Overwatch League. It wasn’t pretty for fans.

Going into the match, my husband and I debated who would end up being our Echo. My theory was Colourhex, who is pretty absurd at projectile heroes. My husband, who is very much team Jerry, thought he would be the better choice. I was right about Colourhex playing Echo and I was right about him doing pretty well at it. Was he as good as someone like Danteh on it? No. But I was happy with it and it looked much better than his Mei. Even Fusions, who I always refer to as a “GOATs Rein One-Trick” didn’t do too terribly on Winston as he usually does. Jerry seemed slower on Tracer than his other characters, but he made some big plays. Myunbong was ridiculous and landed some disgusting nades. But what went wrong?

The first thing that went very wrong was that we were up against the Florida Mayhem again. The thing is, that wasn’t the only problem. There was some signs of potential in this team last week. You could tell that they had something to prove. And what they did prove was that Hollywood is their best map this season. They proved that Colourhex is better than we’ve seen, especially when he’s on characters he’s comfortable with. They proved that Myunbong is a fantastic support pickup who has just as much carry potential as Jerry does. They proved that Fusions is slowly getting better on other heroes.

Unfortunately, they did prove some other things. Like, Jerry isn’t an immortal and he does have weaknesses. They showed that there’s something wrong and I think it’s the coaching and/or management. Why play a Zen/Brig when there’s no real healing there unless everyone’s together, but play dive tanks that aren’t ever where their healers are. They should have run a Brig/Bap or a Brig/Ana if they were going to stick with the Brig choice. Which ended up working better for us as we saw later in the match. Then there were the tank choices. While other teams opted for double shield, we went dive. Which got destroyed by their Echo/Ashe combo.

I get that we only have 6 players that can play right now. But that’s a management problem. Why didn’t they pick up other players to help them get more flexibility? This team can sit around and blame their bad luck all they want, but other teams ran full 12 man rosters to cover them in those bad luck situations. Why do we still stick to strats that obviously aren’t working? There are so many questions that the fans want answers to and we are getting almost as frustrated as the players seem to be right now.