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There’s a reason you may have thought Winston’s new emote seemed familiar. Blizzard had the help of an Overwatch fan.
Danik Soudakoff is a deaf Overwatch fan and Los Angeles Valiant supporter. Twitch broadcasts’ heavy reliance on audio cues and narration affects his experience with the Overwatch League. His solution was to go to the Blizzard Arena with an interpreter. Their story was picked up in an episode of Watchpoint.
To keep up with Overwatch’s fast-paced action, the duo came up with creative signs for each character: Widowmaker’s is a trigger pull, Mercy’s is the resurrect animation, and Winston’s is his wide arm swings during Primal Rage. The latter inspired Winston’s new Winter Wonderland emote.
The newly-added emote has the popular simian scientist introducing himself in American Sign Language (ASL). “My name is Winston,” he signs. But instead of spelling out each letter, he uses the custom gesture that Danik and his interpreter came up with in a clear nod to the fan.
Danik was ecstatic when he discovered his sign made it into the game. “I’m going to fucking cry, this is an emoji inspired by me,” he tweeted.
The Los Angeles Valiant also noticed the reference and remembered the longtime supporter. “That’s Danik, and Danik is the best,” the team said on Twitter.
The emote could also be a reference to Koko, a famous gorilla who was taught to communicate in sign language. She was capable of signing over 1,000 words and understood over 2,000 words in English. She was featured twice on the cover of National Geographic.
Winter Wonderland kicked off yesterday and will stay live until Jan. 2. The event brought in new emotes and a series of skins to unlock. This event, like this year’s Halloween Terror, will have three weekly challenges. Players who get a set amount of wins will be rewarded with new player icons, sprays, and skins. The update also ushered in shield nerfs and gameplay changes in Patch 1.43.