Most Overwatch players experience the game in a similar way. Those players will usually play with their friends online, grind ladder, maybe even try out for Open Division. But that’s where the journey ends for them. For the minority however, there’s a competitive spirit and drive that makes them want to take it to the next level, to be able to prove they can contend with others and come out on top. For those players, a competitive team is the next logical step, but before they can participate, they have to make the team.
Over the last few days, I had the opportunity to try out for my college’s Overwatch team at Grand Canyon University, and this isn’t the first time. Last year I attempted to make the team, but I didn’t have what it took. The things I learned over the year while off the team impacted my performance this year, and led me to be accepted for a Junior Varsity position as a DPS player. Here’s how it went.
The first day of tryouts had a lot of different kinds of players show up. There were casual players who were hoping they were secretly too good for their rank, Grandmaster players looking to take a scholarshipped Varsity position, and players like me, someone who was on the higher end of the rankings but still having something to prove.
Since there were quite a few people, there were a few lobbies of games going on. However, it was pretty clear from the beginning that the two lobbies were split into a higher Skill Rating (SR) lobby and a lower SR lobby. For all of the first day, I was placed into the higher SR lobby, where I wasn’t necessarily the lowest-ranked player, but I was definitely not the highest. Playing with and against players who were vastly better (and sometimes worse) showed me the differences in thinking and decision making at a higher level. Communication was through the roof, something that can’t really be found in any ladder game, and I quickly learned that communication was just as important as any individual play or skill level.
Throughout the entirety of the day, people were swapped on to different teams to tryout different synergies and who worked well with what, and by the end, about seven to eight maps had been played total. I personally felt that I did decently, playing Doomfist on an organized team is refreshing as well as easier to manage. However, there were definitely moments where a missed ability or a wasted ultimate made me feel like I wouldn’t get called back the next day.
The next morning I received a DM that I had been called back for the second day of tryouts. However, this time it was not as I had hoped. A lot of names that were called back were expected, but what wasn’t expected was that I was put into the lower SR lobby for all of the second day. A fear I had was that maybe this lobby was called back just so they could give people an extra day to play and that they weren’t necessarily looking for anything there. When the day ended, I was interviewed and asked about other time commitments, how I thought I did, and general questions about myself. Once I answered and shook hands, the tryouts were finished and I was eventually offered the spot.
What I Learned
The advice I would give to anyone trying out for a team, whether it be Open Divison, University, or even Contenders or Overwatch League, includes a few items.
The most important thing is communication. Talking with your team about win conditions and ultimate economy can lead a team who may be mechanically inferior to a dominating victory, as cooldown usage is extremely important in a game like Overwatch. Secondly, don’t go in with any expectations of what the system is like. Just because I was in a lower lobby didn’t mean they weren’t paying attention, and just because some players were in a higher lobby doesn’t mean they were. Lastly, the tryout isn’t about winning maps or losing them, it’s about individual performance. Whether or not your teammates are good doesn’t matter, it matters if you are and if you can show that off. Tryouts are a part of any competitive scene, and Overwatch is no different. If a player can prove they’re the best, people will notice.
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