Standing by Your Team

I am a Boston Uprising fan. (Most Boston teams, in fact. Grats on the World Series Red Sox despite the act I hate baseball.) I backed the team when the whole “Pedo” incident happened, which was easy to do since they cut him not long after the allegations were made public. It was easy to do. They were my team and I was in it for the long haul. I wasn’t a pink hatter. I was going to root for them even if they Shanghai’d for the rest of the season. They didn’t; then went undefeated in Stage 3. They surprised everyone by making it into the Playoffs, finishing the season in 3rd place when everyone thought they would be in last.

There was a rumor about one team having an extreme amount of drama going on, a team that wasn’t the Dallas Fuel. It turns out, that team was my beloved Uprising. A report came out about the treatment of players on the team, specifically when it came to the Korean players. Going into the first season, fans feared HuK would be a problem. He didn’t have the most solid reputation in the gaming world. In fact, he had a pretty poor reputation in eSports.

As a Patriots fan, I’m used to the man Coach Bill Belichick. A man who has been known to have questionable morals when it comes to winning. A man who sometimes toes the line and more often than he should, crosses said line. He makes decisions that we view as harsh and criticize because we don’t understand. It usually works out, but sometimes it doesn’t (/cough Butler). He has a reputation for being aggressive and stubborn and harsh. But, he has built a championship team that has shown results that maybe his way works.

I’m not sure if HuK was inspired by Belichick’s ways or if Kraft wanted him to be like the championship coach. Or if the Kraft family hired him because they reminded him of the coach of their championship team. Whatever the case may be, the allegations against him are tough to read. While there is nothing there that is blatantly against the rules, it toes the line. The fact that we went undefeated in Stage 3 with all of this going on seems incredible to me. Maybe his way can be effective. The story about Striker raging so hard that he constantly broke peripherals was shocking to me, but if things were that bad you can’t blame him. Striker is a passionate player and I hope that he says despite the issues on the team.

I hope that we have Gamsu as our MT still. I don’t want them gone. I don’t want to have that gut punch of Neko appearing in the Toronto Defiant reveal. I knew it was coming, but seeing it stung a little. The rumor is that HuK is trying to get rid of all of the Korean players, which would be a huge mistake. Striker, aside from SBB, is easily a top Tracer. He has shown to be awesome on pretty much every other player they put him on as well. He’s solid, aggressive, and he puts every ounce of his soul into the matches. Papa Gamsu is, in my opinion, the face and leader of the team. The main tank who may not be as strong on Reinhardt, but is arguably a top main tank anyways. I hope they stay and #RiseUp from this behind the scenes drama.

I stand by my team. Do I stand by HuK? If all of these allegations are true, absolutely not. My hope is that this whole thing either makes the Uprising reconsider his position on the team or makes HuK re-evaluate the way he does things. I would love it if we could start season 2 without this dark cloud hanging over our team. I hope that the housing situation gets better for the team. Maybe with the $225,000 prize money, they could invest in better facilities for the team or offer them better benefits. Or, give them a raise or bonus. I also want to see Neko succeed in Toronto because he was definitely an incredible Zenyatta that deserves a lot more credit than he received.

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The OWL Roster Announcements are Slowly Coming In

Fans have been anxiously waiting for their teams to announce the finishing touches on their rosters for the upcoming season, which doesn’t start soon enough in my book. Like most fans, I want to know what my team is going to look like in S2. I want to watch the streams of new players to see if they are the missing link that would have gotten us further in the playoffs. The early estimates once again put Boston Uprising in the lower seeds of the rankings, but again I think they are going to be severely underrated. However, I’m just going on my ride or die relationship with my Boston teams. So let’s look at what we do know.

In a surprising but not-so surprising move, SoOn is no longer with the LA Valiant. The rumor has been floating around for a long time that he’s going to end up on the Paris OWL roster, though that hasn’t happened yet. He may be a little on the streaky side, but when the guy is on fire he can be very deadly. We know that Shanghai Dragons are in the process of completely gutting out and redoing their team. The Dragons went in as fan favorites and surprisingly despite not winning one game, still had the hearts of fans. I look forward to seeing the changes. The Spitfire sent Closer to Dallas, a solid support that Dallas could certainly use. Though, I would have loved to have him on Boston.

Speaking of Boston, much like other teams they have been very tight lipped about the moves. They slowly trickle out information, but this has primarily been coaching staff changes. As of now, our only official roster is NotE, Gamsu, Striker, Kellex, Neko, and AimGod. There are rumors of Neko being the next to go, which doesn’t make me happy. It’s one of those “In HuK We Trust” statements that we grit our teeth saying as we do when we say “In Belichick We Trust” when the Patriots make a roster move that we find stupid. Neko is a solid performer and a fantastic Zenyatta to watch. On Ana, he had one of the highest sleep numbers in the league. In fact, I want to say that I remember he had the most sleeps but I can’t say that for certain and I can’t seem to find that statistic. Losing him could be a very big mistake. (Sorry, poor choice of words but it was really the best one there.)

Then there are rumors of shopping Striker around to other teams. Striker! That cute, lovable, and sensitive kid. When he cried, it almost made me cry. He played his heart out every time that he went out there. He had fun. He upset Pine in the Widow vs. Widow battle but lost to Carpe, which also would have been a respectable loss. The idea of losing Striker is more ridiculous to me than getting rid of Neko. I would even argue that it would be just as stupid to lose NotE and Gamsu, who both have become the face of our team. The rumored pick-ups are just rumors, but Colourhex is an addition to the team that I’m pretty excited about. Asking can be a great pickup too. But the core of NotE, Striker, and Gamsu should be held together. I don’t want to see Neko gone, but AimGod is a decent player with arguably better stats. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Until then, I’ll be frantically checking the Competitive Overwatch subreddit to stalk my team. I don’t want to be surprised. I want to see the shocking changes that Kraft teams are known for at this point before they hit me.

Dark Irons, New Torb, and other Interesting Blizzard Gaming Topics

Even though I already have the coolest, the bluest, costume for Sombra in Overwatch, there is something even cooler about the Demon Hunter skin. It almost makes me want to willingly play Sombra to learn how to not suck at her. (Because really, not sucking at her would really be my best case scenario here). I should learn to play a DPS hero that isn’t a mediocre Junkrat style or easymode Soldier style, but I just can’t. I do much more DPS as D.va and I find it far more fun. All this rant is totally not the point.

Easily one of the biggest bits of information from Overwatch this week are the Bride of Junkenstein and the Torb changes. I’m not sure what Bride of Junkenstein is going to be but I have a feeling I’m going to love it. I think I live off of the Junekstein event when it goes live and I think between me and my boys, we could pretty much dominate. I do hope for some really cool new skins. Ana, Winston, and Moira are desperately hurting in the “Cool Skin” category, so I would love to see something that doesn’t suck for them. The Torb changes seem to drastically change who he is as a character, despite the fact that they didn’t want to fundamentally change who he was as a character. I’ll be streaming a bit from the PTR before I get into WoW stream today, especially since I want to see the Orisa changes as a partial Orisa main. Torb, as you probably know by now, can now shoot lava out during his Molten Core. According to Reddit, you can even get more out of it if you shoot it up in the air first but I have a feeling that this is going to be fixed soon.

In the Overwatch League, Danteh has unsurprising joined the Outlaws. They needed a strong Tracer/Sombra/Genji and he certainly fills that role. That lets Jakerat go back to what he’s good at and makes it so they have a better shot in Season 2. Ark, one of the most personable supports in the entire league, was rumored to be looking for a new home. If he is, I would strongly suggest heading to Boston. That would be awesome, as a huge Boston fan. There still hasn’t been too many announcements about the final rosters for teams yet, but I predict we are going to be slammed with all the exciting news soon enough.

Lastly, Dark Irons. Sometimes in WoW, you get a new race and you’re super excited about it only to be let down. The Highmountain Tauren: nope. Nightborne: a little disappointing so far, but I’m only level 30ish (coming from someone who has wanted to play  one since the Suramar quests opened up for me). Void Elf: Love. Lightforged: Kinda love. The Dark Irons, I wasn’t so sold on. Mostly because I never played a Dwarf race because I never wanted to. The voices are annoying.. and I want characters that look cool. They definitely don’t look cool. But then I found out that Dark Irons had a Mole Machine. A MOLE MACHINE! Yeah, that needed to happen. No regrets, I hit 60 over the weekend and today on stream, I will bore everyone by searching for all of the mole machines I can. They are fun. They are cool looking. And their home is in a freaking volcano. With elemental changes coming in the next patch, I may not even totally hate playing it. I highly recommend them to anyone who wants a cool new option.

This was just my brief overview of interesting topics from this past week in gaming. Don’t forget to check out my stream and my YouTube channel for past streams. Links are on the side.

Overwatch: OWL and OWWC

I admit, as a biased Boston Uprising fan, I’ve been rooting for Team Canada because NotE is my D.va hero these days. I bought my youngest a NotE jersey only to be jealous I didn’t get myself one. (He also wanted a Sleepy from San Francisco Shock, but children have their own individual personalities.)

I was upset at the announcement that NotE was merely a sub. That was until he showed his true skills and ended up being seen on the world stage as we see him. Since then, we saw a lot of “this sub” and he continued to rock it out there, making Uprising fans proud that he is ours at least for now. He will be back at the World Cup playoffs and hopefully finals at Blizzcon in November. There were a lot of other notable performances, including ZachaREE’s bastion play on Hanamura. This stage wasn’t as intense as the Korean stage, but it was certainly a joy to watch.

USA ended up in 1st for the stage, with both USA and Canada joining South Korea and Finland in the playoffs so far. The next 2 stages of the qualifiers will take place over the next 2 weekends.

Now to the discussion of Boston Uprising and their roster. The only announcements that have been made so far was the release of Snow, Avast (noooo, meme king!), and Kalios. Later on, Mistakes joined the group of the released Uprising players. The fact that they released Snow, Avast, and Kalios wasn’t shocking. Snow only played once on the big stage in the regular season. Kalio only played a handful of times. Avast was never out there. Kalios seemed a bit salty about it, calling the team “pollution”, but quickly apologized saying that he shouldn’t have taken his feelings about the management out on the fans. It’s too late, at least for this fan. I found it to be a slap in the face as a fan, especially one who did root for him to succeed on the team. Avast was a good morale booster, but I get letting him go. Snow, in the little play I’ve seen from him seemed more solid than Kellex, but there must be a reason why Kellex got the spot over him. In Patriots Nation, we say “In Bill We Trust” so here I will just say “In HuK We Trust”. Hopefully.

There haven’t been any new announcements, which is a bit scary when you consider the opening up of free agency. Gamsu, NotE, Neko, and Striker are solid players that need to stay. They have to. Please don’t let them go. Aimgod seems to have excellent skills, but I feel as though the team just does better with Neko. Mistakes was another excellent player. However, he had mostly the same character pool as Striker without as much skill (not to say he was skill-less, he is a very talented player who I could see doing great things). Letting him go to play as a main DPS on another team that needs a good Tracer was a smart move. NotE and Gamsu are totally underrated tanks that seem to be the core of this team. If they leave, it could be pretty bad.

What Boston needs is a flex DPS that doesn’t overlap so much into Striker’s pool. If they had someone who could be a good Widow/Genji/Pharah, this would be ideal. The speculation that Colourhex could fill that role is something that I wish could happen.I would even be happy to take Agilities or pick up ZachaREE, who may overlap a little with Striker, but has shown to be solid on quite a few different characters. Also a better Kellex. There were so many times I screamed at the screen “what are you doing?!” You can’t heal if you’re dead all the time. I’m not sure if this means Kellex working to improve his survivability or finding a support that lives more. I think Kellex is a cool dude and a good fit for the team. I think he’s talented… when he’s alive long enough to show his skill. But another solid flex dps and a reliable support is all Boston really needs to make it and even win the Grand Finals this year.

As a Patriots fan, I worry about these things though. The Patriots have told amazing players to go because of money issues. Who’s to say that Uprising won’t take this same model? They currently have only 6 out of the 8 player minimum for their roster. These players haven’t been officially re-signed yet, which is scary. I stalk the pages for news religiously, hoping for some good news. A lot of things are going to be happening soon and I have a feeling that the news is going to come all at once.

 

 

The Overwatch League: All-Star Weekend Edition

As much as I loved Overwatch, when they announced plans to do a professional league that they hoped would be as big as the NFL I was skeptical that they could accomplish that. Still, I was going to watch because I loved the game. I loved reading about Fury, a D.Va I really tried to learn from who ended up on the Spitfire. (Which is why, for those who complain about my having both Spitfire and Uprising gear, I support them whenever they are not playing the Uprising.) I was even more excited when Kraft decided to purchase a team in this new league, allowing my love of the Patriots to merge with my love of Overwatch. And NotE just might have taken over as my favorite D.Va. And Striker makes me want to hug him every time he cries. My mom instincts just kick in, I can’t help it. Avast is the meme king. These are a fantastic group of guys and I really hope to see them all back next season.

The year was an amazing ride and I loved being a part of it every second. I also loved being able to write about it and have people enjoy the posts. I’m sad I have no more OWL to post about for the next few months, but at least I can still enjoy my mediocre play and the fact that my beloved football starts soon. The league exceeded my expectations. It was well-produced, the casters and analysts were entertaining and knowledgeable. My only complaint is that Uber and Mr. X weren’t casting Uprising matches all the time. I bet next season is going to be even bigger and I can’t want.

Now that I’ve wasted your time reading about my overall happiness of how the league played out, it’s time to talk about the highly anticipated All-Star Weekend. I was disappointed that no Uprising members made the main squad, but Neko, Gamsu, and Striker all ended up on the roster as backups. Unfortunately Neko was unable to make it due to visa issues, but Gamsu and Striker made us proud.

The first match of the All-Star weekend was Lucioball, one of the game modes I never tried and refuse to. This 3v3 special map is only available during the Summer Games. After some savage trash talk before the match from the Pacific side, namely Fissure, the Atlantic team beat them in this first head-to-head of All-Star weekend. Next up, was one of the matches that I was the most excited to see: Mystery Heroes. Mystery Heroes is hands-down my favorite arcade mode in the game. In fact, I probably spend more time on Mystery Heroes than anything else in the game. Again, the Atlantic team came out on top in a hilarious show that even pros struggle against the ridiculous comps that come out of Mystery Heroes’ RNG. Then you have the Lockout Elimination round, which I was super excited the it featured Gamsu. The Atlantic team won this, giving them a 3-0 head start against the Pacific.

The Widowmaker 1v1 was something I wasn’t entirely excited about. I mean, how entertaining could this have possibly been? I watched, to write this blog and because I wanted to see Striker show everyone how underrated he really is. I predicted the Sayaplayer was going to be Carpe, because Carpe had the tendency of being very streaky. I was wrong. I then predicted the SoOn was going to come up on top over Architect, which also happened. At this point, it was more thrilling than I thought it was going to be.  Then, the match I was really excited about: Pine vs. Striker. My husband picked Pine, because as much as he loves Striker, Pine plays a lot more Widow than Striker. An accurate call, but I chose Striker anyways because I had faith in him. If he lost, at least it would be to Pine and that’s still respectable. This was one of the most entertaining of the matches, if only because of the hilarious dance-off that they decided to do mid-match. You put 2 pranksters in a map together, you are bound to get hilarity. In a close match, Striker came out on top and Pine could not be happier for his competitor. Surefour, another underrated player who I thought was going to make it to the finals, also came up on top over Fleta. Striker eventually fell to the unstoppable Carpe and Surefour took out SoOn for a matchup that no one saw coming: Surefour overpowering the man who declared himself the best Widow in the league (Carpe), to end up the winner.

Then it was the second match I was the most excited about: The Talent Takedown, where the casters and analysts had their fun playing on the big stage. Aside from Reinforce, none of the talent qualifies as pro OWL players. Reinforce is representing Team Sweden in the World Cup, but despite the walkout and jokes he didn’t actually entirely carry the team. Soe represented well and Semm made me jealous at his D.Va play. This was still easily the most entertaining of all the matches. The Pacific took away their first win with their Talent Roster of Puckett, Soe, Reinforce, Semmler, Hex, Crumbz, and Monte. This was followed by the aforementioned 1v1 Widow final where Surefour brought home the second Pacific win.

The Final match was the actual All-Star game, which saw everyone on both rosters play, including Gamsu and Striker. Gamsu was stoic, with a rare smirk the entire time while Striker, SBB, and Pine were having the time of their life on stage. (Including SBB dancing during the pre-match interviews.) Mickie was also the life of the party, as always. After a easy 3-1 takeaway from Pacific, they played a 5th match anyways that was just as entertaining as the whole event. I would love an All-Star weekend every weekend until OWL starts up again.

Final notes to wrap up. Mickie was the obvious choice for getting the Dennis “INTERNETHULK” Hawelka Award, which was awarded to the person who had the most positive impact on the OWL community. He’s always so positive and hilarious to be around  (it seems) that it was definitely earned by him. If he didn’t walk away with it, his former teammate and retired OWL player Seagull would have deserved it as well. Even in his speech, where he said he didn’t want his fans to be sad if he was sad, showed off what a remarkable person he is. He makes me proud to be a fan of OWL.

The fact that OWL ended up broadcast on cable channels live shows that this is growing faster than people anticipated. With the new teams they are hoping to acquire next season and the growing list of sponsors, this could actually make eSports tournaments more mainstream. This makes me happy. If boring sports like baseball, golf, tennis, poker, and bowling can get as much screen time as they do then OWL should get more attention.

 

The Overwatch League Finals

The OWL Grand Finals have come and gone, but it was such an incredible ride to experience. Who walked away the champions? How salty were the NY fans that the favorite to win didn’t even make it to the finals? (I won’t even address this; they probably were very salty.) This recaps the event for you.

Due to the sale on Overwatch League merch, I invested in a simple t-shirt to show my support for the Spitfire. Sure, I was bummed that the Uprising didn’t make it. But they couldn’t have done that bad considering Fusion destroy NYXL as well. That led people to believe that the Spitfire would follow the same fate. The London Spitfire had a rough go for a while after winning the inaugural season’s first Stage championship. No one expected anything from them but what they got was an incredible show that no one saw coming.

Carpe and Eqo are amazing players… when they are hot. The problem is that they can be a streaky pair. Fortunately for them, they were hot during every other round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for them, the streakiness showed in the one set of matches that actually mattered: the finals. The problem may not have been entirely their fault: the Spitfire knew that to win, they needed to shut down this DPS pair and show Neptuno that aggressive Mercy play doesn’t always pay off. In the finals, it certainly didn’t.

This should not diminish the excellent games that the Spitfire played. After just the first round in the first match, I called Profit the MVP for the finals. On Friday, he was there for his team. On Saturday, he showed up again and caused utter destruction. In fact, calling it destruction doesn’t even do what he did any service. Between him and Birdring, the DPS was really unstoppable. But what really was impressive during the matches was the amazing abilities that the Spitfire has to play as a team. This can be seen in the Dragonstrike play heard ’round the world. Gesture Halted, Profit used his Dragonstrike. If anyone thought that they could jump down to avoid it, Fury jumped up and pushed them back into it. Profit may have gotten the kills, but it was a team effort on that play and the entire match.

Also, not surprisingly, Profit did walk away with the Grand Finals MVP trophy and the Spitfire climbed back to the top as Grand Finals champions.

Now that it’s all over, what’s next? Free agency and hopefully some new teams coming into the mix. Reports are saying that a team in Atlanta is being backed by Cox Communications, but nothing official has been announced by OWL at this point. It would be great to have some new teams mix it up. I also hope they change the format of the playoffs. Teams were fatigued, playing back to back matches. It should be broken up or at least give them a much longer break in between matches.

As for the Boston Uprising, they really need to pick up some DPS. We have plenty of supports and Mistakes and Striker could use a break here and there. Someone with a larger character pool can also be very helpful for us. I hope that the entire team comes back. I hope that if they keep Kellex, they figure out how to keep him alive better (or what he could do to stay alive better). The core team that they have are laid-back and talented. I have high hopes that they can pull it together and be even more successful next year.

The Overwatch League Semi-Finals

Could anyone be more shocked at the outcome of these semi-final matches? The last seed Philadelphia Fusion faced off against the NYXL, the favorites to win it all since Stage 2. (Depending on who you asked, they said all along that XL would take the Grand Champion title.) The London Spitfire, the other favorite to win it all since the pre-season and their win at the first stage championships, slumped and people had little confidence that anything would come from this team. The Spitfire went against the favorites and hometown team the LA Valiant. Who won? What are my predictions for the Grand Finals? Let’s get to this.

To be clear, I was spiteful and went against my Boston roots to cheer on the NYXL against the Fusion. They beat my team, so naturally I wanted them gone. However, the only place they are going is the Grand Finals. Much to everyone’s surprise, NYXL lost 2-0 to the Fusion. If Jjonak (MVP!!!) was responsible for getting Zenyatta nerfed, then Eqo is going to be the reason Hanzo gets nerfed. Between Carpe’s Widow and Eqo’s Hanzo, Fusion was once again unstoppable. The second match in the semi-finals between these two teams was a nailbiter, but some questionable mistakes on the XL side cost them the game. Instead of full on aggression, someone should have been pushing the payload so there was progress made. That could’ve easily have given them the win that they needed to walk to the finals but it certainly wasn’t their only questionable move. They had weaknesses that Eqo and Carpe easily exploited and destroyed them with.

As for the Valiant and Spitfire, again full disclosure I was rooting for the Spitfire to win. They are my second favorite team and since the OWL is having a ridiculous sale on merch I finally scored myself a Spitfire shirt. (As well as 2 Uprising hoodies since everything was still cheaper than 1 hoodie would normally cost.) Unlike the Fusion, the Spitfire had seemingly no issue taking on the Valiant. Going 3-1 in the first match, they went for the full sweep in the second to get their ticket to the Grand Finals. They pulled out some interesting tricks that the Valiant just couldn’t seem to handle. Such as my 2nd favorite D.Va in the league Fury playing Soldier: 76 in a triple DPS comp on Oasis. Going super aggressive with a Reaper, Soldier, and Tracer combo was the right call and they did jaw-droppingly well. I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. Their performance in the semi-finals reminded everyone why they were the original team to beat going into the pre-season. The biggest criticism people had was that this was not an aggressive team. All that has changed now, when it counts the most.

What happens next? On Friday, the Grand Finals start with one match then Saturday there are 2 matches. Spitfire is considered the home team since they have the higher seed. The same playoff rules apply.

Now, who’s going to win it all? The way both of these teams played in the semi-finals, it really could go either way. I’m rooting for the Spitfire because I feel as though they are the more consistent team. Carpe and Eqo have the tendency of being a bit streaky and despite having a strong showing the playoffs so far, there is a chance that their streakiness will come back to bite them soon. As long as Spitfire plays flawlessly, they should be able to take this one home. I’m sure they have some more surprises up their sleeves as well, which could be very helpful against a team that may not be the best at adapting when they need to.