Recently, Irrelevant Gamer got the chance to talk to Overwatch esports competitor Dalton Murray, better known as Sk33t3lz, about his experiences as one of the top 100 Hanzo players worldwide!
Though it only came out last May, Overwatch is ambitiously trying to become a famous name in esports. This goal doesn’t seem so wild when you consider that Overwatch‘s developer, Blizzard, already owns Starcraft, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone – all of which are top-earners in the realm of esports.
This goal is already in motion with Overwatch‘s option to play competitively online. Through this, Murray realised his talent for playing as the sniper character Hanzo, and he’s been building on that talent ever since.
“When I first heard about Overwatch, I started doing some research on the characters/game. I instantly became a fan of Hanzo. His high skill level didn’t bother me any because I knew if I put the time and practice into him I would see great results. His perks seemed awesome, with a radar arrow and a multi-projectile shot. Plus, who doesn’t like shooting a bow?”
Murray decided to pour time and effort into honing his skills as Hanzo, and spends hours practicing against challenging characters like Ana and Pharah in custom maps, in order to understand the movements of other heroes.
“Some people call me a hacker”
“He has my most hours played by far, and it shows. I play against people all the time that send me messages about my skill with him. Some call me a hacker, and some put two and two together and realise that if someone has over 100 hours playtime on one character, they are probably going to be pretty decent.”
Murray is certainly more than “decent” at playing Hanzo, with a top 100 position in the worldwide Overwatch leaderboards seven times so far.
— Dalton Murray (@sk33t3lz) December 30, 2016
Aside from the “hacker” messages, is the competitive community welcoming in general? Murray tells us:
“For the most part everyone is super welcoming, and I play with a lot of different people from all over the place.
“I do however find some extremely salty players every once and a while that feel the need to message me the famous: “Dude we don’t need a Hanzo for attack”, “Seriously, you’re going to pick Hanzo?”, “Switch noob”. But, about five minutes into the game, they realize that there might be some legitimately skilled Hanzo players out there.”
— Dalton Murray (@sk33t3lz) September 30, 2016
Murray says that although he has played competitively on games like World of Warcraft and HALO 2 before, he feels as though Overwatch is his favourite game to compete in. He also believes he is more skilled at Overwatch than any other game.
“Overwatch is still a little new and not as established as your classics like CoD and CSGO. But I will say that Blizzard is about to blow it up to the world with the upcoming Overwatch League. When that starts, I believe the game will become another name brand game in the competitive arena.”
The Overwatch League is Blizzard’s plan for Overwatch‘s breakthrough into the realm of major league gaming, with a timeline for the future laid out on its site. Though there is no set date at the moment, 2017 will introduce the “preseason” of the League, where “proven stars and leaderboard heroes will assemble in one global talent pool”. Teams will then maneuver to sign the best players and build sturdy rosters for the season ahead.
Being recognised as a top Hanzo, and ultimately being signed by an esports team, is Murray’s goal for 2017. To do this, he is working hard to get noticed as a professional player.
At the moment, Murray is sponsored by ULTIMATE Esports, an esports lifestyle apparel company. In order to get the name Sk33t3lz out there, ULT are going to begin hosting two to three esports events a month around the US, with Murray making appearances and commentary at the tournaments. ULT also plans to help Murray start up his own signature line of merchandise.
“Blizzard is about to blow Overwatch up to the world”
Murray regularly streams both practices and competitive matches on Twitch, and he has set aside a day each week to stream with fans and friends alike.
“I’m relatively new to the streaming world, so I’m trying to get it down. I would really like to get picked up eventually by a reputable organization to stream and create content for them.”
One possible problem that Murray and his sponsor ULTesports have encountered, is his preference for playing on Xbox. It is uncertain whether or not the Overwatch League will involve both consoles and PC, or if he’ll have to begin playing exclusively on PC.
“I do get props from a lot of PC players for how I can aim with joysticks. I have had an Xbox forever, so for an FPS game it’s what I’m most comfortable with.
“ULT and I are waiting to hear if the League will be for PC or console or both, so that I can start to train and play om the correct system, and see how my skill transfers.”
It looks as though Overwatch League is planned to start in Q3 of this year, or so global director of Overwatch esports, Nate Nanzer, told Polygon.
Until then, Dalton Murray will be working hard to get his name known in the world of major league gaming, and hopefully be signed to a team in order to represent his closest city – St. Louis, Missouri.
“I’m hoping that when the Overwatch League combine starts I will perform to the abilities that I know I can, and be drafted to a team. If I can get that done, then I think that will be a good beginning for my esports career.”