When the Overwatch League first launched in 2018, there were some skeptics as to whether or not the franchise model used by traditional sports could work the world of esports. Esports have thrived in the global market, but before the holograms and augmented reality concerts of League of Legends or the World Cup of Overwatch, esports was homegrown and grass-roots. When it really comes right down to it, people just want to be able to cheer for their home team and that doesn’t stop fans from all over the globe from being just as passionate.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Matt “Flame” Rodriguez, general manager of the Houston Outlaws to talk to him about what it means to finally move the team to Houston and play in front of the home crowd. “I mean, I’m pretty pumped. I think one thing that’s been kind of looming since Overwatch League started has been this concept of home and away,” Flame explained to us. One of the chief criticisms the Overwatch League faced even after securing their original 12 teams was that they were located in Los Angeles and that wasn’t staying true to the franchise model. Even as the 2019 came and they added another 8 expansion teams to the roster, they all played out of the Burbank Studios in California. When talking about the importance of finally come home Flame said, “There’s a lot of Texas backing behind our team, but we’ve never been able to do live matches for them. So just having that ability to finally come home and give these people who have been kind of waiting for us for two and half years, something to come and finally experience with us is very, very positive.”
In addition to how important it is to the Outlaws to finally come home and perform in front of a home crowd Flame talked about the importance of some of the recent player acquisitions for the 2020 season with the addition of João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles, Jeffrey “blasé” Tsang and new head coach Harsha Bandi, formerly assistant coach of the Vancouver Titans. He mentions the importance of player versatility moving forward with the heavy travel that will come along with home and away games. For more check out the full interview with Matt “Flame” Rodriguez below.
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