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Houston Outlaws

The Houston Outlaws are an American professional Overwatch esports team based in Houston, Texas. The Outlaws compete in the Overwatch League (OWL) as a member of the league's Atlantic South Division.

Founded in 2017, Houston Outlaws is one of the league's twelve founding members and is one of two professional Overwatch teams based in Texas (the other, Dallas Fuel). Originally, the Outlaws were established by Infinite Esports. The Immortals Gaming Club (IGC) acquired Infinite Esports in 2019, marking the first change of ownership of an OWL franchise. However, IGC already had ownership of Los Angeles Valiant, and while the League allowed IGC to operate both teams, had set strict standards to keep the teams independent. Subsequently, IGC sold the Outlaws to the Beasley Media Group in November 2019.

The team will play its home matches at the Revention Music Center in Houston's downtown Theater District.

Kim "TaiRong" Tae-yeong was the team's first head coach and led the team to two stage playoff appearances, but no season playoff appearances, throughout his tenure; after failing to qualify for the season playoffs in his first two seasons, he was released from the team. Harsha "Harsha" Bandi, who was an assistant coach for the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans, is the current head coach.

Beginnings

On September 20, 2017, Blizzard Entertainment officially announced that American esports organization OpTic Gaming had acquired the Houston-based franchise of the Overwatch League. Reports suggested that OpTic received an investment from Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Leibman to help fund the $20 million Overwatch franchise fee. On October 31, the franchise name was revealed as the Houston Outlaws.

Early years (2018–present)

On January 11, 2018, the Outlaws played their first regular season Overwatch League match, a 3–2 loss to the Philadelphia Fusion. One week later, on January 17, Houston claimed their first victory after sweeping the Shanghai Dragons 4–0. Houston went on to qualify for the Stage 1 playoffs but fell to the London Spitfire in the semifinals. Houston entered their last regular season match against the New York Excelsior needing a win to keep their season playoff hopes alive. The Outlaws had a 2–1 lead after three matches, but New York won the next three straight to take the win 3–2. The team finished with a regular season record of 22–18.

The Outlaws began their 2019 season winning three of their matches in Stage 1. The stage was capped off by a 1–3 loss to the Atlanta Reign that prevented Houston from qualifying for the Stage 1 Playoffs.[9] Houston performed poorly in Stage 2, as the team did not claim a single victory in their seven matches of the stage. After the All-Star break, the Outlaws hit their stride, posting a 5–2 record in Stage 3 and qualifying for the Stage 3 Playoffs. However, lost to the Vancouver Titans 0–3 in the quarterfinals. A 1–3 loss to the London Spitfire in Week 3 of Stage 4 officially eliminated the Outlaws from season playoff contention. Houston ended the season on a 5-game losing streak to finish the season with a disappointing 9–19 record.

On June 12, 2019, Immortals Gaming Club (IGC), the parent company of Immortals and Los Angeles Valiant, acquired Infinite Esports, the parent company of Houston Outlaws and OpTic Gaming, marking the first sale of any Overwatch League franchise. Both Riot Games and Activision Blizzard approved the sale; by OWL rules, one company may not own more than one OWL franchise, so IGC had to operate the Valiant and Outlaws as entirely separate entities, with oversight by OWL representatives, until IGC sold the Outlaws. In November 2019, IGC sold the Outlaws to the Beasley Media Group.

The Outlaws failed to make it past the quarterfinals in each of the three midseason tournaments of their 2020 season. Houston ended the season with a 6–15 record and were eliminated from postseason contention on September 3 after a 1–3 to the Boston Uprising in the North America play-ins tournament.

Team identity

On October 30, 2017, OpTic Gaming announced that the team Houston-based team would be called the Houston Outlaws. The organization chose the name "to honor the region’s rebellious and fearless nature in the face of all challenges, channeling its history and fight for independence to create a name and identity that is as large-and-in-charge as its hometown.

The design of the logo was a collaboration between OpTic Gaming and the Overwatch Development team. It depicts two revolvers arranged in the shape of the classic Texan longhorn skull, with a star in between the horns. The two revolvers forming the skull "symbolizes the strength of the team and the city it represents," while the single star "represents the team’s pride in being a part of the Lone Star State.

The colors of the logo, green and black, symbolize the "Green Wall", the name of OpTic’s esports fan base. "We're excited for the Houston Outlaws to join the Green Wall family," said Hector Rodriguez. “All of our fans live to compete—to be louder than everyone else and to deafen the competition with our skilled play and enthusiasm. The Houston Outlaws will continue our historical dominance in esports and introduce a new meaning of 'community' to our fans in Texas.

Sponsors

In May 2018, the Outlaws, revealed their first partnership, a sponsorship agreement with telecommunications provider T-Mobile, a company that was already a sponsor of the Overwatch League itself. The deal included a number perks to Houston Outlaws fans, as well a new behind-the-scenes content series. Further, in May of that year, the Outlaws announced they were partnering with gaming peripheral provider Turtle Beach, previously a sponsor of the Outlaws' parent organization OpTic Gaming. In the Spring of 2019, the Outlaws announced two new partnerships, one with gaming retailer GameStop[25] and the other with Texas-based grocery chain H-E-B.

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