The OWL Community Countdown

This weekend began the countdown for the Overwatch League Season 2. Of the listings, which have changed a few times since released to the public, it activated hype mode for me. My excitement of a fantasy league also happened, though I fear I’m too late and don’t have enough friends interested in OWL to do it this year. Next year, I want in on that. The most exciting events of the schedule were the Talent Showdown and the 2 1v1 matches. Surefour vs. Pine on Ashe? Yes, please.

I wanted to catch the Boston Uprising scrim, but honestly I thought it would be just like watching NFL preseason matches. You don’t watch expecting Brady, Gronk, and Edelman to play the entire time. You watch to get hyped that the football season is coming soon. So when I saw that Gamsu was Hanzo or NotE on Mercy, I got exactly what I expected. What I didn’t expect was the scathing response to the matches.

Of course they didn’t take it seriously. Last year when they offered a preseason, it was treated by the league as a real thing. They had the casters and analysts on stage. The matches took place well before the season happened. If the league didn’t take these seriously, why should the teams? Did I enjoy watching Jayne pull the analyst and commentator role? Yes. Did it look like an Overwatch League production? No, it looked like when he did one of those unofficial competitions. Great to watch, but something that you want to watch for fun.

Additionally, it took place less than 1 week before the start of the season. With the meta pretty much already set for the season’s first stage (::cough:: GOATS), teams didn’t want to give anything away with their strats. It’s one thing when the preseason start was in plenty of time for the meta to change, it’s another when the season is days away.

Then Nanzer changed it up, disappointed in the teams for not taking this more seriously. He gave us Mystery Heroes. Honestly, I watched more of the Mystery Heroes scrims than I did the “real ones”. It was fun and lighthearted and I wish they did the Mystery Heroes scrims to begin with. Consider it next year. And let’s be real, if you wanted it to be treated as a real thing maybe the league itself should have treated it like the real thing as they did last year.

The league experts and fans seemed torn on this. I think the outrage is nonsense. The argument that you can’t compare the two preseasons because “You wouldn’t see a QB play linebacker” is nonsense. You still don’t see their A game because it’s not in the team’s best interest from a strategic point of view. I’m more concerned with the new players and seeing what they are capable of. If you want your eSports league to mimic the major sports league, then that is exactly what happened this weekend.

I can’t wait until the Valentine’s Day matchup between NYXL and Uprising. It’s going to be great and I can’t wait for the Overwatch League to start back up again.

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The Fear of the Uprising

Last year, prior to the inaugural season of the Overwatch League starting, the Boston Uprising was pegged as the underdog. Being a lifelong Boston fan like most other Uprising fans, this wasn’t unfamiliar territory. We have tempered expectations until we see even a flicker of hope, which we cling onto in hopes for victory. (Like in the Super Bowl… against the Rams… Go Pats!) The preseason venture didn’t help Boston’s case: they just didn’t look like a promising team. Still, they were my team and true Boston fans are nothing if not loyal to a fault.

While the 1st Stage wasn’t overly impressive, it wasn’t entirely depressing. They were a team that could hold their own out there. You win some, you lose some. At the end of Stage 2, they had a 4 game winning streak that offered the momentum that they desperately needed. This momentum led them to a historic undefeated season, the only team in the Overwatch League to accomplish this. Despite losing a talented DPS that I won’t mention. They may have fallen in the Stage Finals against NYXL, but it was the principle: they went into the inaugural season as a 10 seed at best, but most people pegged them at the 12th spot. But there they were, putting up a fight for a Stage Championship. This was a place that some people didn’t think would happen, even their fans. They broke records and made history that stage.

Stage 4 was a rough one. They finished in 8th. The dive meta was dead thanks to Brigitte and the Uprising just couldn’t keep up, especially since their DPS team centered around an insane Tracer. (Tracer + Brigitte = Instant Tracer Doom.) Still, their solid performance in Stage 3 gave them a spot in the overall Playoffs. They fell to the Fusion, but they did still get a 3rd place finish. That was far more impressive than where the experts placed them in the rankings before the season began.

Now we’re at season 2 and back in an underdog position. It’s no mystery why. The debates about HuK and how he runs his team. The fact that we lost our star DPS Striker to Crusty and the San Francisco Shock. The fact that we no longer had Neko, an insane Zenyatta. The fact that one of our DPS players (Colourhex) is suspended for 2 games for boosting and we only have 1 other DPS signed at this point. (Which may not be all that bad, if GOATS is still the way to go and we have extra tanks and supports to fill in.) Will there be a last minute signing? Is HuK just planning to let things play out with GOATS and hope that they win those 2 matches without an extra DPS player? In HuK we trust?

The February 14th start day is fast approaching and I’m like every other Uprising fan who is looking for some big signing soon. We know it’s not going to be some big name like Mangachu, but there’s still hope right? Either way, 3rd place was a respectable place to be when everyone thought you would be all the way in the 12th spot. I’m just happy to support my team.

Every Ana is Now Bastet… and Other Things Overwatch

The Bastet Challenge was released and completed by most people already. Which means every Ana is now a Bastet Ana. Makes sense, considering this is (in my opinion) the only cool Ana skin in Overwatch. The short story itself was very well done, even if people are complaining about the fact that Soldier was announced as being a proud member of the LGBT community. I love the fact that this game represents the diversity that exists in the world. Go Overwatch! Plus, this was a backstory I felt like we needed. There is such rich lore in Overwatch that I would start reading novels or watching an Overwatch show. Or movie.

Before getting into the big news in Overwatch, a sincere congrats to Fusion Academy for yet another championship in Contenders. The games were thrilling to watch, and even more hilarious to listen to Bren’s play by play of it. You made me question some of your comps, but I can’t argue with results. Here’s to more Symm in OWL?

The first thing that should be discussed is the XL2 academy team deciding to get rid of their roster in favor of “Hometown Ladder Players”. Players like Mangachu were pushed aside in this move. Something I’m partial happy about, as a fan of the Uprising who desperately needs another flex DPS to join our team. Was this move a way to make them appear to be more of a “local team” to represent NY? Or was it a budget thing that just made them look good for PR? Though, honestly, it seem to do more to hurt their PR, not help it. Everyone is making fun of this move, rightfully so. It really seems like a silly play without a lot of reward to it. It makes them seem like they don’t care about the Path to Pro or even acquiring their academy players. With SBB and Pine, it’s easy to see why they just want to keep the solid players that they have.

The next topic of discussion is the PTR changes in Overwatch. The D.Va matrix nerf may be a nerf, but it just means that you have to get better at using it. You can no longer just hit it whenever you want. It’ll be an adjustment but it’s hard to say definitively if this is a nerf yet. I say this as a D.Va main. The Brigitte nerf seems like it would be more effective at slowing her down, something that she desperately needed. Especially if you went against 2 Brigs in Mystery heroes. Or more. It’s scary. The real talk of the town is the Reaper changes, something edgelords felt like needed to happen for a long time. They gave him a boost that may have been way more powerful than it should have been. Will they tweak it? Probably not. But all of these changes do have interesting implications as we head up to the next season of Overwatch League. Will we see more Reaper and less GOATS? I guess we’ll see.

Overwatch Discussion: Hero Bans, “Ellie”, and More

The holidays are over, which means I’m back to the Monday gaming posts. For today, it seemed most fitting to discuss some of the latest topics in Overwatch right now. I won’t talk about GOATS. Not really, though it may come up naturally in the conversation about Hero Bans. But GOATS is a tired subject and the only GOAT I want to talk about is Brady before he fades away into retirement somewhere. So, let’s get into this.

The first topic is all about Hero Bans for Overwatch League Season 2. The supporters of this feel as though it can offer more diversity in games, making them more interesting for both players and viewers. People against them worry that bans like no Rein or D.Va will be put into place all the time, which can hurt teams. Where do I stand on it? I’m honestly indifferent to it. There has always been a meta in place. There have always been players who play whatever they want without caring about any meta. Hero Bans will only prevent certain GOATS comps, not get rid of this meta. Metas come and go. Who knows what will happen after the next balance patch? Only Jeff knows. Well, I mean I guess his entire development team knows too… but, you know. Hero Bans could be fun during All-Star Weekend, but otherwise I’m not entirely sure the league should worry about doing this just yet.

Then, there is the whole “Ellie” thing. In case you haven’t heard, Second Wind attracted a lot of attention for signing an relatively unknown female player known as “Ellie”. Seemingly as quickly as she was announced, she resigned due to “toxicity” among players. This lead to an uproar about women in games, a topic I have discussed a few times on here including my own quitting comp due to harassment over being a girl. Rumors started popping up about whether or not this was a real girl, as some things seemed odd about her. (Things such as delayed coms in chat, avoiding public attention…etc.) It turns out she wasn’t who Second Wind thought she was, allegedly a “social experiment” by another unknown player Punisher.

What was this social experiment? No one knows. But what this really does is make things look even worse for girls in gaming, not help us. There are those who think that girl gamers are loving playing the victim, that we are making excuses for our bad play. It’s real; and it sucks. All this does is make it a topic of conversation again for people to ignore and mock. It’s an awful situation to watch unfold and I doubt we’ll ever get any real answers about what went down here.

We are over a month out of Overwatch League Season 2, so let’s start looking forward to this. What are you most looking forward to? Do you think hero bans should exist in OWL? Which team has your support? Here, I’m all about Boston Uprising, with my side support of London Spitfire. (Seriously, Fury is just too amazing.)

Social Media Help For Esports

Some teams have an awesome team behind their social media accounts. As a Boston Uprising fan, I feel as though they have done an amazing job. The Overwatch/Overwatch League teams (and Blizzard team in general) also have a knack for getting information out and actively engaging with their fans. This is just one of many things that I personally love about Blizzard. The problem is that PR on the social media front tends to be a problem for these teams/stars, especially in the Overwatch League and apparently now their Contenders teams.

You may have heard that there’s a new team in town: the Toronto Defiant. I cried a little on the inside when they had Neko in their video releasing info on 2 of their new players. The reveal was well-produced and the hype around it was perfect. This was social media used in an effective manner to achieve awesome results for the team. Even though this worst kept secret was something some Boston fans were hoping was fake. (Which quickly disappeared when Neko referred to HuK as a lying bastard on the internet, but still some of us clung onto hope that Neko would be our fearless Zen/Ana once again.) The Neko incident of calling HuK out on and it going viral on social media is just one of many ways that the PR team has failed players on the social media front. I could go into real life examples of how social media can give people a negative impression on you without the polish of an experienced professional, but I really don’t like to talk politics on Gaming Day.

Way back when DreamKazper did that terrible thing, I pointed out that this was just one of a few examples back then that you have these kids who are impulsive and inexperienced socially (in most cases) who need help navigating the finer points of engaging fans and social media strategies. As an Uprising fan, I can point to NotE and Gamsu as evidence that when a player uses social media properly can grow a massive following without any drama. Gamsu posts images of the beautiful views when he hikes or hilarious images of him missing his flights. Then there is NotE who goes the puppy route and keeps up this wholesome and goofy image that he has. These are players that have either been coached properly on social media PR or ones who just are personable and relatable people with a talent for social media.

Then you have teams like, I don’t know, the Toronto eSports Club who went full nerd-rage on Twitter. “We were told we couldn’t have our name so we quit Overwatch”. They sounded like petulant children. Does it suck that they had to change their name because of the Toronto Defiant? Absolutely. I don’t think it was right that they had to change their name. Throwing a childish fit on Twitter? Probably not the best way to go about it especially if you want sympathy over the situation. Plus, I mean just flat out quitting the game and bashing how awful it is? That brought up a lot of concerns for Uprising fans (and potentially even their players/staff) of what this meant for them since this seemed like a rash overreaction one the part of their academy team. When HuK comes off as a reasonable party in a situation, then you know you’re wrong. This is another case where someone who shouldn’t have a Twitter account while representing other people makes everyone look bad. (Applies to politics today as well.) In case you’re wondering Toronto eSports doesn’t actually own the academy team, the Uprising do. So, this really means nothing.

These teams and players need better social media coaching. Fissure has an awful reputation due to his social media presence. xQc has a reputation due to his online persona where you either love him or hate him. Social media today can make or break your brand if you let it. In a lot of these cases, they are letting it break them. I’m no expert on social media, but I have done enough where I don’t utterly squash the brand I’m trying to build up. If you don’t have the funds or means to get social media professionals to manage the more difficult people, maybe it’s a good idea to at least train them better in these areas. In most cases, the Overwatch League players are freshly 18 with their own income, living on their own, coming into a massive fan base. It can be easy to get caught up in the fame, not realizing the consequences of your actions in the grand scheme of things.

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.

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.