On Wednesday, September 4, Chris “HuK” Loranger, GM of the Boston Uprising, decided to reach out to fans by sitting down and conducting a question and answer session, live on Twitch. Through the year, fans became angry and confused at Boston’s poor second half performance, and many clamored to have HuK fired at the end of the season.
The main complaint from fans was the lack of transparency from the organization. Many saw this as a time to ask the tough questions regarding Boston’s rapid decline in the standings, and most viewers assumed HuK would avoid those questions.
Luckily for the fans, HuK was as honest and transparent as allowed. Without giving too much information about the organization and its players, he answered as many questions before he needed to leave.
While there were a few joke questions and plenty of explicit comments, the overall discussion was extremely insightful. From the almost two hour long session, below are some curated questions from fans, as well as HuK’s responses.
HuK Q&A, the Abridged Version
Where is AimGod, RCK and Axxiom?
“Yeah, so let’s talk about subs in general…Theoretically, lets say you have three different players. You have a player that sleeps during scrims, or sleeps during review, doesn’t show up on time, doesn’t try in practice, doesn’t communicate, is toxic – whatever. That might be a reason that a player doesn’t get to play. You might have another player that is going through personal issues, is sick, is having problems at home – you know, whatever that might be.
Maybe they have to go somewhere, they have some illness they need to see a doctor [for] and they need time off that – might be another reason why a player might not play. Another player might just not be good enough, the team might play better with another teammate and that may be very straightforward. This player is better and that is why they are playing. Or it might be they are more or less equal, but one player brings something to the team…some other intangible [thing] that they bring to the whole team.
No matter who you pick from that group, there’s always going to be a different perspective. So my perspective, as GM/president, is to ultimately try to protect my players and staff to make sure the internal issues stay internal as much as possible. It comes at the expense of transparency.
But what I want everyone to understand is, in that example, and that set of players, there’s always going to be a good reason why a player doesn’t play. But at the same time, there’s always going to be other perspectives, right? Most people in esports are, you know, very young, don’t have a lot of life experiences. And their perspective of why something might be, is very different than what one of their teammates might be or a coach might be or a GM might be, right?
And what you don’t want to end up happening, what kind of happened to some other teams, or even our team at some point in the off-season, last year’s finger-pointing. You don’t want one person [to] say, well, I didn’t play because this guy sucked and he threw the scrims. I played, or I didn’t play because this coach didn’t pick the composition in the heroes that I would be good at.
Or I didn’t play because, yeah, maybe I don’t try in scrims. But I’m just a better player. So you should let me play anyways. Because I’m going to do well in games. Everyone’s going to have a different perspective, everyone’s going to have a reason why they think they should have, you know, gotten more time played, more whatever it might be. I’m never going to come out […] and throw them under the bus because they are a bad actor.
In general, certain players are going to get a certain reputation, certain coaches, certain GMs. Fairly or unfairly, whatever it might be, for all three of those. And that’s going to follow them throughout their career, right. There are certain players that are very talented, very skilled, not only in our team, but in other teams as well, that ended up dropping out of the league or ended up not starting or kind of like on that bubble situation. And it’s not because they don’t have the skill and they don’t have the talent. Maybe they’re toxic, maybe they don’t get along with other people, maybe they cause too much drama.
But as time goes on, people are going to see that more and more. It’s weird because we’re, you know, just starting out. Overwatch League is two years old, not even.
It’s cool and exciting because we’re at the like, bottom level of Overwatch League and a lot of those things aren’t really established, right? You have all these people that have been in it only a few years and they’re still coming up.”
As College Level Esports develops, do you think you will be scouting more players from there instead of Contenders?
“Um, it’s possible, I think. Collegiate esports is very, very different from traditional sports, personally. The age requirements are obviously very different. There’s less physical ceiling or floor, where in traditional sports right when you’re 16-22, your body is still developing and your peak ability is still developing. And even beyond that, esports is not the same, right? There’s a lot of really young players that are really talented, and you see that in Contenders now. The Overwatch League enforces a 18 year old rule set, but all in all, it’s just very different.
So I don’t think [we’ll necessarily] see more talent in collegiate esports compared to Contenders. And I think it’s totally different in esports, but we have always taken a look. We’ve actually – not this shirt but another shirt I was wearing yesterday – we run collegiate cup which is a lot of the best schools in the New England area. We take those top schools, we throw together a little event in Boston, maybe one or two times a year and we made it out to a lot of them and it’s pretty good. It gives something for the collegiate players to play for. It’ll be interesting, but I think Contenders will still kinda be the place to be.”
Why are the players living in cardboard boxes and living off of instant ramen? How strict is their curfew? Are they allowed one phone call after they enter your prison?
“Some good questions. I am all for prisoners’ rights so they definitely have a phone call, we definitely allow that. This feels like maybe a question that was from last year. I can spend some time talking about it. So, last year during the off-season, there was this article that came out, from VPEsports – I believe it was – and there were some serious allegations which also kinda turned into this, I don’t know, rumor-filled Reddit threads. One of the popular opinions of the time was that we weren’t taking good care of our players. I know I saw Striker here earlier so he can confirm or deny this, I know there’s probably some other current and former players that are also in chat. We basically had this reputation for not treating our players well and that encompassed a few different things.
Because he said cardboard boxes and instant ramen, let’s address this now. So there was definitely this perception that we didn’t have good living conditions for our players. [I]t was based off of two things primarily, and if there’s more then we can address later. People thought for whatever reason that we had like ten players living in one apartment, one condo-like apartment.
So our living conditions last year were, we started the year we had an open conversation with all the players at the time. ‘Hey, do you guys want to live in a team house or do you want to live in apartments?’. And if they chose apartments, we basically guaranteed a majority of guys would have their own rooms, and some of you might have to share rooms, or a few of you have to stay in the living room and we will make that as comfy as possible or we will rotate people from room to room so that everyone can get the best thing they could have, or you guys can choose.
And most people chose apartments, most people liked the idea of having their own ideas. we can get into that later, but what ended up happening was that I think there were two to three players that basically stayed in the living room of the apartment and they have like a room divider – it was a pretty space but [didn’t offer] as much privacy as having their own room.
People took this to an extreme level and because it was such a meme-y thing to do, there was this perception we had ten guys in one condo, and living in room divided cubicles in the living room and everyone was crammed into this one complex. We actually had really good apartments last year, I think we spent more than most teams, we were walking distance from the Burbank training facility so guys could come and go whenever they want it was nice. I also lived in the same apartment area as them, it was good.
And then the cardboard box comment, the Koreans did a stream and they decided to cook food in the living room on stream, an IRL stream, and they were cooking ramen and eating food off of these ramen boxes. I don’t know why they chose to do that, but it kinda – people thought they were living off of instant ramen. We provided the bare essentials, we gave a bed/bed frame/mattress/night stand/dresser/hamper/cutlery/plates/bowls/pots/pans. We didn’t give each apartment their own dinner room table or chairs.
Main reason was because we ate two meals a day at the training facility, they had a player lounge room filled with snacks all the time, there wasn’t a real reason a player would eat at home, and if they did these are all young guys, 20 years old, that are going out to eat or getting Postmates, and the one time they do do that, they use Amazon Prime boxes, so people assumed we had these guys in tight living room apartments.
So it’s not really true. It’s very easy to see, given we had their apartment, it’s very obvious that there are teams that had four to six players living in bunk beds, or some teams don’t offer furniture to their apartments. We generally take good care of a players, and that’s a [expletive] rumor that started about us.”
On a scale of 1-10, how well do you think you developed your players this year? 10 being getting the absolute max, and 1 being stagnant and why?
“So I’m going to, I’m going to say on average, because I think it’s a player-by-player basis. And obviously there’s a lot of stipulation and context that go into each of those things. So I’m gonna say on average, six. I would say six, maybe 5.6. Somewhere, somewhere in there. I’m a stickler for those decimal ratings.
Why? I think a lot of our processes could have been better, we kind of shifted different things we did in the year, a lot trying to figure out trying to max up potential. At the beginning year, we got, I would say, 80%, to that, you know, 5.66, and then that last, like, you know, from a four to five or five to six, whatever it might be happened in the second half of the year, we’ve definitely stagnated.
I think it comes down to a lot of things, I think. Certain processes that we did, we’re not certain things we did internally with reviews [were] grade, it was definitely troubling. It’s also when the team doesn’t do bad. It’s really hard to get stuck out of that rut, right. If you’re consistently doing that for a long time. It is hard to fix that swing doesn’t mean it’s excusable doesn’t doesn’t mean that, you know, it shouldn’t be better, but it’s tough.”
What was the idea in picking up Stellar? Was it for roster depth? Was it because he was on the market/combination of things?
“Before we got to the newest patch, I think a lot of people, there was a strong possibility that Tracer was going to be meta. And we also did not have a lot of confidence in our current Tracer player’s color and blessing. I know you’re here, your treasure, I’m bad. I’m not saying they’re bad. I’m just saying Stellar’s Tracer is really good. And, as we know from, I mean, since its inception of Overwatch, but specifically last year, you know, we obviously had Striker. And Striker was a really, really, really good Tracer, right? Depending on how good your Tracer player was, you know, he could make or break their team.
So we thought, you know, if if that is something that’s going to be, you know, even though Colour’s and blasé’s Tracers, pretty good, very adequate. If it was, you know, how good your Tracer is, is going to dictate whether you win or lose games. We thought that was something that we needed to do. So we picked up stellar – Colour and blasé, please don’t hate me.”
Does Boston have a team captain?
“It’s Fusions for the most part. … Every single day, he shows up. Some days, you’ll have some players, you’ll have a very dedicated player, but they’re going to have an off day here and there, they’re not going to come some days, the rest of the teams can pick up the slack.
Fusions – every single day, this guy is like a, like a rooster in the morning. If you’re waking up at if you need to wake up at 1:00 PM, you don’t even need to set an alarm because our scrim start at 1:00 PM. And as soon as our rooms start, he’s just screaming. He is just consistent. So everyday, he’s showing up and he’s coming on. So as the only player there are a lot of players that are very good in this aspect Fusions is the only one every single day, every day.”
What is the activity of choice for the team to relax/take a mental break from scrims?
“This is an interesting one. Because I think for players me people in general, no one ever does what’s in their best interest sometimes in the sense that if you’re like a Sim character right here. You have a Sim character, you’re obviously trying to min-max some kind of performance, right? You want them to go work, you want to get them exercise, you want them to eat healthy. And if everyone had that perspective of themselves, like they’re playing a character in a video game, they would do better. But the problem is we are fragile human beings that, you know, know that we’re not supposed to eat that half a dozen of Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, but will do that. Um, I don’t think I’ve ever done that, but I would.
And that comes with Team activities, right? These guys, players in general need physical exercise, they need sunlight, they need, you know, activity. So if I had my choice, I would want to go play, play football, play basketball, football, frisbee, Ultimate Frisbee. You know, whatever. But if you asked our players on our team, two of them are gonna want to go bowling, two of them are gonna want to go mini golfing, two of them are gonna want to go to Santa Monica Pier, two of them are going to want to go to our Carnival. And the problem is that not everyone is happy.
So you got to kind of pick what’s best. But at the same time that comes with blow back. This is very taxing and very stressful. And we’re all big PC gamers, we’re all gamers in general. So if this goes for me, too, if I have a friend, they’re like, hey, let’s go out and do this fun activity. Like I’d rather stay home and play this or that game, right? Even though I know, I will be more fulfilled and more happy if I go out, my natural default setting is always gonna be like, I’d rather not do anything. I’m a homebody, I’m an introvert, I want to not do things.
But that’s where you got to kind of force it and try to pick anything. Right? And I think as people get older, and you know, people realize that they’re going to be able to be disciplined and force themselves to do the things that, you know, in the moment they might want not want to do.
But at the end of the day, you’re going to feel more relief. But the problem is, if you’re practicing five days a week, you got a match on the sixth day, that seventh day, you you don’t want to do anything. You want to, you know, decompress at home and eat Pringles, just drink Coke, you know, and you can do that, but let’s, let’s add more to that. So I think it’s a tough thing to balance. So, exercise obviously is a big part of that.”
What happened to Crusty (former Boston coach, current San Francisco Shock coach)?
“I mean, Crusty, he’s obviously very successful. He’s on Shock now. I think someone asked a question earlier about the long game. I think there were different visions on what that long game was. And there was controversy of, you know, how certain interactions went internally in Crusty’s favor.
I think he’s a good coach. Everyone knows he’s a great coach. Probably one of the better coaches. If not, maybe the best coach in Overwatch League currently. You know, it’s unfortunate. Still have respect for him. You know, we have a decent relationship still, you know, wish him nothing but the best obviously. San Francisco Shock are doing amazing.”
Will you guys be more transparent during the [next] season? Some decisions made this fan base upset and no info from the team that left fans angry.
“So I as I said, I think this was something I wanted to do for a long time I wanted to do it after the VP article came out from last off-season I would love to do this more often. I will push hard to do this more often. It’s something we will be doing more often.”
You still have people who are still of the mind that your goal is playing the long game (Mr. X mentioned it in their last podcast). In what sense did the circumstances of this season lend toward that “long game” and in what ways could you potentially improve on the staff / decision level in order for that perception to hold water?
“[…] from my perspective, the long game is kind of, it’s building a culture and tradition internally of what the team is supposed to be about. A lot of that is culture. And I would say what we’re trying to work towards is something that is more Patriot-based. Obviously, the expectation is that if you can build that culture, you can build something that’s [of a] similar process. Last year, we had good results – this year, we did not have good results. So there’s a lot to be improved upon. But I think it’s about setting expectations internally of what you need to be as a person and a player. And we build off of that.
Now, that means that there’s a lot of trimming and cutting and pruning of you know, who gets to stay, who doesn’t and making adjustments. But ultimately, that is the goal. Now, how we get there, and what needs to happen. And are there compromises? Yes. Now, when we’re talking about coaches. All of our coaches currently have been informed that they are allowed to explore options externally. All of our coaches are up for review. Honestly speaking, I think it’s possible, one or two of our coaches stay. I think it’s possible some of our coaches aren’t here next year. There will definitely be changes.
We’re bringing on a head coach that I’m very excited for, but I’m going to share with you guys now. We’re picking up someone that did not have great results previously on the team series on but we have talked about it. I’ve seen a lot of the reviews he’s done. We’ve had a lot of conversations. This is a guy we wanted to pick up mid-season as an assistant coach, and we’ve kind of promoted because he’s shown the work ethic and you know what he’s looking to do, and we’ve seen eye-to-eye on some things.
I want you guys, if you’re a true Boston fan, and you’re here for that instead of the drama, I want you to go look at his reviews. See the work he’s been putting in. He’s definitely a lot more low key. Mineral, we’re picking up Mineral.
He is everything that I have seen and heard from him and work for he is very professional, very hard working. Please go look at some of the reviews he’s done. I’m very excited to pick this guy up. I mean, you know, when the Patriots picked up bill, he didn’t have a great year either. I’m very, very excited to work with him. I think you guys will see that. He’s going to be doing good things.”
For the full discussion, check out the Boston Uprising’s Twitch channel.
Featured image courtesy of the Boston Uprising
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