As anyone who’s ever had to transfer to a new school will tell you, being the new kid sucks. In the Overwatch League, being the new kid means the equivalent of competing against the varsity football team with millions of dollars on the line.
For its second season, the Overwatch League has expanded its ranks, accepting 8 new teams into the fold. Many of these teams are filled with the fledgling talent brought up through the ranks of Contenders. One such player is Corey “Corey” Nigra, DPS player for the Washington Justice, and former Contenders player for the Gladiators Legion.
As a member of a middling Contenders team, Corey had some of the most limited experience when it came to playing in a big live event. When asked about his first time playing on the stage Corey let us know just how overwhelming it could be.
“It was pretty exhilarating, I didn’t have any nerves, which was surprising. It was more getting used to the crowd and the high level of noise from fans, and your team on coms. It was a little disorienting in that sense, but other than that it was pretty fun!”
The stark contrast between a remote league and a LAN tournament cannot be overstated. Every player last year was affected by the learning curve associated with the change in setting. Lucio players were hit especially hard, with a specific button mapping for wall riding being banned on the LAN server. According to Corey however, the largest change between the leagues had almost nothing to do with gameplay.
“In Contenders, you get a lot less help with your individual role. It’s more about everyone as a team coming up with their own ideas. The staff is lacking in Contenders, and that makes it harder to grow. In the Overwatch League you have all this staff, and everyone is putting so much effort into making you grow as a player. It’s a much more competitive environment.”
As the new kids on the block, the Washington Justice have had virtually no time to adjust to their new environment. Their first game saw them facing off against the powerhouse roster of the New York Excelsior, a team many consider to be the best in the league. It was a sink or swim moment, and although the Justice were ultimately unable to pull out the win, they did manage to take a map off the OWL veterans.
This victory may be small, but is very important in establishing the team as a true competitor among the other fledgling teams. After the match Corey expressed his optimism about the results.
“I’d say it’s a good way to start the season. Nobody expected us to take a map, so when we did, we were all screaming ‘YEAH!’ We were all having a really good time. When I was in Contenders I would always watch NYXL, London Spitfire, and Philadelphia Fusion, who we play back to back in our first 3 games. In particular I would always look at Carpe, he’s always very consistent, and I always try to be as consistent as I can. I would like to be the best player in my role, I still have a lot of work to do for that, but I definitely have the potential to do it.”