BURBANK, Calif. — Xavier Woods is certainly no slouch when it comes to video games. He runs the be-all, end-all gaming channel for fans of both video games and pro wrestling, as his UpUpDownDown brand boasts nearly 1.5 million followers on YouTube. On any given day, you can see him and his peers from both WWE and the gaming world playing through games, doing speed runs, playtesting titles, holding tournaments, and generally living that video game lifestyle.
Woods is one of a dozen or so WWE Superstars who makes sure to travel with at least one game console during the nearly nonstop travel involved in the life of a professional wrestler. Now that UpUpDownDown has become such a success, he told me that it’s not uncommon to see a row of consoles set up backstage at any given WWE event, almost like a miniature arcade.
But being so entrenched in the world of gaming still didn’t prepare him for what it’s like to play alongside an actual, professional eSports team.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Woods got his first look at the still-nascent Blizzard Arena in Burbank, which is home to its ongoing Overwatch League inaugural season. Stage 1 ended in dramatic fashion, and as Stage 2 is just beginning, Woods was able to get up close and personal with the London Spitfire.
For the first part of his day on Wednesday, Woods was able to sit in with the Spitfire while they scrimmaged in preparation for their match against the Houston Outlaws the next day. Every team has a practice room at Blizzard Arena, and all practice rooms are outfitted with playing stations identical to the ones the players will experience on the Arena stage.
After spending an hour or so watching professional Overwatch League players getting tuned up and becoming increasingly self-conscious about his own Overwatch skills, Woods was able to get a personal grand tour of the entire Blizzard Arena, beginning with the match that was currently in progress, where the Seoul Dynasty ended up running the board on the Los Angeles Valiant. As usual, the crowd for the match was completely at capacity — yes, even in the afternoon on a Wednesday.