The Houston Outlaws have made some interesting roster changes in the recent offseason, including a sizable overhaul where only Dante “Danteh” Cruz and João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles remained on the squad after the 2020 season.
One of the most surprising additions to the team was Enrique “Joobi” Triana, who was plucked from the Harrisburg University Storm collegiate esports team, and signed to the Outlaws straight from college.
Joobi is a support main who played for NA Contenders team Second Wind before they disbanded in June 2020.
“When I joined Second Wind, I knew it wouldn’t be for very long, because a huge chunk of their roster got picked up by the Vancouver Titans when they rebuilt their roster and their staff went with them,” Joobi said. “Everyone on the team knew that this was Second Wind’s last season. I knew that beforehand.”
Knowing that Second Wind was going to be disbanded, Joobi had to figure out his game plan going forward. But for him, school was always his aim until he made it into the Overwatch League.
“Going into the summer, I had just gotten my [high school] diploma, and I had my eyes set on multiple college teams because I knew I could get a full-ride scholarship to multiple college teams,” Joobi said. “I was looking at either Harrisburg or Maryville [University], mostly.”
Joobi spent a lot of his time in college scrimming for Harrisburg University’s Overwatch team, HU Storm. The team scrims for four hours each day, a similar commitment that many individuals sign up for in traditional collegiate sports.
“I’d wake up at 9 or 10 for a college class, and I’d have two or three college classes a day, and then I would just scrim for two to four hours and that would be it. I’d just do my schoolwork after,” said Joobi about his daily routine while in college.
In the course of his short run in college, Joobi’s major was undeclared and he was working on general education classes before he was picked up by the Outlaws. He did say that if he were to pick a major now, he has a strong interest in psychology or philosophy.
The HU Storm Overwatch team is no stranger to experience in the OWL. Coach Joe “Joemeister” Gramano played on the Fusion in their inaugural season, and Elijah “Elk” Gallagher also spent some time with the Fusion before going to college at Harrisburg University.
Photo credit: Overwatch League
College life was short-lived for Joobi since he got picked up by the Outlaws in his first semester at Harrisburg University. OWL pros usually come via Contenders teams, since the Contenders league is the “path to pro.” According to Liquipedia, Joobi is the first player to be plucked from a college team.
“A lot of people think that when you go to a college team, it means you’re ending your career there as far as going pro because people don’t look at collegiate players. I was very surprised when I got multiple OWL tryouts. I didn’t approach the teams, the teams approached me,” Joobi said.
Joobi also said that he tried out for two other teams who had reached out to him before applying to try out for the Outlaws. He tried out with one team “extensively,” but when the Outlaws released their application for tryouts, he applied and was selected for the roster.
“I applied [to the Outlaws] because I thought there was actually a chance I could go to the OWL, and there was actually more than one team looking at me at that point, so I was pretty guaranteed to go,” Joobi said.
In transitioning from college competition to the OWL, Joobi was stretched quite thin between his responsibilities. Because he was picked up by the Outlaws before the semester was over, he was juggling school work, Storm scrims and Outlaws scrims.
“I had to play in my college scrims [in addition to the Outlaws], so four scrim blocks per day and one scrim block is two hours, so it was eight hours of scrims,” he said. “It was very time consuming, as well as school work. It was very hard to prioritize what I valued the most, and I ended up just playing Overwatch a ton instead of playing school work, which wasn’t vigorous, but that ended up working out well. It was very hard to balance it all.”
Joobi’s first match in the OWL was not an easy one to prepare for. The Outlaws played the very first match of the 2021 season against the Dallas Fuel, the Outlaws’ geographic rival. Because the match was so highly publicized and it was his first match ever, Joobi was feeling the pressure, although it didn’t come from his coaches or teammates.
“No one was putting pressure on me, but I felt very pressured and felt very nervous. I wasn’t super nervous until we actually got into the match. I was surprised at how nervous I was. I was extremely anxious,” Joobi said. “It wore off near the second half of the match and I ended up doing fine. I was fine after that.”
The Outlaws ended up winning that match against the Fuel 3-2, and the Outlaws went 4-0 in May Melee qualifiers. However, they just missed out on going to Hawaii for the May Melee Tournament Weekend after losing in a rematch with the Fuel, who went on to win the tournament.
In an unfortunate turn of events, they were yet again knocked out of the June Joust tournament after a 3-0 loss to the Fuel, who finished as runners-up in the June Joust.
Because Joobi came from college, it will be easier for him to go back to it after pro play, especially since he is such a young player. He became eligible to play in the OWL just before the season started, and although many wish him a long career as a pro player, he does have college to fall back on after his time as a professional Overwatch player comes to an end.
As for the Outlaws, Joobi has been an invaluable addition to the team, and their record this year has been better than many expected. They are a strong contender for playoffs and currently are ranked third in the overall standings. It seems as though the main challenge for Joobi and the Outlaws going forward will be to find a way to beat the Fuel.
Lead photo credit: Overwatch League