Stage one of the inaugural season of Overwatch League has come and gone, and with it, any doubt that mixed rosters can keep up with the best Korean talent in the world. The Houston Outlaws (7-3) and Los Angeles Valiant (7-3), sitting at second and fourth place, respectively, have a lot of people talking. But there’s another team that has emerged as Overwatch League’s dark horse, and they’ve shown no signs of slowing down. The Boston Uprising (6-4), pieced together by esports veteran, Chris “HuK” Loranger, came in with very little star power or expectations from analysts, but now they find themselves in sixth place. Let’s take a look at how, with equal parts determination, trust, and creativity, the Boston Uprising came to be one of Overwatch League’s strongest teams.
Like most teams, Boston needed a lot of time to grow. Some of their players were familiar with each other, but they hadn’t played a LAN together, much less spend time in an apartment together. Through the preseason and the early stages of Overwatch League, however, the team realized that they were more than just professional colleagues – they were close friends.
“Everyone on the team is so friendly and humble, and since we all have the same interests, we clicked so fast and became really good friends,” says Kristian “Kellex” Keller, support player for Boston. “I really like our coaches, especially Shake (Jack Kaplan). He has helped so much [at] becoming a better support player, and since he was a really good support player too, he can teach me so many different aspects of the role.”
As their personal relationships developed, so too did their trust. They eventually came up with a very distinct dive that took opponents by surprise. The Houston Outlaws said in a press conference that playing against Boston is unlike playing any other team. Their tanks rely on DPS or support calls and often hide until the very last second, sometimes even diving from blind spots, relying entirely on their teammates to tell them when and where to go.
“I think these dives just come from all of us getting along with each other really well in and out of the game,” says Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez, DPS player for Boston. “I think being really good friends in and out of the game really builds trust on one another’s calls.”
Their precision dives and excellent ultimate management paved the way to a victory over the London Spitfire – a major upset, and the first time a mixed roster defeated a Korean roster. This victory gave fans, teams, and the esports industry an answer to a question that had been asked countless times to that point – “Will mixed teams be able to compete with Korean teams at the highest level of competition?” In one evening, an underdog team changed the way that many people perceived Overwatch League, and proved that they were to be taken seriously.
Since then, the Boston Uprising defeated both Los Angeles teams 4-0 and flirted with a stage one title match appearance until they were knocked out by map differential by Houston. They’ve overcome serious adversity from the media, had a player reach superstar status in DreamKazper, and have gained multitudes of fans as a result of their strong performances. At the root of it all is HuK – President of Gaming for the Kraft Group, owners of the Boston Uprising.
HuK runs almost everything behind the scenes, making decisions that impact the team in different ways. He’s also their mentor and head coach, which some people may not realize. Success is number one for HuK, and his approach to winning is militant. Even after the team’s victory over London, he felt as though there was still a lot of room to improve. Whatever he’s doing, it’s working.
“I feel like most people were surprised how much I was involved with coaching compared to some other people in similar roles across other teams,” says HuK. “I constantly try to evaluate and assess where staff, players, and myself are best used in our team/company. My number one goal is to always put our whole team in the best position to succeed.”
The Boston Uprising’s tale is as American as it gets and encompasses the spirit of Overwatch League perfectly. No team should be underestimated, and every roster is full of hungry players out to prove that they’re the best in the world. Indeed, this is a global league built for global talent. As stage two approaches, the Boston Uprising will undoubtedly be one of the teams to beat. Not bad for a roster that so many people wrote off before the season even started.