Thursday, 29 August 2019

Ramblings Through The Halo: The Overwatch League Needs To Embrace Players With Attitude

Aches, Doublelift, Karrigan and Perkz. These are just some of the names that fans from other major esports know as players that have incredible talent but who are also known to trash talk anyone they feel deserves it, even if their respective esports fanbase see their comments as being controversial. On Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Valiant's Kitkat Rivalry Weekend Homestand, the Atlanta Reign's Flex Support Dusttin "Dogman" Bowerman became the first player in the Overwatch League to take on this mantel, and it's something that the Overwatch League is in desperate need of. As it needs more players who are willing to provide public trash talk.

The outburst came after the Atlanta Reign had just beaten the Dallas Fuel 3-1. The Fuels head coach Aaron "Aero" Atkins, who is also the head coach for Team USA in the 2019 Overwatch World Cup snubbed Dogman of a place on his final 7 man roster. Dogman used the post-match interviews as the perfect time to send a dig towards Aero and Team USA's selection of the final 12 players. He started when speaking to Overwatch League Insider Emily Tang, Dogman stated the following: 

We have five Americans on our team, and none of them got picked up for Team USA and we just beat coach Aero, so what I have to say to coach Aero is: gg buddy."

Dogman also followed up his on-stage trash talk to Aero by answering a question to explain this further by The Dallas News, Tommy Magelssen:

“I think he’s a nice guy, I just think he’s incompetent. Both in his roster selection with Team USA and with his coaching of the Dallas Fuel this year."

Despite the trash talk from Dogman hitting a very valid point in Dogman's case for not being selected, the general consensus from the Overwatch Leagues fan base was to call him out for creating drama or forcing the trash-talking angle, instead of taking a look as to why Dogman felt he needed to give his opinion on Aero after his team had just beaten Dallas. When you look into it further, Dogman had every right to be annoyed with his international sub. Out of the three American flex supports he has had the best and most consistent season, he also had the opportunity to take his point further but after trials, he had the class to play down his performance as he knew that it was likely going to be Rawkus that was selected. After the year that Rawkus has had on a struggling Houston Outlaw side outside of stage three, this was an underrated move, that shows how professional Dogman is.

At the current time, OWL fans are in a frame of mind that only they can call out players, coaches and teams, whereas people within the league have to stay professional all times. Overwatch League analyst and caster Christopher "Montecristo" Mykles was derided by fans for his comments earlier this season regarding the Houston Outlaws, is a clear example of this and it is a strange situation to be in. Maybe it's because the Overwatch League is the first esport that the majority of our current fanbase has been a part of, but trash talk has been a part of professional esports virtually near its inception. Trash talk is useful in esports as it helps with a number of different aspects, it can help apply or remove some of the pressures people within the league are facing at the time, it helps build rivalries that bring excitement and interest to certain games but maybe, more importantly, it brings characters to a league that so far in its first 2 seasons has had very few moments where that has been able to come through.

Trash talk is also not something new to professional Overwatch, as those who watched OGN APEX Contenders will know. It was an active part of the broadcasting and allowed players to express themselves and help build their own brands. You currently have players from those days who now do not provide the same levels of smack talk because it's not worth the backlash. The last time we had some trash talk to this level was at the end of stage three in 2018 when the New York Excelsiors Jong-Ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park stated that he was the best DPS player in the world. It is a shame because when the lines of trash talk are walked properly and personal insults are not crossed, which it was not in Dogman's case, it is a great foundation to build the interest and stories that are missing. It not only raises that interest within the fan base, but it has the potential to draw in people who may not have considered watching the league as well. 

San Francisco Shock's Main Tank Matthew "Super" DeLisi hit the nail on the head with his comments regarding professionalism and trash talk in sport and how the concept should be accepted in the Overwatch League. It is something that we need more of and hopefully, the fan base will turn away from OWL being the PMA league and get behind stories they evolve around trash talk.

In this situation, we should be praising Dogman for being bold enough to provide the smack talk we need and for him giving his honest opinion on a situation regarding someone else in this league, when he knows he is likely going to receive unwarranted criticism for it and hopefully, more players will start to do this in the 2020 season and allow the rivalries that the league so badly needs come to the forefront.
(You can find more Overwatch League related content on Twitter @haloofthoughts)
(Picture Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard's Overwatch League)


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