Category: Commentary

Minority Report: A Year I needed

It’s December 31st, the year is over, and I’m sitting here at the computer, slightly hungover, tore up from the floor up, trying to process it all. My latest self-assignment for Minority Report was a year-end article that summed up the year on a positive note, as someone pointed out to me that my last few pieces have been pretty tonally negative.

I mean, I suppose there is a point there. The initial idea behind Minority Report was to create a way for me to connect with fans, players, and industry folks who were people of color – people who are often overlooked, or harassed just for doing what they love. It ended up, though, becoming so much more than that. It was a space that allowed me to tell my journey through Overwatch League while exposing the flaws and mistakes it made during in its inaugural season and discussing what it could do to be better. I didn’t find much joy in doing the latter, but it was necessary, with Blizzard’s varying levels of missteps.

However, Overwatch League ultimately made 2018 a transformative year for me. A year I truly needed to happen just the way it did. So after a year of those callouts, of focusing on the bad to help it become good, I’d like to take a moment to do something different. I’d like to, with real sincerity, say “thank you.” And I’m not going to make this fancy, or show off my extensive vocabulary, or try to be acerbic. I’m just going to speak from the heart.

The OWL Grand Finals crowd / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Thank you, to the Overwatch League. For as long as I live, I will never forget how incredible, exciting, and inclusive this inaugural season has been. These were some of the best times of my life, and as old and grumpy as I am, the fact that you were able to embrace my natural passion for the game means more than you could ever understand. From the very first game; to the Grand Finals, to the All-Star Games, I have never felt such joy. I know that the second season will have its ups and downs as well, but I’ll be there screaming my head off each and every time.

 

 

Thank you, to the Los Angeles Valiant. They were a team that I picked entirely by accident, but they accepted me as their official hypewoman and gave me opportunities that I never thought were possible. They showed they truly cared about their fans and their community with their Be Valiant program and special events throughout the year; and by doing so, they inspired other teams to do the same. They genuinely are ground-breakers in the esports scene. I’m proud to back a team full of passionate players who give it their all every time, and I’m especially proud of all the managers and coordinators who welcomed me with open arms. I know I’m just a fan, and cannot fully comprehend all of the hard work that you all put into making this team so successful. But I can appreciate it, and I can show you that when the chips are down, I will be there to cheer you on no matter what.

Thank you to Overwatchscore.com and especially to my mentor Brandon Padilla, who believed in me and in what I wanted to say. He took a huge chance, and it turned out to be more successful than either of us could have imagined. I wasn’t sure that pointing out racial inequality in esports would be acceptable, but he encouraged me to keep writing anyway. And now, I have people from all over telling me about how my writing helped them and changed them, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl. I was able to start real conversations and help shift the discussion concerning esports. Additionally, with the support of the current writing and editing staff, I hope to improve my style and broaden my scope, to continue telling exciting and thought-provoking stories.

Thank you for my fellow super fans. When I first moved here, it was hard for me to make friends because I was always on the grind. And truthfully, it isn’t easy for me to trust people, especially in a city that is known for its duplicitous nature. But even as a seasoned writer, it is tough for me to put into words how humbled and grateful I am to have such genuine, loving people in my life, who genuinely care about me and my well-being. We are the ones who help give Overwatch League a heart, and we will never back down. You guys are the best friends a woman could ask for, and I love you guys to death.

Thank you to my best friends for life, Elton “Altecha” Kwok and Chris “Widget” DiMauro, for being the architects of probably the best cosplay I’ve ever seen: the Brigitte cosplay they created in secret as my birthday present for Blizzcon. I was not only impressed with how they kept me in the dark for so long but how they were able to take a passing comment I made back in July during New York Excelsior’s Homecoming and make the most incredible armor I’ve ever had the privilege of wearing. It made that weekend so memorable and embodying a character whose personality matches my own filled my heart with more joy than I could ever fathom. And the response? I still get likes and retweets for it, and it happened almost two months ago. I cannot wait to see what you have planned for next year.

Thank you to my family, for being 100% supportive of my journey in esports, and for asking me when I would be on TV so they could see me and cheer me on. Thanks to my mother, for listening to me and reassuring me of my strength when I felt weak. My sister, for reminding me that life is just ridiculous sometimes and that I should roll with it. My brother, for constantly reviving my passion for video games by sharing his with me. Last, to my father, for keeping me on my feet when I felt like I couldn’t move anymore. Even after my grandmother’s death, our family’s resilience shows, and we are now closer than we have ever been.

Finally, I wanted to thank you. Yes, you, the person who is reading this right now. I know I can be very blunt when I speak my mind, but you stuck by me. You retweeted and up-voted my articles. You are those who sparked real discussions (good and bad) about the content – discussions that helped change the way that people think. I cannot begin to express how much it means to me that you are willing to listen to what I had to say. Understand that you are more powerful than you could ever know. We can make esports an inclusive, exciting space for everyone, and to allow me to help you make that happen with my work is a dream come true. I hope I can continue to make you think, to make you feel, and to remind you that it’s okay to be uncomfortable sometimes, as that generates real and lasting change.

I will admit, it was challenging for me to write this article since I am unsure of what 2019 will bring. I want to have this year end on a positive note, yet with all of the good that happened, I can’t deny that a lot of bad came with it. A lot of things that I believed would carry over into 2019 simply were not meant to do so. I saw a lot of friendships end, a lot of trusts broken, and a healthy reminder that I need to be more careful about who I allow around me. Conversely, I’ve received a lot of incredible opportunities, including chances to learn from the hardships this year threw my way.

Most importantly, I learned that sometimes things don’t go your way – and it’s not within your control, nor is it your fault. But what you can control is how you react to adversity, no matter how big or small. My promise is that I choose to respond proactively and positively, even when it feels like the end.

For as the artist Childish Gambino said earlier this year: “I think endings are good because they force things to get better.”

So here’s to a better 2019.

Keep fighting and keep smiling,

Briggsy

Brittany
Brittany "Briggsycakes" Gonzalez is a litta bitta switcha hitta Trinirican winna from Philly/New York who now resides in California as the Los Angeles Valiant's official hypewoman/meme victim. She can easily be bribed with apple pie and macaroni and cheese and thrives when writing about her own personal experiences regarding humanity's place in the esports/social media age. Don't @ her unprepared. Follow Briggsy on Twitter here.

Overwatch League is Not an Anime, But it Could Be

“Overwatch League is not an anime.”

Those words echoed across the OWL Twitterverse two days ago, a pebble thrown into a still offseason hiatus lake. It was another hot take from Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, a lead analyst and caster of the Overwatch League, a criticism of the emotionality and unreasonable hope some fans have towards their teams. It’s true: The Overwatch League isn’t an anime. But traditional sports have benefitted from the storylines, plot twists, and redemption arcs inadvertently built by their teams for centuries. Why shouldn’t we?

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Liz
Liz is an educator and huge nerd from Chicago, IL who specializes in humor writing and personal essays. Her favorite thing is Overwatch esports; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She can be commonly found banning people on Twitch, running Discords, and making bad life choices at Target. Follow her on Twitter!

Overwatch Score’s Way Too Early OWL Power Rankings

The off-season is drawing to a close. The season approaches. That light blue and orange on the horizon? That’s the London Spitfire leading the charge. Champions of the Inaugural season. There is no reason to think the Spitfire won’t come back with the same fire and adaptability that they possessed last year; and yet, do they have new contenders for the title?

Will the season start with the familiar names out on top: Valiant, NYXL, Fusion, even Seoul? Or will the second season see the rise of new names? The Vancouver RunAway…er I mean Canucks…er, sorry the colours, I mean Titans, perhaps. Could the blue and orange be replaced by a wave of green and…a different blue?

These are OverwatchScore’s “Way Too Early” power rankings (with some adjustment by me, RogueBludger).

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Austin White
Austin White is Overwatchscore’s ‘London Spitfire’ beat writer. An avid esports fan and gamer, Austin spends his free time playing, watching, and writing about video games. You can find his articles both at Overwatchscore as well as EGF. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Overwatch League Gift Guide

It’s that time of year again: The off-season. For Overwatch League fans, it’s hard to wait until February to finally see our favorite team in action. We’ve kept track of the player signings and all the trades. We’ve been following the newly announced teams on Twitter. But it’s still hard to be patient.

So let’s use Christmas (and Hanukkah – although that’s already passed) as a way to help lift everyone’s spirits! Get your friends, significant other, family and co-workers pumped for Season 2 by giving them some sweet Overwatch-themed gifts this season.

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Olivia Richman
Olivia is a professional journalist and editor who loves playing video games and watching esports, especially the OWL. When she isn’t writing or gaming, Olivia enjoys hanging out with her ugly cat, eating sushi and traveling across the country to compete in Pokemon TCG tournaments.

Rating and Reviewing New OWL Expansion Team Brands

In the last few months, six of the eight new expansion teams participating in Overwatch League’s second season have revealed their branding and team colors. Fans eagerly await branding reveals, whether to see how new teams fit in the League or to find out how ugly the jersey they’re buying for their favorite player will be. In any case, I found that many media outlets have posted brand updates, but haven’t really passed judgement on them. That’s what I’m here for.  

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Liz
Liz is an educator and huge nerd from Chicago, IL who specializes in humor writing and personal essays. Her favorite thing is Overwatch esports; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She can be commonly found banning people on Twitch, running Discords, and making bad life choices at Target. Follow her on Twitter!

California Cup: “Be Valiant” Comes to an End

As someone involved in Los Angeles Valiant event coverage since their initial team announcement, writer Austin Hanlin delves into what has changed from their first local event to their last, the California Cup. 


The first significant difference I detected when I was heading to the Esports Arena for a second LA Valiant event was the energy. As I was driving by, I spotted the team walking inside and saw that they had already begun setting up on the street; I could tell I was in for a fun time. As I made my way to the door and inside, Valiant fans had already packed the entire arena full a good hour before my arrival. The energy at this point was quite lively as the University teams were playing on the stage, fans from the schools cheering them on as they played. I watched for a few minutes, observing the packed crowd before I made my way up to the VIP section on the overlook, which was also packed full. All of it was not so surprising once I learned that they had sold out of VIP tickets the first week they were available;  they’d also sold out of all general admission tickets just the night before.

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Austin Hanlin
Austin Hanlin is a London born Overwatch League writer, an avid Spitfire fan who won't miss a single game of theirs. He has been into gaming since he was a kid and picked up Overwatch League as his first competitive passion. You're better off finding him watching the games live on the Arena floor than anywhere else. You can follow him on Twitter.

Blizzcon Standouts: Players Who Aren’t In The Overwatch League…Yet

This year’s Overwatch World Cup featured teams from all across the world, stacked with talented players and coaches. Before Blizzcon, a math equation developed in the minds of many viewers: more Overwatch League players + World Cup = an easy win. But by the time Team USA, Team France, and Team Finland were unceremoniously knocked out of competition on Day 1, it became obvious that wasn’t true. If three of the most OWL-player-heavy teams couldn’t do it, who could?

The underdogs, that’s who. I’ve decided to highlight a few players who showed their mettle, helped their teams, and gave game-winning performances at the World Cup…and who aren’t in the Overwatch League.* Yet.

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Liz
Liz is an educator and huge nerd from Chicago, IL who specializes in humor writing and personal essays. Her favorite thing is Overwatch esports; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She can be commonly found banning people on Twitch, running Discords, and making bad life choices at Target. Follow her on Twitter!

Overwatch World Cup: Blizzcon Semifinals and Finals Predictions

The Quarterfinals of yesterday’s World Cup matches were, to say the least, truly shocking. With two major upsets and three 3-0 finishes, it wasn’t the competition many people were expected. Today the fun continues with the Semifinals, Bronze Medal Match, and Gold Medal Match. We have you covered with continuing predictions that are hopefully more accurate than literally everyone’s predictions yesterday.

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Liz
Liz is an educator and huge nerd from Chicago, IL who specializes in humor writing and personal essays. Her favorite thing is Overwatch esports; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She can be commonly found banning people on Twitch, running Discords, and making bad life choices at Target. Follow her on Twitter!

To Treason, With Love: Supporting World Cup Teams Beyond Borders

Home is where the heart is. But what does it take to stray from your homeland and put your faith elsewhere? With Blizzcon approaching, I interviewed fans from across the globe who have broken with the idea that home means instant support: fans who are primarily supporting teams other than their home country in the Overwatch World Cup. I wanted to find out why. Treason, after all, is a crime punishable by jail time.

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Liz
Liz is an educator and huge nerd from Chicago, IL who specializes in humor writing and personal essays. Her favorite thing is Overwatch esports; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She can be commonly found banning people on Twitch, running Discords, and making bad life choices at Target. Follow her on Twitter!

Believe The Hype: Team France, Je Te Vois

For the second article in our “Believe The Hype” series profiling teams going to Blizzcon, we go into a narrative dive about Team France and the kind of dedication personal and professional growth can inspire. 


It’s three o’clock in the morning when my first alarm goes off; there’s no sunlight at this hour, only birds chirping in the distance. I stumble to the kitchen, make toast, then plop down at my laptop. The matches of the final Overwatch World Cup 2018 group stage begin at a reasonable time in Paris, but in America, it’s the middle of the night.

I woke up for Team France.

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Liz
Liz is an educator and huge nerd from Chicago, IL who specializes in humor writing and personal essays. Her favorite thing is Overwatch esports; her second favorite thing is pretending iced coffee is a meal. She can be commonly found banning people on Twitch, running Discords, and making bad life choices at Target. Follow her on Twitter!
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