The “Overwatch” team finished the top eight in the last Overwatch Collegiate Championship of “Overwatch 1,” with the team facing the unique situation of trying to stay competitive in a game that is soon to die.
After matching up against University of California-Irvine in the first round, the team had to start in the loser’s bracket from the get go. After running through the loser’s bracket to get to no. 8, main tank and CS junior Luey “Lueyyy” Salinas said that the matchup against Savannah College of Art and Design was an even matchup that led to an unfortunate loss.
“I really think any other day we could’ve beaten them too, just we didn’t play our best and we didn’t play the [team] comps that we probably could have beaten them on,” Salinas said. “I was hoping that maybe we can at least secure top six or top four. I think we could have easily done it. Another day I think we could have done it.”
Some issues leading up to the play in the Overwatch Collegiate Championship include the LAN experience played just the previous weekend, with a combination of poor connection and long play hours creating a draining experience for players on their last regular season matches before the playoffs.
“Our first match in the LAN, we literally could not even tell what was happening … We would just go into them and then nobody would know where we were at; we couldn’t tell,” Salinas said. “We were just playing back to back to back to back for five or six hours. And we didn’t have food, either.”
On top of that, “Overwatch” is dying. A unique concept to esports is that the potential for a game to die out competitively is relatively high in comparison to physical sports. Soccer is not likely to receive a massive game rule change that kills interest in the game, nor is it likely to receive some sequel version that supersedes it. “Overwatch,” however, is receiving a sequel later this year, and hasn’t received a major content update for years, leading to a dwindling player base and lower quality of competitive play. For Salinas and the rest of the team, this hurts the motivation to continue playing.
“It’s hard to feel motivated and want to grind when ranked is not as good as it used to be. The competition’s not as good as it used to be. There’s not as many players playing, not as much competition, it’s hard just in general to be as motivated and to have that grind mentality,” Salinas said.
And alongside “Overwatch,” Salinas is considering quitting competitive play as well. After being a mainstay on the team for three years, classes and life outside of the game has cut into his time play more “Overwatch.”
“My freshman year I came in swinging and motivated and I was grinding a lot because I didn’t really have a lot of other obligations and then, you know, COVID hit. Everything went online. So, I was just grinding Overwatch all the time,” Salinas said. “I really grew more a as a team player and I’ve learned so much, but I feel that because I have so much more on my plate … I’m a lot more busy, so I don’t have that time and opportunity to grind as I used to, so I feel like I’m not as good as I used to be.”
In the last few months of the semester, there are two more playoffs brackets that the team will be playing in, the NACE Starleague and the NECC playoffs. With the impending arrival of “Overwatch 2,” the team is still looking to top the last few events that they can. For Salinas, though he may retire as “Overwatch 1” does, he’ll take the experience of playing with him long afterwards.
“This year I really felt like I was playing with a family more than anything. And we really grew close, not only as a team, but as friends. And I think that’s something I will cherish if I decide to retire after all. And I will remember all the memories we’ve made even within the game and outside the game… it’s been a hell of a ride for sure,” Salinas said.