Last night I was scrolling through TikTok in the midst of an edible comedown, and I stumbled upon something so ridiculous, so cringe, so brilliant, that I couldn’t believe I had yet to see it before. It’s called Maverwatch, and it’s a 2018 hype video for the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks that features its star players doubling as Overwatch characters.
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Edited to look like an Overwatch play-of-the-game clip, which highlights a particularly gnarly play (usually a multi-kill) at the end of every match, this minute-long video feels like something my high brain cooked up in a daydream. But it’s not. This clip is real, and every second is transfixing, a strange mix of car-wreck tragedy and knee-slapping comedy. You can’t deny, however, that the editing is top-tier, with the all-too-familiar ding sounds indicating an Overwatch kill, the Overwatch font showing off “eliminations” of rival players getting stunted on, and the in-game music swelling in-between each wooden NBA player delivery of a hero’s line.
Athletes are, by and large, not known for their acting and line-reading skills. In the rare chance that you get an athlete with a glittering personality who can actually say dialogue without sounding like a kid forced to read out loud during class, teams will push them to the forefront of marketing materials and commercial opportunities (Eli Manning, Tom Brady) or even let them play the lead in a film (LeBron James, Michael Jordan). I can say with some confidence that none of the 2018 Dallas Mavericks players have the same je ne sais quoi as James or Brady, but that only makes the Maverwatch experience better.
The man behind Maverwatch
The clip begins with Dirk Nowitzki aping Soldier: 76’s ultimate ability line (“I’ve got you in my sights”) while pretending to activate an imaginary visor before cutting to clips of him sinking threes.
“Dirk got Soldier because he’s the rugged old leader of the team,” Austin Guttery, former in-game media creator for the Dallas Mavericks and creator of Maverwatch, told Kotaku via email.
The second player highlighted is former Mavs center Deandre Jordan, who pretends to pop a Lucio ult (“oh, let’s break it down”) under the nickname “Shootscio.” Help me. “Jordan got Lucio because of his great defensive plays and his ability to keep the team alive,” Guttery explained.
But when it came time to assign Mavericks point guard and Grandmaster Overwatch player Luka Doncic a character, things got a little heated. “Luka actually reeeeeally wanted to be Hanzo, since that’s who he usually plays, but there was a player on the team, Wes Matthews, who was known for pretending to shoot a bow and arrow after each shot during the games, so naturally we HAD to make him Hanzo,” Guttery said. “I picked Luka to be Junkrat because of his blonde hair. Luka was the tiniest bit salty and tried to talk us into making him Hanzo, but we had already shot Wes’s part, and we only got one quick shot with each player every year.”
The other players were assigned based on any connections Guttery could make between them and an Overwatch hero—or if he thought they could manage to pull off a good enough mime of a character’s moves. No, I cannot stop laughing at Luka pretending to pull a Junkrat RIP-Tire.
Aside from the drama that came with assigning Mavs players their Overwatch counterparts, Guttery says that it took ages for him to get the video approved because his boss “didn’t actually know what Overwatch was.” But telling him that Doncic was a huge Overwatch fan “really helped sell it.” The clip was shot during the team’s media day, and aired on the in-arena screens during a lull in gameplay to a “pretty good reaction” from fans.
But when Guttery shared the video to Reddit, which is presumably where this TikToker found it, he got in a fair bit of trouble.
“I almost got fired!” he related cheerily. “After our videos air in-game, we usually don’t put them out online until after the season, or unless we get permission from [owner Mark] Cuban to run them. But I was so excited about how this one turned out, I really wanted to see how the Overwatch community would react to it. So I posted it on Reddit and within the day it BLEW UP…It eventually caught the eye of my boss who got, um, pretty upset that it was out there, and he was afraid that if Cuban saw this, we wouldn’t be making videos for them anymore, so I removed it. Luckily Cuban never got wind of it, so it was a non-issue.”
But Overwatch developer Blizzard did indeed see the video, and sent Guttery a “really nice Widowmaker figure” that the team kept on display at the office. And now, that very same video is making the rounds on social media yet again. Time is a flat circle, but Luka Doncic is no longer a Hanzo main. It’s Zarya now.