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Houston Outlaws

OpTicJ vs Fuel: "I can’t wait for that sweet [victory] moment. I’m gonna selfie with the final score"

By Josh Lee
Jan 18, 2018
Houston Outlaws President, Ryan "OpTicJ" Musselman, chats about the historic OpTic/EnVy rivalry spilling into OWL and building the Outlaws fanbase.

OG heavily encourages their players to create their own content and brands. Are you encouraging the Outlaws to do the same?
Absolutely. I mean when you think about our history, we started off in content, you know, and then we pushed into esports. And that was really important for us because when you talk with Hector about it, he'll always say we wanted to make sure the players had a career path. At the time when we were creating OpTic, 2006-2007, right? And before we jumped into YouTube in 2009, there's not a lot of success you can have in esports from a financial perspective. It's not going to pay the bills. You have to go from tournament to tournament [where] tournament organizers weren't necessarily funding stuff. So we said, "All right. Let's build a brand first." A brand that people can get behind, [that] they'll want to be a part of and wear the merch and really will propel our pro players into that audience so they have an opportunity not only to play, but to build their brand on the side from selling and building merch to content creation, streaming, video creation you name it. So yeah, that will always be important for us.

What does the ideal Outlaws superfan look like?
Are you familiar with the O.G. Hype Squad?

No? OK, so in Call of Duty, we've had some fans who are just consistently at every event. But not just every event. The FRONT ROW of every event, and they have a system for saving each other's seats, for getting food, for going to the bathroom. Coming back and forth, they build signs every single time. We've actually branded them as the "OpTic Gaming Hype Squad" or, "O.G. Hype Squad" for short. So I know that that Greenwall passion... everyone bleeds green in OpTic and you're going to see that in the DNA of the Outlaws as well. They're gonna come in and they're gonna be loud and we're going to see them at the events. In fact, we just told the O.G. HYPE SQUAD this. We're going to start flying them to these events as well. They're on a mission! We're on a mission! They're going to join us in this battle, and we're going to extend the O.G. Hype Squad. And we're going to cover our fans' travel [costs]. Some of our fans travel, anyways, to the event. So ,we're investing not only to our players from the health and wellness side but into our fans as well who have been just so, so paramount to the building of this global engaged audience that we have.

Pick an Outlaws player and give us the elevator pitch on why fans should root for them.
So the immediate person that comes to mind as is Jake, right? He kind of reminds me of that all-American sports pro player that you'd see maybe was really popular in high school as the quarterback and then transferred over to college. And, you know, everyone just expects big things out of him. But he's so talented, he's so marketable, and he's really good with people - really good with fans and really good on-camera. It's the type of individual who you say is just that all-pro that you want to have because he can wear so many different hats, but also perform really well on the field and he's very approachable, very personable. So, I really like to look and see him in that light and I think that's something that we'll work with him in terms of his personal brand development.

The OG/EnVy rivalry has organically developed in many titles. What's it like sharing a state with them (Fuel) in OWL?
You know, I love that there's been that history in multiple titles. I think it's good for esports, Just taking us out of the picture, I think it's good for esports to have that narrative - that story arc that people can follow from title to title. And it's now like ramped up pretty intensely, right? Our corporate headquarters is in Dallas, but our team represents Houston, Austin, and San Antonio. Whereas EnVy is now just all corporately headquartered in Dallas as well, but their Overwatch team represents Dallas. You have this story almost coming to like a like an exponential rise of of these two teams battling it out for just esports dominance overall. So we're going to play on that big and continue to go hard. I know you might have seemed like some of that Twitter banter that's been going on. We want to continue to build that up. And in a good way, right? Hastr0's (nV Owner) a good friend of ours and we want to continue to have that good rivalry. But, when we step into the Arena then it's game on. So we want to we want to continue to see that storyline grow over time and we want to win it every time, too!

Just be "OpTicJ" for a second and tell me: How good would it feel to see Outlaws smack down Dallas Fuel?
So, so good.

I can't wait for that sweet moment when that thing finally happens. Like, "Ooh, I'm gonna call Hastr0 right away!" I'm gonna like selfie on the screen and all that stuff with the final score. It will be nice. Especially because we JUST stepped in Overwatch, right? So EnVy's got a storied history with Overwatch where they'd been in the game for over a year. And we looked into Overwatch when it first came out, nut the opportunities to really finalize didn't play through. And then, of course, you hear the rumors about Blizzard wanting to launch something. So, for us to kind of be not playing catch up but coming in as kind of being newcomers in this space, building this roster from scratch. We want to come in and make some loud noise and I know our players are ready. I mean 50 percent of the Outlaws were on the Overwatch World Cup team for team USA. So we want to continue to... well we want to step in the game and make a loud noise to begin with. So, we're here we're here to play. We're here to play for sure.

A silly question - you have to build a 6-man OW roster with non-Outlaws OpTic members. Who's on the team?
All right. So, I'd put Pamaj as just kind of like our Widowmaker/DPS individual.

I'd bring in BigT - the greatest of all time because he probably could play every role. In fact, it could just be BigT versus everyone, because he's the GOAT.

I'd bring in Scump for DPS, I'd probably bring in Karma for DPS, Crimsix for DPS. We'd basically have the greatest DPS team of all time!

There'd be no tanks in any way, shape, or form. It would be like probably a team of Widowmakers and like Tracers running around and it would not go well. It will not go well in any way, shape, or form. But for the sake of... for the sake of discussion, I would put... Let's see... I would put. I can't argue anything else, man. I think everyone would wanna be a DPS player and...

Okay, let me rephrase: You'd see Soldier 76s and Widowmaker, so Pamaj and then everyone else bringing in all the history of Call of Duty coming into to be Soldier:76 across the board. That would be the situation.

Houston Outlaws
Josh Lee profile
Josh Lee
Josh is the lead Overwatch Producer at Blitz Esports. He's also been spotted casting a few Overwatch and League of Legends tournaments.
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