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Former Boston Uprising player and current caster Connor “Avast” Prince has built up a significant community through hosting co-streams of the Overwatch League, garnering 15-20 thousand viewers for his roundtable of brutally honest critiques of live matches. But from the passion of those tens of thousands of members, a series of fan-organized, Avast-hosted subscriber tournaments has emerged.

Avast Sub Tourney 4
The community-made logo for the fourth Avast Sub Tournament. | Photo provided by Connor “Avast” Prince.

While these tournaments started small, much like Avast’s stream itself, they have now grown into a way for average members of the Overwatch League community to showcase everything from their in-game prowess to skills with graphic design, video creation, editing and other talents.

Avast said he doesn’t quite remember who came up with the idea to run the tournaments, but he does recall the slight speed bumps he had to overcome in those earlier days.

“I remember I fully casted the first two sub tournaments,” Avast said. “It was brutal… but we made a lot of progress and it was fun.”

After that minor hiccup, he helped cultivate a large crew of casters, analysts from professional and amateur backgrounds. As the tourneys grew more popular, his team included more special additions to the broadcast.

One of the key developments in these tournaments was having fans vote for captains, popular members in the community to design and lead the creation of teams. After these captains are voted in, they show off their team name, design and logo. Then they draft from a pool of Avast’s subscribers to build their teams. Fans apply via Google Forms, putting in their skill level and role within the game. These drafts don’t always focus on simply picking the best players; friends of captains and popular figures tend to get in quick.

Avast himself isn’t fully up on all the details these days. He admits he is “relatively uninvolved” when it comes to planning these tournaments, at this point. They have taken on a life of their own.

“A sub tournament is more like I’m using my channel and the reach I currently have to just broadcast it to the community so that everyone can enjoy it and be like a figurehead,” he said. “It’s more so the community doing all this and putting on the show.”

The engine behind the tournaments

One of the people actually responsible for organizing these tournaments is a long-time moderator and fan of Avast’s streams, known simply as Solomon. The extent of his creativity and control over these tournaments is tremendous, from helping organize the drafts and captain showcases, to picking the dates and rules of the matches themselves. He even created his own website for keeping the history of these tournaments, alongside many other big contributions to Avast’s co-streams.

“I started just by making some little things to make [Avast’s] life easier,” Solomon said. “The first thing was the mods update command, where viewers could see what guests Avast had easily. Also, I made Gigabrain, which helped a lot.”

Solomon’s Gigabrain service allows fans to easily watch both the Avast Twitch stream and the YouTube Overwatch League stream at the same time, allowing them to choose which chat to follow on one browser.

When Avast agreed to create the sub tournaments, he put Solomon in charge of setting them up. Alongside other friends in the Avast community, Solomon created the first sub tournament just before the third Overwatch League season, in January of 2020. Since that first tournament, his team has held three others, each during a break in the main Overwatch League season.

As each tournament has grown in size and scale, the community has worked with each other to make it easier and more enjoyable.

Avast sub tourney
Photo provided by Connor “Avast” Prince.

“This community is what made all this possible,” Solomon said. “If we didn’t have a community that was this respectful to each other, that things like these tournaments would even run or not.”

As these tournaments advanced from the first to the fourth iterations, the production quality has gone from very simple to very complex. These captains, who are mostly just popular chatters from Avast’s Twitch streams, put a lot of time and effort in making their team logos, designs and reveal videos to be creative, funny and entertaining.

Building real-world skills

Someone who has experience with creation in these tournaments is known as TekuGen, captain of the Avast Sub Tourney 4 team “Genesis.” He has gone from a simple player to a captain with experience in video editing and graphic design.

“Without this community, I wouldn’t have learned that I like making montages,” TekuGen said. “I wouldn’t have learned the skills necessary for things like timing, pacing and editing, and how to use After Effects.”

These new skills even came into play outside Avast’s community when the Overwatch League created a competition where fans could edit the game footage from a recent tournament, and the best video would win a prize of $3,000. TekuGen was one of those fans, and he ended up winning the competition off of the skills he honed in his time captaining in the sub tournaments. He preached about how this event offers exclusive opportunities along with the fun and enjoyment of it all.

“I think that [the sub tourneys] have really allowed people to chase dreams that feel unattainable with esports being a really hard market to get into,” TekuGen said. “And it’s awesome to be able to take part in these events where it’s clearly for fun, but then you think, ‘if I put in the extra work here, this could actually be something that is worth my time.’”

From the host, Avast, to tournament developers like Solomon and TekuGen, these tournaments are a true showcase of what fans can do when they’re passionate about a game and a community. The fact that this tournament has no prizes other than bragging rights speaks volumes about the people who participate in it.

As Avast himself put it, “it is an entirely grassroots thing that is made by the community. I am simply just a megaphone for the voice.”