I’ve never been a sports guy. Ever. Despite always being astronomically tall and currently standing at 6’6″, I just never really had an interest (or skill) for that matter in traditional sports. In high school, rather than play basketball or football, I played the tuba in marching band, doing quite well while making some great friends along the way. When I attended sports watch parties, I began to notice a familiar trend. I’d show up, eat too many hot dogs or appetizers, then get sleepy and drift off into a food coma or mess around on my phone while my friends screamed and roared at the TV, encouraging their teams on or crying out in anguish in the bitter flames of defeat. They were emotionally attached to these teams on television, teams they had, for the most part, never even seen live. They sure as Doomfist never met these people in person or had meaningful interactions with them.
I didn’t and couldn’t understand the attachment my friends had to these teams, and I didn’t understand how a loss or defeat for people they had never met could influence their moods to the point of their day being made or ruined. I’ll be the first to admit that the Overwatch League and Dallas Fuel has changed that for me.
Fast forward to the announcement of Overwatch League and the announcement that there would be a Dallas-based team (comprised of the members of Team Envyous) and I was naturally excited. Since it was announced, Overwatch became a gaming obsession of mine. It was in every way a true spiritual successor to Team Fortress 2 and was the game I always wanted. As with most games, I found myself gravitating toward tank heroes, fighting tooth and nail in the front lines and staying close to the best healer in the game: the Payload.
Overwatch League in many ways is geared toward people like me—people who for the most part aren’t super fans of traditional sports but love video games and the competitive scene behind them with a passion. Living only 30 minutes from Dallas made it easy to decide which team I would be supporting from the start. I started to dig in and learn about my boys in blue, reading up on their bios, past gaming achievements, and getting to know who they were as people.
“Hey, I’ve heard of this Seagull guy! He’s a good Genji and Soldier and he streams sometimes.” – Me, probably.
Whether by primal chance or meticulously crafted design, I became attached to these people I had never met. They started to become my team. I decked out my Overwatch profile with the Dallas Fuel Logo and replaced all the sprays on my heroes so I could litter the battlefields of the future with the emblem of my team. My allies and foes would know who I fought for—who I supported in this glorious inaugural season of what may very well be the best thing to happen in the history of eSports.
When I learned I could actually play with the same skins as Dallas Fuel used in their matches it was too much. I loaded up my Blizzard balance and purchased Overwatch League Tokens, the key to obtaining the skins of my team while helping support them financially. I was surprised to find myself discarding legendary skins for heroes I played often like they were garbage, swagging out my core hero pool with Fuel skins. Add in the merchandise, and I think you get the picture. I finally understood what my friends were feeling when it came to traditional sports. I understood why they cared. Even if my newfound feelings never extend to basketball or football, I still have my team.
When it was announced that there was going to be an official Dallas Fuel watch party, I knew I couldn’t miss it. This was the first sporting event I had ever been genuinely excited to attend. Bringing along my good friend Josh, the type of Reinhardt main you want in your group when you queue for competitive, we were ready to party. After a quick dinner, we arrived almost two hours early (mostly due to my grim determination to claim one of the 100 free Dallas Fuel t-shirts and wristbands) and caught the first matches of the night, taking it easy, sipping good beer, and mingling with other fans while we waited for the main event.
It only got better from there. Everything about the event was great, and I found myself hyped up for the Fuel game. It was no secret that Dallas Fuel was off to a rough start in stage one. We hadn’t won yet, but that wasn’t deterring anyone at Mac’s Southside from having a great time and believing. We were there to root for our team and experience history—the night Fuel would secure their first win. After claiming a free shirt and wristband and buying an official hat, it was time for the main event. I grabbed a promotional beverage from the bar and took my spot in the crowd.
“I don’t know what it is, but I’m drinking Dallas Fuel, it’s good, it has alcohol, and I love my team.” – Another Dallas Fuel fan at the first official watchparty at Mac’s Southside.
The game itself was fantastic. There was so much hype as Fuel claimed their first season win over the San Francisco Shock. I had experienced history with other fans who loved the team as much as me. Little did we know the night would only get better from there. The staff of Team Envyous filmed us at the event, and we were broadcast live to the 150,000+ people watching the Overwatch League stream, building the hype train. The party featured frequent giveaways to attendees and a surprise visit from Team Envyous and Dallas Fuel CEO Mike Rufail who was also super awesome and bought free beer for everyone attending just to love on the fans.
— Mike Rufail (@hastr0) February 19, 2018
Thanks to the Overwatch League and Dallas Fuel, I had an incredible time at a sporting event for the first time. Through the highs and lows, I’m #BurningBlue for my team, and I finally understand all the hype behind sports.