Houston Outlaws' Jake: "Teams that are not managed well are going to have more struggles next year because of the huge burden of travel."

Jacob "JAKE" Lyon from the Houston Outlaws has been a great ambassador for not only Houston, but also the Overwatch League. He's been a great spokesperson when it comes to TV appearances or being a caster himself. After the Outlaws' match against the Chengdu Hunters in Week 4, Jake spoke with Inven Global about his thoughts on playing in the Blizzard Arena and traveling in the 2020 season. 

Photo by Robert Paul

Thank you for joining me. Today's game was the last game in the Blizzard Arena for the Houston Outlaws. What are your thoughts about that?

It's been fun playing here over the last couple of years. Next year will be nice to look forward to. It'll be exciting to see how it plays out in different local markets like how the event looks in different venues with different people. It'll be a new look of the Overwatch League.

Do you think this new look is good for the league and players?

First of all, you have to define good. The league is going to move forward with city-based teams. If you don't play matches in local areas, then you're not doing that. So, why call it a city-based team? 

For the players, it's a huge ask to travel that much. You make the same money as you do now but travel 24/7. It's going to be rough. It's a matter of teams doing their best to make things easy for their players.

Houston had the opportunity to participate in the Dallas homestand. Can you describe the experience of being there?

The Dallas homestand was really great. That set a high expectation for me next year. From a production standpoint, it was ran really well, and there wasn't much huge unexpected delays or technical difficulties. We didn't have the most practice time, which was unfortunate, but that was an issue that was raised. That will be something to look at moving forward.

Ultimately, the homestands so far have been successful. If we can do this same quality at each one around the world, then things will be fine.

Photo by Ben Pursell

Going back to playing at the Blizzard Arena. What was your best memory here?

I don't know if it's going to stand out to me as one specific time. It's more of remembering these two years of playing and living in LA. I've been enjoying the esports professional life and it's been fun. 

The Blizzard Arena is where we all work, but most importantly, the competition and what we're all about is what matters. 

Putting us in different countries in different buildings will be a little different, but the same fundamental reasons that brought us together will still be there.

Does traveling to different cities next year will sort of give some nostalgic vibe to it like traveling to different majors?

It's still going to be weird because it's not a true tournament format. You're still playing in this long-form league. At the same time, you're traveling a lot. It's a little less about reminding me of how esports used to be and more of a new challenge for Overwatch players. 

What do you think are the limitations going to be next season? 

Right now, everyone is living in LA playing closeby. Your travel time at most for some people is like an hour and a half in a worst-case scenario. If you're traveling to China then London - it depends on the team schedule. The Houston Outlaws schedule is easy in the scheme of schedules - mainly in North America with one trip to Europe and no trips to Asia.

If you're fine with traveling back and forth from China to North America a lot, then that's crazy. I'm not a huge fan of traveling, so it's more doom and gloom than some people. Getting to travel is some people's dream, like traveling for work. There will be pros and cons. There will be a lot of adjusting, which will not be easy for pro gamers. Teams will find a way to adjust and work around it. That's what it's all about - the competition.

Every team will have a challenge out of the game to organize their logistics - minimizing travel time and having a consistent experience for players so that players can perform at their best. Now is the time for management to step up. Teams that are not managed well are going to have more struggles next year because of the huge burden of travel. 

Photo by Robert Paul

What are your thoughts about the Overwatch League past the 2020 season? What do you think are the next steps for this league to grow? 

It's too soon to say because 2020 is a huge thing since everything is going global. Before we see that, it's meaningless to speculate because the Overwatch League will be reshaped next year. As far as going beyond that is hard to predict. 

For yourself, how will you involve yourself with the Outlaws moving forward when it comes to leadership or marketing the team in Houston?

It will be cool not just for us but Houston fans since it is relatively close to meet their fans in the local market. We've been able to do that a few times. All of our experiences have been great so I'm confident it'll be fun to play more home games. For a lot of teams, it'll be their first chance to do a big local gathering and meet their fans. It'll be a good thing for fans everywhere.

That's what the success of the league is about - getting those fans to show up, participating in these events, and making it great and engaging. The homestands so far hit that perspective. If we keep the ball rolling, we're going to be good. 

Before wrapping this up, I want to get your thoughts on the rest of this season. What teams do you think will make the grand finals and why?

Shock and Titans are a good prediction. I think Shock will win because they spend by far the most out of all the teams on their roster and staff. They were invested in building a team. I'm happy to see them succeed because that's what all esports teams should be thinking about.

It really makes me sad to see some teams where players aren't treated that well and they're used disposably. It's pretty common. There are some teams that most fans know are the worst offenders and they don't hide it very well.

A team like Shock that doesn't cut corners make me happy to see them succeed. They put the work in, got the very best players in the world, and they deserve it. You spend big, you win big. 

Photo by Robert Paul

Is there a team that will come out of the blue and surprise fans in playoffs?

I think GZ Charge has been hot in this meta. They could easily be up there. My prediction of Shock and Titans is soft, I would say. It is playoffs, a couple of matches loss and you're out. That's what makes the playoffs exciting - it's unpredictable and will come down to game day.

Lastly, do you have any shoutouts?

Shoutouts to the fans who supported us to do what we do. I'm happy to be part of making some epic entertainment.

Follow me on Twitter @itsjustchris for more coverage on Overwatch League and various games.

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