UMass Overwatch team competes in first Collegiate Cup

UMass team makes top four in New England


Courtesy of Remberto Perlera-Vasquez

By Judith Gibson-Okunieff, Photo Editor

The University of Massachusetts Overwatch team competed in its first Boston Uprising Collegiate Cup this weekend, but lost to the defending champions, Northeastern University.

The tournament was held in Boston’s Back Bay on Sunday, April 28 and livestreamed on the video platform Twitch. UMass, Northeastern, Emerson College and Boston University qualified for the Cup.

Overwatch is a team-based first-person shooter video game that sets two six-player teams against each other.

This was the team’s first time moving on to the Collegiate Cup, after qualifying earlier in the month by beating Northeastern’s B-team.

The event was hosted by Boston’s own professional Overwatch team, the Boston Uprising.

UMass’ brought its six-person team, two substitutes, coach Cameron Talbot, a sophomore legal studies and classics major, and team manager Cameron Ringdahl, a junior sociology major.

Since becoming the team manager this past year, Ringdahl has stopped competing, but said that he doesn’t feel bad about not playing.

“I still have a hand in helping the team, so I don’t feel like I’m not doing anything,” Ringdahl said.

When he first joined the team as a player in the fall of 2016, the team had a casual approach to competing and struggled with bringing back players from year to year, according to Ringdahl.

Coming back this year, he and Cooper Lewis, a freshman political science major, had to rebuild the team from scratch.

According to Ringdahl, the team doesn’t meet often and does most of their work online from different locations. Two players live in eastern Mass., but attend UMass online. They came out to Amherst when the team filmed a promotional video for the tournament.

“We’re definitely underdogs,” Lewis said. “Since we’re just getting to the tournament now.”

According to Talbot, Northeastern had more higher ranked players than UMass, leaving the team at a disadvantage. Going in, the UMass team’s strategy was to play untraditionally.

Before the match, Talbot thought freshman English major Quinn Urbonas was the team’s strongest, most consistent player.

Urbonas’ playing style is built around hacking and disabling other players, said Talbot.

“It takes a bit of a slower playing style,” he said before the competition. “So, we’re going to have to play a bit slower to accommodate that.”

Urbonas did play an important role. Lewis said Urbonas was the impetus for all of the team’s successes. Urbonas is a high-ranking player who at one point ranked in the top 500 in North America.

Northeastern’s strategy was heavy on damage so UMass focused on compositions that allowed them to sustain more damage.

“Our strategy was to immobilize targets by hacking them where you take away their abilities,” Lewis said. “Immobilize someone, then jump on them and take them down one by one.”

UMass took the first point and started off strong starting the second point, but Northeastern dominated. Northeastern won the first two maps and defeated UMass. The Huskies took the cup home for a second consecutive year with a win over BU.

Lewis said the team wasn’t disappointed that they lost.

“We were very positive during the entire thing because the entire experience was a blast,” Lewis said. “I thought we played really well considering the situation, especially with the nerves of playing on a big stage.

“When I was playing, whenever we did something well, the cheers were so invigorating. It was amazing, it felt great.”

The team is already making plans for next year. They plan to do more coaching and work on their strategies. They’re also looking into becoming a club sport.

At a school of 28,000, last semester there were only 10 people in UMass’ Overwatch group on Discord, a voice and text chat app. Now there are over 100.

“I think it’s a really good hallmark for how much we’re growing and how much we’re getting better,” Lewis said.

Judith Gibson-Okunieff can be reached at [email protected]