Boston Uprising has a fantastic run to end Stage One in Overwatch League. We talked with President of Gaming and former esports ace Chris “HuK” Loranger about the team’s strategy going into Stage Two. Here is what he had to say.
OWS: Boston had a great run at the end of Stage 1. Can you give us your thoughts on how the team came together?
HuK: It was good to see at times that we lived up to our potential and did really well. It was disappointing at times that we fell a little short. I think we had a few 3-2 losses that held us back. If we had done a little better in our last match ups and closed it out, we would be the third place team playing in the finals and not the sixth place team.
OWS: You guys maintained a positive attitude throughout stage one despite some critics writing you off in the preseason. What was your role in keeping the team on point?
HuK: I think we went through different stages. They were growth periods as a team. When we first came together the team collectively thought of themselves as underdogs. I think we shed that idea quickly based on early scrim results. Then we went through multiple phases where we thought we’d be a mid-tier or even top tier team. It is mainly just keeping everyone focused on being the best team we can at the end of the season. We really want to be able to make the playoffs, so all games are a stepping stone.
OWS: How did you prepare for each team in Stage One? Did you change your approach for different teams?
HuK: We definitely prepared specifically for each team we played week to week. At the same time, we are always looking at the big picture. We really are trying to be the best team we can by the end of the season. There are some key mechanical, cultural, and communication issues that we are always trying to address. It is about building the best team this week, two weeks from now, three months from now, growing into the end of the season. There is also very specific preparation from each week. Maybe one team uses a certain strategy or composition and how do we counter that? Overall, it helps us get better even if we are practicing specifically for one team. We get smarter in the game and understand how to play against those strategies.
OWS: Is there a standout player on the team that really surprised you in Stage One?
HuK: I think DreamKazper stepped up for us in a lot of different ways. Not just in his role, but flexing in with different heroes. He is the team captain and is one of the guys who shot calls a lot for our team. He really grew as a player, I am personally extremely impressed with him. I do think as we get into the different Metas and stages we want all of our players to grow just like Dream did. We want them all to be there by the end of the season. So we are trying to really empower all of our players to go through that same growth spurt when they can.
OWS: Speaking of Meta changes, what are your thoughts for Stage 2 and some of the upcoming Mercy adjustments?
HuK: We are taking it one step at a time. I don’t think anyone knows what the perfect Meta is right now. Even looking at the last patch, the Orisa and Roadhog compositions or the Junkrat compositions, they did not even come to be that popular until the later part of the stage. I think even when people feel like they have the Meta figured out, it is really hard to know for sure until you get up on stage and play. You practice and scrim and even then when you feel secure there is a team that comes out with a curveball and plays something completely different. Everyone is going to be taking it one step at a time and learning where they can, but that is what’s most exciting about Overwatch – these major shifts in compositions with heroes, or maps, everything. Everyone is going into Stage Two with a blank slate. It could really be anyone’s stage at this point.
OWS: With the trade window open, have you been exploring any trade ideas or signings?
HuK: I think for our team we have a great depth. We obviously have had some people approach us with interest. There are definitely some ideas we have looked at, but we cannot get too specific on it (laughs). In general, we are very happy with where our team is right now. So we don’t feel like we need to make changes. We are looking to continue the path we are on and if we can make some improvements to do so.
OWS: It looks like Toronto will be the Contenders team for Boston. What is that like for you personally?
HuK: It’s nice (laughs). I used to work for Toronto esports. Their owner Ryan [Pallett] is someone I have known for a long time. He is a great guy, we are looking forward to the partnership on both sides. We hope to field a very strong Contenders team.
OWS: What are your thoughts on the Overwatch League overall? It feels like the league is really gaining ground among fans. How have the Boston fans been growing?
HuK: I am very impressed with the league so far. It definitely exceeded my own personal expectations. Almost everyone in esports, at least the people I am close to and consider peers, agree. I am very happy. I think everyone on our staff is very happy. I definitely think the approach we took for the team and the “story line” we have thus far has done really well. Fans feel pride when they support us. A lot of people take pride in being an Uprising fan. Whether it was at the beginning of the season or when we started picking up steam, or even at the end, the group is growing. I am incredibly thankful to everyone who supports us, especially the Boston fans back home.
OWS: In terms of strategy for Stage Two, you are one of the more quiet teams on tactics. What are some of the keys to success for the next round?
HuK: I think every team will hit certain highs and lows through the stages and the season. Our main goal is to understand we will have rough patches. Hopefully every time we have a rough patch we are constantly improving. We want to get higher on the win-loss ratio. Even though we will hit a low, each time we want it to be a bit higher on the scale than the last low we hit. We understand that it is a long season, so at the end of the day, we are looking for improvement long term. Mainly focused on that overall improvement, hopefully, we knock out more wins along the way. Our goal for Stage Two is to not struggle as much as we did at the beginning of Stage One.
OWS: How do you prepare mentally and emotionally getting through the long days and matches? How do you keep everyone focused?
HuK: We try to keep kind of a “room temperature” approach to where everyone is mentally. We balance that with practice six days a week and one day off on Sundays. Depending on where the team is that Sunday we may do a group trip to play soccer or frisbee. Sometimes we go to Dave & Buster’s. It is whatever the guys need. It is a day to decompress. Sometimes they sit at home and watch movies. We are constantly trying to balance that. We work really hard to gain speed so you have to keep a balance. We understand everyone is human after all. We just monitor everyone week-to-week and implement what we need to bring energy up, or sometimes down, to keep a solid pace.