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.

 

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Overwatch League: The Quarterfinals

It was an interesting and quite surprising week in the Overwatch League, with the inaugural season’s playoffs starting this week. It was the Philadelphia Fusion versus the Boston Uprising and the London Spitfire up against the LA Gladiators. It was an extremely exciting week that I can’t wait to break down for you. So here we go.

The first day of matches was the 11th, with all of the teams starting off. The first match of the game was the Fusion vs. the Uprising. The Uprising got utterly destroyed in the first match of the game, which was set on Dorado. The Fusion just walked all over their defense and Uprising’s offense didn’t do much better. Uprising took the second map in a strong showing on Oasis. The next map, Eichenwalde, was a nail-biter but Fusion ultimately took the map away for a 2-1 lead over Uprising going into the 4th map. Boston must’ve felt very confident going into Volskaya Industries, a map they have never lost on. Well… until they did against the Fusion. The Fusion walked all over them, getting both points while holding Uprising to 0 points, winning the match 3-1. The next match of the day was the LA Gladiators and the London Spitfire. I can quickly sum this match up for you: Gladiators destroyed London 3-0 for the day.

As a fan of both of these teams, I was pretty bummed out about the matches. Still, I keep a positive attitude that my beloved Uprising would #RiseUp going into Friday’s matches. For the weekend, each sets of team would play the entire day. So the 2 matches on Friday were Fusion vs. Uprising and Saturday had LA vs. London. On Friday, Boston did #RiseUp in the second match, but it was a rough ride. Both teams played amazingly but Mistakes certainly stepped up and helped give his team the edge. I don’t care what he thinks, but his performance was much better than the 5.6/10 he gave himself. Also, Note was amazing and he deserves a lot more credit than he gives himself and other people give him. Back to the matches. In the first set of matches, I was pleasantly surprised how well they handled Hanamura, their worst map, which they won in the first match. The second set of matches gave us a different look at the team. Again, Boston destroyed on Junkertown as they did in the first match. However, after that things started going downhill. Uprising was wrecked in Lijiang Tower. Hybrid maps are pretty tough for them and they just couldn’t quite get Eichenwalde down for the win, a map that they chose. The probably the worst mistake HuK could have made happened. I see where he was going with it, but statistics matter. I don’t know if it was arrogance or he figured that they won on Hanamura once today so they could easily do it again. Either way, the safer choice would have been Volskaya, a map they have a much higher win percentage on. Boston lost, and Fusion advanced to the semi-finals against NYXL. More on my thoughts on this match after the recap.

I did lose a bit of hope in the Spitfire, a team that after winning the first ever Stage Championship went into a slump. I watched without too much confidence, expecting a Battle of the LAs in the semifinals. (Imagine the ratings for that.) However, London Swept both matches and advance to go against the LA Valiant in the semifinals. As for the semi-finals, I expect the Fusion to give XL a run for their money but I think XL will walk away the big winners of everything. Spitfire and Valiant could go either way but the way Spitfire played this weekend gives me hope that they could make it to the finals. I’m rooting for an XL vs. Spitfire finals. Then at least my 2nd choice team could win and I can walk away happy.

As for the Uprising, what happened? I’m not too disappointed; they made it much further than anyone expected. However, they had the potential of making it to the next round. They had the potential to make it all the way. They had the potential to win, being the only team to beat the XL as much as they did. So what happened? First of all when you run a single support, that support needs to stay alive longer than 2 minutes in every fight. Because you can’t really see what’s going on, it’s hard to say why he died so much but it was definitely a combination of factors. Maybe at some point they should have just tried Snow in his place (or even Avast) because if they were going to lose, mixing it up to see if that worked could have changed the entire outcome of the match. There is also the issue of being tired. The Uprising only has a few extra players to help relieve the core if they get tired. Unlike the Fusion, who seemed to keep swapping players in and out. They had a team with a break. We didn’t. That’s our fault. We also need to pickup some DPS player with a massive character pool. Mistakes can only do so much and Striker seems like a waste to be anywhere but on his signature Tracer. They have a strong core but this core needs to have a break at some point to keep them fresh. Also, what was HuK thinking when he chose Hanamura? That was a Belichick move: Genius if it worked, awful for him if it didn’t. Unfortunately this time that gamble didn’t pay off. I understand the thought behind it. Fusion put in Hotba, someone who played a surprisingly great Tracer that threw Uprising off on Volskaya and stomped them into the ground. To screw with them, pick the unlikely map to mess with their head. However, we were 3-8 on that map at this point in time. It was dumb. It really was a dumb call. Adjust to Hotba not screw yourselves over.

Adaptability and not resting their players is the biggest issue this roster seems to have. There is a strong core of players that you can work with, you just need to build up the roster even further to give the team more of the tools that they need to adapt to a variety of different situations. Good job though, Boston Uprising. I am proud to be a hardcore fan to such an amazing group of people. I hope they come back even stronger next time.

 

Girls and Gaming

I’ve been an avid gamer for a long time. I’ve been big into online games since Vanilla WoW, though I’ve been doing more beta than live WoW these days. There has been a lot of talk about girls and their treatment by other gamers. I have decided to weigh in as someone who has been doing this online thing for probably just over a decade. I don’t really want to do the math because some days I already feel older than I’d like to admit.

Gaming was a lot easier for me before I started raiding and had to speak on Vent. Before then, I could just be a good player. Okay, mediocre at best. I had potential, I just get in my head and decide the living is more important than the meters. It was easier back in Vanilla. There were defined roles. Priests were healers, backing up their Paladins in the 40 mans. It was cut and dry. Then instead of just being a player, you became a “girl player”. That was that. Girl first, player second. Eventually, for a short period of time, I became a named GM as part of a council. My peers, male, were regarded as just being “boys”. If I had to reprimand someone or give orders in raid, I was the bitchy girl bossing them around. It happened. The guys laughed. It bothered me a little at first. Not because of what they were saying but because I know why they said it. Anytime I was in an Officer style position after that in WoW, it was the same thing.

When people made jokes about me, they treated me like a wounded animal. It’s okay, they’re just jerks. It’s instinct, right? Protecting the little girl. It sucked but you sucked it up because you couldn’t show weakness. I started mouthing off and not taking it. That’s an easy way to make you a heartless bitch again. You get over it. After a while, things in the game got better. Aside from comments like “we have girl players. Some of them are actually good.” You have to work harder than your male counterparts.

Games like Overwatch are much worse about this. I refuse to talk on chat, unless it is absolutely undeniably necessary. Why? Because despite being praised earlier on in a match, the minute I spoke and came out of my gamer closet as a girl, I was suddenly no longer a badass. I was now terrible at the game. I was playing the same level of play that I was earlier on in the match, but suddenly now I have to get off of competitive because I have no idea  how to play. They would have respected me more if I pretended I was a pre-teen boy who hadn’t experience puberty yet.

It does scar you a little bit. It makes you not want to fully engage the game. Sometimes you get lucky. Maybe there’s another girl in the group. Maybe there are some more open-minded gamers. It’s not even a majority of the time you experience it, at least in my case. If I’m on a winning streak with a group and got 3 PoTGs (Play of the Game) in a row, I’ll speak up and get comfortable. But when it does happen, it stings. I shouldn’t be afraid to chat while playing a team based game. Look at what happened to Geguri. She is ridiculously good, so she obviously has to be cheating as a player. I’m not entirely sure she would have faced the same scrutiny if she were a male gamer.

The moral of this story: it depends on the game and the people you surround yourself with. In WoW, my guild treats me as one of the guys. They don’t care about anything other than that I’m a team player who shows up and does my job. There’s still a little bit to go with games like Overwatch, but I feel as though part of the problem is the age and maturity of the players. As more women dominate this game, I think it will be a strong turnaround.

The Overwatch League- The End of the Regular Season

The final stage of the Overwatch League’s inaugural first regular season has finally ended. Shanghai never got their win, but they did get significantly better. Things are going to turn around for them next season when they work out their little issues, such as not being able to close up a match even though you fought hard. Here is a quick look at what happened this week.

Boston Uprising started off the stage with no wins but turned it around, winning every game that they needed to in order to stay in the playoff contention for the post-season. This team, that everyone predicted would finish in last, actually finished off in 3rd place and will cry home with their fancy  guaranteed $150,000 prize money on top of the $25,000 they won for second place in Stage 3. Just for getting into the playoffs, they will walk away with a minimum of $50,000. Not bad for playing a video game.

Valiant did not walk away with the first seed in the Stage 4 playoffs, but they did walk away with the championship. Valiant defeat the reigning Stage 3 and 4 champions the NYXL to take the $100,000 prize pot for the stage. This win wasn’t a surprise. Valiant had a solid Stage 4 and in the previous match, NYXL struggled against the Dallas Fuel to even make it in the finals. With no break in between to rest up, they weren’t the strong team NYXL fans have grown accustomed to. As much as I love SBB and Pine, I was glad to see another team walk away with the championship title.

The playoffs are a month away and these teams are going to be practicing non-stop to get their hands on the $1 million prize for the Grand Finals champion. I hope my Uprising makes it, but realistically it will be a NYXL vs. LA Valiant for a rematch. I hope to be surprised but that is my early prediction.

I also can’t wait to see what’s in store for the All-Star matches. I’m hoping for some Mystery Heroes or Competitive Deathmatch action. No matter what happens, that will certainly be a fun event to watch.

Overwatch League- Stage 4, Week 4

With the final week of the Overwatch League finally upon us, it’s time to take a look at how things are shaping up for playoff time. Fortunately the post season will keep us occupied for the next month, but when I don’t have to post about OWL I can post about the World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth beta. But until then, let’s take a quick look at this week in OWL.

The first point that should be mentioned is the fact that the Valiant is still undefeated and have their spot in the Stage 4 and the post-season playoffs locked up. Shanghai Dragons had some seriously strong matches, but still ultimately came up short in their hunt for their first win of the season. This team has some strong players but they just can’t seem to close the deal to get those crucial wins. Their only real chance for a win would’ve been against the Mayhem, but they ended up losing in a heartbreaking match. That doesn’t stop the crowd going wild for this team, rooting for them to at least get one win by the end of the season.

Then there was my Boston Uprising. I was skeptical that they were going to even beat Shanghai this week, but Boston seems to be getting back up to their Stage 3 form. They have found their stride so much that I would actually buy NotE that corgi if I had the money to. They went 2-0 this week, which helped their shot at making the post-season playoffs. We went from worried that they would even make the playoffs to now being able to say that they have clinched a spot in the post-season. Will they get far? They could, especially if they find themselves in sync as they did all last stage. They have figured out Brigitte finally and have 2 wins on Hanamura now. If they keep this up, they are going to have a strong showing in the playoffs. Though, we should be happy that they even made it there considering the experts had them in last (or second to last) place prior to the season starting.

This is going to be an exciting week at OWL, watching the last teams clinch up their spots in the playoffs. Who will win it all? Probably NYXL, but there’s always a chance for an upset.

Overwatch League: Stage 4, Week 3

This week in OWL didn’t really offer many surprises as one would have hoped for the week. Boston is still winless in this stage, though they did nearly win against the Spitfire. Shanghai is still winless for the entire season. NYXL is still the top team, though Valiant beat them on the tiebreaker map to keep their undefeated stage alive. Fuel is also still on fire, which I’m going to credit partially to Mickie being just an amazing Brigitte. Brigitte has shown to be a huge shakeup to teams, since those who can play her well do great while the ones who can’t seem defenseless against her.

Boston has had a really tough stage so far. The best match they have played so far was against the Spitfire, where they tied on a map and fought hard to stay alive. It wasn’t enough though despite pouring everything they had into those matches. The one great thing to come out of them this week? They finally have their first win on Hanamura. Progress? Maybe, but as much as I’d love to see Shanghai finally win one I really don’t want to be the team they win against. And the way Boston has been playing and the way Shanghai performed against Houston, they may actually beat us. I’m conflicted about how I feel about that.

The playoffs for the stage and the post-season are coming very soon. Boston needs to figure it out because I want the analysts to say that they were wrong about them. They did when they were winning but now they seemed to have written last stage off as a fluke. We need a better coach. Losing Crusty was obviously rough on the team, both in playing and for morale reasons. And where’s Neko? Are they saving him for the playoffs if they get in? Does he just need a break? I can’t help but to wonder if his experience in the league could be more beneficial to us right now. I am happy that Mistakes seems to be doing well on Brigitte, so maybe things will turn around soon. This team obviously still has talent; they just need to figure it out.

This will be a great finish to an eventful inaugural season. I’ll miss it when it’s over, but soon football will be back and I can be happy again.

Overwatch League- Stage 4, Week 2

It is nearing closer to the end of the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. The playoffs are coming and it is going to be a race to the finish for some teams as this new meta seems to be a difficult one for some of our stronger competitors. NYXL has already clinched the top spot in the post-season, which comes as no surprise to anyone. This is a brief look at this week in the Overwatch League.

There are currently 4 teams that are winless in this stage: Seoul Dynasty, Boston Uprising, Shanghai Dragons, and the Florida Mayhem. Surprisingly though, Shanghai isn’t in dead last thanks to the win differentials in this stage, but they have yet to get a win overall this season. This is a bit surprising, especially since Geguri finally has the opportunity this stage to show off her amazing Zarya skills. However, this is proof that one person can’t win an Overwatch match. The team still has a lot of issues to work out, which I hope they do because I want to see Geguri succeed in the league.

Seoul is still struggling this stage, unable to get a win so far. This mighty team has certainly fallen since the early estimates of being a top contender for the championship prior to the league starting. This is a group of solid players that doesn’t seem to be holding up as well as their skill should be. Unrelated note, Fleta for Uprising?

Speaking of my favorite team, this stage is not going well for these underdogs. Despite shocking everyone by coming in 2nd place in Stage 3, they are struggling hard this stage. Last week was their most impressive showing, forcing LA Valiant into a tiebreaker. What happened to this team? Crusty being gone definitely hurt them, but there’s more to it than that. This is their weakest map pool and they still haven’t figured out how to beat Brigitte. I don’t take any of these as excuses though. A good coach would have helped them figure it out by now, rather than watching the team drown. We need a new coach badly. So badly. It’s hard watching this team that works so hard and puts everything out there just to watch them crash and burn. It’s especially demoralizing when the experts talk about how last stage was a fluke or at least now the team is where they expected them to be. They can still pull this out and hopefully get themselves a spot in the post-season.