Mayhem: A Mountain To Climb

The Florida Mayhem went 7-33 across the inaugural season, comfortably the second worst team in the league. Their league-smallest starting roster and coaching staff proved inadequate, and their additions during the signing window proved insufficient.

When it emerged that TviQ, their star player, had to drive the team an hour each way to get the team to and from matches, the Mayhem ownership’s unwillingness to spend the money necessary for the team to be successful came to the public’s attention, forcing some changes.

With the release of the Season Two signing window timeline, however, it’s clear how difficult it will be for Mayhem to climb out of the hole they’ve put themselves in.

Mayhem

An Inauspicious Start

The Florida Mayhem entered the inaugural season with six players and one coach. This same team, competing as Misfits, came second in European Contenders right before the start of the league, however it was clear even before the preseason that Mayhem would be outgunned; most other teams had nine or more players and three or more coaching staff.

Mayhem, who won an abysmal four games across the first two stages, would go on to sign three players during the signing window. First was flex tank Zappis, an odd choice since Manneten was Mayhem’s best player for the first half of the season. They then added main tank aWesomeGuy, hitscan specialist Sayaplayer, and their coach Rider, all from Korean team Meta Athena.

While Sayaplayer proved to be a strong addition, and main tank was one of Mayhem’s areas of need, main support was (and continues to be) the team’s most dire weakness, and flex support is also a weak area, and no signing was made in either position. The team also took longer than any of its competitors to reach three people on their coaching staff.

A Mountain to Climb

Mayhem Academy was a half-hearted effort. There were some recognizable names from the Tier 2 and Tier 3 scenes, but the roster lacked the ambition or star power of the other affiliate teams. There was no one on the roster that you could see making the jump to the Overwatch League. Mayhem Academy came in 8th out of 12, enough to escape having to requalify through Contenders Trials, but behind every other Overwatch League team’s Contenders affiliate.

And that’s important because the very first opportunity teams will have to sign new players will be to promote them into the main team from their Contenders affiliate. From August 1st through September 9th, existing teams will be able to resign existing players, sign players from their academy teams, and trade players with existing OWL teams.

After that, expansion teams will have a month to sign free agents before existing teams will be able to. While we don’t know how many expansion teams there will be, it’s a near-certainty that many of the biggest names will be signed before Mayhem will have a chance to.

Roster Shuffle

Mayhem need to make quite a few moves before Season 2 if they hope to fare any better than they did in the inaugural season. The addition of two-way players – who can play in both Contenders and the Overwatch League – opens up some options, but Mayhem will still need to make painful choices, including cutting players and shaking up their coaching staff.

Assuming that they don’t release everyone but Sayaplayer and build an all-Korean roster, here’s what they need to do:

DPS: Logix started the season cold, but found his form late in the year. He and Sayaplayer have overlapping hero pools, but they can justify keeping both on the roster, at least until the mid-season trading window. TviQ has had cold spells as well, showing flashes of brilliance, but also spells of mediocracy, especially on Genji. Bringing in a Genji specialist will let the team run better dives and allow TviQ to concentrate on other heroes. The coaching team will have to figure out a system for rotating all four players in, but DPS is Mayhem’s area of least need.

Tank: On a team that has lots of weak areas, flex tank isn’t the most pressing. While he’s had struggles, Manneten has shown enough to suggest that he’ll perform better if he’s surrounded by better players. If the opportunity arises, they should add a second option, and designate one of the two as a two-way player. This would mean cutting Zappis, but he’s had ample opportunity to displace Manneten, and has not been able to do so. At main tank, neither CWoosH nor aWesomeGuy have looked solid. The team needs a new started, and needs to either sign a new second option, cutting both existing tanks, or shift him aWesomeGuy to a two-way player as a backup. Either way, this would be the end of CWoosH’s time on Mayhem.

Support: It felt like every fight, on every map, in every match started with one of the two supports dying. While they were not always properly protected, there’s no denying the skill gap between them and their counterparts on other teams. Sadly, this is a case of “blow it up and start over”; the team needs a new primary support duo and a new backup support duo, and should probably make both backups two-way players. Zebbosai was consistently the team’s weakest player, and it’s time for Mayhem to part with him. Zuppeh was not far behind, and hasn’t shown enough promise to warrant keeping him on as a backup.

Coaching: Mayhem needs a change in direction. As Misfits, the team struggled to settle on which players would run which heroes, and in which compositions. As Mayhem, these issues continued, and the team proved slow to adapt to the Mercy meta, and poor at preparing for opponents. Even after adding Rider, the team’s results did not improve. Without being in the locker room, it’s tough to say if Rider should be given the main coach slot or if a new person needs to be brought in, but if Mineral is going to stay on, it can’t be as main coach. Regardless of who survives from the current regime, Mayhem needs a strong hierarchy, and a full team of coaches, analysts, and support staff. Another skeleton crew would be unacceptable.

timeline

Aggressive Trading

So where does Mayhem get four new supports, two or three new tanks, and a Genji specialist? It’ll be expensive, but the best option is to enter into sign-and-trade agreements with other Overwatch League teams.

Suppose, for example, that Mayhem decides that WhoRU, currently signed to Fusion University, is the Genji specialist they need. Mayhem can’t sign him directly until the general signing window opens on October 8th. However, Fusion can sign him beginning on August 1st, and can trade him to Mayhem for cash immediately. This strategy would allow Mayhem to stock up on players before the expansion teams begin to sign their rosters on September 9, but would limit Mayhem’s options to players currently signed to one of the other affiliate Contenders teams. They might not be able to net all of the players they need this way, but it’s a start.

That will have to wait for a new coaching structure to be installed, however. The sooner Mayhem moves on that, the better, as the new coach will need time to assess the existing roster and to scout potential players before August 1st.

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Florida Mayhem Overwatch League

Endemic Brands versus Rich Dudes

Thorin made a pair of tweets recently, reproduced below, suggesting that many Overwatch League teams are poorly run vanity projects with unqualified general managers, and that simply signing Rogue would have led to a better result than those managers’ efforts at building teams from scratch.

Rogue was an all-French team competing in North America before the launch of the Overwatch League, and was the former team of Valiant’s Soon and Unkoe, and Fuel’s Akm. They were consistently at or near the top of the NA standings in the months leading up to the League, but Rogue relied on mechanically outskilling much weaker opponents; top talent was too spread out at the time for their opponents to exploit Rogue’s lack of compositional flexibility or their weakness in the off-tank position.

Were an OWL team to have signed Rogue – just the six players – they would likely be near the bottom of the  standings today. Were a team to sign Rogue, add in a world-class D.va player, a backup for AkM with a significantly stronger Genji, additional depth in the other roles, and some innovative reinforcements to the coaching staff, then they might be competitive at OWL level. But identifying those holes, and the correct people to fill those holes, is a GM’s job.

So where are the good GMs?

Thooorin’s tweet raised an interesting question though: is there a difference in performance between the teams owned by endemic orgs – who have years of experience in esports – and the “rich guys” that bought into the league with little to no esports knowledge or history?

Yes, there is. The endemics are doing terribly.

Stage2

There are six endemic and six non-endemic teams in the Overwatch League. The endemics are Dallas (EnVyUs), Florida (Misfits), Houston (Optic), London (Cloud9), Los Angeles Valiant (Immortals), and San Francisco (NRG).

Of those, only London is on the top half of the table for the stage 2 standings, and only London and Houston are on the top half of the table for the overall standings. While some of the endemic-owned teams have reasons to be optimistic about the rest of the year, most have long slogs ahead of them if they want to get into the end-of-year playoffs.

In most cases, it’s difficult to know what a team’s problems really are, but it feels like the endemic teams have a whole lot more of them. Shanghai is the obvious outlier – a catastrophe so epic that it props up the rest of the league, but the remainder of the teams that could be considered to be in “bad shape” are endemics.

  • Valiant just had their second player dispiritedly announce on stream that he wasn’t even being given the opportunity to prove he deserved to play in matches. Their radical approach to transparency involved letting everyone know that they fired their head coach, but it turns out that their head coach wasn’t actually the problem.
  • Right after the firing, they lost to a resurgent Mayhem. That org has developed a reputation for having to be raked over the coals before being willing to spend money (they were the only team to enter the League with only six players, the only one with only one coach, and they had to drive themselves to and from the venue, from housing over 40 minutes away).
  • Mayhem also recently beat San Francisco Shock, a team that awkwardly straddled the line between saying “we can win now” (which they didn’t do much of), while positioning themselves to win later (with two players turning 18 mid-season). Even if Sinatraa and Super turn out to be gods, they enter stage 3 with a 6-14 record to climb out of.
  • Houston, the best positioned of the bunch (aside from London, of course), find themselves in the awkward situation where just about everyone believes that they need a better Tracer player than they have on the roster, except for their GM, Matt “Flame” Rodriguez, who took to Twitter to contest that point.
  • Finally, Dallas Fuel is a dumpster fire of conflicting visions, poor communication, a meta that they weren’t properly prepared for, a player that got the axe, and a very large, very loud fanbase doing everything they can to ratchet up the stress levels of the players and staff, which unsurprisingly makes things worse.

So yeah, let’s get rid of all the “rich dudes”. Tell Philadelpha to sell the giant house filled with custom Overwatch art, trash the growing collection of funny team shirts, fire the private chef, and hand over the slot to an endemic. Maybe TSM, who famously had a disastrous first foray into Overwatch. Maybe one of Mosaic, Denial, or Northern Gaming, all of whom have been accused by players of non-payment? How about a big name brand with a recent history of serious financial problems, like Fnatic?

Or not.

 

Industry Overwatch League

Blizzard Needs A New Approach to Punishing Account Boosting

A second player in the Overwatch League has been suspended for account boosting. OGE, signed to Dallas Fuel but yet to arrive in the US, will miss four games. The ban, which went into effect beginning with Fuel’s match on Thursday night, is significantly lighter than the one issued to Philadelphia Fusion’s Sado, for the same offense, before the beginning of the season.

This news comes only a few weeks after posts were made on the Korean esports forum Inven (as translated by Robin311for /r/CompetitiveOverwatch) alleging that four other unnamed players currently in the Overwatch League also have histories of boosting.

Right now, the accusations made on Inven haven’t been proven. What is clear, however, is that the issue of account boosting didn’t go away when Sado was banned for the League’s first three stages. If the accusations against the current Overwatch League players prove true, it would also raise the uncomfortable question “if those four did it, who else has, and just hasn’t been caught yet?”. It will be a massive scandal, and would shake confidence in the League.

And that’s because…

Account boosting is cheating

Whether an account owner is using software to help them aim, or is handing control of the account over to another person, the end result is the same: the account owner is exchanging money for an SR that is higher than they have personally earned.
There’s a reason why account boosting is so reviled. On the way up, the booster ruins the games of the players he’s up against. Once the original owner resumes using the account, they ruin the games of the players on their team as they plummet back down to the SR that they actually can play at.

That being said, there are some people willing to give boosters the benefit of the doubt. The Korean scene, despite producing a lot of the best talent in nearly every esport, is not known for paying high wages to its professional and semi-pro players. Many boosters do what they do so that they can afford to keep pursuing the dream of playing professionally. To be sure, this isn’t true of every booster, but at least in the West, many fans believe that boosters should have a path back to pro, and that’s a view that the League Office seems to share.

Inconsistent punishments undermine the League’s public standing

If it turns out that additional Overwatch League players have been boosting, though, Blizzard is going to have a problem on their hands. Any punishment, whether strict or lenient, is going to be seen as unfair. Sado was banned for 7.5 times as many matches as OGE, and the League hasn’t provided a clear explanation for the disparity in the punishments.

In fact, Blizzard’s handling of player discipline overall has been abysmal. There’s been no consistency in the time between when an infraction happens and when a punishment is announced, the descriptions of the infractions are vague, and they’ve yet to release the rulebook that players are held to itself.

Fans are already predisposed to side with players over the League when the two parties come into conflict. The League’s best chance of avoiding fan backlash is to be detailed in describing infractions and consistent in doling out punishments. By doing neither, they’ve opened the door for fans to question the legitimacy and fairness of the punishments. Team owners have also publicly questioned how Blizzard decides punishments; a bad look for the League.

The way forward is in a one-size-fits-all, transparent punishment structure

The best case for Blizzard – and probably also for the players – is if the all of the players with histories of boosting announce it themselves, at around the same time. If names come out in a slow trickle instead, with fans digging up evidence and making accusations against players one by one on Inven, it will make a bad situation vastly worse, stretching out the news and further shaking people’s faith in the League.

In order to convince boosters with professional aspirations that coming clean is their best option, Blizzard needs to lay out a set of terms that makes coming clean attractive, and keeping it secret especially unattractive. The policy also needs to be consistent – it needs to strip away any subjectivity, because Blizzard have shown themselves to be really, really either at making subjective decisions, or else describing those decisions once they’re made.

Here’s a list of terms that would do the job:

  • Any player or coach that confesses to account boosting will be ineligible to play or coach Overwatch in one full season of Contenders (there are three seasons a year), or two full stages of the Overwatch League (there are four stages a year). If they confess while a season/stage is in progress, their period of ineligibility begins immediately.
  • During the time that they are ineligible to play, they are still eligible to be signed to an organization, and can play or coach in scrims, but cannot be in the coaching dugout during their team’s games.
  • Once the ineligibility period ends, the player’s slate is considered wiped clean.
  • Any player or coach that does not come forward voluntarily and is caught boosting, or is identified as having boosted in the past, will instead be ineligible to play or coach for two calendar years.
  • Any player or coach that is caught boosting during or after being given an initial suspension for boosting will be ineligible to play or coach for life.

These terms heavily incentivize people with histories of boosting to come forward, as they’ll have to sit out much longer if they’re caught without having volunteered the information themselves. The terms also make it clear that pursuing professional play and account boosting are mutually exclusive paths. Adopting these terms would result in Sado being able to play beginning at the start of Stage 3, and OGE being out for essentially the rest of the season, but unless Blizzard can come up with a very convincing reason for why their punishments are so different, adjusting both of their terms is perfectly fair.

The TLDR

Account boosting is a form of cheating, and it ruins games. Blizzard can, and should, issue steep punishments to people who have engaged in the practice and seek to play professionally. However, those punishments need to be consistent – something Blizzard have failed to do in their previous punishments. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all approach, which incentivizes boosters coming forward themselves, is the best path forward.

 

Opinions Overwatch League

All this talk about violent video games is a distraction tactic

I don’t normally talk politics on Twitter. That’s not why people follow me, and arguing with strangers on the internet, 240 characters at a time, is an exercise in insanity. However…

Redirection is a powerful public relations tool. If you control the narrative, you control the outcome. Everyone does it (or at least tries to) – every political party, every industry/interest group, etcetera. It’s part of the basic toolkit because it’s effective. But that doesn’t mean that it has to work every time; it’s important to recognize when it’s happening, and not let yourself and the people you talk to get distracted.

There was a school shooting. In the aftermath, a lot of the conversation was about gun control. Now, a few weeks later, a lot of the conversation is about violent video games. This is absolutely not an accident. People that don’t want the conversation to be about gun control have successfully shifted the conversation to video games. They’ve done it before, and they will continue to do it in the future because it’s proven successful multiple times.

As an aside, many forms of media went through similar periods where people painted them as the cause for the social ills of the time – superhero comics, television, and many, many different genres of music – this has all happened before. In a few decades, video games will get their reprieve and a new form of media will be the target of redirection instead.

Until then though, it’s important to recognize the redirection when it happens. Regardless of your stance on gun control or your broader political views, when someone starts talking about video games as a possible cause of school shootings, don’t fall into the trap of arguing that point – either don’t engage with the conversation, or call the redirection out.

Opinions

Stage 2 Predictions

Stage 2 is upon us, which means it’s prediction time. Since you’re not here to read intro paragraphs, I’m going to cut straight to the predictions. If you want to tell me that I’m an unqualified hack, you can find me on Twitter at @PestoEnthusiast, or call me out on the reddit post for this article at /r/CompetitiveOverwatch.

Heroes

By the way, this is for their standings in Stage 2 only, not for how they’ll finish the stage in the overall rankings. Here goes:

1: London Spitfire

Even if London don’t sign replacements for the two players they traded away (and rumor has it that they’re interested in Architect), this is a championship level team. London showed in the Stage 1 finals the ability to adapt to losses quickly, and they have a high ceiling that they haven’t hit yet.

2: New York Excelsior

New York enters the stage with on top with a two match lead. However, if triple tank turns out to be the meta, it won’t be NYXL’s strongest. The only have one off-tank player, no one known for Zarya, and going up against tanks will reduce the potency of Jjonak’s murderous Zen right-clicks.

3: Houston Outlaws

I was one of the few people that believed in Houston at the start of the season (I had them in 5th in the preseason rankings), and I’m doubling down here. With the signing of FCTFCTN, this team is going to have a fearsome tank lineup, and Jakerat isn’t going away any time soon either.

4: Dallas Fuel

This is a team that won two championships the last time triple tank was viable. They’ve just added a Genji (a role that was sorely needed) and their Winston will be back. Now that they can run dive and triple tank at a high level, expect Dallas to look nothing like they did last stage.

5: Seoul Dynasty

This meta will let Seoul’s supports play heroes they’re more comfortable with, and getting Ryujehong and Tobi back on Ana and Lucio is better than any player signing. The meta will also place more emphasis on their tanks (a strong point), and less on their second DPS (a weak point).

6: Boston Uprising

Boston’s tanks have been one of the strongest parts of a surprisingly strong roster, and again, tanks are in vogue. This team has shown such rapid improvement that even though other teams are strengthening their rosters, it’s difficult to see Boston falling below their current spot in the standings.

7: Los Angeles Valiant

Space won’t be 18 until late March, and Numlocked (per his stream) wasn’t given much scrim time in the first stage. While this is a team that’s strong in every position, and will remain fearsome on dive, I have reservations about their ability to run other key comps this stage.

8: Philadelphia Fusion

Fragi was a Reinhardt stuck playing Winston because SADO was banned. Now he gets to play Rein again. Philly also has no excuse not to run Poko all the time now, because they can run three tanks. While these are both buffs, they’ve yet to demonstrate that they can be consistent.

9: Florida Mayhem

Understaffed, and with several signings that will have to wait on visas, Mayhem look to have another rough stage ahead. However in Zappis, Manneten, and Awesomeguy, the team looks well positioned for three-tank. Zappis built his name in this meta, and will be a key leader now.

10: San Francisco Shock

We’re entering a tank-heavy meta, and San Francisco isn’t well positioned to capitalize on it. Nomy hasn’t been the Winston that the team needs, and unless he can step it up on Reinhardt, this team will struggle. I’m also not sure who their second off-tank would be in triple tank.

11: Los Angeles Gladiators

If you had told me this time last year that Hydration would be the best DPS on a team that also included Surefour and a Korean Tracer specialist, I would have laughed. Fissure might be an upgrade at main tank, but I’m not convinced that this team can win without an upgrade at DPS.

12: Shanghai Dragons

The needed reinforcements won’t be arriving in time to save this stage for Shanghai. Even when they arrive, they have the difficult task of integrating several Korean speakers into a Mandarin speaking lineup. They’d be 11th if they played Gladiators in week 5 instead of week 2 though.

Analysis Opinions Overwatch League

#BabyBayChallege recipient NAMI San Francisco: solid financials, poor transparency in Charity Navigator criteria assessment

The San Francisco Shock selected National Alliance on Mental Illness – San Francisco as the recipient of the funds donated as part of the #BabyBayChallenge. I put NAMI San Francisco through the Charity Navigator scoring system (with some caveats, see below) to see how they’d do. The result: They would get one star out of five in the CN system.

Their financial health is pretty good; they’re on the higher end of four stars. Their accountability and transparency score, however, is an abysmal one star, which means that their overall score is one star as well.

As bad as that sounds, NAMI San Francisco could potentially get all the way up to three starts overall in a matter of days; they need only add important documents and information about the organization to their website.

Caveats

Some caveats before I go into the numbers:

  • Charity Navigator’s system is one group’s opinion of how to judge a charity. It’s not the divine word on whether a charity is well run or not. Most importantly, it doesn’t assess the value of programs, only financial viability and transparency. Whether NAMI SF does valuable work is a decision only you can make.
  • The CN system is designed for large charities (>$1 mil per year revenue) that have been operating for a decent amount of time (5 years of full 990s). Their system isn’t built with a charity as small as NAMI SF in mind.
  • The CN system uses 3-year averaging in some metrics, which creates vastly more work than just using the most recent year’s data. In any place where the CN system uses 3-year averaging, I only use the 2016 data. That said, I don’t think it’ll change their score drastically one way or the other.
  • I am not an accountant, I do not prepare form 990s professionally, and I have no affiliation with Charity Navigator.

Financial Health

NAMI-SF gets four out of five stars, with a raw score of 86.

Their financials are solid. Rapid growth can be unstable, but they have working capital to cover a potential drop in donations. Their fundraising expenses are high and not particularly efficient, but it’s really hard to get that right, especially in smaller, more specialized charities. An 86 is not a red flag.

Where they lose points:
In this section, there are seven criteria worth 10 points each, for a maximum of 70. 30 points are then added to that total to get the final raw score.

  • 71.2% of their expenses go towards programs, which is mediocre, and is good for only 6 out of 10 points. A perfect score requires 85% or above.
  • 17.5% of their expenses go towards fundraising, which is poor, and is good for only 5 out of 10 points. A perfect score requires 10% or below.
  • They spend $0.18 to raise $1, which is a mediocre fundraising efficiency, and is good for only 7.5 out of 10 points. A perfect score requires $0.10 or below.
  • They have 0.76% years if working capital (the ability to continue to run using only available assets), which is mediocre, and is good for 7.5 out of 10 points. A perfect score requires 1 year or above.

Where they don’t lose points:

  • 9.9% of their expenses go towards administration, which is excellent. A perfect score requires 15% or below.
  • Their financial capacity is excellent. This is a really complicated formula measuring growth in program expenses. A perfect score requires a value of 10 or above. NAMI’s value is 36.
  • Their liabilities are 0.57% of their assets, which is excellent. A perfect score requires 5% or less.

Accountability and Transparency

NAMI-SF gets one out of five stars, with a raw score of 51.

Simply not filling out entire sections of their Form 990 – the document they file with the IRS each year – has cost them dearly in the accountability and transparency metrics. Their website also doesn’t contain any of the information that Charity Navigator looks for. The good news is that most of this is quickly fixable; the problems with the 990 might even already be fixed (this was using their 2016 990; their 2017 one is not online yet). The bad news is that, for now at least, it’s an awful look.

Where they lose points:
In this section, the score starts at 100 and works down to get the final raw score.

  • Part XII is not filled out, so there is no information about whether they produce audited financial statements prepared or reviewed by an independent accountant (-15 points)
  • No whistleblower policy (they may have one, but they didn’t fill out Part VI, Section B) (-4 points)
  • No document retention policy (they may have one, but they didn’t fill out Part VI, Section B) (-4 points)
  • No process for reviewing and updating CEO compensation (they may have one, but they didn’t fill out Part VI, Section B) (-4 points)
  • Does not keep board meeting minutes (they may, but they didn’t fill out Part VI, Section A) (-4 points)
  • Does not publish board members on the website (-4 points)
  • Does not publish senior staff on the website (-3 points)
  • Does not publish audited financials on the website (-4 points)
  • Does not publish form 990 on the website (-3 points)
  • Does not publish donor privacy policy (-4 points)

Where they don’t lose points:

  • More than 5 independent voting board members; independent voting board members hold a majority.
  • No reported material diversion of assets
  • No loans to or from officers or other interested parties (they didn’t fill out Part IV, but they didn’t include a Schedule L, which would be required if they did have such loans)
  • Form 990 distributed to the board before filong
  • Has a conflict of interest policy
  • Reports CEO compensation
  • Reports board member compensation; board members are not compensated

Fast Fixes

NAMI SF can potentially get their accountability and transparency score up in a matter of days. Here’s how:

  • Publish the board members and senior staff. Pictures are nice, but even putting a list in plain text – just name and title – would meet the requirements. Depending on how complex the back end of the website is, this would take literally minutes to do. (+7 points)
  • Add a downloads page with the Form 990 and the audited financials (assuming, of course, that they have audited financials). Slightly more complex to implement, but we’re talking hours, not months. (+7 points)
  • Indicate on the downloads page that the financials are audited by an independent account (even if it’s immediately clear just by looking at the cover page). It’s no substitute for properly filling out the 990, but it’ll get the job done. (+15 points)

If NAMI San Francisco did all of those things, it would take their accountability and transparency score to an 84, which is good for three stars. That, in turn would, take their overall score to an 85, which is again good three stars.

If they don’t have audited financials to publish, but they did everything else above, it would give them a 61 in accountability and transparency, still one star, but would take their overall score up to a 71, good for two stars.

Analysis

Hilariously mid-2000s era Myspace throwback selfies… for charity

Last Friday, the San Francisco Shock posted a photo of Babybay, below, to announce that their star DPS player was starting an Instagram account. Two days later, Cory, the VP of Content for Shock’s parent organization, NRG, posted a photo in the same pose, with the hashtag #BabyBayChallenge.

A joke that spun out of control

When Babybay snapped the photo, he wasn’t thinking that it would become a viral fundraiser in the mold of the Ice Bucket Challenge. That wasn’t the intention when Cory posted his response either. Rather, as NRG/Shock’s Brettbox told me earlier today, it was a joke that spun out of control. (Brett is also the mind behind the “Hilariously mid-2000s era Myspace throwback selfie” description).

Once #BabyBayChallenge caught on through, Shock realized that they had an opportunity to be philanthropic, and ran with it. NRG/Shock had been looking for an opportunity to give back to the community for some time, and had asked their fans last year what causes they wanted the org to support. Adolescent mental health was the clear favorite, so when the decision was made to turn #BabyBayChallenge into a charity event, mental health became the cause.

Backing into a viral charity event meant that NRG/Shock had some catching up to do though. The organization has yet to select the charity beneficiary; they’re still vetting options and will finalize their pick today or tomorrow. They’ll also finalize in the coming days the amount of money per photo. The organization has some exciting plans to grow the #BabyBayChallenge even larger, and have already tapped their celebrity investors to get involved. Former NBA superstar Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal already answered the call.

Details

San Francisco Shock has selected National Alliance on Mental Health – San Francisco (EIN 94-2914709) as the beneficiary charity.

You can get involved by taking a photo in the style of Babybay’s original, tagging @SFShock, and using the hashtag #BabyBayChallenge.

Celebrity #BabyBayChallenge Photos

BabyBayChallenge

Industry Overwatch League