On Tuesday February 4th, the Boston Uprising made their way down to New York to begin their first away game visit. The players and staff boarded a coach bus and began the 5 hour drive to the Big Apple. Before they knew it, the season of travel was underway.
“It was ok honestly, because we did it late there was like no traffic” Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth mentioned. “The only traffic we hit was coming into New York. We were stuck there for about 40 minutes…” he went on to say, but didn’t seem too bothered about the wait. For Fusions felt the bus ride was an overall good time – “It’s a lot easier with friends yea, it’s definitely a lot more enjoyable of a trip.” Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse, on the other hand, had bit of a different experience with the travel. “I passed out for half of it to be quite honest, I can’t really remember” Colourhex said looking back to his teammate. “I love sleeping on planes and coaches.” Unfortunately, Fusions isn’t as lucky as Colourhex, mentioning that he can’t sleep well during travel.
The Day Before
We talked in the hotel lobby where the team was staying, just north of Hoboken, NJ. The spot was ideal for the Uprising, as its close proximity to the Helix eSports complex made practicing relatively easy. It doesn’t hurt that this location mirrors the brand new facility up in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The new Uprising practice space brings much more life to the day-to-day grind of competitive Overwatch. While the rookies may not have gotten a taste of the previous seasons facilities in LA, Colourhex and Fusions are quite excited about the new building.
— Boston Uprising (@BostonUprising) January 6, 2020
“I like the practice facility a lot, I think it’s a lot better than what we had last year. Last year was kinda just a house with a room full of computers,” Colourhex mentioned. “It pretty much has everything you could ask for. It feels really professional,” Fusions added. “When I leave from the facility to go home, I feel like that sort of workday ends, so I have that feeling [of home and work]. But at the same time it’s very professional and feels really good to practice in. Yea I really like it a lot.”
Teams can practice all day but nothing truly compares to playing on-stage in front of a crowd. Even though some nerves disappeared entering their second season, the excitement to get to work is still present. Fusions got quite excited during their stage walk-through, mentioning that “walking towards the stage when the OWL music was playing and stuff, it was very nostalgic and it kinda hit me that we’re going to be playing again. That got me really hyped up. I’ve been looking forward to it forever,” Colourhex said, as he’s just been “counting [his] days.” Even though both players made their respective World Cup rosters, it didn’t seem to truly scratch that competitive itch. “World cup gave me that kind of scrim, or high level practice environment. I was really missing out on that and I felt I was improving as a player,” Fusions shared, but since Team UK didn’t make the top 6, he didn’t get a chance to play on the stage. “The matches didn’t really feel that much like matches for me, not in terms of OWL anyway.”
“It’s a lot more casual anyway” Colourhex briefly mentioned.
Getting Ready for the Big Stage
When it comes to the game on Sunday, it’s interesting to hear that neither player really amps themselves up for the game. “Oh I don’t have any” Colourhex answered quickly when I asked about pre-game rituals. “I dont have any specific stuff,” Fusions chimed in, “I just like to take extra time to get ready in the morning and make sure mentally I’m ready to go.” Colourhex laughed, “Yea I kinda just show up and play, no shoelace tying thing.” The veterans seemed like they had their game days handled, but with a mostly rookie roster, they knew they had to take on the leadership role for those new players.
Colourhex mentioned that most new guys feel like they won’t be nervous for their first match, since they have played in front of crowds before. “Eh maybe [that’s the case], but don’t feel disheartened if you don’t feel as focused as you should be,” he said was his advice to the rookies. “Yea it’s just something you just gotta feel out for the first few games. You just kinda gotta get a feel for OWL,” Fusions started. He elaborated a bit saying, “even us who played last year [are] getting back into the swing of things, I’m sure our first game or two we won’t be as fully focused as we were, y’know, when we were into the flow last season.” Fusions knows the returning players will need to relearn to focus for games, but has different priorities for his rookies.
“The general advice I try and give them[..] just don’t look at socials” said Fusions, mimicking what he had said previously talking with the Uprising’s own Matt Shiflet. Entering the Boston sports scene is brutal and the unforgiving commentary from the fans sometimes hits harder than rookies may realize. “If you have a bad game or you feel like you didn’t perform, and you look at socials” Fusions warned, “its [got a] really really bad way of putting down your confidence.” We joked about the Uprising discord as well, being one of the more opinionated areas as far as social media goes. Fusions is thankful for his fans over on the BU discord because of their intensity and passion for the team. He just wants people to know that the players do indeed see everything there, and whether people realize it or not, it does have an effect on them as individuals.
Despite the negative aspects of critics online, both players have an infectious positive mindset about it all. In fact, all they can do is laugh at power rankings as no one knows that will truly happen. Fusions used to mind the last place rankings in the past, but he’s used to it now and just shrugs it off. The positive mental attitude seems to be rooted deep within the team atmosphere. When I asked about the rookies adjusting to the new team, both players where more than happy to talk about their teammates. “[Jerry] is such a clown, I love him,” said Colourhex, after mentioning their shenanigans on stream. Fusions was surprised how easy it was for everyone to just enjoy each other’s company. “All the guys this year are so easy to talk to, we all gel so well – are all good friends. So it’s been really easy to integrate everyone into the team.”
The bonds between the teammates do so much more than make good travel companions. Colourhex believes it will help the team immensely for when the new hero pools are introduced. “It’ll definitely help the most when things get tough or things get tense. Like when we don’t do well or worse than we want or intended, there’s going to be tension between people. But if we are very close together y’know, we can sorta get over it together.” Fusions backed him up, mentioning the team’s drive and motivation to keep getting better. The two know what they have to do going forward, and they believe they have the squad that can get it done. With all the growth the team has gone through already, Fusions understands that there is still far more work to do. “All of our veterans have suffered from failure in the league and we all had success at some point, so we want to get back to that. We kinda know what it takes and everyone wants to work to get to the best place possible together.”
Match Day Against NYXL
Heading into the match on Sunday, neither player had any doubts about the strength of their opponent. Fusions had a good grasp of how the Excelsior truly overwhelm their opponents. “Overall I think they are a scary team because they are very flexible, especially in this meta” he clarified. “We don’t think they are going to just run one thing, we think they are going to be running different stuff,” Fusions continued as we discussed how New York can and will use various comps depending on the map. While I floated the idea of a potential reverse sweep on Sunday, as is tradition for the Boston Uprising, Fusions wanted to set the record straight for the upcoming season.
“This year I’m not satisfied winning 3-2, reverse sweep style” Fusions told me. “I wanna be better than that.” Colourhex and Fusions made it clear that their goal for this season is to not only win, but get those wins without needing the theatrics of a reverse sweep. It was time for them to finally see if that would be true as their first match finally arrived.
Finally, Stage Time
Sunday, February 9th was the world’s first look at the brand new Boston Uprising lineup. Starting for the Uprising were Min-seob “Axxiom” Park, Gabriel “Swimmer” Levy, Sang-min “Myunbong” Seo, Sang-beom “Munchkin” Byeon, and of course Colourhex and Fusions. The team was greeted with a roaring crowd expressing just how they truly felt about the New York rival.
Wouldn't expect anything less.
— Boston Uprising (@BostonUprising) February 9, 2020
Boston came out to a hot start, notching the first elimination of the match and giving Myunbong his first double-kill in OWL. The rest of the map did not go according to plan for Boston, as the excellent Tracer play from the NYXL captain Jong-ryeol “Saebyolbe” Park took care of the Uprising to win Oasis. The rest of the match followed suit, as Boston took a tough loss to the home team 3-0.
There were plenty of highlights to take away from the match, as Colourhex flashed his skills on McCree and Hanzo, scoring multiple kills in succession to win a few team fights. Axxiom got himself a highlight reel play in order to take the second point of Anubis, hitting a large Earth Shatter and pinning the opposing Mei.
Let's go! #BostonUp
— Boston Uprising (@BostonUprising) February 9, 2020
Catching Up Post Game
After the game the players went downstairs to face the group of writers waiting to ask questions about the match. The other journalists and I took turns slinging questions over to Munchkin before Fusions and Colourhex stepped over to the semi-circle of recording devices. After a few moments of settling in, the questions came in and the players discussed the crowd and the rivalry.
“I don’t think it takes away or adds anything” Colourhex mentioned of the hostile crowd. “It just makes me smile”. Regarding the Boston/New York rivalry, both players found it fun. For nerves, Fusions did notice some bit of shakiness from the players making their OWL debut. “There was definitely a difference in the beginning.[…] Swimmer was a bit panicky, but he did a good job controlling it. And on the very first map of Oasis Myunbong was a lot louder than he was usually, but we pointed it out to them and they took the feedback super well. They calmed down a bit and from the second map on they were almost perfect with their comms.” The two moved on to more video interviews after answering few more questions regarding their thoughts on double-shield, hero pools, and my own question about future team comps. It was New York’s turn to face the reporter scrum.
Once the NYXL took the floor, I ran over to coach Vytis “Mineral” Lasaitis to see if I could get a few questions in about the match, and thankfully he obliged. I kicked things off by getting a sense of how it feels to be back after taking a season off from OWL. “To get started, it’s fun y’know. Like you don’t quite get the rush like this anywhere else, when watching your guys perform and the same thing for the guys that are on stage. I think it’s a privilege for everyone to go out there and do what they love in front of a big crowd. I think everyone’s excited to get started.” As exciting as it was for us fans to see the Boston team take the stage, not every member got to play on Sunday. When I asked about substitutes at half, Mineral was confident in the starting 6 this time around, but is open to being a little more creative moving forward. “It’s definitely not something we are ruling out for future weeks and being dynamic. It was kind of a bit of a race against time to get ready and to figure out the new meta”
We discussed his thoughts on hero pools as well, mentioning how it’s a little tricky for coaches to create a strategy one week to only pivot away from it the next. He hopes it helps the game in the long run however, as he said “it’s ultimately important to make the game exciting for everyone.”
Rivalry On The Rise
If there was one thing to take away from Boston’s opening weekend, it’s the teams overwhelming positive attitude towards the 2020 season. The players are entering the season with fire and motivation to prove skeptics wrong. Their focus is clear, and they aren’t planning on being distracted by trivial things like talking trash.
At least that’s what they told me on Saturday.
“It’s weird, everyone on our team is very nice” Fusions told me. “Kelsey is probably the person least afraid of talking smack[…] I could see Jerry – ”
“No I could NOT,” interrupted Colourhex, quickly shutting down any idea that Tae-hee “Jerry” Min could possibly have a mean bone in his body. “I can see Walid [though]” Colourhex added about new off-tank Walid “Mouffin” Bassal. Towards the end of our conversation, Colourhex simply added, “I love doing it.”
Leaving the hotel lobby I foolishly believed the two, thinking that Boston wouldn’t be caught up in trash talk this season. Well, we all saw Sunday that Colourhex wasn’t afraid of riling up the New York crowd. Who knows who will be next to smack-talk or “tactical crouch” on an opponent. What we do know, is that this is a Boston team that won’t let one loss get their spirits down.
Featured image courtesy of Ben Pursell and Blizzard Entertainment
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