The "battle over Texas" was one of the most anticipated matches of the week and fans rivalry was at an all-time high. All over Twitter and even live in the Blizzard Arena, fans were flexing their pride and ready to watch a close set between two equal teams.
But that isn't what happened at all. It was shocking 4-0 stop and Houston Outlaws looked in control at nearly all points of the match. In comparison, Dallas Fuel looked scattered and their subbing strategy, dubious. After the match, Austin "Muma" Wilmot uttered the now infamous "rolled and smoked my doggie", a bit of banter sourced from the lexicon of Dallas Fuels most vocal player, Félix "xQc" Lengyel.
it was the height of a trash-talking controversy, eventually, ended with xQc's temporary suspension. Both players have publically apologized for the situation which proved to be more about bad PR and less about actual bad blood.
Why do I know this? Because I talked to Muma directly after the Outlaw vs. Fuel match and, in my interview, he wasn't just vocal about his respect for his Fuel rivals, he was adamant:
What was your first impression of the team when you first joined?
When I first looked around and I saw this roster, I honestly was super duper proud. The biggest reason I pushed to join the Houston Outlaws instead of a different team was that I really valued flame. The amount of faith he put in me and coolmatt specifically to help build this roster and help pick these players was amazing.
I look around and I see no reason why this team won’t be the team that can prove that Western Overwatch and Western esports as a whole doesn’t have to be in the shadow of Korea.
Is this specific aspiration shared with all the players on the team or just you?
We all feel this way. Even from our coaching staff. TaiRong wanted to coach a Western team because he shares this same ideology. We don’t have to be in their shadow; with hard work and the right mindset, there is nothing really stopping the Western scene from not only being on the same level but overtaking the Korean teams.
So how would you respond to the popular opinion of a very real skill gap between regions?
I mean, I obviously don’t think its anything about the individual players. Like, I don’t think there is a gigantic gap between me and Mano for example. Mano is obviously an incredible player but I don’t think he is leaps and bounds ahead of me. I just think that, as a team, their team play is phenomenal and they understand how to play the game very well.
"I wholeheartedly think that their team is going through the same problems we did in our first two matches."
In the past, Korea has just been objectively better but, with the way the Overwatch league is structured, it puts Western players in the same conditions that Korean teams have always had. It’s really the first time that has ever happened-- we can be put in our room and legitimately devote 16 hours to the game if we want to.
There are days, like yesterday after our Shanghai Dragons match, we were literally here at the arena for 15 hours. There is nothing stopping us. In the past with team houses, it just wasn’t the same. Here it’s solidified like a job: you can commit everything to it.
How have you grown since being introduced to this environment?
It’s certainly a lot different. When I first played on my first pro team, it was right after I graduated high school-- I’m only 19 years old. I was playing from home in my mom's house and it’s just so much different to be out and around everyone.
Not even just my team, but I’m surrounded by friends now. I’m friends with a lot of other players and it is so nice to be in an environment like this. It doesn’t only help you improve in game, but it helps you improve as a person.
Better person, better teammate.
Tell me about the stomp vs Dallas Fuel. Did you have a feeling it would be that imbalanced of a showing?
I mean, I have endless respect for the Dallas Fuel. EFFECT, specifically, is still one of the best players in the world. When I first joined the Overwatch League, I was on FNRGFE and we got stomped by EnVyUs in contenders so it’s really nice to be able to stomp them back.
I wholeheartedly think that their team is going through the same problems we did in our first two matches. Overwatch, as an esport, has never seen rosters as large as this or substitutions that are being played the way they are. In our first two matches, we were subbing all the time and I don’t think that is the way you should play the game.
"EFFECT is undeniably one of the best players in the world"
You should have map specialists that come in every now and then. I think Fuel and their coaching staff are definitely smart enough to stop subbing players so much and go back to running the EnVyUs core, the obviously tried and true incredible players. I still expect them to still finish in playoffs and I still think they have the potential, the players, and the talent.
How much of is it an OWL players responsibility to grind as an individual?
It’s funny that you ask that because I think that, for me personally, it’s a lot different from most players on our team. We have two flex tanks, coolmatt, and SPREE. We have multiple flex supports, Bani and Rawkus. But I’m the only main tank. So, I’m the only player that is going to be playing 100 percent of the matches.
So yes, it is obviously important for me to be able to improve my self as a player, but it’s really important I bring my team up with me. The only consistent, every match, is going to be me sitting on stage with them. It’s really important I help us learn to grow as a team and I need to have a big role shot calling. I play maintank and it’s a good role to be shot calling.
Imagine for a moment you are now the coach for Dallas Fuel and you saw their 0-4 defeat. What do you do?
I just remind them of what they were capable of previously. Just look at their roster: EFFECT is undeniably one of the best players in the world! All around, they have such a good roster. I would tell them that they need to go back to their tried and true-- run chipshajen and HarryHook and have map specialist or meta specialist that come in.
They can’t keep subbing. This isn’t a shot at Seagull or xQc or even Custa-- they are obviously incredible players. But a big boon to Fuel was that they were a team before OWL, they don’t need time to synergize as a team. They already have it, they just need to utilize it.
Any last words to fans who love your tank play?
Just a huge thank you. Thanks to the Overwatch League and the fans, I can completely commit my life to Overwatch and do everything in my power to improve as a player, a teammate, and ultimately as a team.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.