The 2020 season of the Overwatch League kicked off this past weekend with homestands in New York and Dallas as the league transitions into the third season of the popular here shooter esport. One of the major changes for the 2020 season entails each week of games being hosted in different home markets for all of the league’s 20 teams, a move that is risky but could potentially payoff in a big way in the years to come as Activision/Blizzard continues to try and establish fandoms more akin to traditional sports.
Opening weekend for the Boston Uprising pitted them against the New York Excelsior in a new rivalry that seems to transcend any singular sport and fans have found blood in the water for the Overwatch League all the same. With the boys in blue and yellow walking onto the stage to boos of the bat, it set the scene for a match that would warrant the loud cheers and “Boston sucks” chants that eventually crept out of the hometown team at the Manhattan Center Hammerstein Ballroom.
In the first map of the set, Oasis, Boston Uprising seemingly held their own and showed that they could stand toe-to-toe with one of the best ranked teams in the league, the NYXL. Unfortunately, the mostly fresh-faced Uprising ultimately gave up the first map. With the NYXL’s JJonak delivering one of the biggest plays of the entire series by perfectly tossing a biotic grenade at the Uprising hitting five of their players, resulting in the NYXL obliterating the Uprising without having to use any ultimates and helping them cruise through to take the first round of Oasis.
The star of the set was undoubtedly Saebyeolbe who swapping between Tracer and McCree carried the NYXL on his back and was an integral part in shutting down most of the Uprising’s advances and squandering any hope they had of taking a set on both Oasis and the second map of the series, Blizzard World.
On the Uprising side of the arena, Colourhex tried to match the might of Saebyeolbe with a mirror McCree on both Oasis and Blizzard World but was eventually outgunned. Colourhex continued to play decently well throughout the series– continuing his streak on the third map of the set, Anubis, he popped off as Hanzo on offense. Upon capturing the first point, he sprayed a tag over a downed NYXL player resulting in a swarm of boos and “Boston sucks” chants being hurled towards him. Which may have led to the tables turning as Boston was able to take both points on Anubis only to be rushed by NYXL on defense, which gave New York over four minutes of time in the bank for overtime which the Uprising were unable to hold. Resulting in a 3-0 sweep for the New York Excelsior and positioning themselves with two wins to kick off the 2020 season of the Overwatch League.
One of the most interesting aspects of this season of the Overwatch League is going to be the home crowd and how the power of chants and boos will factor in helping and hindering teams as they play. The kinetic feeling of walking into an opposing team’s crowd can throw your nerves into hyperdrive. It’ll be interesting to see how players adjust to the pressure.
Though the Boston Uprising lost today, with a relatively brand new team from last season, coaching changes, and being pegged as one of the worst teams in the league– today they held their own against one of the best in the league. They embodied Boston sports today– competing as underdogs, against their rivals in New York, welcomed with boos and Boston sucks chants. Let’s hope that when the Uprising come home to Boston for their two homestands that the crowd bolsters their efforts. The season is just beginning, but if the Uprising can continue to improve on what they showcased today, they may end up looking at potential post-season play.
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