A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending PAX South 2020 down in San Antonio, Texas. The main objective of my visit was to work with the Houston Outlaws and moderate a panel with a handful of their players and discuss their path to playing professional Overwatch. As a long time fan of the Outlaws this was a dream come true but the biggest surprise didn’t come from meeting the Outlaws themselves. It was another group of fans that were on site, assisting with the Outlaws operations.

The Houston Outlaws had a huge presence at this years PAX South including a Path to the Pro panel, a Pro-Am tournament played with fans and a huge meet and greet. They also had one of the biggest booths at the convention center set up for fans to try their hand in a free-for-all deathmatch. All of this was made possible by several volunteers from a group known as the Lone Star Vanguard.

The Lone Star Vanguard are a community of gamers that come from all over Texas but have major hubs in Houston, Austin and San Antonio. They’ve worked with the Houston Outlaws for several brand activations. The LSV have also hosted watch parties for big esports event and run charity initiatives. Their current membership is over 400 strong but it didn’t start out that big. Talking with Jose “Noobatron” Sandoval, Vice-President of the Lone Star Vanguard I asked how it all got started.

“So we started with a couple of friends on the couch. We were watching the Overwatch World Cup in 2017. I figured there’s got to be ten other nerds that want to watch this, right? There just has to be,” Sandoval recalls. From there he said the first watch party they planned had 25 people show up, then that 25 turned into 45 and continued to grow. As the numbers grew the LSV added branches in Houston and San Antonio and started to expand their activities outside of just Overwatch.

Photo Credit by The Lone Star Vanguard at PAX South 2020

Throughout the weekend, one thing became very clear to me when working with the Lone Star Vanguard. This group of gamers was more than just a fan group, it was more than just some friends who came together for a common interest. On the final day after PAX South ended we were invited out to dinner with the LSV. This is a common occurrence in the convention circuit when working with other organizations, after a job well done you all gather at a nice dinner to unwind and chat a bit before everyone goes home. The fine folks at LSV invited us to a place called the Cove. This was a special place, a car wash, a restaurant, a playground, a bar inside and out, they served ice cream and food, they had a live band and I’m told there’s also a laundromat somewhere in there. When we arrived it felt like home and it felt familiar, it felt like a family. This was only the third day with the LSV, but it felt like we had known them for years.

I asked Michael Wulff, Director of Events for the LSV what the future holds for the organization and got an answer I didn’t expect. Of course he mentioned more watch parties and more charity drives, the types of events you’d expect. He also went out of his way to really explain what the LSV was about and where the magic that had drawn in 400 gamers around Texas comes from.

“…the primary focus of all of this is that gamers have a home. Gamers by nature, sometimes we feel disenfranchised by family, society, our school or our work. We don’t always have people that we can connect with. So it’s very important that the Lone Star Vanguard continues to be this place where people who feel that way can come in and then be built up and guided and given the support that they need.” Wulff explained.

He went on to explain that the Lone Star Vanguard is a network of gamers who are there to support other gamers. If someone is looking to start streaming the LSV have the knowledge and know-how to help you get started. If you’re a fan of the Houston Outlaws, live in Texas or just a gamer looking for an accepting group of your peers look no further than the Lone Star Guard. You can follow them on Twitter @LSVanguard, on Twitch at LoneStarVanguard and join their discord at Bit.ly/LSVanguard.

You can listen to the interview in it’s entirety below.

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