I sat down with Poko (Off-tank for the Fusion) and Tucker Roberts (President of the Fusion) to ask about the early days of the League, its future, and the challenges they’ve faced. Their answers were nothing short of spectacular. Enjoy!
PokoDo you think having to fly to arenas across the world will be a challenge for you and the team?
Poko: Definitely, it’s gonna be tough to do. If we’re based in Philadelphia, and we’re playing London, then we have to travel, like, ten hours or something? It’s going to be hard, there will be jet lag, but we’ll be up to the challenge.What’s gone into developing your skill at D.Va?
Poko: I’ve always played a lot of D.Va, she’s one of my favorite heroes. I’ve practiced her bombs a lot. At first I used to just use her ultimate to get mech back, but now I use D.Va’s ultimate to make plays. Using it offensively to make space and get kills is what I do now, and it works!How long have you been a competitive person? When did you develop a competitive mindset?
Poko: I was never really competitive in other games, or anything else- I just got started in Overwatch, about a year ago. I’ve always been good at video games, I guess, but never at a pro level until Overwatch.What have been some challenges besides language to get together as a team so far?
Poko: Food is a good example! Not everyone likes American food, for instance, like the Korean guys on our team (Dayfly, Carpe) who like spicy foods. We all taste a different culture’s food every time we eat together. Though it’s usually some spicy food, like noodles.
Tucker RobertsMy main takeaway from Media Day is that teams are focused on sustainability and mental health, avoiding burnout, and creating a system that will allow not only for wins, but continuous success. I’m sure that’s still important here in the thick of things- what are the Fusion doing to maintain a healthy team atmosphere?
Roberts: Those are all really important things to be cognizant of- one of the first things I did when I came into this role [as President] was to reach out to the other endemic esports owners in the Overwatch League to ask about that. How to avoid burnout, shared player housing vs. apartments, those were they the types of questions that you can’t really go into something as chaotic as esports without understanding that.
We wanted to make sure we knew what we were getting into, and what we learned is that there are plenty of things you can do to avoid burnout- keeping scrims to under two hours, having breaks between each, incorporating physical exercise into daily routines, changing the players’ diets- that is, still letting them eat what they want, but incorporating some healthier options in there- we’ve done all of these things, and so far it’s working out well. We’re not even close to burnout- our guys are very hungry right now- but it’s a long season, so we’ll see what happens as we go.
In terms of winning vs. building, you know, we do see esports as a long term play, it’s a very large investment to get into the Overwatch League as a franchise, though thankfully we’re already doing a lot better than expected. And this is just season 1- I don’t worry too much about viewership and things like that just yet. It takes ten years or so, probably, to get that where we want it to be.Does being in the middle of the earliest history of the League ever stress you out? Do you ever think, “Oh my god, I’m part of something that could either tank or cement my name and the names of my players in history?”
Oh, sure! I left the role I was at to join this project because I was excited to see what it became, and because I like the opportunity to be a part of something like this. It’s like a startup, it has that same energy. And while, sure, there’s a risk of failure, there’s also the risk of success- and that’s what we’re hoping for. Everyone here loves what they do. You can ask the staff, or anyone, really- they don’t feel like they’re working for the Fusion, they’re just doing what they love and happen to get paid anyway. If ten, fifteen years down the line, we’re still here, then I’ll still be excited for it.What do you see as your one greatest challenge at your role? What’s the one thing you put the most effort into to get it right?
I think we want to have a good brand identity, and we had some early stumbles coming into esports as a whole to figure out what that is. We wanted to build something clear- that is, that the Fusion is *A* fusion of all these players from all over the world coming together, and we wanted to get that across to fans, and have them understand that we’re not just another sports org throwing money at this. We’re all passionate gamers here, we love Overwatch, the atmosphere of competition that the players bring, and that that is how we want to build and carry ourselves.Since you’ve moved into this role, what’s been the biggest change in your day to day?
My previous role was at Comcast Ventures, a venture capitalism network with a lot of little startups. We would choose which ones we thought had the most potential, give them a bit of money, and then they go out there and try to make something great with it. Here, though, we’re the startup, we’ve been given the money to work with, and we have to make something great with it. So instead of, you wake up and look at VR one day, a health start up the next, self driving cars the next, whatever- every day, you eat, sleep, breathe esports, the Overwatch League in particular. And I love it! I’m passionate about esports, about this esport, so being on this great, winning team- it’s like being on a startup that you know is gonna be one of the big ones. There are unique challenges that come with that, but there’s a great degree of teamwork that comes with that as well, and friendship, too.Here’s an easy question, to finish things off. From reddit- do you guys have a mascot?
Oh, that’s interesting! I don’t- honestly, it could just be Fragi. We’ll have to get back to you on that, though I’m sure reddit will have some interesting ideas for our mascot that we’ll have to look at. Good question!