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.
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?