Giving Something Back

Before Overwatch League, I lived in a small town in Ohio. I didn’t really enjoy it much; you saw the same people every day and there just wasn’t a lot to do. I had to drive 15 minutes to even get to a gas station or a grocery store. It was literally in the middle of nowhere and certainly not very fun.

Growing up, I looked at my older sister and my older siblings and they were lucky to move maybe 30 minutes away. I was like, “Wow, I really don’t want to be stuck here forever.” So when I was given this opportunity to pursue esports, I really jumped at it. I didn’t have to think twice about it.

I started playing Overwatch after I graduated high school, and then I was like, “Yeah mom, I’m going to take a leap year and play video games and see how it goes.” She was like, “Alright, whatever, as long as you go to school after the year ends.” And then I was given this opportunity with the league, so instead of going to school I told her, “Hey I’m going to go live in California.” She was just like, “Oh! Ok… Come visit!”

Personally, I’ve always been a very competitive person and I always want to prove to people that I’m capable of winning and being the best. Until I achieve that, I’m not going to be satisfied and I’m going to keep pushing. I feel like even once I do achieve that, I’m going to enjoy being on top so much that it will keep me motivated to keep going even harder. The number one way to fall off the top is by getting complacent, so I’ll always keep trying.

When I first started playing with the Outlaws in the very first stage, I was almost self-centred. It took me a while to realise that my individual performance doesn’t matter at all, as long as my team is succeeding. Even if I come off a map and I feel like I did well, if we lost, then that feeling is pointless and almost detrimental.

You shouldn’t really be worrying about that – you should be worrying about doing whatever you can to make sure your team wins. As the season progressed, I definitely got a lot better at that. It’s something I want to continue to improve on too.

I feel like I’m a leader on the team. Thankfully, my supports are also very vocal players as well, so that takes some of the burden off my back. I still do most of the calling, then Bani helps keep track of ults and makes sure we’re all on the same page. With a role like the main tank, it’s very easy to make sure that the whole team is playing around you. That’s what you exist for – you either have a big shield or you’re diving. It’s easy to narrate what you’re doing, and as long as you’re doing that, you just have to hope that your team is following you up.

Since I do a lot of the calling, the team has to play around my style. The thing that separates me from other main tanks in the league is that I think of the game very meticulously, slowly and cautiously. I try to preserve my own life above all else because, as long as I’m alive, I’m going to be constantly talking and giving my team a stream of information. It’s a lot harder to call when you’re dead.

There are obviously instances where the play is just to jump in as deep as you can and hope that your team surrounds you and follows up. There’s always a chance you’re going to die, obviously, but I try to keep that to a minimum.

It’s a lot more valuable to make sure you’re always alive and always doing something. Honestly, I think a lot of other main tanks put more focus on jumping in and just dying.

I used to get nervous before matches. It was definitely really bad at the beginning of the season, but, for the most part, that’s gone away. I still get really anxious when we’re backstage before walking out, but as soon as I sit down on stage, I get my headset on and I look at the screen, I forget everything that’s going on around me. I’m just in the game.

Anyone that knows me knows that I’m a very outgoing person. I’m very talkative and I like making people laugh, so I also take a big role in making sure that the people around me aren’t getting too frustrated either. I focus on making sure that we all keep our heads up and keep trying.

I don’t know if it’s something I should be thankful for, but I’ve always been very good at bottling up my emotions. I know it’s a terrible thing to do, but it’s helped me throughout the season. I’m able to bottle things up when I get sad, or even when I get happy. There just isn’t enough time between matches to feel emotions. You can’t get sad if you lost, because you probably have a game in two days time or you have scrims literally the next day.

I haven’t experienced burnout yet. It might happen eventually, but even before Overwatch – when I was playing other games, I wasn’t competing for money and no one even watched the games – I still managed to find myself playing for a stupid amount of hours every day. I just really like winning.

Streaming, however, is definitely a mental reset. Sometimes I tell myself, “ugh, I really don’t want to stream, it’s just adding onto work,” but as soon as I sit down and go live, that goes away. I stream because it’s fun and a nice way to relax and chill. I love interacting with my fans and my community.

Honestly, this last stage was really eye-opening and pretty frustrating. Every single week, we’ve gone, “oh this week matters so much, we have to win this match in order to make playoffs.” We put in so much effort this stage to make sure we were been prepared for all these matches, but I remember back in stage two, stage three and even the end of stage one, we didn’t realise how important every single match would be for the end of the season.

It’s frustrating, but I’m also thankful for it, because next season when it’s stage two, week two and there’s a random match that doesn’t seem like it matters much, I’ll remember this season and remind everyone that we have to put everything into each match. If we put everything into that kind of match, the end of stage four won’t matter that much. I want to make sure we’re putting 100% into every match.

I also want everyone to be close to one another. Being friends outside of the game helps you in-game as well. At the end of the day, the people on your team are technically co-workers, so it’s good to make sure that you remain friendly and positive at all times. It’s also important to make sure you aren’t overworking yourself because people will get grumpy and will start to get on each other’s nerves.

There needs to be time spent away from people – you need to build a balanced lifestyle. Thankfully OpTic is really good at providing resources for that. We have performance coaches, for example, who help us with sleeping, eating and maintaining a balanced lifestyle and I’m super thankful for that.

Looking towards the end of the season, I was worried about having a big, long break. I was like, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’m going to get so bored.” But the World Cup is coming up, which is something I want to partake in if I can. I didn’t get to try out last year, unfortunately, and the year before worked differently, so I didn’t get to try out then either. Finally, I’ve been given the chance to try out this year.

I’ll still enjoy my little break at the end of the season. I’m going to go to the finals and watch them, but I’m sure by the time I get back I’m going to want to be on that grind again. I’ll want to be putting my all into the World Cup.

Growing up with two sisters and a family of all girls, we were always super duper competitive, and it’s definitely stayed that way. So if I could, I’d like to be remembered as one of the greatest. Other than that, I want to better the community. When I was growing up in Ohio, I watched a lot of streams and hung out in lots of different online communities because they gave me a place that was almost a second home.

Being able to give that feeling back to others is really cool. I try my best to be positive for my team. I try my best to be positive on my stream – I tilt sometimes, everyone does – but at the end of the day, I definitely want to be remembered for having a positive impact on the community.

Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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