Some Interesting Changes at the Overwatch League

As it turns out, the teams are not the only ones making crazy moves in this off-season. Just in recent days, some significant changes have happened with the talent for the Overwatch League. While we were already excited to see Custa take up his new role as an analyst and Jake as a caster, there were still a lot of questions as far as who we can expect to see as talent. With a little over a month away from the start of Season 3, let’s take a look at what we do know about the talent.

During a holiday cooking stream, Sideshow leaked some great juice: him and Bren had signed their contracts and visa’s willing, they would be back for Season 3. Honestly, the league would be a little more boring without those two characters that can offer such great insight on the desk. Would we see a Puckett/Sideshow/Bren/Custa desk? That would have been an amazing desk to see.

That seemed to be the last bit of good news that we would get. Monte announced that he would not be returning in a somewhat scathing post, implying that the league was dying. Was he being spiteful because he no longer had as much value as he thought? Did he really just want to move on? You can speculate all you want, but there were probably a combination of factors. Later, DoA would comment about uncertainty in his Overwatch League future, which it would be hard to imagine DoA without Monte.

Then, Puckett made the announcement that he was moving to freelancing instead so that he could go with his wife as she pursued a great job opportunity. What could the desk possibly look like? Soe/Custa/Bren/Sideshow? That didn’t seem too bad.

Except… Bren in a post baiting fans announced that him and Sideshow would not be returning to the desk. They were switching over to casting roles. Which was equally exciting and depressing. Sideshow was an incredible analyst. He was insightful, hilarious, and just fun to watch. Those are also the things that make him an awesome caster.

So where does that leave us? We don’t know about DoA or Soe officially. Jake doesn’t have a casting partner announced yet. We have only Custa on the desk. We can assume Uber and MrX aren’t going anywhere, since they are easily the best casters in the league. Achilios and Wolf will probably stay in Asia, casting Overwatch League games there while putting their wealth of knowledge of the Korean Overwatch scene to good use. (Speculation, no official word on this duo either.)

What could happen? Soe could take over hosting the desk. She was much better as an interviewer/host than an analyst, so this would be perfect for her. Plus, who doesn’t love Soe? She is fully of personality and positivity, and you just need that in your life. I could see them putting Reinforce back on the desk with Custa. Mostly because he should never have been taken off of the desk. A final analyst to work on the desk? Some people think Avast will take over, but I think he may end up as a caster instead. Whether he ends up with DoA, Jake, or they finally get ZP over to the league, I think casting may be better suited for him.

There’s still plenty of time to see where to go from here. I’m just getting hyped up about the upcoming season, especially after watching Swimmer’s stream and realizing that he is a massive support upgrade that we absolutely needed on our team. We’ll see how this all goes. But what I do think is that this league is not dying, at least not right now.

Overwatch League Season 3: Talent Edition

With the hype about the players winding down as deadlines started to close, most teams have already announced their official roster for the upcoming season. While the players are an important part of the broadcast, much like regular sports the on-screen talent is also very important. For instance, when I see Collinsworth is casting the Patriots game I want to stab my eardrums. You need casters and analysts that offer incredible insight while also being entertaining. You need a team that is full of hype and that people like. I would argue that the talent team that the Overwatch League has it part of the reason why this eSport has been so successful.

Now that localization begins this season in the Overwatch League, this ambitious task does cause some questions like “What does this mean for the talent?” This means that they are going to need more people, to deploy around to every game as they currently do. The analysts are probably going to remain in LA to do their thing, just like it’s done in the NFL. Nothing has been mentioned to the fans. All we have to go by is that Custa has joined the desk crew as an analyst and unsurprisingly, JAKE has joined as a new caster.

There have been some cryptic posts from names like Puckett and Bren that hints to some major changes. But what? Are there going to be more casters? Are we losing desk people? What about #justice4reinforce? My theory? They’d be dumb to break up Bren/Sideshow especially with the addition of Custa, who they get along so well with. Puckett is a staple at the desk and it would be really hard to see him go. As much as I love Soe, I loved her more during the interviews than on the desk. So would the analyst desk consist of Puckett, Sideshow, Bren, and Custa? Are the theories right that Puckett will make the switch to COD and puts Soe as the host? I could see her doing well as the host, but I’m still team Puckett here.

There’s no announcement yet for additional casters. My theory is that the casting duos remain unchanged, except for the additions of new ones. My predictions? I feel as though Achilios and Wolf will stick around, only they will stay in Korea/Asia for the Asian homestands. Uber and Mr X. may relocated to the east coast to focus on homestands on that side of the country. Monte and Doa may be floaters that are primarily centered in the south. Then, JAKE and his unnamed partner will remain in LA for the west coast matches. I think separating the teams like this could make the most sense, from a logistics standpoint. But who will JAKE’s partner be? Some have suggested LemonKiwi, his world cup casting partner. Other’s have said Avast. I think Avast may work well moving up from Contenders casting to Overwatch League, but I’m not sure how well he’d work with JAKE. I think they are both pretty high energy guys who need a calmer presence on stage with them.

We still have some time for the Overwatch Season 3 to begin, so a lot can happen between then. It will be interesting to see who on the cast and crew are sticking around and who will be leaving. It may even be a little heartbreaking to see. I can’t wait though. Season 3 hype-mode: activated.

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.

Sticking to the Meta

Now that I have my internet back in working order (I hope) I can get back to business. I could talk about the big roster moves in the Overwatch League, but this week is “BluishOblivion Goes Gaming” week because the world is too depressing to talk about right now. When more teams actually announce their final rosters, which teams were supposed to have at least 8 players signed on November 15th, I’ll post about that later this week. Here’s to hoping for something good. (Uprising did pick up Swimmer, part of my dream pickups I predicted when Season 2 ended.)

Instead, today I talk about Meta particularly at the professional level. Meta, for those not in the know, is the most effective group of players currently in the game. We had the dive meta, which was fun. GOATs, which arguably wasn’t. As a tank main in Overwatch, GOATs didn’t bother me too much. This new double shield meta, Orisa/Sigma, is interesting enough. But I argue, it isn’t the meta that’s the problem.

Professional players at the OWL level are expected to be the best of the best. Which to me means that they don’t have to bow down to a meta. Look at what happened when teams played to their strengths rather than just went with the meta because they were supposed to. Houston started to thrive. Chengdu never did things the normal way and didn’t do too poorly. Then look at the teams who struggled with GOATs but still tried it anyways. (I’m looking at you Uprising.) Being so stubborn to go against the grain cost more teams than it should have.

With the new PTR, it seems they haven’t pinpointed exactly what the meta is going to be. And I think that’s great. Maybe this means there were enough changes to give more flexibility to teams. Maybe this means I can venture back into competitive because I won’t get flamed for picking D.Va. Who knows? But, what I do know is that I expect exciting from these top tier players. I expect them to pull out a Symmetra on some maps even though it’s not meta. I love watching the unexpected Torb picks. It adds variety to watching the matches. Best of all, it gives us hope as casuals that we don’t have to pick Sigma just because we’re an off-tank.

I can’t wait to see what the PTR brings to the competitive scene. With Season 3 of Overwatch League coming out in about 80-something days, the PTR needs to get released soon to make sure that any balance changes that need to happen take place before we get mid-season and everyone gets confused. But.. let’s bring D.Va back. Signed, D.Va mains everywhere.

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.

The Leaks of the Overwatch League

The big talk this weekend on Reddit was the “Leaks Heard Round the World”. Full disclosure: I’m a huge fan of Sideshow. Not only is he incredibly entertaining, he also definitely knows his stuff. His insights are generally spot on, even if like Monte you want to get mad at what he says. The leak video that spread like wildfire on reddit disappeared as it was deemed against policy may or may not be true. But it brings up some interesting discussions if it is.

The video in question appears to have Sideshow, neptuNo, and Custa talking about trades in the works until they realize that they were accidentally streaming the conversation. The internet doesn’t forget and you can probably very easily find this video if you want to. Some of the important gems of this rumored trade includes reuniting former Boston tank duo and great friends NotE and Gamsu, with Gamsu reportedly being signed to the Dallas Fuel for an insane amount of money. OGE goes to LA Gladiators. Brothers in OW Kariv and Agilities are reportedly going to the Toronto Defiant together, along with Surefour. (Solidifying dreams of Toronto signing Canadian talent.) And SPACE jumped to the other LA team, making the Gladiators the winners of the off-season “Battle for the LAs”? The other big mention was that neptuNo said Defiant refused to trial him due to his reputation for toxicity.

Is this video truly releasing the juice or is it just a joke? Are these just rumors? Insiders seem to admit that these are all true leaks. But then the question was argued: What should the punishments be? Well, I don’t think anything should happen. Leaks can actually be good for a sport, especially in the offseason and especially when the eSports industry is constantly growing with more official Leagues. By having these leaks out there, Overwatch League is remaining relevant. Even with the World Cup coming up, after that we won’t see these players up on the stage until February. Things have become irrelevant in shorter time. Leaks up the hype, keep people talking about the league. It may not be good for the individual players and teams, but it is definitely still publicity they can milk to keep everyone talking about them.

Was it an accident? Of course. The teams might be upset over it, but the League probably isn’t that broken up about it. Because again, free publicity. The posts on reddit about these leaks are probably up in the 500s as far as comments go and this will only get higher. They should absolutely not let Sideshow go because of it because not only does he have a solid fanbase, he knows what he’s talking about. He’s amazing at his job. It would be the biggest mistake the league did. Especially after removing easily their best analyst when they pulled Reinforce off the desk.

So the moral of this story is that yes, leaks can be bad but this raises the hype for fans who are dying for news. There are teams that haven’t said anything about key players. Was Dante signed to Houston or is he heading to LA Gladiators? What about anything from Boston aside from Persia saying “Not LFT”? (Side note: Please not Boston.) The fans want to know about what’s going on with their favorite players and this gives them something to salivate over and debate about until official announcements happen.