Parents of OWL: How to Raise a Professional Overwatch Player

As they watched their kid grow up casually playing video games, these parents had no idea the path their child was about to travel down. This was a brave new world–a world willing to pay their son to join a team of elite esports players and compete for cash and glory. As confused as they may have been when they started on the journey, most esport parents are now hyper-aware of the business side of video games. That also includes the fans. For these parents, this career would have been unfathomable when they were growing up.

So, how are they dealing with it?

I spoke to the glowing parents of six OWL players, all ready to compete in the 2020 season. For some, this was their first season of OWL, for other veterans, this was their third. We discussed their upbringing, early signs of gaming prowess, and, of course, how they’re handling the new homestand heavy season of the Overwatch League.

Contributors:

Shellie Cruz (Danteh’s Mom)

Liz Lombardo (ZachaREEE’s Mom)

Ulrika Lindgren (ELLIVOTE’s Mom)

Maurizio DeLisi (Super’s Dad)

Randi Hellman (Rawkus’ Mom)

Carol Meissner (NotE’s Mom)

What was the first video game you remember your son playing? Were they any good at it?

Shellie Cruz:

“ATV Off-road Fury. He was 2 years old and figured it out on the PlayStation with his tiny little hands. He taught himself how to play it and he loved it!” 

Liz Lombardo:

“I know Zack played Battlefield, but honestly one of my favorite memories revolves around World of Warcraft. My oldest son, Brett (18 at the time) would have LAN parties at our house every WoW expansion. We’d have a house full of teenagers with ethernet cords strewn all over the place. 

They’d take over the kitchen and dining room and run wires so they could all hardwire and they’d stay for 5 days. At that point, Zack was about 8 and he’d be downstairs leveling up with all of them. 

We’d always laugh because Zack would run quests so others could level up and they would be astounded when my oldest, Brett, told them his 8-year-old brother was running quests with them.” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“ELLIVOTE played Counterstrike and was really good at it. He also almost went pro in Call of Duty, but he got introduced to Overwatch instead.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“I think it was either Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon or one of the countless other console games. He was always very good at playing games. He never seemed deterred or discouraged when he played. If he liked a game, he would play a game until he finished and then play it again until he could achieve the highest possible outcome.”

Randi Hellman:

“Shane started playing video games very early in life. He was very young, maybe 3, when he played GoldenEye. He actually beat all of his older sister’s friends. He also played a lot of Pokemon as well.”

Carol Meissner:

“Tonka Raceway and other CDs from cereal boxes. I have no idea if he was good. He was happy so that was enough for me.”

Shellie, Randi & SF Shock Owner, Andy Miller

What stands out most from the early days of your son playing on an actual esports team? How different was it to their siblings’ or cousins’ traditional sporting teams?

Shellie Cruz:

“Honestly, it’s very similar. Dante played soccer until he was 18–competitive travel and high school. He practiced and had games. It’s the same for esports. The same type of routine.”

Liz Lombardo:

“Zack also played on a high-level soccer team. When he stopped playing so he could focus on Overwatch, he was already being scouted by colleges and he was only a sophomore in high school. 

Honestly, the amount of scrim time and VOD review that his early teams did was more than the amount of time his soccer team spent practicing. I remember thinking how much work he was putting into the game so he could get on a team and move up. 

I would say that the hours were much different. Traditional sports were practiced after school or on the weekends. The scrims for his esports teams were usually later at night.”  

Ulrika Lindgren:

“That almost every game was played late at night and that it was harder to be involved, since it all took place on the computer screen instead of an open place, like a soccer game where you could stand on the side and cheer.”

Maurizio DeLisi:

“I didn’t know much about his esports involvement until he was offered his first esports contract. As far as I knew beforehand, he was just playing games on his PC. Before esports, Matt also played in an organized foot hockey league. He was always very competitive.”

Randi Hellman:

“Shane was athletic, too, growing up. He obtained a black belt in Kenpo, Kung Fu, and Jiu-jitsu by the time he was 8 ½. He was also an avid golfer and loved to skateboard and bike. But, gaming took over in his mid-teen years and he took playing video games to another level.”

Carol Meissner:

“No difference. Coaches. Teammates. Practice. Games. Competition is competition.”

Ulrika is her son’s number one fan.

What came as the biggest surprise to you, the first time you watched your son play at a live esports event?

Shellie Cruz:

“I knew he had fans, but seeing people wearing his jersey and fans cheering for him just made me smile.” 

Liz Lombardo:

“Zack’s first live event was the Overwatch Heroes Rumble in Taipei, December 2017. Since Zack was still 16 then, I got to travel with him. It was an incredible experience for me to see the level of excitement the fans had. It was also surreal to see how much they loved the players. 

Seeing the lines for autographs and pictures with my kid was something I’ll never forget. He absolutely loves playing on stage. He had a few on-air interviews post-match and I remember thinking how eloquent and poised he was. I thought to myself, ‘He was made to do this.'” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“I got to go to Paris to watch Angry Titans vs Eagle Gaming in Contenders Season 2 Grand Final as my first live esports event, and that was surreal–the atmosphere, the crowd, the hype. It was so much more of everything I could have imagined.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“We were fortunate enough to be in L.A. for his first match right after he turned 18. I was overwhelmed by the show of support he received.”  

Randi Hellman:

“I was blown away! Watching streamed content is exciting, but live games are incredible. The energy, the culture, and fans make it such an exhilarating experience. I can’t get enough of live games.”

Carol Meissner:

“How calm he is. Focused.”

Young NotE

Did you previously know anything about the professional “esport” side of video games?

Shellie Cruz:

“Not so much. When Dante was little, he would say he wanted to be a professional gamer when he grew up. I told him that it wasn’t real and he needed to pick something else. Well, he proved me wrong. I did start looking into it when he joined Denial/Arch 6.”

Liz Lombardo:

“I really was not aware too much about the professional side of video gaming. Once we knew Zack was going to be taking this path, I researched the subject. I looked for anything I could find about professional esports and tried to learn everything I could, about Overwatch as well as the other games.” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“Not really.” 

Randi Hellman:

“Yes, I did, but I always felt it was a long shot, especially for American players.”

Carol Meissner:

“A fair bit. His older brother plays CS:GO and educated me years ago. He sat with me to explain it all. We watched the events. He updated me on team news. (He still plays–Collegiate–so I follow that scene too. Avgl and CSL champs!)

And I’ve followed it as an industry since then. I’m a business professor so I was curious how it all worked. I studied it. Read a ton about it. Asked a lot of questions.”

Young Super

What were you most scared of for your son then? What are you most scared of for him now?

Shellie Cruz:

“Scared of at the beginning of OWL? Him moving so far from home straight out of high school. I was worried I didn’t teach him enough about everyday life by then but he has done incredibly well! I’m honestly not scared of anything for him now. He has a good head on his shoulders and is living his best life.” 

Liz Lombardo:

“As a parent, my main worry was that this would prohibit him from finishing high school. He was only 16 when this was all starting to take off and I was uncertain of this esports future. Zack also had a 4.5 GPA and was scoring fours and fives on his AP exams. 

It was my thought that he was going to a high-level university. We agreed that he had to finish high school and he did graduate Suma Cum Laude with a 4.4 GPA while in the Overwatch League.  

What’s scariest now – Honestly, the exposure to the public is a scary thing. While 98 percent of the fan experience is a great one, the opportunity for harassment and toxicity towards him exists. 

Zack has experienced a lot of negativity and he’s able to let it go. You close your DMs and don’t read any of the negative stuff. I, however, have a harder time with it. LOL” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“Back then I was most scared that he was going to spend too much time home by himself and miss out on the social happenings. I also thought that it wasn’t good to sit still for so long at a time.

Now I think more about if he gets enough sleep, eats alright and such things. Now I know how social it is to ‘just sit at the computer playing video games online.'” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“Not scared in-as-much as knowing that I would not be right there to help him in the event of an emergency. However, I spent a lot of time speaking with the organization and I felt comfortable knowing he was in good hands.”

Randi Hellman:

“It is not that I am afraid. Shane has a really good head on his shoulder; he is really grounded and highly focused. I have small concerns about what happens after “play.” I hope there are programs in place to nurture and transition these pros from players to other elite positions within esports.”

Carol Meissner:

“Nothing. The league did everything to make sure parents knew their kids would be cared for. And the teams have delivered.

Dallas seems like a great city to live in. So just happy for him.” 

Zack & Liz

If you had to pick, what would you say your son is the most proud of in their career so far? What’s yours, for them?

Shellie Cruz:

“For Dante, being in the League, competing against the best of the best, and of course, beating the San Francisco Shock. And for me, I’m the most proud of him staying humble and kind to everyone. He stays true to himself and follows his dreams.”

Liz Lombardo:

“I think winning Contenders with Fusion University, back to back, without dropping a series would rank up there for him.  

I’m always proud of him. I will say that the moment that most registers in my heart, was at the Dallas Homestand. After their win, he was surrounded by the team and was speaking with Mica about us being in the stands and his graduating high school. aKm had a tight hug on Zack and the crow started chanting ‘ZACH-A -REEE, ZACH-A-REEE.’ I will never forget that feeling.”  

Ulrika Lindgren:

“It is too hard to pick just one on his behalf. It happened so many awesome things in less than one year. He got signed by Contenders Team Envy, then OWL Washington Justice, and to spice it up even more, he got to represent Sweden in OWWC. 

I, on the other hand, actually get proud every single time I hear or see ELLIVOTE’s name somewhere. Like when he plays a game and the casters mention ‘ELLIVOTE,’ I smile and clap my hands. Haha. So silly but true story. 😛 For me, it was really big when they announced that he got to play with Team Sweden; what an honor!”

Maurizio DeLisi:

“I would say the Grand Final and the World Cup championships. I knew they were both things that he really wanted. Achieving both accomplishments in the same year was amazing.”

Randi Hellman:

“The one thing that I would say for Shane is winning the Overwatch World Cup. He worked so hard and really deserved it! I am proud of everything he does–especially the type of leader, teammate, and friend he is to all.”

Carol Meissner:

“Always proud of my boys. OWL is just a bonus life experience.”

Shellie and Randi taking fan photos

When they got the call up to OWL, did it feel different, in any way, to the other organizations and teams?

Shellie Cruz:

“Definitely. He was moving to L.A. and it all felt so surreal. It was too good to be true. It was a lot to take in.” 

Liz Lombardo:

“We were really hoping for Dallas. Envy was one of the organizations that I had researched when I was learning about the professional side of video gaming. Mike Rufail’s reputation for business and his gaming background was incredibly important to me.   

The amount of resources an OWL organization has was a new thing for us. It all increased as he went from Renegades to Fusion University and finally on to The Dallas Fuel.”

Maurizio DeLisi:

“When he was with Hammers and LG Evil, there wasn’t any traveling or away from home time. The call up to OWL meant he would need to relocate. He was in high school at the time and the fact that he would be moving away during his senior year was a concern.

We were fortunate enough to find a charter school that was online, and the agreement was that Matt needed to obtain his high school diploma – which he did.” 

Randi Hellman:

“Yes! He moved from NYC to L.A. ;(. That aside, I was very proud and happy for him, though.”

Carol Meissner:

“When he played for Toronto esports he was in a team house but it was easy to drive to see him. Having to get in a plane to see him made it “real” that he was doing something very different.”

Young Rawkus & sister

How do you remember them reacting to the news? How did you and your family react?

Shellie Cruz:

“He told me and I sat down and bawled. I couldn’t stop crying. Not because of what he was doing, but the fact that he was leaving home, moving so far. I was so sad for me. At that moment, I realized my baby boy would not be living in our home much longer.

It hurt, but I put myself together and I completely supported him. He was following his dreams and doing something he genuinely loved. His dad was supportive and helped research more information on the league. His brother was excited for him!”

Liz Lombardo:

“The negotiations involved in getting him released from Fusion were tenuous. It was a long, drawn-out process and not a positive experience so when he finally signed the contract, it was a huge relief. I remember tears of happiness and a feeling of elation that he had finally realized his dream of joining Fuel. I remember coming home from a movie that night and just hugging and crying in our driveway.” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“Elli has kept his cool pretty much through it but I, on the other hand, felt both excitement and a little sad. Sad that he was leaving a great team but excited and proud that he finally got to play with the “big boys” in OWL. IMO it wasn’t a surprise that he got called up.

Our family has been supportive and sooo happy for him to get this opportunity to move to a totally different country and even a new continent. Since Washington Justice has been so welcoming and helpful with everything regarding the move, it hasn’t been as many worries as to when he joined Angry Titans in Germany a few years prior.”

Maurizio DeLisi:

“Everyone was happy for Matt. Some family members didn’t fully understand at the time, but they are more understanding of what his career entails and they follow along as much as they can.”

Randi Hellman:

“Our entire family reacted in such a positive way! We all kind of knew Shane was heading towards big things in esports. Shane gained popularity with Faze prior to the Overwatch League. I always knew he would be signed, but was not sure which team he would be on. When I found out he was on the Outlaws it was hush-hush, I couldn’t wait for them to do the announcement video.”

Carol Meissner:

“I think I was more excited than he was. He was more in shock. He worked hard to get that far.”

Zack & Liz

What’s your favorite small way to support your son in their endeavors? 

Shellie Cruz:

“I watch every game. I text him after every game. I go to as many games as I can afford. We have so much Shock and Outlaws merch in our house. And, of course, my Sombra tattoo!! He knows I’m his biggest cheerleader and greatest fan!” 

Liz Lombardo:

“Zack and I have a very special bond. Everyone always says that he and I are one and the same. We talk every day and all through the day. We talk about the game, strategy, heroes anything he wants to talk about. 

From handling his business expenses to being a sounding board for him to be able to talk about anything with, I’m always there. He knows that. I also visit him often, stock his freezer with home-cooked meals and send him care packages all the time  🙂  

You have no idea how much I miss this kid when he’s not home.  :)”

Ulrika Lindgren:

“When ELLIVOTE lived at home and packed his bags for a tournament or go live in a team house, I used to write some cheerful notes and hide in his luggage so he would find it when he unpacked.

Sometimes he repacked a bag and found the note before he left so then I tried to sneak it in there again. Now when he has moved to Washington I like to leave a comment on his twitter, other peoples tweets that include him and be active when he streams. I also send him care packages with Swedish candy and stuff.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“We catch as many matches as we can. Even though we can’t always be there, we are always watching from home. We have an SF Shock banner hanging in our family room and of course, we wear our Shock gear as often as we can. We also follow along through social media and interact, share, like, retweet, etc.”

Randi Hellman:

“I support Shane 100% in anything he chooses to do. I like to go to events and see him as often as I can. If he asks me to do something, I will help him any way I can, I try to really listen to him, and give him as much advice as he lets me give him. He is an amazing person, I am really proud of him!”

Shellie’s Sombra tattoo

With esports players being so young, are you ever concerned about potential burn out from all the travel and pressure they face?

Shellie Cruz:

“Not at all, for Dante anyway. He had years when he was in school, cross country and competitive travel soccer. He would be busy from sunrise past sundown. He knows how to time manage and to take breaks when needed. He’s very smart and burnout is not a concern for me at this time.”

Liz Lombardo:

“Zack just turned 19 on the 27th of January. He started with Renegades when he was 16. I’m amazed at his maturity. He truly is an impressive kid. I don’t worry about burnout. He has a good head on his shoulders and has a great support system when he needs it. 

Zack, more than me, is able to focus on what needs to get done and leave all the negative behind. He enjoys doing media and is quite good at it. It’s all part of the OWL experience. Travel this year is definitely going to be interesting, but again, I have no doubt he will be fine with it.”

Ulrika Lindgren:

“I think a lot about the psychological part of this career. It requires a lot of ‘online-time,’ not just during and after scrims, games, and streams. I wish that all teams with signed players would hire a mental coach and think of it as equally important than how to improve your play.

A lot of players have trouble with their sleep, and with such a crucial need as that, it has to be addressed early on in the career to make sure our kids can stay healthy for a long time.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“Definitely. This is all new to the league. The players will need to learn how to balance their time and get the rest that they need in order to compete effectively.

Sleep is so vitally important and often neglected. It is perhaps the single most important thing a person can do to heal their bodies, strengthen their immunity and improve their concentration and productivity.”

Randi Hellman:

“I am concerned for some players who do not have a good support system. I guess I am really lucky Shane knows how to balance life, work, and play. I always have his back!”

Carol Meissner:

“NotE is a smart young man. I trust him to make good decisions and look after himself. And I am sure the Dallas Fuel will take good care of its players. It’s a lot for anyone to deal with, but he’s in his third season so I think he has learned a lot about how to manage stress and long workdays.”

Ulrika and family

I know quite a few of you like to talk to and support each other. How would you describe the OWL parenting community at large? 

Shellie Cruz:

“We all want the same thing–to support our kids doing what they love (-:”

Liz Lombardo:

“This past year, the OWL parent community has grown with leaps and bounds. I remember slowly reaching out to some of the other parents as Zack’s OWL journey was beginning. 

It’s a great community and very supportive of all our kids no matter what rivalries may exist. We watch out for all our kids. It’s a great resource for each of us to have so that we can vent or talk about any parent issues we may need support with.   

I’m blessed to have met a great group of moms through the World Cup and OWL process last year. There are a few that I can easily call good friends.” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“It’s heartwarming to be a part of this community as a parent to OWL kids. Everyone is so supportive and helpful even if the kids are ‘rivals.’ No hate, just love and that is not the story in all sports.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“The parent community is very supportive; most of us connect online and we even have our own Discord server. We all share many of the same concerns. I had the opportunity to meet some parents at the Grand Finals and it was nice to bond with others in our situation.  

Note about Danteh’s parents: ♥ His parents are the best. Matt’s first year in OWL, we could not be there for his birthday, Danteh’s parents were visiting L.A. at the time and bought Matt a cake for his 18th birthday. That act meant the world to me and I am so happy they took the time to help him celebrate.”

Randi Hellman:

“The parents have a very supportive friendship. I am very close with Danteh’s mom Shellie, the Outlaws parents, parents from other teams such as the Shock, Washington DC, Dallas and Team USA. We all root for each other’s children, band together and share our concerns.

We formed a Moms twitter, a private parents discord and our team has an ‘Outlaws Moms’ Facebook group. It makes it easier to talk to people who can relate to some of the same obstacles we face as esports parents. This year is going to be a lot of fun since some of us are traveling together!”

Carol Meissner:

“Friendly. I had coffee with Kelley’s family when I was in Denmark. Hoping to do that with more parents when I get to their cities.”

Young Super

Do the fans tend to interact with you very often? Any stand out moments from being that close to people who, in many cases, idolize your son?

Shellie Cruz:

“At Grand Finals in September, I was there with Rawkus’ mom and someone was filming and introduced us and fans started cheering. It was very heartwarming.

One of the lovely ladies there asked to take a picture with me. I’m not used to that but it made my heart happy that my boy means so much to people. I’m so happy that others see how amazing he is. He has a kind heart and such a beautiful soul.” 

Liz Lombardo:

“I’m very accessible on Twitter. I love chatting with Zack’s fans and fans of Overwatch. I really enjoy interacting with everyone. I always tell people to come and say ‘hi’ if I’m at the matches. 

I still can’t get over having someone ask to take a picture with me. Meeting everyone at the Dallas Homestand was something I will never forget. I always love it when I hear “Hey, aren’t you Zack’s mom?” and I get to meet and talk to fans. It’s really quite special.” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“From time to time, I get a response from fans on Twitter or Twitch when I post something about ELLIVOTE or interact in chats and I’m just loving it! It’s such a warm feeling to get to be involved in my kid’s ‘happenings.'”

Maurizio DeLisi:

“The fans are great. For me, the best moments are fans thanking me for supporting my son’s career.”

Randi Hellman:

“The fans definitely reach out. I have been very fortunate in meeting them, too. I have gone to many live games in Burbank as well as the Dallas Homestand, not to mention both Grand Finals. I have attended a few local OWL events and even did a charity event in NYC over the holidays. The OWL fan community is remarkable!”

Carol Meissner:

“Most are too shy. It makes my day when someone comes up to say they are a fan of my son.

It was really fun getting recognized on one of my visits to the Blizzard Arena when he wasn’t with me.”

“This picture is when I dropped him off at the airport for the official move, moments before I broke down into tears.” – Shellie Cruz

How quickly did you catch on to the business side of things? Anything you wish you knew getting into it?

Shellie Cruz:

“Well, San Francisco Shock and Outlaws are completely different organizations so it’s hard to answer this. Outlaws have new owners now which is good for us! It’s different for every team. I wish I would’ve known other parents sooner; it’s nice to be able to talk to people in similar situations.” 

Liz Lombardo:

“I’d say pretty quick. Zack’s manager from The Renegades became a very good friend of mine. He was my start at getting as much information as I could about the business side. Zack’s agent was another resource and of course fellow OWL parents.”  

Maurizio DeLisi:

“We were able to come up to speed rather quickly. My son was a minor when he received his contract which meant I also had to sign. I asked a lot of questions and spent many hours on the phone with his agency and the organization until I was comfortable that I had the answers that I needed.”

Randi Hellman:

“Immediately! I have always had my concerns about how quickly esports has evolved into a booming industry.”

Carol Meissner:

“I try not to get involved in his personal business. He is an adult. I am here if he asks.

I now teach an introductory course at a College called, The Business of Esports. I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I’ve learned a lot.”

Zack & his brother playing games

Have you met any players or casters from the OWL team that you have become friends with? Were you surprised by any of them?

Shellie Cruz:

“I would consider most of the Shock staff friends of mine. I still talk to Andy and Brett; they are such wonderful people! Amelia from Blizzard is simply amazing and such a sweet lady I can call my friend. There are so many that are friends with my son and they are simply so kind to me.”

Liz Lombardo:

“Because Zack was under 18 for most of his early competing, I was lucky enough to travel with him. That allowed me to meet a lot of players and some of the casters as well. Everyone is so approachable and friendly. It’s always nice to chat with anyone that knows your kid and appreciates his work ethic and dedication.”  

Maurizio DeLisi:

“I’ve met most of the casters and many players. The casters I’ve met have been very nice, and most are not at all like their TV persona, except for maybe Bren – he’s a character.”

Randi Hellman:

“I like them all; the community is like a big happy family! We all relate to each other. I am sad that some of my favorite casters are not with OWL this year, but thanks to social media, we can keep in touch.”

Ulrika & ELLIVOTE

Aside from your son, who’s your favorite player to watch, and why?

Shellie Cruz:

“I would have to say Super. He is such a sweet kid and has a similar personality to Dante. Dante and Super together are just hilarious. They are true friends for life.” 

Liz Lombardo:

“That’s easy–WhoRU and uNKOE. I kind of feel like they’re both adopted sons for me. WhoRU was in Korea and I’d also have breakfast watching his stream in the morning Florida time, and uNKOE was always a later evening stream so I’d watch him after dinner. 

WhoRU and Zack have been best friends since their Fusion Uni days. We have a great mom/son relationship and talk quite a bit. Then there’s uNKOE; he’s like an older son to me. He’s like Zack’s big brother and they have a great friendship as well. I love those guys!” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“LullSiSH, without a doubt. I have had the privilege to follow him since he was just a kid and played soccer with my son. They went to school together for many, many years and when they started playing video games I hosted a few LANs in our kitchen.

He is also a very good tank player and I enjoy watching his games. Luckily for me, the boys have played together a huge part of their pro career so it’s been double the fun to see them at the same time.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“There are so many great personalities in the league. I follow as many as I can. Danteh however, is perhaps one of my favorites. He was my son’s first roommate and they really bonded during their first year in OWL. Their online interactions were great! I’m glad they got to meet; their friendship is special.”

Randi Hellman:

“I am not going to call any one player out; these boys are all amazing! What I will say is, I like watching certain teams besides the Outlaws, and I am looking forward to attending the NYXL’s Homestand here in my hometown of NYC.”

Carol Meissner:

“I just watch him. I do cheer for the kids of parents I have met when they aren’t playing against NotE.” 

Young Rawkus and Parents

Any thoughts on the historic win for the USA in the OWWC this year?

Shellie Cruz:

“Bittersweet.” 

Liz Lombardo:

“I was very happy for Sinatraa and Rawkus. I got to know them during World Cup last year and they are two of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet. It was great to watch the team grab that gold!”  

Ulrika Lindgren:

“I think it’s really cool that both Corey and Bawlynn from Team USA are a part of Washington Justice, as well as my kid.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“It was amazing. Matt always wanted this, and I was so happy that he finally got the chance to not just compete for the cup, but win it!”

Randi Hellman:

“Yes!!!!! I am one proud momma! Shane and team USA deserved this win. I can’t explain the immense feelings of joy I felt watching them throughout that whole series. It’s one feeling I will never forget.”

Young Super playing Hockey

How excited are you for OWL’s third season to get underway? How hard has having the teams move to their home cities been?

Shellie Cruz:

“I’m so incredibly ready! Life is so boring without OWL now! It has been quite a change. All of these boys have been in L.A. and have some amazing friendships and now some live so far from the best friends they’ve grown accustomed to seeing every day.” 

Liz Lombardo:

“I’m so excited. I’ve made two trips to Dallas to get Zack settled in and I absolutely love Dallas. Having him closer in distance and only 1-hour time zone change makes me really happy.”

Ulrika Lindgren:

“Soooo excited.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“Let’s get the games started!”

Randi Hellman:

“I am so excited; the offseason has been too long!! OWL is my entertainment these days. It’s so much fun, especially when the parents text each other while watching; it makes it quite exciting. 

As far as the move to the home cities, it is bittersweet. All these boys are very close and have lived in L.A. for two years. Now they are living and traveling all over the world.  

Personally, it’s great for me, since most of the Outlaws games are on the east coast and I can do a few short weekends here and there.”

Carol Meissner:

“Not hard for players. They are settled in their home and that’s awesome.”

“Dante is #6 in this HS picture, keeping the #6 in OWL” – Shellie Cruz

Do you have any thoughts on the new Hero Pool addition to OWL that Jeff Kaplan mentioned in the latest Dev Update video?

Shellie Cruz:

“I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I’ll have to see how it plays out.”

Liz Lombardo:

“I think it’s definitely interesting. I would have preferred a hero ban like League of Legends where they ban a hero before the match. I think the teams should be able to pick the hero not played and not have OWL decide it the week before.”

Maurizio DeLisi:

“I think it’s an interesting concept. Players will need to learn a deeper hero pool and with travel, they might not have the necessary time to practice strategy for any given set of hero bans. It should make for some interesting gameplay.”

Carol Meissner:

“I don’t try to think about that too much. It’s enough for me to keep up with the basics. I’ll figure it out when the time comes.”

Young Rawkus

If you could say anything to new and future OWL parents who might be nervous about the idea of their son or daughter becoming a professional esports player, what would it be?

Shellie Cruz:

“Let them shine! Allow them to follow their dreams! There will be other parents in the same boat that will help you!” 

Liz Lombardo:

“I’d say let them follow their dreams. As parents, we’re there to support them and help them reach their goals. It’s a little scary at first because of the unknown. But, I’d tell them to reach out to other OWL parents, Contenders parents and ask questions. All of us are more than happy to help.”

Ulrika Lindgren:

“When your kid has set his/her mind to become professional, just support them in any way that you can and stay involved. It can absolutely be scary to see your young one leave home and live abroad, but there are so many more positive sides to it.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“Ask a lot of questions! Nothing is off the table; if it is on your mind, it is a legitimate concern. Hire a lawyer and an agent – I can’t stress this enough.  Although OWL has structured contracts for all players, this might not be the case for other leagues.

If your child is good enough to get a contract, get some sound investment advice.

If they are really that good, support their dreams. It’s not often that someone gets to do what they love in life and get paid for it. My DM’s are open; send me a message if you have any questions.”

Randi Hellman:

“I have participated in a few interviews and I will stick to what I have said before and keep it short and sweet (even though I can talk about this for hours).

Don’t rule it out! Listen, observe, and really pay attention to your child, if they are interested in pursuing a career in esports. It’s a ‘real’ career now and can be very lucrative. But please keep in mind, not every good ‘video game player’ can be an esports professional. It requires a certain type of personality that is very focused and driven, coupled with skill and the maturity to take the good with the bad. It is not an easy lifestyle.”

Carol Meissner:

“No parent would be nervous about their child having a career with a traditional sports team. I can’t wait for the day parents understand that esports (at least OWL) have built an equivalent system.” 

Super and parents

Since your sons are all in the midst of a very busy period and gearing up for the new season, is there anything you’d like to share with them here? 

Shellie Cruz:

“Dante Anthony, you are a champion! Keep grinding, keep pushing–you will succeed! Keep reaching for the stars, kiddo! You’ve got this! See you in Houston soon!!!!” 

Liz Lombardo:

“I tell Zack this every day, but, I’m so proud of everything he’s doing and the incredible person he’s become and also that I love him more than he could possibly know. Keep being you!”  

Ulrika Lindgren:

“GLHF, I’ll see you on your first Homestand in Washington DC on the 22nd of February.” 

Randi Hellman:

“Shane, I am so proud of you and wish you all the best this season. Stay focused and keep your eye on the ‘W.’ I will support you always in everything you choose to do! I want all your dreams to come true and I know you will make them happen! Miss you, love you! Can’t wait to see you!”

Carol Meissner:

“Lucky for me, I’ll be at the homestand. Looking forward to seeing him there.”

Young NotE

Is there anything in your own personal life that you would like to plug, or any last words you’d like to share?

Shellie Cruz

“Not that I can think of.”

Liz Lombardo:

“Thanks for reaching out to me for this interview. It has been a blast. I’d like others to know that if they have any questions about OWL or esports in general that I’d be happy to talk to them about it. 

I know how scary it can be. It wasn’t until I realized that the standard path I had envisioned for my child wasn’t the path his life had in store for him, that I was able to embrace this esports life and help guide my son through it.” 

Ulrika Lindgren:

“There can often be a lot of negative comments like “playing video games isn’t a real job” from others so I think it’s important that we spread info about how incredibly talented you need to be as an esport pro. You need to be flexible, be able to make good decisions in a split second, keep many tasks going on at the same time, know how to keep your cool even in intensely stressful situations, and much, much more.” 

Maurizio DeLisi:

“No.”

Randi Hellman:

“Ante up!”

BONUS ROUND:

One of the most fun things about this interview was getting to see the childhood photos of the players. I have opted to create a game with them!

Below are six baby photos of the players whose parents featured in this interview. Can you guess who is who? Answers in the comments below!

1)

2)

3)

4)

5)

6)

I’d like to thank all of the lovely parents for donating their time, photos and answers to WP:L, we wish all of their sons the very best in the upcoming season.

Stay Connected

Follow me on Twitter: @HeroRecallOW
Message me on Discord: Tom (HeroRecall)#2333
Watch my Videos: HeroRecall.com

Follow the Overwatch parents:

Shellie Cruz (@ShellieAnnCruz)

Liz Lombardo (@Liz_Lombardo)

Ulrika Lindgren (@ullinullin)

Maurizio DeLisi (@key2jail)

Randi Hellman (@RandiHNYC)

Carol Meissner (@_MamaNotE)

If you want to play along with the Watchpoint: Lobby staff, join our free fantasy Unlimited League (weekly roster draft) or Pick ’em League (pick the winners of each week’s matches). There are prizes for the top 3 teams in each league.

Follow Watchpoint: Lobby for all your Overwatch League Coverage

Twitter: @Watchpointlobby
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By the common OWL fan, for the common OWL fan

One thought on “Parents of OWL: How to Raise a Professional Overwatch Player

  1. Answers to the baby photos:

    1) Super
    2) ZackaREEE
    3) ELLIVOTE
    4) NotE
    5) Danteh
    6) Rawkus

    Hope you all enjoyed the article 🙂

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