What It’s Like to Sweat eSports Action Late on a Friday Night
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Sometimes the night is over, but you’re still not ready for it to end.
Maybe you had a great night. Maybe you didn’t. Up a lot. Down a lot. Maybe you don’t even know how you did. What is not in dispute, though, is that you need action.
So you do something absurd, something you may not admit to others. You start clicking through tabs, asking, “What’s coming up next?” Australian Horse Racing. Overseas Soccer. You open the Cricket tab, and after familiarizing yourself with a “wicket,” you’re down a wormhole of poorly written blogs and hard-to-translate, possibly-not-English preview material. You start justifying India over Bangladesh by saying to yourself, “Well, it seems like they’re due,” except you didn’t know the rules of the sport 10 minutes earlier, so maybe your line of reasoning has a few tiny flaws in it, champ.
This type of behavior, when following heavy losses, and when employed by people with poor impulse control, is called chasing. Sometimes, though, it doesn’t matter what the unit size or the balance in your account is. Whether it’s one dollar or 100, you’re just not ready for the night to end, and wickets look a lot more appealing than Netflix.
So you begin The Chase.
This weekend, I chased, and it led me to eSports.
And if you have trouble with wickets, then, hoo boy, buckle in for this one.
I’ll preface my story by saying I’m 33, and I know my way around video games, though I used to know much more about this stuff. (Hooray for getting older!) My wife and I play Mario on our Wii U a couple of nights a week, and I get really mad at her for not holding down the button that makes her character go faster. This type of behavior goes against all of my core beliefs about time management and efficiency. But on the other hand, he’s a plumber with the ability to fly and attain the powers of animals, and I’m just here on my couch, so he can probably move at whatever pace he likes and I should be thankful for the experience.
My experience is not just limited to that game, though. I love games of all kinds. And late on Friday, I was almost out of options. The final Big Ten quarterfinal had tipped off, as had the West Coast NBA and NHL games. So I started clicking through tabs, and before you can say “wicket,” I found some eSports available.
Dallas Fuel: -115
Los Angeles Valiant: -115
With the match seeming to begin any minute, I had a decision to make. It was around this time that a friend reminded me that Pepperdine and Santa Clara were about to tip off in the WCC Tournament in the latest game of the night in the U.S. Having seen both those teams play this year multiple times, I chose not to respond and continued pondering my eSports decision.
This wasn’t about line movement, or line value, or the fact that I was about to bet into a 30-cent line on a video game where there’s no chance I was getting the best of it. I justified my selection of Dallas by thinking that they appropriately named their team after one of the signature exports of their state, whereas at no time have I thought California was particularly “valiant” at anything. Satisfied I was on great logical footing, I moved on to Step 2, finding the stream for the match, and settling in to try to understand what was going on.
The first thing I was told is that these teams have made extensive roster changes since their last encounter. WHAT? Even if I tried to handicap this, it would basically have been the same as handicapping a Cavs-Warriors Finals with Isaiah Thomas still on Cleveland (in which case, Warriors in 4, or 3, if there was a mercy rule). Dallas comes in with a record of 5-8 (Los Angeles is 9-4), so clearly the sharps see something in Dallas’ Overwatch metrics that make them essentially even money in this matchup. Or I’m just the only one who bet this. Let’s just pretend it’s the former.
One of the commentators — who goes by the name Crumbz (which I would mock, except I go by Locky Lockerson, so please, continue Mr. Crumbz) — tells us that these teams are evenly matched and that this match should be quite interesting. Well, at least I know I made the right call between this and Santa Clara. We find out that when Dallas loses, “They lose hard, usually not winning a single round.” Sounds like an early bedtime awaits. Or … I wonder … and begin a search for post times in Australia.
Just then, Game 1 starts. We’re told this is “Map 1 of 4,” and I swear if these teams tie 2-2 and I just get my money back, I’m never betting eSports in the middle of the night ever again. I paid for blood.
If you’ve never watched competitive Overwatch before, your eyes should thank you. It’s a first-person shooter, so basically everyone is in a confined space trying to kill each other. It is frantic, and explosive, and incredibly confusing. And I’m not even that old. In Game 1, a player named “Soon” executes a maneuver in which he single-handedly eliminates almost the entire Dallas team, which, we’re told, “struggles mightily on occasion on the offensive end.” So basically, they’re the Mavericks. 1-0, Los Angeles.
Game 2 involves holding a neutral territory longer than the other team. A key mistake by Dallas player “Harry Hook” loses them the game. I begin to think about how great of a name Harry Hook would be if I was a tout in the 1980s. “Harry Hook here. I’ve got a 10-star bomb that’s gonna punch your bookie right in the mouth! I’M GONNA KNOCK HIM OUT! BOOOOOM!” 2-0, Los Angeles.
It’s clear I’ve made the wrong choice, and I can’t believe my stellar handicapping skills have let me down at a time like this.
(Side note No. 1: Despite having the name Crumbz, his analysis of this match has been completely correct. Dallas hasn’t showed up at all. Maybe I should ask Crumbz who’s going to the Final Four.)
Finally, in Game 3, the death blow. It’s that guy Soon again, who seems to be embarrassing Fuel players on a semi-regular basis. He’s basically James Harden, and Dallas is Wesley Johnson. (Side note No. 2: I feel really bad for Wesley Johnson that he plays basketball in 2018. I’m sure people did embarrassing things all the time in the 1960s, but they never had the chance to go viral or be consumed on this scale. Instead, he became a punchline that would seemingly never end, that is until J.R. Smith threw a bowl of then-unidentified soup at an assistant coach. The NBA never ceases to amaze.)
Despite Los Angeles winning the series 3-0, and me contemplating my next bet on whatever’s starting soon in another sport (never again, eSports, never again), the commentators come back and tell me we’re playing Map 4 anyway. Can you imagine if we did this in other sports? Congratulations to the Golden State Warriors, your 2017 NBA Champs. … But tune in Tuesday night for Game 6 from Cleveland! Should be great!
Anyway, Los Angeles was truly valiant, I can’t pick an eSports team to save my life, Crumbz got it right, I got it wrong, and I clicked open another window to see what the next chase would be.