In the late June of 2017 on a warm afternoon, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and came upon a post that had been shared. It read “LGBT+ Open League Overwatch Tournament! A community gaming tournament made to include LGBT+ players of a lower skill tier.” Below the title was the link to a Google form. “I’m a pretty good support player,” I thought to myself. “I could sign up for this since I’m not busy with school anymore.” So, I clicked the link to the form and filled out the necessary information without having any clue on how to work with a team in the first place. Looking back to high school, I was never willing to work in groups with others on assignments, I only ever wanted to finish work by myself so that I know for sure it was done the way I wanted. If the teacher made me work in a group, I would try to be the leader to ensure the work was done my way. I was sort of a jerk about it.
So then I waited. It wasn’t until two weeks later that I was sent a direct message verification. It said “We have accepted your application to the tournament, we will send you a link to the Discord server and place you in a team shortly.” I clicked the link to the server and was transported to a channel with over 200 people. Each team had their own set channels that the other teams could not see. This made it free for us to discuss anything we needed to, under moderator supervision of course. I was then introduced to my team: Reitanna, Chelsea, Maddie, Riley, Dana, Shriya, and our team captain, Danny. For the first week, I was so nervous. I had no prior experience of being in a tournament and I had no clue what was expected of me. After a few days I learned what roles we were each going to play as, as well as the specific rules the tournament was holding for us. We all agreed on a team name: Failed Step One.
Our first scrim (or practice game that is recorded for overview) was a week after I joined. We played against another team who had more practice together and more synergy than us. I remember joining in late and my team was frantic to get the game started. Then we were off. The game ended horribly, with our score of 0-4. I think we were all upset, either with each other or the game itself. We had hardly any sense of communication; hardly any sense of teamwork. As soon as it was finished, I left the group call to talk with my friends about how bad the first time was, and even how bad I thought my own teammates were. “I played so well, half of them didn’t do anything helpful!” I complained. “I did everything I could to help my team and we still lost.” At that point I completely ignore the team’s group chat because I was annoyed. I didn’t want to talk with any of them and stayed quiet during the next voice calls. Even into our second scrim, I didn’t want anything to do with them to the point that I didn’t try to look into the mistakes I was making. We lost that second scrim, and I went back to my friends to complain yet again. “I think I’m going to leave the team, I’m not having fun and I don’t think we’ll get any better.”
The next day, Danny brought in a coach who was much better at the game and more experienced than us. The coach watched a video of us playing together and criticized our gameplay. They told us about the obvious mistakes we were making, the strategies we should follow, and the team compositions we should consider. They gave us each individual notes for what we could each improve on. They told me I was too quiet and that I need to call out every little ability that is used. “You need to let everyone know if you’re in trouble. Scream it if you need to.” I thought that was easy enough. “As a group you all need to be communicating, every little thing you do, everything you see needs to be addressed.” The most important part about playing Overwatch is having good communication with your teammates. I realized that if I don’t do my part that may seem insignificant, it makes a big difference in how the team works. I realized that if I didn’t participate, I was setting everyone up for failure. I needed to seriously reconsider my attitude towards them. “I’m not perfect… I need to do better.” I thought to myself. That day was when I started interacting with my teammates outside of the tournament and eventually became very close friends with all of them.
Fast forward after many weeks of practice and over six scrims played together, we were ready to face other teams in the tournament. Our first official match was against a team named the Party Rats. We could easily tell the difference in our performance as we worked to beat them with a score of 3-0. After the match we were all giddy and yelling and cheering for ourselves. One after another we steamrolled our opponents. We beat a team named Ruffians with a score of 2-0, and another team named Shamrock Stars with a score of 3-0. For a long while, Failed Step 1 was unbeatable.
Well maybe not unbeatable, but the other teams were surely intimidated by us. They’d even go as far to consider us as a “threat”. We were the champions up until the final games. Unfortunately, our first loss was to a team named Waterbear Warriors with a score of 1-2. We put up a good fight but we didn’t play our best due to our nerves, as well as their star player being a much high rank than the rest of us. We were upset, disappointed, and angry, but that didn’t deter us. The next game after that was against a team named Team Shibas, and we lost with a score of 1-2 again. Those two losses disqualified us, but we had fun. We learned what it was like to be on a team and made many friends that we love dearly. We were all very sad that the experience was over and sad that we each had lives to get back to, but we promised we would keep in touch.
Which we are, and to this day our team is still together and growing. Gaining teammates, gaining friends, gaining supporters. We are currently enlisted in the third tournament and practicing to become our best selves. As life goes on and we grow, and we gain responsibilities that keep us busy, I will never forget Failed Step One and how it brought me the best friends I could ask for. How it taught me the most important lessons of my life: working and cooperating with others, taking responsibility for my mistakes and learning how to fix said mistakes and improving myself.