The Florida Mayhem arrive at Exit Game in Monterey Park on time, shortly after noon, although it’s clear that everyone’s moving a little slowly after playing a match the night before.
“Send me your coffee orders on Discord!” says Matt Akhavan Kim, the team’s enthusiastic manager, who joined the organization back in March.
While they aren’t bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, everyone is wearing a fresh white “THANK MR. LOGIX” shirt, paying homage to the meme that arose from Andreas “Logix” Berghmans’ exceptional performance on Widowmaker in Stage 2.
While the saying has since evolved to include the talented Jeong-Woo “Sayaplayer” Ha, the team is more than happy to lean into the original, as the matching shirts show.
The Mayhem have a bit of spare time these days. Having missed out on the playoffs, the team will play out the rest of their schedule before it’s time to return home to see family and friends and, perhaps, compete in the Overwatch World Cup starting later this summer. Still, this trip to the escape room serves as a welcome reprieve from the pressures of a packed schedule.
But first, they need that coffee, which Matt procures quickly, and the players sip away as the game operator explains the two escape rooms they’ll be participating in: one has a classic British spy theme, while the other has high-tech elements.
- An Hour to Kill: Logix, Sayaplayer, Tim “Manneten” Bylund, Aleksi “Zuppeh” Kuntsi, and Matt
- The A.I.: Johan “CWoosH” Klingestedt, Kevin “TviQ” Lindström, Sebastian “Zebbosai” Olsson, Joonas “zappis” Alakurtti, and Sung-Hoon “aWesomeGuy” Kim
The walls of the waiting area are covered with small Polaroid pictures of teams that have beaten each room in record times. The goal today is to get a Mayhem photo on the leaderboard. They’re professional gamers, so how hard can it be?
With 10 people on hand that day, the players decide to split into two groups of five in a very diplomatic fashion: each group has a varied combination of nationalities.
With the teams decided, it’s time to start.
Well, almost. No drinks are allowed inside the rooms, as it turns out. A slurping symphony ensues of pro gamers slamming their morning coffees.
The group tasked with outsmarting the A.I.-themed room—led by CWoosH, whose take-charge personality makes him the perfect choice for handling walkie-talkie duties—enters the first room, a dark space illuminated only by a computer screen. They’re immediately stumped. The problem: they can’t figure out how to turn on the light, and are left fumbling for clues in the dark.
After a while, it becomes clear that their struggle isn’t warranted. CWoosH’s walkie-talkie crackles to life as they’re informed of the tech issue, and their game is paused.
“I have time to finish my coffee now, nice,” CWoosH jokes, lounging in the hallway back outside as the bug is being fixed.
After a few minutes, the group starts to worry—precious time is ticking away—but they take it in stride, confident that they can still finish with a large time bank.
CWoosH slings an arm around aWesomeGuy’s shoulders and offers his expert opinion: “We have Hoonie, they have Saya. Easy.”
The staff pops back out from the room and informs the group they’re good to go, with a fresh timer, and the worry melts away.
As they prepare to re-enter, Zebbosai hypes the group up with a cheeky yell: “Let’s go boys, speed run!”
Near the end of their escape room, Logix’s team steps into a dark vault lit only by crisscrossing laser beams, with ten minutes to spare. Classical music plays from somewhere overhead as Manneten asks, “Where do we go? Are we supposed to go under the laser?”
“No, there is a small one there underneath as well,” Zuppeh says. “We need to disable this.”
Manneten replies, “What will happen if I go through it? Do you think my hands would get chopped off?”
“Somebody throw your shoe at it,” Logix says jokingly, before offering up a real solution. “Maybe we can get objects from the other room to reflect them?”
Half the squad heads back to a previous room for clues, while the rest remain, pondering how they can best the laser beams.
“I’m just gonna go for it,” Matt says.
“Time is running out!” Zuppeh exclaims.
Logix returns from the other room: “Guys, they just said we might need to sacrifice someone!”
Matt bends his knees, like he’s boxing out to rebound a free-throw. He says, “There is no way we lose, right?” before jumping through the laser frontier to his certain death.
Team Logix fails to escape their room on the first try, not because of Matt’s bold sacrifice, but because they run out of time trying to solve a color-mixing puzzle towards the end. The sense of purpose that came with finding clues and solving problems—at the rapid-fire frequency the Mayhem typically revel in—is replaced by the reality of suffering another hard-fought loss, as trivial as it may be compared to an Overwatch League match.
Suddenly, a door opens behind the players, letting in a swath of light—the visual equivalent of a record scratch. The room operator pokes his head in: “Hey guys! There is no one after you, so we’re going to give you 20 more minutes.”
Team Logix finishes within six.
Back in the A.I. room, things are unraveling a bit. TviQ and aWesomeGuy have each solved a cipher, bringing them halfway home, but now they’re stuck. The myriad possibilities within each room awaken the players’ natural curiosity, and they take time to good-naturedly poke away at all the clues. CWoosH and zappis discover some colored lights controlled by a row of buttons in a closet, and spend a few minutes goofing off, orchestrating a miniature rave.
Eventually, TviQ realizes it’s a video game of sorts, one that requires instructions to be relayed between two rooms with a high level of coordination—sound familiar?
“Red, blue, green!” TviQ calls out, and CWoosH activates the corresponding colors dutifully. “Red again! Red again!” A strangled cry sounds from the closet as CWoosH presses the wrong button. “Reset,” TviQ says, but he’s smiling.
The color combinations get more complicated as the game progresses, and TviQ has to bellow “Reset!” over and over, as the timing remains just off. But gamers love nothing more than to quickly master new skills, and CWoosH eventually figures out how to produce the purples and teals that get them one step closer to freedom.
The entire team cheers once the game is defeated, and one last puzzle later—a surprisingly analog exercise of finding words in real, physical books—the five players exit, with just a few minutes to spare.
CWoosH’s parting words: “Ez clap!”
A LASTING MEMORY
While neither team makes the leaderboard for their respective escape room, they make enough noise in failure that a Polaroid for the wall is warranted. There are smiles all around while the players sort through a box of props for their group photos.
“What are we called, boys?” TviQ asks, as he labels his team's Polaroid for the wall.
“Florida Mayhem B Team,” someone from the other group chirps.
They go with Delta Force, which is how CWoosH had prefaced all of his walkie-talkie communications.
For Florida and every other Overwatch League team, the true strength of the group lies in the sum of its parts rather than the talent of any one individual. Every member of the Mayhem, Matt included, contributes to the team in and out of the game, whether it’s clicking heads as Widowmaker, taking charge in a tense escape-room situation, or just simply keeping the team loose.
While granular takeaways from this team-building exercise may seem lost on the players at first, their ear-to-ear smiles as they leave Exit Game say otherwise. But first, they line up dutifully for one more family photo.
Before the camera shutter snaps, they bellow in unison:
“Thank Mr. Logix!”
Photos by Omar Ting.