If you’re headed to one of the Overwatch World Cup qualifiers and thinking of bringing that letter ‘D’ and a white picket fence scrawled on poster board, don’t.
After all, Overwatch is a game built on around bizarre characters that encourage a sometimes frightening level of fandom. Nothing demonstrates that more clearly than taking a peak at what those in the crowd at an Overwatch tournament are holding up for the cameras to see.
Take the “Dicks out 4 Winston” sign held up by the girl in the hat and yellow jacket sitting towards the front of the center section in this clip. It’s of course a reference to Harambe, the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo who was shot a year ago after grabbing a child who had wandered into the animal’s enclosure. Because Overwatch’s Winston is also a gorilla, albeit a super-intelligent, genetically engineered one.
Why was a child wandering into a gorilla enclosure? Why did Harambe have to be shot as a result? And why do we even give gorillas names like Harambe? The sign might have been a solute to someone’s favorite character using an old and super played out meme, but in it’s own weird way it also touches on the absurdity of a game like Overwatch, making it an especially fitting tribute.
Another sign that caught people’s attention was a call for Jeff Kaplan, the game’s director, to make Doomfist and Reaper’s relationship, one which fans started imagining immediately after the former was revealed as the game’s latest character, a reality. Etching fan demands onto signs is nothing new, but I don’t remember anyone shipping Steph Curry and Kevin Durant during the NBA finals. Even in other esports you’re more likely to see fans requesting changes to the game’s design than to its characters’ loosely defined backstories.
Blizzard, the game’s developer and sponsor behind the Overwatch World Cup, is clearly in love with how obsessed its fans our with the memes and cultural minutia surrounding the game’s community. After all, they’re the ones handing out small poster boards at events for people to showcase whatever ridiculous shit they want while the Twitch cameras are rolling.