By Andrew Medlicott | Posted: Wednesday August 30, 2017
I guess the best way to start is to provide context and a bit of overview about why I was in America. I play a competitive computer game called Overwatch semi professionally. Overwatch is a game in which two teams of 6 choose characters with different roles and abilities, one team defends objectives while the other team tries to take those objectives. After a round ends the defenders become the attackers and vice versa, whoever takes the most objectives wins the game.
The Overwatch World Cup invited 32 countries to compete in four group stages around the world. These group stages occurred in Poland, Sydney, Shanghai and lastly Los Angeles. A committee from each country competing at the world cup was selected to assemble a six man team of players from their respective country. Team New Zealand was made up of members from four different Overwatch teams from the Oceania region and the members of Team New Zealand were chosen after a 4 week period of trialling.
I stayed in Los Angeles for a full week from Tuesday to Monday at the Courtyard by Mariott with members of Team New Zealand. All of the teams were staying there as well as the casters and analysts. Highlights for me included meeting high level players and analysts from the European and American competitive scenes. Our daily schedule went along the lines of waking up at 7:00 having breakfast and leaving for the tournament venue sometime between 8:00 and 9:00 and practicing against other countries such as Israel, Belgium and Germany for the rest of the day until 5:00 in the evening. Our matches were always in the morning so once we finished them we had the rest of the day to relax and watch the rest of the matches.
One of the most surreal moments of the tournament would have to be getting on stage in front of a crowd of at least 1000 people with another 30,000 watching online. It wasn’t nearly as nerve wracking as anyone on the team expected it to be and it was relatively easy to focus on the game and communicating with teammates. That being said it still took getting used to especially in our first match against USA with a home crowd. In the tournament we played against USA, Taiwan and Brazil coming into the tournament New Zealand was considered to be a massive underdog so we were not expected to have good results and were expected to have the same story as most teams and have a score of 0 wins and 12 losses. Going into our matches that wasn’t something that mattered and putting on a good game and show casing what our players could do. An important idea for our players is that the New Zealand and Australian competitive scene is isolated from high level competitive scenes such as Korea and America, so we wanted to find out what other countries looked like in the game and what we can bring back to our region. Despite losing to USA and Taiwan we were all very proud with how we played against Taiwan and felt that we put up a fight and the match was less one sided than many people expected. In our last match against Brazil we ended with a score of 1-3 so on the bright side we did better than the majority of teams representing small countries.
Overall between meeting everyone on Team New Zealand, traveling to the US, meeting pro players and playing on a world stage I would say that it was one of if not the best week of my life. Following the world cup my goals as a player are to keep improving, and to improve with my team (Scylla Esports) and become competitors for the spot as the best team in the Australia/New Zealand region.