To most teams, a failure to qualify for Contenders Season One was a death sentence. That was not the case for EnVision. The team team would go on to buy its way into Season One, qualify for playoffs and then qualify for playoffs again in 2018 amidst a sea of Overwatch League Academy teams.
"When we first started with EnVision, we were really bad," said EnVision flex McGravy. "I've been with EnVision for about 15 months now, and at the very start for about half a year we were probably one of the worst teams getting paid. There's no shame in admitting that."
That is far from the case now. EnVision was the only team not associated with an Overwatch League franchise to qualify for the playoffs of Contenders North America. They then advanced past XL2 Academy in a tight quarterfinals match to secure a ticket to the LAN playoffs in Poland, and have done so as one of the favorites.
"Definitely getting to LAN finals again has been redeeming. It shows that I'm a mainstay in Overwatch, regardless of what role I've been playing," McGravy said.
McGravy with EnVision at the LAN playoffs for Contenders Season One. Image Credit: Blizzard
When McGravy began on EnVision, he was a DPS player. During Contenders Season One in 2017, he specifically played Tracer and hitscan alongside Jaru, who became known for his Doomfist and Genji. When the team rebuilt in 2018, McGravy took over the D.Va duties for the team.
"I do miss Tracer, but at the same time I do enjoy playing D.Va a lot," he said. "I think transitioning from Tracer to D.Va is super helpful because D.Va is one of the best counters right now that Tracer has, and you can kinda understand how a Tracer thinks and how a Tracer wants to play."
Soon after McGravy first joined the roster, Fire came along to play for the team. Each began playing for EnVision in the middle of the team's early struggles, something no other player on the roster shares. Jaru is the only other player who began his time with EnVision in 2017, but he didn't join until they played in the Contenders Season Zero playoffs. The organization veterans are now leaders of the team.
"Fire does all of the in-game leader stuff and I am kinda like the 'emotional leader', keep everyone in check and serve as the team captain," McGravy said.
While their experience with EnVision may differ, all of the players on the current roster share one thing: they weren't picked up by Overwatch League teams. The whole roster is now out to prove that was a mistake.
"It felt kinda weird being the only top four Contenders team that didn't get the majority of their roster taken into the Overwatch League, or even looked at," said McGravy. "We didn't even get many tryout offers. It definitely felt bad, so that's definitely what we've been grinding towards."
He believes the new additions to the roster feel much the same as the team veterans about getting left out of the Overwatch League. "I'm sure Buds feels he deserves to be there, and he has definitely proved it. He has arguably the best Widowmaker outside of Overwatch League," McGravy said. "iShiny played for CLG and I'd say he definitely feels that chip on his shoulder because he has been playing professional Overwatch for a long time, as well."
EnVision walked out of the same tunnel in their last LAN appearance that OWL teams walk out of now. Image Credit: Blizzard
McGravy doesn't take EnVision's place as the only non-academy team in the North American finals lightly, either. "I think it says a lot about our drive. Not only are we the only non-academy team, we're also one of the few teams that have all North American players," he said. In fact, there was only one other team among North America's top eight that had no Koreans, and there were no other teams in the top eight that was entirely North American.
"We're representing North America with North American players and I think that means a lot," he continued. "I think it shows that you don't have to import players to have a good team."
Regardless of how they perform in Poland next weekend, no player from the EnVision roster will get picked up by an Overwatch League team in its inaugural season. The midseason transfer window has ended, meaning there will be no opportunities to be picked up by an OWL team until the offseason. That means there will likely be another season of Contenders before the next signing window opens.
"It's something we've talked about before where we've said Season 1 [of Contenders] is really important, but it's not the end all be all of us as players and our careers," McGravy said. "Season 2 is where it's going to be the most recent performance and where it's really going to show the Overwatch League teams what players really have."
Regardless of how the LAN in Poland turns out, McGravy has one ambition: to make it to the Overwatch League.
"I'll do it on any role. I said it way back after Immortals, 'keep sleeping on us,' I'll say it again. Keep sleeping on me. I'll play Tracer, I'll play D.Va, I'll play main tank, I'll play anything. I'm going to make it to the Overwatch League one way or another, and that's what keeps me going."