On August 26th, the Overwatch League’s New York Excelsior broke ground by hosting Overwatch’s first in-person console event with a PS4 Free-For-All Deathmatch during their All-Stars viewing party. While the OWL’s most passionate fanbase crowded the Paley Center’s theater to watch their beloved NYXL All-Stars, scores of Dual-Shock-wielding New Yorkers spent the day battling it out upstairs for pride, glory, and some top-tier NYXL swag (the grand prize: a custom NYXL PS4 setup). After a solid five hours of gaming, two DPS mains finished at the top: First-place Ian “Disrupht” Livica (center in featured image) and second-place Gabriel “LockedUpForLife” Gonzalez (rightmost in featured image). We got in touch with the two through NYXL’s 5 Deadly Venoms supporter group and spoke about their backgrounds, console Overwatch, and the experience playing live in front of a crowd.
For some context, Disrupht is from the Bronx with family from the Philippines and LockedUpForLife (aka LuFL) is from Brooklyn with family from Puerto Rico and Ireland (a country that he spent the summer coaching in the Console Overwatch World Cup). Both players have hit Top 500 on PS4 and each uses the default Dual-Shock controller (no add-ons or modifications) with their horizontal and vertical sensitivities bumped up to the maximum 100 — although Disrupht’s Aim Smoothing is at 0 and LuFL’s is at 100. While Disrupht has some experience playing Call of Duty competitively and has hit 4321 SR on the PS4 ladder (and mid-diamond on a low-end laptop), Overwatch is LuFL’s first real competitive FPS and he had to grind his way to 4116 on the ladder after placing at 2380 in Season 2.
[Tepojama] As the NYXL PS4 FFA’s two biggest winners — did you prepare for the event and how so?
Disrupht: “I played competitive matches in the SR range of 3500-3700 and mixed in some FFA to prepare for the tournament. Rather than practice other heroes, I honed the skills I already had. [Laughing] I basically played Genji the entire tournament.”
LuFL: “I practiced as much as I could in the week coming into the tourney. I decided to work on four characters: Tracer, Widowmaker, Pharah, and Soldier: 76. All four are heroes I play on ladder, I decided that honing my performance on those four would be better than picking up something new.”
How different was it playing in front of a crowd? Was it more stressful or fun than playing at home?
Disrupht: “The difference between playing IRL and playing at home is the people watching you. I felt a lot of pressure, in fact, I was shaking when I first sat down. The entire first heat of the free-for-all I was shaking, but I still managed to get 1st in the lobby, snagging 3 points for myself. After the first three games, I got very focused and the shaking stopped. At that point, I felt like I was playing at home.”
LuFL: “It felt natural to compete IRL as I used to box, so it wasn’t stressful compared to how I thought it’d feel. The major difference was the headset, the one I was given felt weird to start but after the first game I managed to get past it. Having the crowd cheer me on throughout the tourney was something I haven’t had before though and that sent me into overdrive.”
As NYXL fans, you guys were probably pretty motivated by the prizes — what loot did you end up winning?
Disrupht: “I actually won the tournament as a whole, and walked away with a custom painted NYXL PS4 and controller. Plus, a HyperX headset. I’m currently using the PS4 as we speak, and i’m loving how quiet it is.”
LuFL: “I won a new headset, an NYXL T-Shirt, and a few patches. I haven’t tried the headset yet (waiting for my current one to die out), but the shirt is extremely comfortable and the patches I’m soon going to sew into one of my hoodies.”
Now that you’ve made your mark on New York’s console Overwatch scene with NYXL’s FFA, what kind of event are you looking forward to next?
Disrupht: “Without a doubt. I would love to participate in more FFA tournaments, but I would definitely be interested in playing against another team’s fan base the most! Gotta rep the city!”
LuFL: “Anything console I’m willing to compete in. Overall, I’d like to thank the NYXL and the 5 Deadly Venoms for giving the console community a chance to prove ourselves as being just as competitive as our brethren on PC.”
Overwatch is estimated to have 42.5 million players worldwide, with about 15.3 million on console (pretty evenly split between XB1 and PS4). Between now and the start of Overwatch League’s Season 2 in 2019, the only scheduled competitive Overwatch comes in November at Blizzcon 2018 for the Overwatch World Cup. With NYXL hosting the first live console tournament and the Overguard continuing to work with charities and sponsors like the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, LA Gladiators, and Kontrol Freek — there’s hope that console Overwatch esports can help fill the void. New York may be the first to start showcasing its talent, but regions like Middle East, Europe, and the Americas have been doing work in online tournaments. For now, dominant players like Disrupht and LuFL welcome any opponents, with the latter offering some universally heartwarming guidance to players awaiting their opportunity to compete: “To those reading that are console: Always keep striving to improve. There are many places that, while not Blizzard-run, still give solid competition. To those reading on PC: Please don’t look down on console players that move to your platform. They’re there to get better, just like y’all are. And to everyone: Play for enjoyment, play to improve, play to be the best.”
* Disrupht can be found on Twitter, Twitch, YouTube, and Instagram. LuFL on Discord (LuFL#2204) and Snapchat (LockedUpForLife). Tepojama can be reached on Twitter or in high-stakes, blackmarket Mystery Heroes PS4 tournaments *
* Featured images credit goes to the New York Excelsior. *