Roots of Overwatch: Danteh's shock on the beach

Roots of Overwatch: Danteh's shock on the beach
Images via Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Joseph "Volamel" Franco


2nd Feb 2023 11:00

Our roots are what ground us. Our roots are our start and the road to our end. Ahead of the 2023 Overwatch League season, we're diving into the roots of Overwatch, examining some of its narratives, and how they're manifesting now.


Role swaps usually don't work in Overwatch. Careers don't last more than a few years. True reinvention at the highest level is challenging in any esport but especially so in Overwatch. Except if your name is Dante "Danteh" Cruz. 

Danteh's tortuous journey has seen him skim glory repeatedly. From his start with San Francisco to finishing with bronze around his neck in 2022, Danteh knows success. But like trying to squeeze sand, his dreams slipped and crumbled through his fingers. 

He's seen the beaches where champions rest their heads and relax in the spotlight. He knows what it takes. And now that he's bathed in purple, it's high time Danteh takes his place among them. 

Minecraft, his tenure as an Outlaw, and all those years spent grinding have led up to this. 

Can Danteh lead the Los Angeles Gladiators to an Overwatch League title? Will he strike lightning on the beach and materialise his own luck?



Thunderstorms don't tend to discriminate. They strike where they like and, in some cases, their lightning can land on some beachfront property or sandy stretch of land. Fulgurite is what's formed as a result of the silica and other sediments being melted and fused together. 

These sprawling tubes, outstretching like the roots of a tree, are exactly what Danteh has in mind. A trophy built from the dreams he has only seen slowly slip away. 

Sand petrified into a title. Dreams, quite literally, coalesced into reality. 

We doubt it's what he expected when he signed with the San Francisco Shock back in 2017, but it's hard to imagine it any other way. However, Danteh's story predates the Overwatch League. In fact, his competitive roots predate Overwatch as a whole.

With the obvious Minecraft PvP jab aside, Danteh's spent the majority of his adolescence playing football or soccer for the Americans. Was it the disciplined environment and practice regiment that built Danteh into the lean, mean, Overwatch machine he is today? 

Who's to say? But with how much time he has given to the game, it's clear that competition is something that fuels him. And after consulting with another Minecraft player turned Overwatch prospect, Brady "Agilities" Girardi, Danteh took the plunge.


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Early success came in the form of weekly tournament winnings alongside Denial Esports. However, Danteh's first impression on the wider Overwatch landscape would be on flex tank. Funny how history repeats itself, right? 

That's right, the flank hero ace we've come to know and love only emerged once Denial Esports dissolved and became YIKES! and later known as Arc 6. 

Spotty success with Arc 6 still resulted in Danteh and many of his teammates landing Overwatch League positions. Dallas and Los Angeles took their picks, while Danteh found a home in the bay area. 

However, this was not the San Francisco dynasty that would net repeat titles. The inaugural Shock was a little less than stellar, ending well outside of the playoff picture. 

And to add insult to injury, Danteh was absent for the majority of Stage 4 as Jay "sinatraa" Won entered eligibility. 

This paved the way for Danteh's departure from the sandy beaches of San Francisco.


2019 saw the San Francisco Shock trade Danteh to the Houston Outlaws in return for Yoo "smurf" Myeong-hwan. 

While lightning didn't strike immediately with Houston, Danteh quickly became a fixture of the team. Sombra, Tracer, even the occasional Genji when needed, Danteh was a luxury for a team that needed him. As the years progressed, as the Outlaws climbed out of the doldrums of the league, Danteh remained the face of the team. 

Even reaching into 2022 and the introduction of Overwatch 2, Danteh was invaluable to the Houston Outlaws' run. Their gamble was to rely on Shin "PIGGY" Min-jun as their sole tank. However, Danteh's dazzling Doomfist would ultimately become their bread and butter. From tank to DPS back to Tank again, this script felt uniquely "Danteh". 

Here was someone who was known to be a bit of a troll. Someone who enjoyed making others laugh and defusing tension, swapping their roles once again for the good of his team. This selflessness came with growth, one of the two fairly formative moments he had on the Shock.



In an interview with InvenGlobal Danteh shared how much he had to unlearn when it came to Overwatch. "Choosing who to Pulse Bomb, when to Pulse Bomb, when to Blink melee, when to flank, when to shoot tanks—there are so many little things. Before I joined this team, I was really good at killing the back line. 

"That is all I was good at," he said.

In one hand, he had to learn that facilitating his team would only net him positive results. 

In the other, maybe facilitating his strengths would also become a boon later in life.

In a feature posted by the Overwatch League, Danteh shared a prophetical interaction he had from the 2018 season. His assistant coach at the time, Kim "NineK" Bum-Hoon, pushed him not to emulate but to become the player he already was.

“I would always watch Sinatraa when I was spectating scrims in Stage 4 [last season],” Danteh said. “He’d be like, ‘Why do you want to be like Sinatraa? Find your own style because that’s what makes you unique. What heroes can you play and what heroes can Sinatraa play?’ 

"'I think that’s how you become a good player—if you find your own style.'”

It was that flexibility, that willingness to jump in and learn the more traditional main tanks that was vital in Houston's 2022 playoff run. It was Danteh's unorthodox hero pool and desire to facilitate his team that pushed the Outlaws onto the podium. And with how impressive Danteh looked on such short notice, this drew his career as a DPS player into question.



Early in 2023, the Overwatch 2 community had their answer.

For the first time in four years, Danteh would be leaving Houston to join the Los Angeles Gladiators as a member of their tank stable. Surprising the world, the face of the Outlaws would be taking his talents back west. 

It seems like a perfect fit. Two entities that have skimmed the ultimate prize time and time again. A team looking for a catalyst that will push them over the edge. A player that has sifted the sands of reinvention and found gold. 

While it feels like a gamble on one flash in the pan, sometimes risks are not only worth taking but needed.


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Danteh now stands opposite his former team. Domestic rivalries have been a tough sell in years past for Overwatch, but this year Danteh undoubtedly would love to unseat the odds-on favourites. The California Cup has some real stakes this year, but it's Danteh who steals the show. 

Though there is a cyclical nature to it all, at its heart, Danteh's journey through Overwatch has been about refinement and evolution. The unlikeliness of it all. To play at such a high level for more than six years. To return to the role he started on all those years ago. One by one, Danteh has undoubtedly checked goals off his list. 

Yet one remains.

What might this new chapter hold?

A throne of petrified sand?

Another kingdom of dust and disappointment?

Danteh and the Gladiators are done window shopping.

This year, their sights are set. 

With lightning in hand, it's beach or bust.


Joseph "Volamel" Franco
About the author
Joseph "Volamel" Franco
Joseph “Volamel” Franco is a Freelance Journalist at GGRecon. Starting with the Major League Gaming events 2006, he started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee, before transitioning from viewer to journalist. Volamel has covered Overwatch for four years and has ventured into VALORANT as the game continues to grow. His work can also be found on sites like Esports Heaven, HTC Esports, and VP Esports.
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