Can the Boston Uprising's gamble net a world title?
Games of chance don't usually rely on consistency and stability. They tend to look like bets on the odds with a high possibility of striking out. And yet here stand the 2023 Boston Uprising. Can their seemingly low-risk team pack the punch needed to peak at the right times? Will their veterans hold up against the rising tide of new talent? And should we be going all-in on Boston's world title hopes just yet?
Chasing New England's traditional sports legacy, the Boston Uprising, one of the most underwhelming franchises in Overwatch League history now looks imposing. Equipped with veterans and former world champions in nearly every slot, the new look Uprising looks to change how Overwatch sees Boston.
They've got faces we recognise.
They've got star power.
And they've got the Redditsphere running wild.
Yet is this a team that can go the distance?
Potential to peak?
If we ignore the marquee name recognition for a moment and judge this team by their recent past performances, two things rise to the surface. The DPS for the 2023 Uprising can be explosive but they have their faults and the consistent style that likely will net them the biggest pot stems from their supports.
To explain, Kim "birdring" Ji-hyeok and Kwon "Striker" Nam-joo both are a bit of a bluff. That's not to say they are bad, but they hide the true nature of the team. They have highly questionable asterisks about them that make it hard to want to place a confident stake. On paper, they look like a dream lineup paired with Jang "Decay" Gui-un but things are never that simple.
Birdring took a gap year during 2022 which fans should not be keen on. With Overwatch 2's drastic shift, stage experience should be positioned at a premium. And while he is an undoubted legend of the game, the lack of exposure could end up leaving the Boston Uprising wanting.
On the other hand, Striker seems to be cementing himself as the protected fire axe of the Overwatch League. If a team looks to be in need of an extra set of hands, Striker is more than happy to roll the bones with the best of them.
However, his hero pool has never been his strong suit. He still can compete on picks like Tracer and Reaper as we saw last year, but outside of that things become a bit murkier.
This isn't to say there are no conceivable ways to see Boston's DPS stable thrive. This is just a cautionary check at the blackjack table. They have a high floor, but likely won't be the consistent key to unlocking their potential as a team.
This stands opposed to the high impact DPS players have had within our first season on Overwatch 2.
Coming into the 2022 season, one of the big narratives that most pundits agreed on was in a world with one less tank, how much could your DPS really invoke their will on the game?
Turns out, it was quite a lot.
This is a DPS roster that can and will likely peak, but what will carry them and their style will be their playmaking ability from the backline.
Relying on Lee "LeeJaeGon" Jae-gon as your defacto main support should be a good thing. And it is when you fully buy into his aggressive tendencies. Very few teams in the league can say they have playmakers at support and Boston are firmly on that list. With legendary flex support Lee "Twilight" Joo-seok standing beside him you've got a bloodthirsty backline that wants to play fast.
Both LeeJaeGon and Twilight set a firm style in place that the Boston Uprising can lean on to circumvent having to play for the river and the flop. Their proactive nature should be enough to will this team across even the most turbulent meta potholes and into the playoffs.
So if we can see past the bluffs and still find positives to reference, then what else is there to worry about?
Old man strength?
A cynics take of New England's best could easily paint this team as a geriatric cast of solid Overwatch talent running on fumes. With a lack of rookie presence and no talent pipeline to speak of, you could say that this is Boston's proverbial all-in.
They're playing for keeps and to change the culture surrounding them and their franchise, they're putting it all on red. However, throughout last year experts gave their thoughts on if veterans were worth the hype.
In an 2022 interview with GGRecon, London Spitfire's General Manager Ysabel "Noukky" Müller explained her thought process regarding the weight of experience in competitive Overwatch.
"Rookies are usually super hungry for the game, so it's a good team atmosphere boost if you have someone like that in there and then to have the veterans in there, which for us was like [Gael "Poko" Gouzerch]," she explained.
"[He was] a really, really big and important pickup in the end because it helps to ground the rookies and helps them navigate the league."
When asked about how metrics of success have changed with Overwatch 2, Vancouver Titans General Manager Dennis "Barroi" Matz seemed to agree that a mix was likely the safest bet as well.
In an interview last year with GGRecon he cited that, in the past, having a high number of veteran players was directly correlated with success. However, in Overwatch 2, that seemed to have changed.
"Generally speaking, it doesn't matter if you have veterans or rookies because both have had similar amounts of success. There is really no correlation to say that either having more veterans on your team leads to more success or vice versa, right now.
"So you'd want a good mix."
Even some players within the Overwatch League have weighed in support of having fresh faces to lighten up the workplace.
Tank ace for the Hangzhou Spark, Qiulin "Guxue" Xu, seemed to also agree with the integration of rookies. In an interview with the Overwatch League, Guxue mentioned that “The rookies spiced the team up, making the atmosphere better."
Overwatch 2 has a unique skill set that deviates away from what we've come to know for the last five years. This opens the way for an increase in fresh talent that has been waiting in the wings. The next generation won't have to unlearn patterns, they'll be born in it. Even 2021's defending champions admitted to struggling with Overwatch's evolution.
While the 2023 Boston Uprising looks to be one of the safest bets, that alone is inherently a risk.
And a rather large one at that.
But safety doesn't win big. Think back to some of the best teams of all time.
Lunatic-Hai wouldn't be what they were without their roster shuffle.
Team EnVyUs gambled on Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod and waltzed to the ball.
The 2017-2018 San Francisco Shock sat on two players that were age-gated and found themselves in repeat championships in the following years.
And while Dallas Fuel didn't strike paydirt in 2021, they managed a bronze medal despite really having a hitscan presence.
Again, Boston wears the skin of a low-risk team. They're flexible and have luxuries many teams can only dream of, but that doesn't make them risk-proof.
This leaves the Uprising feeling a little frontloaded. Assuming most players are on one-year contracts, this leaves them almost feeling a little shortsighted.
That leaves one remaining question; if Boston has gone all-in should we follow suit?
A dynasty in the making?
With drastic moves comes drastic outcomes and it has never been a better time to stan the Uprising.
Yes, they could use a balance of experience and form a talent pipeline.
Yes, there are some regular-season potholes that could plague them.
Yes, this looks like an all-star retirement home.
And even with that said, it's hard to look at this lineup and not get excited.
In spite of their flaws, this is a team that knows how to win.
It quite literally is in their DNA.
As of January 9th, 2023, six of the Uprising's eight members are former world champions.
The only two starters without titles are Decay and Shin "Kalios" Woo-yeol.
We've taken deep dives on the former and come out in the green. Decay is a world-class talent that has been slighted by a sickness we can only define as "chronic lack-of-rings". If you look at his numbers, at his hero pool, and for the amount of time he's been doing this? There is no question that Decay is good for one.
However, there should be healthy speculation around Kalios. That's only normal for the general audience, but even that can be put to rest if we crack open our history textbooks.
We know it's hard to roll back through the brain fog, but remember the 2021 New York Excelsior? Remember the one time they played in the APAC region? Now who remembers when the NYXL fished in their sleeves, found a pocket Kalios, and arguably performed at a playoff calibre while windowshopping the end of the season?
Next up we've got the 2022 Washington Justice entering the Junker Queen meta of the Summer Showdown. Is it a coincidence that when Kalios enters the fold they just so happen to finish the stage with wins over Florida Mayhem and London Spitfire. Not to mention also taking the San Francisco Shock to game five.
In not-so-flowery terms, Kalios seems to know how to corral his team together and get them on the same page. And while he'll likely just be an insurance policy to Yoo "smurf" Myeong-hwan for the most part, Kalios is a downright steal for his track record.
So, while this ageing team stares down the barrel of their twilight years, is this the year Boston brings one home?
They are explosive where they need to be.
They tout an inherent style they can call upon.
And they have a blueprint for success.
It's time to buy into the hype, Boston hopefuls.
This one looks real.