What seems like forever ago, Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth and Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse were prepping for their first match against New York. We were all, in person, in a hotel lobby discussing their excitement for the 2020 season. The two had high hopes for the upcoming year as 2019 ended on a rough note, and the brand new Uprising roster meant a new opportunity for the two vets.
Little did we know, 2020 would just spiral out of control and become the wildest season to date.
One long season later, and this time over Discord, the three of us got back together to discuss just what was the 2020 Overwatch League season. Colourhex and Fusions are still at the team house in Massachusetts, but the room is much emptier than what fans have seen on game days. “Jerry and Myunb0ng, they’ve gone, they left a couple days ago,” Fusions mentioned, after asking if people are still hanging around the house.
The american players are still there as well, but Michael “Mikeyy” Konicki has a bit more flexibility in his schedule being from New England. “Mikeyy can leave any day now,” Fusions added, “he just has to get his dad to come pick him up.”
One last snap with the squad. pic.twitter.com/Do7LUkFdfu
— Boston Uprising (@BostonUprising) September 8, 2020
Before people started leaving the team house, the team went out for one last dinner together. Their first team dinner since the Washington Justice home stand back in Week 5. A nice sendoff and a good way to signify the end of one ridiculous season.
A Quick Rewind to the Start of it All
Since we didn’t get a chance to talk during the season, I unfortunately had to bring up some old memories of the start of the quarantine. Earlier in the season, the Boston Uprising announced a brand new training facility inside Patriot’s Place – a walking mall just outside of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The team would hold practices at the facility, and then head home once the day was finished. However, once the pandemic struck, the facility was left to collect dust as the Uprising were forced to stay at home.
“At the start […] playing at home was fine, it didn’t bother me that much” Colourhex said, “but the more time we sat here I thought ‘wow, we had it really good back there'”. Fusions chimed in with agreement, adding that in general “it felt a lot more professional, when we were playing at the facility”. The two players noted how they missed that clear separation between work and home. Although for Fusions, playing at home did give him a bit more time to focus on other things like exercising.
But it’s one thing to lose a training facility – losing the entire home stand schedule was a whole new beast for players. Fusions expected the league to go fully online after seeing what was happening around the world. Though he did have his reservations, mentioning how he was “just scared about how they would get it done.” Ping issues were a main concern first and foremost, as improper ping would put a damper on some matches against APAC teams. Fusions ultimately thought everything was handled pretty well though, all things considered.
“I was pretty upset” Colourhex explained as we discussed their initial reactions to moving fully online. “Obviously it had to be done. There wasn’t really any way around it, but not being able to, y’know, you look forward to all those things and then having them not be a possibility anymore is really sad.” It’s safe to say we all share that same sentiment about this past year.
Missing the Big Stage
Potentially the biggest disappointment this season was not being able to see more of Colourhex and Tae-hee “Jerry” Min on stage. After his antics at the New York home stand, Colourhex made it a point to play into the crowd. At the Houston event, the crowd fell in love with Jerry and launched his rise in fan popularity. Even when the team was down, it always seemed like the players were having fun and just enjoying the moment on stage.
Losing that live crowd however, seemed to really hinder Boston’s energy and attitude towards matches. “I definitely think it hurt” said Fusions, “not only did we have our home stands to look forward to, which would have been a big boost for us, […] we would have been going to London, I would’ve been at home, and in front of a home crowd – y’know what I mean?” Fusions continued further, adding how “playing on stage gives you so much hype.[…] Missing that during some of our slumps this year would have definitely helped us get some energy up and give maximum effort throughout the year.”
Whether or not the live matches would have improved the Uprising’s record drastically, it definitely would have been fun to see a fired up Boston crowd chanting Jerry’s name.
Battling the Trials and Tribulations of a Reshaped Roster
What was certainly the nail in the coffin for this season was the amount of turnover at the beginning and middle of the year. In 2020, the Boston Uprising saw four players leave the team for various reason, one more player miss the season due to injury, and one coach step down. To make matters worse, the departures were spread out through the season, meaning coaches and teammates had to rebuild synergy and rewrite game plans to fit the strengths of the new roster multiple times. While Boston didn’t have the league’s biggest roster shakeup this year, it was by far their biggest hurdle this past season.
Fusions explained the struggle of losing teammates as something natural in the professional scene. “It’s always tough losing the people you have built synergy with and around. […] I think it’s a part of the job as you, as a player, to come together with the people you have, and the people who you work with to get around those problems together and really pull through as a team,” said Fusions. As someone who has been right alongside Fusions for two season of unstable rosters, Colourhex simply chimed in “Yeah, big agree”.
Quite a debut for @punkinoz so far!
— Boston Uprising (@BostonUprising) May 16, 2020
However there was one addition to the roster that both players noted was a massive boost to team morale: Leyton “Punk” Gilchrist. Colourhex was most excited to discuss the addition of a fellow OCE Contenders player. “[Adding] Punk was really big for me, he as big for the team in general, but personally being friends with him before, and bringing him onto the team was much a needed refreshing face” he explained. “Yeah, he was a big factor when it came to bringing the team together as well” Fusions added. “Sometimes, you have like internal conflicts in a team or you have people that just don’t get along as well. Punk just gets along with everyone really well; he’s just a down to earth, really likeable person.”
In case it wasn’t clear enough, the two were extremely happy to hear Punk was finally added to the roster. Though for them, it was odd it took this long. In fact they were surprised to hear that Punk didn’t make the initial cut. Fusions stated that “I was a bit [surprised], I expected us to have two off-tanks with him being one of them. I didn’t expect us to sign Brussen. […] Obviously, I loved playing with Brussen and I don’t regret anything about that, but I’m glad we ended up with Punk because he’s such an important part of this team.” If it were up to Colourhex and Fusions, fans may have seen Punk from the very start. Sadly, they noted that they don’t have that much pull in those decisions quite yet.
The Struggles at the Bottom of the Standings
Even though Punk made a massive impression in his first start, winning his debut match against the Los Angeles Gladiators, the team still found themselves dead last in the league. Their struggles as a team really put a strain on players’ mentalities. Pair that with a worldwide pandemic restricting the pros from even going outside and letting off some steam, and it can certainly be tough to keep a positive attitude going forward. Boston had to deal with this very often this past season. Just how do they keep going when nothing seems to be working?
“I think this is something that everyone has to think about themselves, and realize themselves what they are in this for,” Fusions started, “I think we had multiple talks this season with coaches, without coaches, just between players. It was always nice to sit down with everyone, even if it was just the players, and just talk over things like how people feel and everything. I think those talks really helped us a lot.” Fusions continued to add, “everyone on our team just really wanted to win. Everyone really put their effort in […] everyone was putting their heart and soul into it even if it was burning them out super hard.”
The two felt that having these hyper-motivated players around the team house, fueled the drive to improve in each and every player. “We are all competitors at the end of the day, so everyone wants the same thing,” Fusions said, finishing his thought.
Having the desire to improve is great, however as one of the worst teams on paper, it can be tricky to find proper training partners to actually improve as a unit. Boston found themselves struggling to find scrim partners at the end of the season, due to their poor standing. Fusions mentions, “it’s the same as every year with Overwatch league – if you’re at the bottom of the standings, teams won’t want to scrim you. ” Though, they did have “a lot of good scrims like most of the year” – it just happened to be at the end where it was tougher to find scrims. With the quarantine, the Uprising did have to get a bit creative with their practices. “I remember at the start of the year we were scrimming contenders teams with players I have never even heard of,” said Fusions.
Maybe the biggest issue with their season was battling the hero pools with such a small roster. With sparse scrim partners and a small, shared, hero pool themselves, the Uprising learned a lot about adaptation and reading the meta. Colourhex described the uncertainty of reading the meta in scrims, saying “sometimes you can play against a few teams and even if they are good or bad, they could play the same thing, but it could not be relevant to what the meta was that week, and you get tricked into playing a less than ideal comp. It just feels like luck depending on who you scrim sometimes.” Colourhex went on to explain how most teams had to adapt and find “the courage to switch to something less practiced on”.
A New Beginning in the Play-ins
Boston found a way to adapt, it just took them a bit longer than most teams. It wasn’t until the play-in stage that the Uprising really found their footing with some new compositions. As Colourhex stated in our talk – “Fusions’ Hog is amazing”.
“I did pop off on the Hog,” Fusions laughed in agreement. “I ended up playing quite well on the Hog. I grinded it out a LOT, because I knew I had it play it,” he continued. Just how much did Fusions grind the key hero to get in shape for play-ins? According to Fusions, “in those 6 days of ranked [before our match], I racked up about 20 hours of Hog alone”. It seemed like he had fun in those days, per Colourhex, Fusions was “laughing like a maniac over there, […] just killing everyone”
As a whole, the two felt like this was easily one of their strongest metas and best chances to make a run. While Fusions didn’t personally feel great on the Roadhog heading into the matches, he did feel good with “everyone on really comfortable picks.” Fusions talked about how much the team enjoyed having Jerry on Ashe and Sang-min “Myunb0ng” Seo on Ana. “His comms carried us through a lot of those situations,” Fusions praised Myunb0ng, “some of the sleeps that he was hitting were absolutely crazy.”
But Boston almost didn’t play Roadhog at all heading into the play-ins. “We didn’t practice Hog from the start, we didn’t really want to because we don’t have two off-tanks,” Fusions explained. ” We were getting rolled by teams playing it, and I was really not comfortable playing monkey into it. So we sat down and said we probably need to play this.” The Uprising did try to play a bit more Zarya and Roadhog, a comp that was bringing teams like the Washington Justice a lot of success. “We tried having Mikeyy play the Zarya,” Fusions admitted, “but I think the team didn’t want to go away from the stable comm structure that we had.” He added that the team felt it was too rough on rookie Michael “Mikeyy” Konicki to step into the shot-calling role on such short notice.
After winning the Houston match, Boston failed to turn in one more reverse sweep against the Atlanta Reign. When I brought the match up again, it was very obvious the two were still very disappointed about the outcome. “Like that was just a very winnable game,” said Colourhex, discussing how the team managed their response to a non-meta composition from Atlanta.
Fusions mentioned that “the comp that Reign played, […] we hadn’t seen that comp ever, not a single team played anything remotely close to that against us in scrims.” “Not even once,” Colourhex quickly added. “Like we had no idea, not even an inclination” Fusions continued, “we didn’t expect that team to run Hog, […] so we expected them to be running a lot of Winston or Ball comps.” The lessons learned from the season helped them adapt to this strange composition, as Boston used three separate strategies on Havana. Sadly, it wasn’t enough.
“We didn’t react in the proper way which is unfortunate” Colourhex ended, “but I mean it’s just the nature of the game so what can you do”.
After slogging through some rough parts of memory lane, we finally moved on from the past to look forward. We started with some predictions about the Grand Finals.
“If I had to predict right now, my guess would be Shanghai,” said Fusions. “They’ve looked the most consistent and strongest of all the teams.” “I’m gonna spice it up a bit, just because I can” Colourhex said, true to form, “I’m gonna pick the Seoul Dynasty.” Fusions said he is rooting for the Philadelphia Fusion and his friends from Team U.K.Meanwhile, Colourhex did make a proper prediction about Seoul, stating that “Gesture and Profit are playoff gods.” As Seoul heads to the final four, Colourhex’s prediction may not be as spicy as he originally thought.
I did ask the burning question, but the players don’t have a lot of confidence in Overwatch 2 coming out soon either. “I would be surprised if it was this year” said Fusions, with Colourhex adding “oh definitely do not think this year.” Apologies everyone, the pros only know as much as we do.
What’s next for these two? Fusions is heading home later in September for some much earned rest and relaxation. Colourhex on the other hand is sticking around a bit and moving to California in October. He plans on moving in with his girlfriend on the west coast.
Featured image courtesy of Boston Uprising.
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