The Houston Outlaws fell in the Battle for Texas on Sunday evening, marking the first time Dallas Fuel has triumphed in the matchup. Despite a 3-1 loss, Houston Outlaws made the series far more competitive than the score reflected and had a far better showin than the previous day's 4-0 loss to Seoul Dynasty.
Following the Battle for Texas, Houston Outlaws held a press conference featuring DPS Jacob "JAKE" Lyon, DPS Jiri "LiNkzr" Masalin, and Support Daniel "Boink" Pence to discuss dallas Ultimate Weekend and the future of an already robust Houston Outlaws fanbase.
*This press conference has been transcribed for clarity and comprehension*
How important is this weekend for the development of the Overwatch League overall?
LiNkzr: I've played online for most of my career, so at first, I was a bit skeptical. But after the weekend, feeling the crowd, seeing how the logistics work and how it feels to be playing in this kind of situation, I was very impressed. I am excited for next season.
JAKE: If you look at esports as a business, where we are going is in terms of driving viewership growth and driving the growth of the fundamental base. Esports is already incredibly successful at drawing fans, but the only thing missing from a business perspective is all of those revenue streams that traditional sports rely on: Ticket revenue, concessions revenue, bringing people into a physical space and making the experience so much richer in person than it could be online or on television.
A lot of people question if esports can make that transition and become like traditional sports, but traditional sports never had to do that. Sports was a spectator event in-person first, and that's always how it has been.
If anyone is looking for a litmus test, look at any other Overwatch League live event that has happened before this. At all of the Overwatch World Cup stops the fans were absolutely insane. They love it and eat it up because these events are really meaningful to people. Ask any fan in the building tonight if they had a good time, and if they would get their friends to come next time, and I think that's really all you need to know about the future of esports.
Do you guys feel like pioneers at all after this weekend?
Boink: I mean, it's hard not to, right? This is one of the first league formats for esports. Generally, it's just tournaments, but this is a lot of different than most esports have been in the past. Overwatch is one of the first esports with a league format, and we're now mid-way through season 2 of Overwatch League. It's hard not to feel that way when life is changing and esports is changing, and I think it's for the better.
Briggsycakes from Overwatch Score. In terms of globalization of the Overwatch League, how are you feeling now that you've had a taste of what the future will be like this weekend?
Boink: This event was crazy. It was a lot of fun and I think people enjoyed themselves even more than expected. It was great, so going forward, the Atlanta and Los Angeles homestand events should be great as well. If you keep having these types of events in the future, I think things are only going to get better.
Nick Geracie; Inven Global. Were there any unexpected factors in playing in a different arena on day 1, and if so, what did you guys adjust for day 2?
JAKE: I don't know about the arena itself in terms of us making adjustments as a team. For us, it's really all about the game and the team matchup. We were focusing on the Dallas game. Dallas Fuel has finally become our rival now that they've managed to take a match off of us. We didn't want to let that happen, but unfortunately, it did.
In addition, I think Seoul Dynasty is one of the best teams, especially in GOATS meta. They're just a tougher match for us, I don't think it had anything to do with the venue.
What was the hardest part in terms of preparing to play in a brand new venue away from Blizzard Arena?
LiNkzr: I don't think any teams had the perfect practice coming into this weekend, but all of the players played their hearts out. There was a lot more emotion in the game, as well as a lot of teaba-
JAKE: Tactical crouching.
LiNkzr: *laughs* Yes, tactical crouching. I could tell the players were really invested in the matches here in terms of emotions.
Eric Van Allen; Washington Post. What did you guys think of the Houston turnout today, and do you think you can continue to draw fans in even further away games than Dallas in the future?
JAKE: Even when we're playing at Blizzard Arena, it always feels like we have the home team advantage. We always have a contingent of fans in Los Angeles, and I think our fans are insanely dedicated. We've heard so many stories of people driving ten, even fifteen hours just to come see us for some little event or fanmeet. To me, that is so beyond anything you could ever expect as an esports athlete.
How much the fans want to put into this is up to them, but so far, they've been going above and beyond. I think anything is possible in having our fans show up in particular.
After being a part of this weekend, what would it be like to have your own stadium in Houston?
LiNkzr: I think it would be a fun place for our fans and a place for us to be able to interact with them at the local level. I'm excited for that.
Brandon from The GameHaus; if you could take away one thing from this weekend, what is your favorite memory?
LiNkzr: I think it would be all of the fans who made it here and came out to meet us.
JAKE: Yeah, it has to be the fan experiences. Connecting with our fans as players in person goes back to what we were talking about localization and bringing people in person.
For me, and probably for a lot of other esports athletes, the online gaming community was a place we found to be our home. To become an esports professional, you have to fall in love with pro gaming, playing online, making friends online, and the entirety of the community surrounding that. To take that offline and actually bring all of those people in person will only make the passion higher.
To be able to realize our community in a physical space instead of just a digital space is going to be something that's just as amazing every time it happens. It really is a meaningful community to us, and we really care about our fans.