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Esports Overwatch

The Houston Outlaws’ Overwatch League Inaugural Season in Review – Part One: Introducing the Outlaws and Preseason Peril

Overwatch League
The Season’s Already Over?!

As the inaugural season of the Overwatch League comes to a close, the season playoffs are just around the corner. The top six Overwatch League teams eliminated the bottom six from contention, leaving the lower half some time for rest and recuperation. The top six OWL teams are instead practicing and preparing rigorously to battle for the prized Inaugural Season Championship.

Coolmatt, Rawkus, and Muma show off new merch
Photo via Instagram, courtesy of @outlawsow

Among the freshly eliminated teams are the Houston Outlaws, falling short of season playoff contention by only one spot. Sitting at seventh in the overall season standings, it seems the Outlaws can’t quite clutch many close games for the wins they need. Also, as a ‘fan-favorite’ team, Houston’s standing is a let-down both to themselves and their large, passionate fanbase. However, many fans can say the same about the other five teams lower than HOU in the season standings.

Join TGH On This Journey!

In order to fully appreciate the efforts of the Outlaws and how they placed in the middle of the standings, let’s take a journey through their highs and lows. We’ll check out their strengths and weaknesses both individually and as a team. Join us, won’t you?

This retrospective of the Outlaws’ season will take place in three parts, following their chronicles from beginning to end. The first two parts will outline their wins and losses through the preseason and regular season. The third and last part will detail the players’ own opinions about their obstacles and triumphs.


Outlaws’ main roster poses for a group photo
Photo via Instagram, courtesy of @outlawsow

The Houston Outlaws were officially announced to be an Overwatch League team on September 30th, 2017. Their team roster and branding information were unveiled later on October 31st. Founded and funded by OpTic Gaming and their Owner/CEO Hector Rodriguez, it didn’t take long for the Outlaws’ fanbase to grow. Keeping OpTic’s trademark lime-green and black aesthetic, coupled with a truly Texan team name and arguably the most unique (and depending on who you ask, “the best”) logo in the League, Houston’s team branding definitely helped build a passionate following in the greater Houston area.

Overwatch World Cup 2017 Team USA Talent

Texans aren’t the Outlaws’ only fans, however. OpTic Gaming recruited many members from the 2017 Overwatch World Cup American Team for their OWL team. Among the team members from Team USA are Jacob ‘JAKE’ Lyon, Matt ‘coolmatt’ Iorio, Shane ‘Rawkus’ Flaherty, and (acquired later) Russell ‘FCTFCTN’ Campbell. Assembled by their General Manager, Matt ‘flame’ Rodriguez, the Outlaws’ internal team dynamic was already off to a good start.

DPS, Tanks, and Supports From All Over
Coolmatt and Rawkus Celebrate a Win
Photo via Instagram, courtesy of @outlawsow

Houston’s DPS roster also includes “Finland’s Gift to Esports” Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin, popular Swedish streamer Lucas “Mendokusaii” Håkansson, and Matt “Clockwork” Dias. For tanking, Austin “Muma” Wilmot is the main tank who usually plays alongside Coolmatt. The Outlaws also employed Belgium’s Alexandre “SPREE” Vanhomwegen for a Zarya specialist and additional flex-tank. Besides Rawkus’ flex-support abilities, Houston utilizes and interchanges Canada’s Christopher “Bani” Benell and Daniel “Boink” Pence for healing purposes. Lastly, the Outlaws eventually went on to add the only Korean player in their team: Won-hyeop “ArHaN” Jeong. ArHaN’s role is DPS, and he’s substituted in for JAKE in certain maps.


But What Happened?

With such a dynamic and star-studded roster, what led the Outlaws to finish the inaugural season in the middle of the pack? Let’s figure this out together by diving deep into the season’s ups and downs. As with any sporting league, we’ll begin with the preseason matches.


In the first week of December 2017, the Overwatch League Preseason games began. Essentially a practice week for the teams to get the basics of OWL (and to get a sense of the opposing teams), the exhibition-style preseason matches did not give Houston a running start as they lost 3-2 to Dallas Fuel and 2-1 against Seoul Dynasty on December 7th & 8th respectively. Team coordination and communication issues are the main reason for these losses.

Overwatch League Preseason Standings
Credit: Liquipedia

Although many fights went their way in both of the week’s matches, they couldn’t come back to clutch a win in the end. The Outlaws forced the Fuel to a fifth overtime match, but were unable to win. Later, the fourth map against Seoul ended in a draw with Houston down 2-1, again hinting at problems clutching the last-minute map win. These first two games echo the type of problems Houston will encounter through the course of the regular season.


Next time…

We’ll have to see how Houston handles a winning streak in the next part! Check in with TGH again this Wednesday to see Houston’s regular season mistakes and triumphs!


Featured image via the Overwatch League.

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