It was Aug. 6, 2021, and the most exciting storyline in this season of the Overwatch League had finally come to a close.
Earlier this year, the Vancouver Titans announced a sponsorship deal with Pizza Hut Canada. If the team went to Map 5 in any of their matches, Canadians would be able to get free breadsticks with their Pizza Hut order.
Unfortunately, the Titans weren’t able to make that happen, so the team shifted to a more versatile bingo card format. Yet, over and over, Pizza Hut failed to provide breadsticks, despite the Vancouver Titans coming excruciatingly close. At one point, they literally filled out every square that it was possible to fill without getting a bingo. It was as though God himself didn’t want the people of Canada to have their bread.
But, the day before, in the Titans’ first match of the Countdown Cup, something amazing happened. And, no, it wasn’t the 3-0 scoreline against the resurgent Boston Uprising. It was something even more incredible….
THIS IS NOT A DRILL. BREADSTICKS. BREADSTICKS FOR EVERYONE.
— Vancoolver Titans (@VancouverTitans) August 6, 2021
“THIS IS NOT A DRILL. BREADSTICKS. BREADSTICKS FOR EVERYONE,” the Vancouver Titans tweeted.
It was exhilarating for many reasons, but this promotion was especially enticing to me because I’d never had breadsticks before. I grew up in Hong Kong, where bread is just bread. I was excited to have this new experience at no cost.
Alas, my excitement was cut short. The promotion seemed to be limited to Western Canada. I live in Ontario, which is in the east. So, unfortunately, no free breadsticks for me.
But, I couldn’t just give up on this. Thanks to the Vancouver Titans, I’d spent months wondering what makes breadsticks different from other kinds of bread. Does its innocuous appearance belie some deeper secret? Does the stick shape remold the essence of the bread into something beyond the scope of my imagination? And, most importantly, what do breadsticks have to do with the Vancouver Titans? I knew I just had to try it out, even if I had to pay for it.
I never ordered Pizza Hut in Canada before, so I didn’t really know what was good. But, I thought the most thematically appropriate thing would be to order a “Canadian pizza.”
When I added the pizza to my basket, the website automatically prompted me to add breadsticks, which are $4.99. The price tag taunted me like a vengeful specter; as if to say, “Ha ha. Imagine living in Ontario and having to pay for your breadsticks within this 24-hour period.”
But no matter. I was not to be deterred. In honor of the Vancouver Titans, I added the breadsticks to my cart, along with cheese for good measure. The cheese is an extra dollar but I added it anyway, as though I was some sort of boy king.
The first bite
Both the pizza and breadsticks arrived at my door fully intact and ready to be consumed. A cursory glance revealed that the pizza looked fine. But for me, the real prize lay elsewhere.
My first impression was that the breadsticks looked remarkably like bread in stick form. The cheese (which was an extra dollar, if you’ll recall) did make them look pretty appetizing. Plus, I like marinara sauce. I was tentatively hopeful when I picked up my first breadstick, dipped it into the sumptuous scarlet sauce and took my first bite of sticked bread.
Well…it’s bread, alright. I have to say I was a little disappointed. I don’t know what I expected. Perhaps something… more? Something that would make this whole season feel worth it? Or, maybe my expectations were higher because I had to pay five dollars and 99 cents for them. Whatever the case, I was pretty underwhelmed by this. But I swore that I would see this through, so I continued on.
I ate all five breadsticks. Turns out they’re very filling — you know, because they’re just five sticks of pure bread — so the majority of the pizza went into the fridge for later consumption.
After the initial disappointment of the first breadstick, my expectations for the next few were tempered. And the more I ate, the more my opinion of these breaded sticks dwindled. As I chomped my way past the halfway point, I really began to wonder — is this even worth it? Why am I basically just eating plain bread with cheese right now? Why did I decide to do this again?
But, when I got to the final breadstick, with my stomach almost at maximum capacity, something strange happened. I felt a sense of relief wash over me as I picked it up. It was like a realization that I’d almost made it through, even though it seemed impossible at times. It had been difficult, and I didn’t always enjoy it, but it was completing the journey that mattered. And now, I will forever know that I can finish a box of breadsticks on my own if I want to.
Through this experience, I’ve come to realize something. Breadsticks are a metaphor for the Vancouver Titans. In fact, they’re a metaphor for any struggling team. There might be disappointment at first, and that disappointment may not go away for a while. It might even persist for three whole tournament cycles.
You may resign yourself to living in that perpetual state of disappointment, feeling like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. But eventually, you’ll get to that final breadstick. You’ll exhale and realize that you made it through.
And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get your first win.
TITANS SECURE THE FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON, 3-0!
— Vancoolver Titans (@VancouverTitans) August 6, 2021