When the Philadelphia Fusion announced that Elijah Hudson “Elk” Gallagher would be promoted to the team’s roster going into Season 2, the former Fusion University player was so excited he forgot to send out a tweet. And when he did, he couldn’t even find the words to express his excitement:
Super excited to be joining @Fusion for OWL S2, so excited its hard to even coherently make words about it but its amazing and woooOOOO!
— Elk (@elk) September 25, 2018
“Elk has been an outstanding player for us both in game and out,” said Philadelphia Fusion president Tucker Roberts. “That’s why we promoted him to captain Season 2. It’s easy to forget how young he is given his maturity and professionalism. He plays a cerebral style and studies the game constantly. We’re all very excited to have him join Fusion for the 2019 season.”
Speaking with Elk last night, it was easy to see the maturity that Roberts and other Fusion veterans commonly bring up when it comes to his promotion. Elk spoke of his growth as a player with not only the guidance he received as part of Fusion’s academy team, but from professional Overwatch players who took the time to give him advice when he reached out to them. The support main is hoping to use his new platform to not only improve his role in-game, but give support back to the Overwatch community in hopes of helping other passionate players reach their dreams.
You have stated that you have been on the academy team since it originated. How was that experience?
While we had some play time previously, having Kirby come out and mentor us during the Contenders Season 1 finals really gave us an extra level of support. The academy is really to help develop young talent, since Season 1 organizations can only pick from academies when the trade window first opens.
How did it feel to be recruited to the Fusion’s academy team?
It was definitely validating in a way. It made me want to keep playing more. It was positive reinforcement, letting me know I was on the right track.
So what was your experience leading up to Fusion University?
I wasn’t really on a team. I had won a LAN put on by Blizzard – Overwatch heroes Rumble. After that I was flown out to Taiwan to compete in OPC Season 2. The prize pool was massive – $300,000. So I flew out there and lived in Thailand for three months.
What was it like being in Thailand?
I was 17 at the time [in 2017]. It was unique. It was life changing. You can fake confidence on the internet, but being 17 years old in a country where you don’t speak the native language was definitely an experience that helped me mature as a person.
How did the team end up doing?
We barely escaped relegation. We went 5-9 in the two month tournament, finishing 6 out of 8. I had a conversation with the organization, saying I wanted to look at a NA Contenders team. They agreed to release me on mutual terms. All of my former teammates and I ended up on an Academy team after trials.
How did you start out playing Overwatch?
Believe it or not, I did not own a computer capable of running Overwatch when it came out. My dad had a laptop through his job that could run Overwatch at 40 FPS. When he wasn’t working I would borrow and play on 40 FPS.
What were you playing before Overwatch?
I wasn’t playing a video game before Overwatch, actually. I was playing Magic [the Gathering] and Chess.
But you brought over some useful skills from that.
I use a lot of card game parallels to explain strategies in Overwatch. There’s similarities to how you mentally approach problems. I just started playing Overwatch because it was fun.
What made the game fun for you?
I’ve always been drawn to games with high levels of complexity. If you look at the game, there 20-plus heroes to pick that are meta, give or take. There’s 18 different maps, different map types. Different ultimates. The game is so complex. There’s no one algorithm to beat it. You have to get a feel for the game. In that moment you have to make a right decision based on a lot of factors – it’s not just muscle memory. There’s a lot of freedom for movement, and no harsh momentum swings. It felt a lot better to play than other games. And Season 1 I was ranked 77 SR on that shitty computer.
So despite the 40 FPS, you were getting really good at the game.
I just liked the competitive environment. It was fun to me. I was the person in the Twitch chat who asked Cloud 9 player Esper what I can do to go pro in Overwatch. He gave me some corny advice. The typical, join a Discord. Get involved. But Team Canada’s captain Sword actually said he’d give me a shot on this tier 4 masters team. And I just kept playing a lot. And after a while, when I was 17 I got approached by Evil Genius. That was the first time I realized, ‘Holy shit I can make money doing this. This could be a career for me.’ I had a conversation with my parents. I told them I didn’t have to drop out of high school, but that I would have to quit my part time job. That annoyed my mom a bit, but she was okay with it.
And it paid off in the end! What drew you to the support role in Overwatch?
There are a couple reasons I gravitated to support. I was an off tank in Season 1. It seemed like a role people weren’t picking. But once I got onto a team environment, I wanted to be a better asset. And with 40 FPS, it seemed like the best pick. Plus, communicating was one of my stronger suits. Sword decided that it was better to try out for the support tole. Playing with players like Goliath on flex support made me appreciate what the role can do.
As a Lucio and Ana main, what is a part of your role on the team that many people might not know about?
Your role is purely to enable your team. It’s not to get kills. Not even to be a healer. You’re making sure your flex support – on Ana or Moira or Zen – are not feeling pressured so they can do their job. So they don’t have to worry, looking behind their back.
You said you’re good at communicating. What makes someone good at communicating in Overwatch?
It completely depends on the team. You can have the best at making calls, confident… But three of those on one team – it won’t work. For me in particular – and I’m still working on – I want to learn how to change my role in teams when I feel I’m not calling in the correct manner. Teams I have been on – like Fusion Univerisity – my teammates have given me a lot of trust about my calls. And that’s important in this game because the maps are so short. You don’t have time to say, ‘Is this right?’ You have to declare what we’re doing, what the plan is, or we’ll lose the map. Decisiveness and research have definitely helped me with that.”
How did you feel about Philadelphia Fusion’s first season? They started off a little rocky, but they really proved themselves in the end.
Fusion Uni had scrimmed both London and Fusion leading up to the finals. We were London’s warm up scrim against Gladiators. And Fusion warm up for finals. While the outcome made me a little sad, I think Fusion definitely had the potential to defeat London. But London was a good team at the time. Especially Birdring. He went from a good DPS to a crazy strong hit scan player. They wrecked us [Fusion University]. I would have loved to see Fusion win. But how it turned out over all was really cool.
Is there anybody in Fusion in particular that you’re excited to play with?
Definitely Boombox and Neptuno. They’re very, very good support players. My focus has always been growth and improvement over time. Being able to talk to them, play on same team, will be beneficial for my growth and own personal skill.
What is your goal going into Season 2?
Winning is obviously number one. But my main goal is to end the season as a significantly better player than when I entered. And improving the community as a whole, which is already positive and inclusive. The Overwatch League players can do more to support the Contenders and the open contenders scene, and we’d end up with better players, more talent.
What would you do to support newer players?
I’ve done numerous reviews of Fusion Uni’s Contender games. I break down what we’re thinking, the plans we’re making, why we do certain things, why they failed, how to adjust…. That kind of content is really lacking from professional players. There’s a lot from third party analysts, but not any from the OWL. It’s hard to manage the schedule, but I want to make it a priority. They need accessible, educational content. You don’t want to reveal the weaknesses of your team, of course, but I still think it’s important to do this overall. I just don’t want the Contenders to be so far in skill from the Overwatch League that they can’t make that jump.
It seems like the pro Overwatch community really helped you, and you want to pay it forward. Who are some of the people that stand out to you?
I owe a lot to a few current OW players. They could have easily ignored me when I asked them annoying questions. FCTFCTN and Rawkus. Silkthread. When I asked a question they would give me a heartfelt response. They would tell me if my idea was good or bad. Gave me input. It was so beneficial to me as a player. There are many others, but those are who come to mind. Those kind of opportunities are important for Contenders players. You get a reality check. Getting that feedback is helpful.