Team shoots for nationals

After dominating the regular season and sweeping the regional playoffs, the Diamond Bar High School Overwatch team has qualified to compete in the national finals of their league.

Overwatch is an online, multiplayer first-person shooter where two teams vie to control the map, secure eliminations or escort a payload.The DBHS eSports team has participated in 10 matches in the North America Scholastic eSports Foundation Overwatch League against high schools from across the country so far, consistently maintaining an 80 percent win rate and a 4-0 record at the regional playoffs. The competition consists of six-versus-six competitive play in which teams compete in best-of-five brackets.

“We held tryouts [for the team] at the beginning of the semester…they had some scrims with interested players, and from that we decided our team members,” club advisor Jacob Kaitz said.

The team has been practicing together since the beginning of the school year for a few hours every Tuesday and Sunday.

“There’s a six-week pre-season, and then the top two teams from each division compete in the Finals,” Kaitz said.

In previous years, winning teams have received up to $2,500 in grants, visited the Blizzard Campus in Irvine where Blizzard Entertainment, which developed Overwatch, is based and received team jerseys and gaming gear from gaming accessory manufacturer HyperX.

The DBHS eSports team’s roster has equal numbers of players specializing in one of three character categories. In Overwatch, Tanks focus on drawing heavy fire, Damage deal burst damage and Support specialize in strengthening allies or weakening enemies. The tournament’s 32 playable characters, four modes and rotating map pool provides opportunities for unique strategy and teamwork in every match that keep competitors on their toes. 

Team captain junior Joshua Kang said the entire team has one common goal: winning. As a three-year member of the DBHS eSports team, he leads his teammates while playing the role of off-tank, which focuses on taking pressure off of the team’s primary tank. In addition to this, his job is to make sure his teammates are playing their best and to make sure that they all stay focused and motivated.

“What led to the team’s success was the fact we all put in the time and effort to understand what we all needed to do as a team and individually,” Kang said. “We all made sure to have fun as well, so we don’t feel stressed.”

Tank player sophomore Jacky Zhang said their players get along together very well and credited Kang for their team’s consistent success throughout the season.

“Personally, I think [Kang] led us to our success throughout the whole season,” Zhang said. “He’s always a leader figure to our team and he always encourages us no matter if we win or lose.”

Kang says they are preparing for the national finals by doing their regular preparation of practicing twice a week.

“My goals for the team are to bring a national win to DBHS and to make sure that this team knows that everything we do is connected,” Kang said. “We are playing to win and to have fun.”