These are the things I cannot do in Overwatch League:
- Power rankings.
- Statistical analysis.
- Strategy dissection.
- Gaining access to team meetings, scrims, or VOD reviews.
So when a team loses, all I have are two things: my intuition and my empathy. I bare my teeth when I see the people I care about suffer and I lash out knowing that I can’t do a thing about it to help them. I look at the standings for the Los Angeles Valiant and see them at the very bottom. I take a bit of ribbing from people I don’t even know–and some good-natured ribbing from people I do. All I want to do is hit something because I feel so helpless. I feel stupid and ineffective.
So I write.
I write about loyalty. About remembering that even in California, it rains. It rains hard. It can rain for days with no end in sight. So what do you do? Do you stay home and wait it out? Or do you go outside with your cheap galoshes and brave the torrent to go about your day?
I can’t tell you how to deal with the rain. That’s up to you.
I don’t mind a little rain. I come from hurricanes and snowstorms that blew the roofs off our houses, storms that wove themselves through the fabric of our lives, upending everything in its path until there was nothing left. In each aftermath, we would rebuild the foundations stronger than ever, and we never forgot those who helped us dig through the dirt to find those we lost.
Because that is what loyalty is.
I get it. People love winners. They enjoy the success. It’s easy to be attracted to the victorious, to cling to the idea that you had a part in how they got there; however small, by tuning in, by purchasing a jersey, by attending a game, and by screaming your head off when the team wearing those colors come away with another triumphant victory. Because you are! You showed your support. You did your part, and because of that, they made it. They won.
But if they lose, will you still wear that jersey? Or will you burn it?
I’m seeing a lot of burnt jerseys, and the season has just started. It’s easy to call us paid actors now, isn’t it? How could you stan for a losing team? Isn’t it easier to just rant, to criticize, to find blame? To accuse someone of throwing, of sandbagging, of not putting in the correct players when they should have? Why should you keep cheering?
Maybe that works for you, sure. Not for this woman.
It seems in the current social media age, we are only attracted to the things that are positive, the world right now is not the friendliest of places. We seem to have forgotten that those rough times still exist. More frequent than ever. We only see what we want to now because we literally can control that. It hurts me to the point of tears to see people at their lowest, especially after seeing them at their highest. It gets worse when you know the tweets one puts out in good nature belie a broken heart.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
These players are human. The coaches are human. Any pain you feel for their loss, they feel it ten times worse, I promise. The last thing you need to do, no matter how easy it is (believe me, it is so easy), is to give up on them. To move on. To look for greener pastures. To play “Monday Morning Quarterback” and make yourself feel good about discussing what would have been. What could have been. What should have been done. As much as you love to immerse yourself into the game, to make yourself feel better by believing that you would have done things differently, you are not the one on stage. You are not the ones behind the scenes. You don’t know how it truly feels to go live in front of so many people only to fall flat on your face.
Empathy can be a powerful tool. Use it, liberally.
There were times over these past few months where I questioned how I could have done things differently. Could I have handled myself differently? I overanalyzed every single action I performed; because even after all this time, it was still incomprehensible for people to understand that when it comes to me, what you see is what you get. I don’t tolerate fakery or fuckery. I have always stuck to my guns, have always kept my integrity, and have ever known that despite doing my very best to stay loyal, to remain honest, and to make sure people knew I cared, people would believe I had ulterior motives. To others, my intentions must be less than pure.
For a time even, I let myself believe them. I felt terrible knowing that no matter what I did, I couldn’t prove to people I assumed were friends that I was as real as it gets. Would I be able to stay loyal even when things got tough?
Yes. Because at the end of the day, you gotta believe.
Believe in the players. Believe in the coaches. Believe in the organization. Believe in them. Believe that they will sort it out. Believe in them to get through all the issues they face. Believe in them to alleviate their own self-doubts, to enhance their communication, to become more “in-sync”.
Put yourself in their shoes. It’s not easy to feel like your wings were clipped. It hurts to see those who allegedly support you, insult you every chance they get. The last thing you would want to hear is “Maybe next time”, “If you had done this…”, “Well, at least…”. So remember that, and cheer for YOUR team. ESPECIALLY when they are down and out. Be there when they need you the most–when at that moment they can’t see how amazing they will be. For what good are the good times, without their reprieve from the bad? What glory can be found in a win, without once tasting defeat?
The season has just started. Our team may play fewer games this season, but it’s far from over. It ain’t over until it’s over.
Ride or die, we always fly.