The Overwatch League cracks down (Journal 3/11/18)

So I know the only thing on this blog for a while has been Overwatch, but I’ve got to write this. (I’ve got a post on a different topic coming up soon.) I can’t wait until I can start confidently writing full fledged articles about OWL on my green blog, but for now, this is just my little commentary corner.

https://dotesports.com/overwatch/news/dallas-fuel-release-xqc-21787 (https://overwatchleague.com/en-us/news/21610248/disciplinary-action-taimou-tairong-silkthread-and-xqc)

I saw this article from Dot Esports scroll past my Twitter feed today. I was very surprised to read, “Dallas Fuel releases xQc from Overwatch League team.” I haven’t really been up to date on what has been happening to him, because honestly I don’t really want to spend time dwelling on wretched situations and argue or have an opinion on whether he deserves it or not. But I didn’t realize that all of the resurfacing background chat about him this week was about a fresh suspension–I thought people were just talking about his Stage 1 ordeal again.

I did happen to be watching live, the moment Malik said “…once you get done with all your TriHards in chat…,” but I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was a cute little callout and sort of sad-funny that he knows that’s inevitably going on. I had no idea that people had found out xQc was a part of that (?) and he was in Twitch chat at the time (? is this right?).

And these other punishments too, for other players and coaches–I’m not sure the exact circumstances, but I’m sure they amount to something like “that’s gay” or “that’s retarded” or something like this. In the article, it said xQc called the casting “cancer”. This kind of thing, which is really sort of commonplace in what I’ll term Twitch culture. Jokes tinted with racism or the like, generally known to be and taken to be harmless, but using harsh words nonetheless. Ask me, I’ll say that’s just how it is. Ask anyone, they’ll say these people aren’t racist or homophobic. Muma said it. I think that’s generally palpable.

My first reaction to this announcement, after reading through the offenses, is that it’s harsh. It feels harsh, you know. xQc was initially suspended and fined by the league, and shortly following, Dallas Fuel straight up released him. These other players have been hit hard just because they’re behaving the way everyone else does. To a Twitch society standard, normal. And maybe even better than normal.

The one thing that does get me is TriHards. Just because a black person appears on stream, Twitch chat’s reaction is to spam that emote; that bothers me. That’s pretty racist. The poor guy just had a funky picture taken once upon a time, and his face has turned into this symbol of…I don’t even know what it’s a symbol of. But there is really no positive aspect to spamming it when someone black is on stream. Yes, the origin story of the picture of him making a goofy face is pretty funny. But I have never seen TriHard used in a non-racist way, as I explained to a friend once.

I have this memory of this one time…I think it was in Tyler1’s first stream back, he was playing with a Thresh who started out not so good, but then he started hitting hooks and Tyler started praising him. The guy posted his Twitch channel in chat, but to my horror, when I checked it out after the game was over, the poor guy’s chat had filled with 300 people all spamming TriHards and the n-word. I think that represents some of the worst of Twitch. You could probably get worse than that, but that’s pretty down there in terms of bad.

But I don’t think everybody who visits Twitch is racist, or comes with the intention to abusively or maliciously spam racist comments. But it is perpetuated nonetheless. Why? Simple bandwagon phenomenon. Sheep mentality. Everyone is doing it, you want to do it to. You want to be in on it. If everyone else is doing it, it’s okay. You’re not any worse than anyone else. You want the streamer to notice and/or react. Maybe you want to see how far you can push the boundaries. For example, I saw a username on Twitch today, “KKonaAllTheTime” or something like this, and you can’t really ban that because you can’t say it’s directly harmful, and who are you to say where the line is drawn, and the person with the username has basis on which to argue you. And people get away with that and see how much further they can push it. They want to outdo others in outrageousness that can’t be banned. For those who have the conscience not to participate, they don’t have the same sort of solidarity to rise up against the bad culture and spam. They cannot make a wave loud enough to counter the awful comments. If a chat contains more than, say, two or three thousand, it’s already unmanageable speeds for mods.

Well, to be honest, I don’t actually have an explanation, and I don’t really understand. I don’t know what motivates people to see people spamming the n-word and think, “I’m going to copy that.” I can’t believe that gamers are just that breed of people. I don’t think any sort of people just happen to be like that. I do kind of see why spamming TriHard would have caught on–someone is new to Twitch culture (do you remember when you weren’t yet fluent in Twitch emotes?) and is learning how to be “cool” and well, people use this emote when there is a black person on screen, so I will too. I’m not quite sure what it means, but I’ll do it. Dog on screen, FrankerZ. Girl? HotPokket, because gamer girls, amirite??? It is a see, copy sort of thing. In fact, that is how one learns to be fluent in Twitch emotes. You see how they’re used and learn how to use them. Hell, you don’t know how to use all those other ones in the menu because you’ve never seen them used, but you do know how to use MrDestructoid because you learn by context of when others use it. People learn by observing.

Yeah, so. There are problems with Twitch culture. It’s racist, sexist, and generally offensive, and everyone just copies each other. But no one knows how to stem the source. It seems like an unsolvable problem. Everyone just kind of gives a nervous laugh, scratches the back of their neck, and ignores the terrible spam. And it’s accepted. This is the way gamers talk. This is the way gamers react. This is the way the bros do it when there’s not enough girls around to stop them.

So back to those fines and things from OWL. Like I said, my first reaction was that it was all too harsh for the offenses. But that’s because I am just another part of Twitch society that is okay with the crude and slurred way gamers react to their games and plays–either those who are on the stream or in the chat. Well, not okay with it, but accepts that it is just “the way of life here on Twitch.” Like I said, I think there are plenty of conscientious people in chat who try to protest sometimes, but just cannot make much of a difference. It’s easier to create disorder than it is to try and reorder disorder.

I realized, even if I think it’s harsh, Overwatch League really meant it when they said they’re going to be a totally different kind of esport. They’re out to change the culture. They’re trying to turn Twitch on its head.

I had this interesting discussion in a class recently about rape culture–it was a pretty poor lecture and wasn’t very profuse, but it discussed how sexist jokes and extremely obviously not okay sexual assault jokes are often let go because everyone laughs (perhaps nervously) and no one steps up to say the joke is not okay (a lot of the time). And no one starts out as a rapist. No one is born like, well imma go rape someone now; no, it is a build up of testing little things out, oh, is this joke okay? Yes? People are okay with it? Well how much further can I take it? Testing it out, can I say this about someone? Can I do this to someone? And it escalates. (I don’t really fully understand this logic, but I am not very well versed in the field, so I’ll take the lecture’s word for it.)

That’s what came to mind–they’re punishing something as small as spamming TriHard, because stamping out the little things is the beginning to preventing and eliminating bigger problems. They’re punishing a no-malice-intended homophobic slur, because even if it’s harmless and accepted to some degree, it leads to bigger things. And I mean, not having people say those things is pretty nice too, regardless of how they mean it. They punish a friendly, teammate-banter middle finger because even if it’s funny or joking, it’s a crude and base way to have fun (besides it being on broadcast and unprofessional). Overwatch League really wants to grow different kinds of boys. Esports has long been filled with young boys (sorry the reality is that there just really are no girls at the highest levels yet), from ages 16 to maybe 30, most of them starting out younger than 20 and without fully developed maturities yet. OWL is trying to shape their players, new to the spotlight and figuring out how to deal with fame, into better gamers and role models, ones who don’t perpetuate the existing Twitch culture. OWL is speaking out against the status quo–they are trying to change it. A tall task, but they’re going for it.

It’s true. Behavior is very copied. What’s it called, mimicry? Children see and hear how their parents act, and copy them. Ever had a four-year old give you a very snappy retort? I have. You can tell. That sort of bossiness isn’t in them, they’ve learned it from their parents. You can immediately tell that their parents say that in front of them all the time. It’s inherited behavior. Same with anything. No matter how much you try or care, who you are around and what you hear all the time is how you will be. When I went to public school, I tried to stay myself, but I quickly found myself turning into one of them, complaining about sleep, judging all the teachers, using the same slang words. If you listen to a certain YouTuber all the time, you might adopt their mannerisms without intending to. The way I always listen to gamers react to things, my brain has unfortunately adapted to react to things the same way I have unconsciously learned from them to (which I personally think is pretty undignified). Sometimes it’s harmless, sometimes it’s a new behavior you can’t shake (Muma, I’ve started saying eek now, drat you). Think about it for a second. You act like the people spend time around. You act like the people you spend hours watching for entertainment. I can almost guarantee it.

And it’s not only the demographic of young kids who Overwatch League is attracting as fans that they’re trying to help bring up in the right way (this is not about “protecting” kids their innocence or anything don’t give me that). It’s also the 15 year olds and 16 year olds. It’s the youngest players in the league. As much as teenagers (including me as a current teenager) want to believe they are fully fledged adults with free will, good decision making, and strong individuality, the truth is that none of those things are true. Teenagers are far from completely formed and still have a lot of developing to go. They’re most susceptible to this behavior adopting/copying and mimicry. They have not become the kind of person they’ll become yet. Just see the case of Dardoch–extremely young guy with no idea how to control his temper, but he’s coming around after two years (one year? debatable). The youngest pro gamers are still up for development. OWL is ready to beat them into shape and direct them down the straight and narrow. And as a domino effect, that is what the young kids will see and copy. Those are the kids who will occupy Twitch chat next. That is who the 13 and 14 year olds are looking to, eyeing a spot in the OWL someday. I’ve got to be a good person too. I’ve got to respect others and understand the power of my words and Twitch emotes, and without that I’m not going to be a better candidate to get picked up than the next guy who isn’t spamming ANELE.

Maybe I’m dreaming too much? I’m not sure. I’m definitely not confident in the League’s censures to actually culminate in this transformation of Twitch and gamer society as a whole. But it’s a nice thing to dream of. It’s a nice thing to shoot for. In the end, OWL is right. This kind of thing does need to be stamped out, and they are exercising the power they have to change it. It’s harsh, but right. It’s the first step.

One more word on xQc–I can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. From what little I’ve heard, I think he was a fantastic tank all of last year (before I started following Overwatch). The article reported that he had/has only played six matches in total this year, which is a puny number. And to be hit with this, for behavior he has probably grown up copying and others have accepted as normal, is probably very frustrating for him. To get suspended and fined for a second time, and then have his team say, “we have no business with a ‘problem child'” and just drop him is devastating, I’d imagine. Now his name is tainted with “repeat offender” and “the guy who got suspended for saying some bad stuff”, and I think things are just bad for him from here on out. It seems like he might be able to find success in streaming, but overall he’s in a pretty wretched position and I feel bad for him. Again, I’ve never really watched him, followed him, or heard any of the things he’s said, so no judgment on whether or not he deserves what he has got, he might be a massive jerk for all I know. People will say he’s older than 20 and should know better, and he didn’t learn from his first suspension, and so on. But just circumstantially, he gets my FeelsBadMan. He happened to be the first one caught in this new system with a larger vision and purpose, and it’s not to him in particular, but now he has been cursed forever.

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The meta shifts (OWLearning Episode 6)

First of all, I am getting tired of writing these, and second of all, I have gone in and ruined the experiment, so’s to speak. I caved and bought Overwatch during the recent 50% sale, since I knew it would be eventual. I also started playing and trying out almost all the heroes and their abilities, so the process of learning heroes’ abilities by just watching is gone out the window. So this will be the final conclusion episode of me learning from OWL. After all, this is not an OWL commentary show nor an Overwatch learning, just Overwatch League learning.

  • So it seems like Overwatch actually has tons of maps, way more than I thought. The map pool for stage 2 is different from stage 1. There’s like 2 or 3 different maps for each kind of map mode, and they’re randomized or picked per match. I like that, so that players don’t get too taxed practicing too many maps, but all maps see rotation, and there is variety.
  • I like this new meta where Mercy is not overpowered. I like the idea that we can see other healers like Moira and Lucio more while Mercy is still not blown out gone. But I just really hated the fact that people could get clutch picks and it didn’t mean anything and you were playing around how many res’s the enemy team had left. Now that’s not the case.
  • Sombra is also in the meta now, especially on Route 66. Reinhardt is in.
  • Seems sad for Florida Mayhem and Shanghai Dragons; the analysts were saying that the new meta would be better for them, but not much has changed in terms of their match scores. Although Shanghai Dragons signed new players, nobody has been able to make it to the US to play yet, and they’ve lost one of their key players for a bit.
  • In combination with me having played the game now and having spent an hour or two in training mode testing all the heroes out, I now have a better grasp on all their abilities. I can easily classify the heroes by role now, and knowing what abilities each hero has makes it much easier to follow fights.
    • Although watching Tracer is mildly easier now, the pace that hero sets with her blinks, recall, and even rate of fire is still mindblowing. I don’t understand how Widows can follow her after a blink and oneshot.
  • The class of Korean Zenyattas which stands head and shoulders above the rest really inspires me. Jjonak, Ryujehong, and Bdosin always feel like DPS to me. I heard one of the casters mention his immobility, though, and that helped me connect the dots that that was his weakness. Still doesn’t prevent these Korean players from taking out players solo anyway.
  • All the players are talking about the meta being “dive” (I think that’s still in right now?), which I guess means the ability to just go in with your tanks close range and have your DPS follow. That means Reaper has made a couple of appearances lately.
  • I always wonder every time it’s a 3-0 and it goes to a map 4, and the casters talk about map differential being important, but so many matches go to a map 5, and does that not totally mess up the map differential? If you always talk about map 4s as if that single map can mean the world? But maybe they just don’t count map 5s and those only are used to decide who wins the match. I have no idea. This kind of stuff is not clear.
  • I finally understand the thing about timebank and only having to best the other team’s best on an attack/defense mode. I think when there is a tie, the team with less time left to work with goes first. A draw is declared when both teams have no time left to work with and it’s still tied (I think?).
  • I can’t wait until they get an active minimap on the screen because sometimes you’ll be watching a losing section of the fight but the rest of the team is winning elsewhere.

As a personal note, poor Noah. I love Noah for Noah but I am having so much trouble liking his teams. Let’s just say CS:GO was only nice pre-kng and, well, LoL is gone now (and also the first edition only lasted a year). And somehow, I like Asher and Hydration and Bischu from Gladiators instead of the Valiant. I don’t know…it’s just so hard to get to know them. Still, my favorite team is Outlaws. I think I like all their players, but I follow Muma and Jake most closely. Again, I like all of them, though.

By the way, I am having much more fun watching Overwatch League than I did in the beginning. Now I understand it, and now I can cheer for people and plays (except when they’re nullified by Mercy, I hate that). I tend not to care who’s on, really, and I don’t really cheer for anybody except for maybe the Outlaws? But even then, if they’re not doing very well I can just cheer for the game. I usually just pick the underdog (the non Korean team?) and hope they can make it a good match.

My only continuing gripe is that Overwatch really does not have a lot of momentum or hype/suspense to build. It’s like, okay, we’ve got 2 points so we’re close to finishing, or 30 seconds left we’ve got one more push, or we’ve got more ults than them, but fights feel so unpredictable and it’s just like, okay, we won this fight, progress, we lost this fight, okay wait, we lost again, wait, we won, progress, and there’s no momentum. There’s not a lot of “ohhhhh they’re going to win!” sort of feeling (apart from maybe ult economy but not even that is exciting). The score tries to provide direction but it really doesn’t. It’s just like, try to jump on the point again in overtime! Will they do it? Probably not!

Anyways, I think I’ll keep watching this game. I hope I can learn it enough to analyze it someday. My friends trash on the game like “this game is awful after 6 months” but it seems fun to play as well from the few minutes I’ve spent so far.

3/15/18 Addendum: I like the fact that they now have some previews before each game mode explaining the mode. I also like Zen’s new bars in the lower right.

Stage 1 Concludes (OWLearning Episode 5)

What a quiet week after stage 1 ends. Suddenly there’s no Overwatch or CS:GO (barely) and I feel…bored?

In terms of what happened in the playoff thing, congrats to London Spitfire, and that’s crazy that you play that many maps in one day. I like C9, so hurray, but I was really rooting for Houston that day. Oh well. For some reason, even if I’m not that into OWL, I’m really into rooting for Houston. Weird.

Seems like everyone’s saying that with Shanghai’s new additions (the biggest headliner of which is Geguri) and something that Florida’s doing, they won’t be absolutely horrible next stage. That’s interesting and I’m glad that will switch up.

In terms of meta, I am again (disclaimer) not an Overwatch player, and I’m just regurgitating what I’ve heard other people say, but what I know is that there are Mercy nerfs and the “patch” was not going to be applied to competitive until the conclusion of Stage 1. So now we’ll probably come back to a new game. From what I can tell from watching streams, Reinhardt and Moira will probably become more meta. I also saw the Mercy nerf for a hot second in some video, I think it’s something where her res now requires her to be stationary for a long time, making it way more risky. That’s pretty nice because of Mercy makes the game so unfun to watch. Someone gets a clutch pick and it’s immediately nullified by Mercy.

Alright, enough about stage 1. I’ve been taking the week off to “study” a little and actually go through and learn the heroes. I think with watching being such a chaotic experience, I don’t know if I can really figure out all the abilities by just watching. Additionally, there are a limited number of heroes so far, and I think I can probably learn them all (as opposed to League of Legends, which has nearly one and a half hundred characters and you really gotta just learn those by watching). So here’s what I’ve learned:

First, I watched this video, but got baited by the title because I thought I was getting an explanation of all their abilities. But I did come out with a lot of lore knowledge and as a result a better understanding of the Overwatch universe as a whole. Seems good. (I still have to go back and watch all the cinematics, I know they’re good but I need to find the time.)

The other thing I did this week is google (wow!) and find this page, where I counted to find out there are 26 heroes as of right now. From my limited knowledge, I think Moira is the newest, and Doomfist is second newest (that might be wrong)?

The page classifies them into Offense (8), Defense (6), Tank (6), and Support (6). The only heroes that are not meta in OWL are Symmetra, Torbjorn, and Moira (or is she not live on the patch that OWL played on for Stage 1?). I think Ana, Sombra, Zarya, Doomfist, and Reinhardt are used super duper situationally, while Mei, Lucio, Hanzo, Roadhog, Reaper, and Bastion are used super situationally. Orisa and Pharah seem to be per-map/mode heroes, and the remaining 10 are used tons.

I won’t bore the reader with me listing out all their abilities, but I will get myself to read through all of them. Hopefully getting an understanding of their abilities and thus their class/archetype will help me piece together team compositions better.

I Don’t Believe In Pre-Season Predictions (Journal 2/3/18)

A little bit ranty and negative today. I’ve got to say, it’s one thing to predict matches right before they happen, based on recent performance and the like, which I still don’t like, but it’s another thing to make pre-season predictions. Specifically, I’m here to complain about League of Legends speculations.

Unfortunately, with all the talk being about the NA LCS franchising this year, EU LCS got overshadowed, and consequently NA LCS got way more than its fair share of attention. And when a certain subject gets more attention than it can handle, then it falls into Hamster Wheel territory–more speculation than it deserves, for the sake of speculation. (Less quality. More content. No progress.)

It seems obvious to me why you shouldn’t make pre-season predictions, or bank your name on pre-season rankings. It’s bandwagon-y. Can anyone really predict, or even get information on potential team synergy (a very highly valued element in success recently)? Players’ past successes are poor predictors of their future success if they are with different teammates. Picking apart which players in an exploded (sry I’m PHP programmer only) team will succeed on their own or be helpless without their old carries is awful. Players who had a recent bad split doesn’t mean their skill has left them. There are just too many impossible factors to splice into a coherent prediction, let alone one that simultaneously calculates all intertwining 10 teams at once. Before you’ve ever seen any of them play.

It doesn’t stop people from making them, though, because fans want to know the “experts’ ” opinions and that’s what draws in clicks and views. It’s the only interview question pros get all winter. Will you be good. Will you be better than this team. How should they know? Predictions fill the empty void of the offseason (boy, was it very empty this year). But I cannot take them seriously, and I will never make a serious pre-season ranking myself.

Predictions are incredibly bandwagon-y. I mean, deep down, unless maybe you’re Thorin, you’ve got to think that someone else is always smarter than you and knows more than you somehow. You’ve got respect for what someone else says, and therefore you form your opinions based on what someone who you think knows better than you said. If they said it, it must be pretty right. And it snowballs. What did we hear all offseason? Yeah, TSM got the most highly sought-after free agent. OpTic? That roster looks like someone picked names out of a hat. You know, CLG could be really good. Licorice has a lot of hype, but I’ve got no idea whether to ride the train or not. Cloud9 lost the offseason, I guess. People said these things because everyone else did. I mean, did OpTic ever get any more consideration than a quick dismissal for their seemingly joke roster?

How about that thing with Golden Guardians where everyone was like, these guys aren’t the best players, but Hai is there, and if Hai’s there with a bunch of moldable young guys, he can just shotcall them to free wins all the time, right? Put it in practice in LCS, and it looks crap. Taking a one-dimensional analysis to a team every time is awful. What about whether Lourlo and Contractz will work together? What about the part where Hai is actually not a great mechanical player and has a pinched champion pool? And then all five players are ‘bad’ and no amount of shotcalling can really save you from that?

Everyone was like, Stixxay and Biofrost were the subordinates in their old duos, CLG is going to have a hard time because these guys aren’t going to make a good bot duo. First of all, your logic makes no sense. Who (WHO?) said these guys were just bossed around? Also who said two people getting bossed around (if you want to make that assumption) cannot also work together? Second of all, you aren’t a plain and simple fan who can see them having a great time together duoing on streams. Third, how is having a possibly not linked up (how? again?) bot duo going to fail your entire team?

So how about AnDa, and Fly, and Stunt. 50/50 you ask a fan who Fly is and they’ve got no idea he was on KT before. A few people heard about AnDa and Stunt for a hot second and their insane Korean soloq ranks, but that doesn’t give them enough credit to gain respect in rankings. How easy it is to dismiss people you don’t know about and therefore don’t believe are good because if they’re good then you must have heard of them before, right? And so no way this team is good (oh but wait that team synergy thing again what about that what if it just happens theirs is insane for no predictable reason?)

Reignover. There wasn’t a minute he didn’t look crap on Team Liquid. Can you really make a judgement on whether he’s going to make it or break it on CLG? Dardoch. Some people saw his sixteenth (exaggerated) team switch and said he deserved no more chances. But his fans (ME) have seen him working on getting better, and knowing that the more recent switches have not been his fault. And have you seen the kid? Nutty. Hasn’t gotten worse or anything. Svenskeren. Weakest link on TSM, must be crap. Cloud9’s in for trouble. But have you considered that he’s actually an amazing jungler and just didn’t fit in with TSM and that playstyle didn’t make him look good? (The number of salty TSM fans and a few Cloud9 fans in this fallout is a different and hilarious story for another day.)

And that weird part where Team Liquid had a really good roster but “everyone has big egos and it’s not gonna work out” like what????? The only ego I see on that roster is Doublelift’s, which has drastically decreased in size recently. What you really should see is five players with probably the most years of competitive experience between them of all 10 rosters, and they should know above all how to work with each other and what being a teammate really is. They’ve already hit all the bumps and learned the lessons. They went to Korea for a bonding-focused bootcamp. And yet people kept saying TSM is going to take it again because they got Zven and Mithy, and MikeYeung, and that’s the most insane roster you’ve ever seen, when really TSM is just a brand stuck in your head that has brainwashed you to be unable to envision anything other than a top team. Did you consider MikeYeung actually didn’t look that good in his first split? What about jungle-support synergy? What about Zven and Mithy aren’t even the best laners? Sure, they’ve been together forever, what about the ten million other factors? What about starting practice after New Years, when Cloud9, CLG, and others started way before Christmas?

Oh yeah, and that team where everyone’s just there to get one more lazy fat paycheck with no relegation consequences before they retire–100 Thieves. Ryu doesn’t care anymore, why is aphromoo leaving CLG, Meteos is coming out of retirement?!?!?!?!? and why would Ssumday stay on this team in NA? This team can’t possibly be good unless like Ryu stops napping and wakes up or something. They kept getting the 7th-8th prediction treatment. Dismissal basis again.

In summary, everybody got everything wrong. People said Cloud9 lost the offseason, they’re at the top of the table. TSM best team, 1-3 start. OpTic completely dismissable, looks very convincing in their losses. Nobody’s (nobody’s!) ‘deep’ predictions told me Echo Fox would be 4-0 to start. People felt bad that Golden Guardians had to be placed 10th, so they started giving them Hai excuses and maybe they’ll be okay, but no. A 10th place team is a 10th place team. (In my opinion, they’re looking like an even worse version of 2017 Team Liquid. Contractz inserted himself right into hell, I feel bad for the guy.)

Yeah, yeah, easy for me to say in retrospect. But in my opinion, shame on you for trying to synthesize an uncountably large number of factors, half of which are actually unpredictable (like whether people will get along/have synergy). Sure, it’s fun to laugh at yourself when you get it all wrong. But where did it get you? Nowhere. It benefited no one. Speculation is not reality. At all.

And if you want to make predictions on games right before the games, have fun I guess, but I think there’s still far too many things to get wrong. What if a team is just having a bad day? What if they lose the draft randomly? And under what circumstances can you see an upset coming? All you’ve got to do is say the team that is perceived to be stronger, then have fun with the upset whenever it happens. Not very interesting to me. Just let the guys play their game.

The Game Modes Played Professionally Exam (OWLearning Episode 4)

  • You know, I’ve heard some people trashing on the team names for being dumb sounding, but I think they’re really not half bad. Some of them are not mascot-able, but they’re pretty okay for gamer teams. Also, the team colors are amazing and the skins actually are pretty attractive, even if I don’t play the game.
  • Today I will take my Game Modes Played Professionally Exam. Let’s see if I can ace it.
    • Hybrid:
      • Each team has a turn at attacking and defending. The attackers’ objectives consist of first capturing the point at which the payload stands, and unlocking it, secondly transporting the payload down a path, and thirdly capturing two (?) more points. See Assault and Payload for my explanations on how to do each individual objective.
    • Assault:
      • Each team has a turn at attacking and defending. There are two points on each map, and each point has three ticks.
      • The attacking team must stand on the point and keep everyone from the enemy team off it to charge the point up. At each tick, progress is saved.
      • If the attacking team is pushed off capturing the point, progress falls back down to the last tick saved.
      • If the clock runs out, and the attacking team is still near the point, it goes into overtime. The attacking team is then forced to stay on the point and successfully finish capturing it, or lose the short overtime timer if they can’t stay on it.
      • When the team captures point A, the clock is reset (is time added?) and it goes to point B. 2 points are possible for each offensive turn. If it is tied, you go again, but with a different timer based on how much time you had remaining when you finished the first time.
      • If for some reason the first attacking team does really bad, and say, only captures the first tick of point A, the second team only needs to capture two ticks of point A to beat them and the game is cut short. (I think this is how it is. Otherwise they must score one full point more before the game is cut short. Aggh I forgot.)
    • One point attack:
      • In this mode, everybody just goes at it. There is no timer, and there is no defending or attacking team. As far as I can tell, I think the maps are usually symmetric.
      • There are either two or three (D: ?) points per map, and each one is done in turn. Teams must try to capture the point, and then keep the enemy team off of it. If it is captured and not contested, the percentage captured creeps up. If it is contested, progress is paused.
      • If the team who does not have the point can get the enemy team off of it, they can then capture the point and have their progress tick up while the enemy team’s progress is frozen.
      • When one team’s progress reaches 99%, the other team must be near the point to force overtime. They must either successfully flip the point back to them, or be pushed off the point and lose overtime. Successfully reaching 100% scores your team a point.
      • Then it goes to another point (on the same map, I believe). Same rules. First team to reach 2 points wins. (This is why I’m not sure if there’s a third point or not; it makes logical sense but I don’t think I’ve watched such a match.)
    • Payload
      • Each team has a turn at attacking and defending. Payload maps have three checkpoints. Arriving at each one as offense awards a point.
      • The attacking team must stand on a cart to move it. They must also keep the opposing team from standing near it; if the defending team can stand near the cart, it stops moving.
      • If no members of the attacking team are near the payload, it slips backwards slowly.
      • If the clock runs out before the attacking team reaches a point, they must be near the cart to activate overtime. If they stay near the cart, they can keep playing indefinitely to reach the next point. However, if the defending team can keep everybody away for a few seconds, overtime runs out and the attacking team’s turn ends.
      • Each time a point is scored, the clock is reset and time is added (?).
      • Say the first attacking team only scores 1 point; the second team to attack need not play out the whole map; only outdo the first team by scoring 2 points. If both teams get all 3 points, each team gets another turn at attacking to try to break the tie.
  • Okay: test score? Don’t know the real name of one-point attack, don’t know how many points are on one-point attack, may have gotten hybrid mode wrong and you only have to capture one more point after transporting the payload, don’t know exact amounts of time and how much time is refunded after scoring. I’ll give myself a passing score of like 85%. I’m content. (And who knows if these are even the only four modes available in Overwatch…I’ve got no idea if there are more modes not played in competitive.)
  • Sorting out D.Va…so if her mech (tank mode) is killed, then she pops out as a regular human with just a pistol or something. I believe she has to deal enough damage to be able to recall her mech and get back in. Not exactly sure on her abilities, but her guns are automatic with no reload needed; I think one ability is to do a super spray and have a ton of bullets come out for a sec, another is a empowered jump-fly thing, and the ultimate is to Self-Destruct; the mech curls into a ball and explodes. Somehow immediately after this D.Va is right back in a new mech. I feel like she should lose her mech like regular, but I mean, okay. From what I can gather I think she has three ability icons on the bottom right, so I’m not sure what the third one is.
  • I appreciate that somehow MonteCristo (I’ve got respect for him) can tell what plays are going on, even those happening off camera, and retroactively summarize it for the listener right after it happens, but maybe Overwatch just has too much stuff happening at once that it is impossible to cast it in real time. This seems suboptimal. The hope is that the viewer should be able to pick everything up from a game by watching it, supplemented and guided by the casters, but I mean, one hardly knows where to look. It’s hard.
  • At first, I thought Overwatch was a concise and consistent game to watch, but it turns out there is a huge variance in terms of how long matches can go. Even more than League of Legends, which I thought was bad when I first started watching it. Turns out if you’re watching a match involving smashing the Dragons or the Mayhem, maps can be over in 10 minutes and the match will be over in a snap. But other matches are slugfests that can be over 90 minutes, maybe over 2 hours? (Look, I’m not counting exactly. It’s long.) Overtimes galore, tiebreaking, fifth maps, seems awful.
  • I’ve got to say–Overwatch League puts on so many matches each week. 4/7 days is more than half the days in a week. This feels like a real sports league, where you’re only supposed to have enough energy to invest in following one or two teams (compare to say, football or baseball, and think about NA LCS and how the average person expects himself to know about all 10 teams). It feels like a massive strain on production, though, because it’s the same people for so long. In baseball stadiums across the country, different TV people and different park managers make it possible to put on lots of games on almost every day. Maybe things will be different when Overwatch sets up a studio in every location for every team. (Think of the travel costs. All I can say is, baseball teams do it.)
  • Yo it seems super unfair that London Spitfire can have two entire sets of Koreans and Florida Mayhem is in deep trouble if a single one of their six (? I think only six) gets sick. Seems like something you should legislate against but maybe there’s no grounds on which to. I hope the nature of the OWL which seems to be very involved in all their teams will make sure every team has a benchmark amount of resources and nobody’s disadvantaged on anything besides in-game skill. I mean, that’s the ideal, right?
  • I pledge allegiance to the Houston Outlaws! It turns out I like them for no particular reason hehe. I’m here for Jake, Muma, and Mendo (like everyone else haha). I also keep my eye on London Spitfire and LA Valiant, just because of their parent orgs, but Houston is definitely my favorite team.

Connecting the dots (OWLearning Episode 3)

Note: Although this was published today on Friday, it was actually last week’s episode for week 3. Another post will probably come for this week, and if not, I’ll double down for week 5.

  • Those orbs of harmony and discord are parts of Zenyatta’s kit, I think! As well as her ultimate (Transcendence, I think) and seems like most of her (its?) abilities. Seems like the usual buffer/debuffer archetype.
  • Sombra’s weapon looks like a MAC-10.
  • So it turns out that Tracer is just a perma-blinker. Hurts my eyes. Can’t keep track. Seems a nightmare to play and a nightmare to play against.
    • Later: I figured out, she has those three arrows in front of her screen–those must be her dashes. I think they just recharge based on time (and not on damage I think).
  • So they changed the order of modes 1 and 4 this week, to try and avoid anti-climactic ends to series? So payload is now last while fusion (I learned this) is first. I think fusion is take a point first, then two more points for payload pushing.
  • I retract my understanding of the contest point mode; I don’t know how many points you have to score on a map for it to be over, and I’m not sure you play multiple maps in this mode. I’m confused.
  • If an attacking team is not on a payload, it slowly creeps backwards.
  • Tracer’s ult is a Pulse Bomb. Is it just something you stick down that explodes after delay?
  • I wish that they organized the players on stage/in the top bar by role. So that it’s predictable and I’m not searching for the player I want to see. Like DPS, DPS, Tank, Tank, Support, Support, or in some order that would still be predictable if someone flexed.
  • A minimap would be insanely helpful. Or radar, or something. Like in games such as PUBG and CS:GO, where the map is only occasionally tabbed to for full size, there’s a mini version in the corner which helps tell what’s going on.
  • Overall, watching OWL is kind of draining for me. If I want to enjoy it, I have to pay close attention, and let’s just say that I haven’t been getting the greatest sleep recently.

I don’t blame me for not paying attention to OWL much this weekend. ELEAGUE was going on. I am feeling pretty okay about my understanding of the game now and I feel about 50% there (so maybe only a couple more of these posts). I’m not entirely sure how excited I am to watch this game in particular, though. As such a young game, it feels underdeveloped in terms of strategy depth so far, and the tension and hype and all the fight doesn’t seem to matter until the last seconds of overtime every map anyway. Kind of kills the hype. The community seems pretty great though. I wish it well, but we’ll have to see if I continue to be excited about this. I will finish out learning how to watch it though.

Figuring out heroes, still lost on maps (OWLearning Episode 2)

  • Learning a couple names of players.
    • Discovered Gamsu made it onto the Boston Uprising; I knew him from LoL and did hear that he had moved onto Overwatch and was pursuing a pro career there, but I didn’t know he actually made it, grats to him.
    • Houston Outlaws: Jake (DPS), Rawkus (Support), Muma (Tank) and someone I knew from Offline TV, Mendo (who is currently warming the bench).
    • Fleta is the outstanding DPS from Seoul.
    • Taimou, Dallas DPS?
  • So there’s a big debate about all-Korean rosters versus NA rosters/rosters without Koreans. Some rosters have some Koreans mixed in, but the all-Korean rosters are Seoul, London, and New York (if I’m not mistaken). Most people know about the enduring legacy of Korean players being the best in the world, no contest, in whatever esport they enter in (which is why CS:GO is the only intact one), so the talk is all about whether the non-Korean rosters can beat the Korean roster.
  • I was looking through the players tab on the Overwatch League site; it’s cool that the Chinese team actually has all Chinese players.
  • I also found out that the four icons are for Offense, Tank, Support, and Flex, officially. Seems that the most standard comp uses two DPS (this is such weird terminology) players, two tanks, and two supports.
  • I think it’s kind of funny whenever they say “home turf” on broadcast during an LA match (either of the two teams). It’s not like any other team will ever get to have home turf, or that home field advantage actually exists in video games (maybe just the crowd, but that’s it).
    • Continuing on my previous point from last week about naming each team after a city but only having one LA studio, I can’t wait until there is actually another studio. Hopefully it will be on the East coast (where I am from), since there are already divisions of Atlantic and Pacific. However, I can’t see them sustaining more than 2 unless Overwatch specifically becomes incredibly mainstream and popular, due to the need for production and on-air talent, as well as the travel costs that would incur…wait I just had a great tangential idea–what if teams from the opposite leagues that needed to play each other each played in their respective studios, but played across the internet? Probably still hard, and still not accomplishing the ultimate dream of having a studio wherever a team has a name.
    • And why does LA get two teams again? Never figured that one out. As compared to having any cities from like the Midwest or something.
  • In terms of heroes, here’s what I’ve learned this week:
    • The cowboy guy is McCree. He has one gun, maybe a pistol? It seems Deagle-like (I’m making comparisons to CS:GO). The ultimate is called Deadeye, but I’m not sure what it does? A more powerful shot? Seems like one of the Florida players was absolutely going off on him.
    • I take back some of what I said about Widowmaker being so hard to play, but still sniping is harder than say, CS:GO. Seems like an eternal flick to me but less predictable. I think that I figured out that her ultimate is the infrasight (the whole team gets it?), which is basically like watching CS on spectator mode. And she has a grappling hook? Although I think each character has 2 abilities so I’m not sure what the other one is. Besides her sniper gun I think she is also able to close-range skirmish with some gun. I’m guessing it’s not as good.
    • There is a weird thingy called Zenyatta and they have a bunch of balls around their neck or something. They do some strange prayer motion with their hands and then push it outwards to attack, I’m thinking that’s like an energy ball charge and dispel or something. Not sure, but I think they are in the support position.
    • Mercy’s revive isn’t her ultimate, I think, but I’m still not sure. There is also a lot of talk right now about how she is the most overpowered hero in the game at the minute. It seems like when I watch her she has the ability to just fly around? No jumping or anything? I heard the ability name “Valkyrie”, perhaps it is a temporary thing.
    • Pharah is a person who can fly in the air and stuff? Maybe she’s the one who says “justice rains from above.”
    • Winston’s ultimate is a monkey smash where he knocks people back.
    • Genji is the ninja with the ranged ninja stars and the blade ultimate.
    • Ana is a champion with a pseudo-sniper? Kind of like that very very rarely bought gun in CS:GO that I don’t actually know the name of because I don’t play that game.
    • I think every champion has a left-hand melee attack.
    • Roadhog’s ultimate is the cranky thing that sprays in a horizontal fan. Don’t know the name.
    • Another champion name I heard that I don’t know what they do is Sombra.
  • Junkertown is a payload map that I’ve seen just a little bit of; I think with the aid of the pre-game fly-throughs, I’ve got the shape of the first two checkpoints memorized. I’m not sure about all the extra boxes and inner rooms/flanks whatever, but I have the general shape of the path down.
  • I just realized, do they play the same maps in every match set?
  • Viewership for the second week has stabilized down to just around 110K for the English broadcast. I don’t know, sometimes when I watch I have a hard time staying captivated and paying attention to learning; partly because it’s hard, and partly because I’m not super interested, but I hope I will still eventually learn it.
  • Overwatch seems like it has a lot of clutch potential; things can come down to the last second with the clock in combination with how far along the objective is (point or payload).
  • So the way the scoring works (I finally worked this out): maps are played through, usually each team getting one chance each at offense and defense. For payload, you score points based on how many points you push through. For points, you score based on how many points you capture (only two per map available). These are the only two modes I’ve got down so far. After each team has a turn, whoever scored more points gets the map point, or you go to tiebreakers. There are 4 maps played in a series and in some circumstances, some maps come to a draw, so you either have to win 3 maps or win 2 and get a draw on another. Should 2-2 happen, you go to a fifth map.
  • The four types of maps played are payload, capture point, point contesting, and payload/point.
  • The third mode is where there is one giant point, and you have to be first to 100%. If I’m not mistaken you play two different maps of this. Still don’t know the fourth mode.
  • Production is PrettyGoodMan. Except for a couple of graphical errors/buttons forgot to be pressed that can’t be blamed and will be shored up on, the display is clean, the desk is great, the arena looks amazing. I like how they have the players walk in and the audience cheers.
  • I also can tell immediately the emphasis on the audience; Overwatch cares about its audience and integrating them into the experience. I heard before that their goal is to convert all their playerbase into viewerbase, which I think is an admirable goal. I also love how they include soundbytes of audience members cheering and awwing in the post-map highlight reel. So far, they’ve featured quite a couple young people (<10?) on broadcast, which is pretty nice. Something I think we esports fans forget about is our future and not just who will be playing next, but who will be watching next. I think that’s nice.
  • I amend my statement of D.Va (I learned how to spell it, I think) and Mercy being staples of compositions to D.Va, Mercy, Winston, and Tracer (mostly). Other things are added and stuff is substituted in situationally. It seems like Widowmaker is used at standoffs for picks and then swapped out in more brawling situations (roughly).
  • I’ve got to say, the animation on Widowmaker’s gun’s scope is pretty clean, and I kind of like that sort of genre/theme (what do you call it? Category of categories?) in the game; the style of the guns and art and weapons and maps and the aesthetic (? I hate that word) put together by the theming of the game. I don’t know how to express this. It’s not steampunk, it’s not fantasy, but it’s this particular style that tickles an itch.
  • I guess the game is fast-paced/lots of teamfighting because of the cool way in which both teams are forced to be physically near the payload/point all the time to either be progressing towards scoring or preventing the other team from scoring, which ultimate creates a lot of fighting. Interesting; I like that game mechanic.

I didn’t watch very much this week because there was an overload of esports (which makes me happy after the dry spell this winter), between LCS starting and the ELEAGUE Major as well. So I didn’t catch all four days, but it’s okay. I’m still making progress. Still yet to decide whether I’m really enjoying the esport but I think I will eventually.