Creative Stylings

For my creative project I underwent the task of creating an Overwatch franchise, suitable for the rising Overwatch League. This would include not only creating a marketable and recognizable name and logo, but also drafting an entire roster of players, along with an applicable and appropriate coaching staff. For the team itself I decided to choose Chicago as the home city, both on account of Chicago’s sheer population size as well as the geographical gap that exists right now with Overwatch League teams. The East coast was positively inundated with teams in the first season, not counting the newer franchises that have joined for the coming season in February, and the West coast was the same way with three separate teams in California alone. However, in the Mid-West there’s hardly any representation, with Dallas and Houston in the South claiming the only teams. From there it was relatively easy to come up with a wolf mascot and name the team The Chicago Pack. Branding is super important, so I had to download and teach myself Photoshop to transform a rotating 3-D logo from an artist named “stiv” into a flat image with a custom paint job for the team’s symbol. All in all, it took about 4 hours of frustration to both get it done and learn I’m not good at Photoshop. After creating the face of the organization, I had to fill the roster and the staff which I have detailed below. I went about picking the staff based on probability of successfully hiring them, as well as their accolades and what I thought they could bring to the table. From there I picked players, both from the minor and major leagues, and created a deep roster based on hours and hours of footage and performance over their careers. I also accounted for the draw star players have, understanding that popularity played a big role in the franchise’s success. My full unedited notes on the roster and staff picks are posted below. The importance of all of this with regards to my final paper, is that in doing all of this work and scouting, I am not unlike franchise owners of traditional sports or talent scouts for professional teams, and that’s the point. My paper revolves around the blurring line between traditional sports and eSports, especially with regards to the structure and regulation of the Overwatch League. This is a concept that we have talked about many times in class, in that technology and the culture it creates were separate from what we would consider normal society, with the hacker culture showing proud alienation through mastery, but as the general populace becomes more adept in navigating digital mediums, technology becomes second nature to us. Weirdos in their basements used to play video games, now your favorite rappers and NBA stars do. The digital world will cease to exist as its own entity, instead the entire world becoming digital, with antiquated analogue becoming the outlier. Or not, we’ll see.

Go Pack! #strengthofthepack

Roster and Notes:

Head Coach: Da-hee Park

  • Head coach for Boston Uprising, led them 10-0 in third stage
  • Left for San Fran, Boston proceeded to go from 2nd best team to bottom tier
  • San Fran began to climb as a top tier team
  • Willingness to move teams, excellent track record

Assistant Coach: Jordan Graham

  • Assistant coach for LA Valiant previously, now with Boston Uprising
  • Experience with Da-hee Park and similar rosters
  • LA Valiant 2nd in league after season 1 with 27-13 only behind NYXL 34-6
  • Possible promotion to co-coach with Da-hee to entice

Players: Want a good balance – maybe 8 players(??)

  • DPS:
    • dafran (Daniel Francesca): top tier hit-scan dps, important for new ashe meta, ranked as #11 in the world (that’s without a team just by himself), easy pick up  from Atlanta after this season, and the fans love him NOTE: may get suspended again
    • Surefour (Lane Roberts): top tier dps, beat out what people thought was the best sniper in the league (Carpe) during the all-star weekend postseason, a good player and a good draw for crowds, 1/2 splurge players
  • Tank:
    • Fissure (Chan-hyung Baek): main tank, top of his class, 2/2 splurge players, very popular, left Gladiators after successful season??
    • Fate (Pan-seung Koo): main tank, young guy, not too flashy, still top 10, more of a modest pick to fill roster
    • Txao (Ilya Makarov): excellent off-tank, ranked in the grandmaster category, excellent pickup for GOATS compostion NOTE: investigate 5:1 comp vs. GOATS
    • Hanbin (Han-been Choi): Korean player from Element Mystic, EM not only won the Korean Contenders league but flushed the competition 5-0, modest pick to round out roster
  • Support:
    • ryujehong (Je-hong Ryu): highest personal win record, one of the best supports in OWL, possibly a hard recruit?? Chicago would have money to throw right?
    • Dogman (Dusttin Bowerman): excellent support in the Atlanta Contenders league, easy pickup as he has never gone pro, insane off-support, run well with GOATS or off NOTE: really nice guy, talks to fans
    • Bischu (Aaron Kim): FLEX player, useful for back pocket, modest pick nothing special

General Note: All of these players speak English to some degree, need to keep that in mind, though all of the tanks speak Korean as well which will be useful.

We will only choose 1 or 2 from contenders (minors) because we can have other teams scout our talent for us, that’s the benefit of not being in the inaugural season or the second season.

Original Logo Design by: stiv on 3dexport

Chicago_Pack

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Research Paper Rough Draft

It’s no secret that eSports is on the rise. Rather it’d be woefully ignorant at this point to suggest otherwise. However, while the conclusion is unanimous the why behind the meteoric rise of a previously niche media platform is up to debate, with several prevailing theories dominating the conversation. By utilizing Blizzard’s newly founded Overwatch League as a model, we are afforded a more concrete understanding as to how this new age of competitive gaming came about, and what popularizes the current formula in today’s scramble for entertainment. We attest this phenomenon equally to both the adoption of the traditional sports model with regard to league construction and presentation, as well as the very nature of competitive gaming itself and the appeal it garners, including the draw of video gaming in general.

Within the somewhat narrow confines of traditional sports lies an undeniably successful equation for success both social and financial, and it is through partially emulating this that eSports has begun to garner a fraction of the success traditional sports have been capitalizing on for years. For years competitive gaming has been a club sport, with everything from scouting to championships being done on an essentially amateur level both in practice and in scope. What opportunity there was for any professional career was shackled by the low amount of funding as well as the low accessibility of any way to view these contests. This is where traditional sports structure comes into the Overwatch League (OWL), bringing with it a city-centered model focused on catering to geographic inclination rather than arbitrary commitments to club teams. This in turn addressing the issue of funding, with cities chomping at the bit to put their name on a new franchise, paying tens of millions of dollars just to secure a spot in the inaugural season, and thousands more to secure high-ranking players, with the upper-echelon receiving six-figure pay per season. This is not to say that venerable and respected club teams are going the way of the dodo, instead they, having been involved with the industry for quite some time, adapted alongside traditional media. As it stands currently, six of the twenty OWL teams are owned by professional eSports labels, including such legendary teams as OpTic Gaming and NRG Esports, showing that even older video game agencies recognize the benefits of a traditional model going forward. The city-based system also allows competitive gaming to take more of a center stage, no longer regulated to back-alley streaming sites the OWL sits front and center taking prime time slots on ESPN and creating around-the-clock content on Twitch for hundreds of thousands of viewers to tune into every night of the week. Cities want to thrust their new digital capital into the spotlight in any way they can, whether it be through merchandising, advertising, or simply publicizing the brand name: anything they can do in order to collect on their investment, and while this may be for financial reasons, the attention the league and by extension these teams receive only helps the fanbase grow and the quality of competitive gaming increase. Additionally, by structuring its regular season and playoff schedule around a traditional model, the OWL avoids the weariness of constant play that both viewers and players alike dread. (543)

I understand it is missing references now, but this will be addressed at a later date.

A Final Reflection

With the semester coming to a close I would be remise not to look back at how these past months’ events have transpired, most importantly the quality of my work over the period.

For starters it is comforting to know that as the course of the semester went on I became closer and closer to my desired look for the website, changing minuscule things like differing shades of grey or slight differences in font. With that in mind I’d say I’m extremely happy with how my website turned out, as it closely resembles both in palate and structure what I first imagined when we first learned of this assignment.

With all the time spent on these sites over the semester I’d say I’ve learned a valuable skill in creating and editing websites like these for any purpose I may dictate. All in all it was surprisingly easy to create this site and even easier to maintain and edit it. As I said before I think being able to maneuver through a useful digital medium like a website is an imperative skill and I am grateful to have learned it so early in my career.

Current Draft

For my creative project I have decided upon creating a mock Overwatch League team, complete with a marketable logo and color palette, full roster of real players with a realistic composition, and full staff consisting of a head coach and other minor coaches. The idea behind this project is that I am trying to answer the question “What makes eSports so engaging to people even outside the gaming scene?” and the answer lies in these big gaudy displays of domestic support. By giving people a city and specific geographical location that’s represented by a certain team, it allows those who may be more casual fans to be engaged. For example, Atlanta’s new Overwatch team was announced, and they are essentially the only major team in the southeast, therefore we can already see people states away allying themselves with a team from Georgia. It has to do with the appeal of jerseys, color schemes, and logos that traditional sports has capitalized on for so long. Attached are some examples of the brand new teams and hopefully you can see what I am trying to explain.

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Annotated Bibliography

  1. Li, Roland. Good Luck Have Fun: The Rise of ESports. Skyhorse Publishing, 2017.

Li’s “Good Luck Have Fun” serves as both an admiring spotlight and damning trial of the growing eSports scene as it copes with the growing pains any booming industry experiences. Through talking to legendary names in the eSports scene, Li not only highlights the incredible Cinderella stories the industry has been built upon, but also the issues that lay at the core of any rapidly expanding venture such as stress on players not only to perform well but physical stress on their bodies as well. The most important parts of “Good Luck Have Fun” for my research are the parallels the book draws between eSports and traditional sports, which both further legitimize my arguments for the similarities between the two as well as emphasize that eSports is not an industry without fault or controversy, which ironically legitimizes it further in a way.

 

  1. Diver, Mike. How To Be a Professional Gamer: An ESports Guide to League of Legends. Cornerstone Digital, 2016.

Fnatic have been an eSports powerhouse for years now. My own first experiences with eSports included them winning major tournaments left and right across several games. This guide written primarily by Mike Diver but co-written by several Fnatic players from over the years presents itself as the end-all be-all guide on how to become a professional League of Legends player, but it is not for this reason that I look to this source for my project. A big theme in this long-term project is the parallel between traditional sports we have today and the rising eSports of tomorrow, and as this book serves as a combination explanation of the workings of League of Legends as well as its strategies and nuances, it reads as the first certified playbook of a new age of sports. It reads as an amalgamation of experience and skill over years of dominance in a fledgling league, as well as an in-depth look into the player’s side of eSports, an often-overlooked facet of the rising industry.

 

  1. Tillier, Martin. “The Incredible Rise Of eSports.” com, Nasdaq Inc., 12 Jan. 2018, www.nasdaq.com/article/the-incredible-rise-of-esports-cm904589.

Martin Tillier’s article “The Incredible Rise Of eSports” works as both a perspective on the meteoric rise in viewership that eSports is experiencing as well as a financial analysis of the economy surrounding the growing market surrounding the concept. Tillier utilizes historical comparisons between then-fledgling tech giants Google and Amazon to the growth of eSports market values to highlight the fiscal opportunity that eSports presents that so many corporations are beginning to catch on to. This will aid my study into this subject by not only supplying me with solid data on eSports viewership for me to reference, but also firmly reinforce an argument for the legitimacy of eSports as a business venture.

 

  1. Fernandez, Matt. “Professional Competitive Gaming on the Rise, Overwatch Shows Olympic Potential.” Variety, Variety Media, 19 Mar. 2018, variety.com/2018/digital/news/esports-video-games-olympics-1202709110/.

Matt Fernandez’s article on the rise of professional Overwatch proves to be one of the more valuable pieces of information surrounding not only the meteoric rise of professional Overwatch on the global stage, but also the struggles a major eSports title like Overwatch faces when trying to gain legitimacy in the public eye. Fernandez contrasts the rising independence and popularity and publicity of major eSports titles like Overwatch, which has its own dedicated league, to the resistance they encounter from major traditional sports establishments like The Olympics or The Asian Games. This contrast serves my research excellently, indicating that while eSports wants acceptance now, soon they won’t care if they have it or not and may eventually overpower traditional sports viewing ventures.

 

  1. Hill, Nathan. “The Overwatch Videogame League Aims to Become the New NFL.” Wired, Conde Nast, 23 Jan. 2018, wired.com/story/overwatch-videogame-league-aims-to-become-new-nfl/.

Hill’s WIRED article follows the life and times of one Stefano Disalvo, known more prominently by his screen-name Verbo, through his ascent into professional eSports as well as chronicles the early development of Overwatch as the perfect mass-appeal first person shooter, and by extension a perfect suitor to be a global eSports phenomenon. Hill also expands on his time with the game and marvels at the complexity of its mechanics, as well as how poorly he performed. This article carries tremendous weight for my project, not only as a fresh and unaccustomed view on Overwatch and its respective League, but also an analysis on how the Overwatch League models itself after traditional sports leagues like the NBA and NFL, all the way from a structure of coaches and staff down to player salaries and benefits.

My Life as a Spectator

It’s 2014. I’m sitting on my bed some weekday night, enraptured by Swedish terrorists planting bombs to the enthusiastic cheers of three hundred thousand people. I’m watching Team Fnatic play against Team Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP) in a game called Counter Strike: Global Offensive, or CS:GO, for a prize pool of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars. It’s the ESL Cologne Grand Finals, my first taste of eSports and man what an introduction. The cocky and snide Fnatic players coming fresh off a previous tournament win looking for a second title against the hilarious and plucky Ninjas just looking for their franchise’s first major victory. It’s a best of three competition. NiP takes the first map but just barely, then are annihilated by Fnatic on the second. NiP’s Adam Friberg, who plays under the pseudonym “friberg”, pulls off one of the greatest clutch plays in the history of the gam; NiP takes the third map; the Cinderella story finally comes to a close, and a team no one expected to make it out of the elimination round lifts the trophy above their heads to the roar of their countrymen packing the stadium.

Let’s back up. Professional gaming isn’t unlike sports. There are underdogs who are popular purely because their players seem like nice people, villains who are fun to root against only because they win a lot, and even redemption stories of broken-down franchises rallying to win a major title. ESL Cologne in 2014 was my first introduction into this wild concept, that people, hundreds of thousands of people even, would watch and cheer on teams of people playing games that I played myself. It was like yelling, “Kobe!”, after making a basket only every time I picked up a controller. This global phenomenon changed a facet of my life that really isolated me from others, that is playing video games by myself, and unconsciously turned it into a community activity. Every time I logged on I’d see fans of eSports left and right, whether by noticing referential usernames like “friberg’s future wife” or “Fnatic fanboy”, or by witnessing obscure techniques and methods popularized by pros and poorly imitated by casual players. Every young football player wants to throw like Tom Brady, and every young CS:GO player wants to clutch like friberg. Sports and eSports hold more in common than either would really like to admit, and that’s due to the fact that the soul shared between the two is incredibly similar while the mediums are incredibly different. There are stories in both, tales of slaying titans and incredible jaw-dropping moments that “you just had to be watching live for man!”, and just because one is a man catching a ball and another is a man essentially going Rambo across cyberspace doesn’t mean they don’t capture the same overwhelming sensation.

People say a big thing that holds eSports back is the complex nature of the games themselves, that there are rules and trends that are impossible to learn for the casual viewer. An example is a current eSports giant Rainbow Six: Siege, a tactical first-person shooter that currently has over thirty-five million players active on its servers. Each round is 5v5 with a current pool of 21 characters to choose from on each side, giving each team 20436 possible team combinations per round, and each round about 417,645,499 different combinations of ten characters between the two distinct teams. That’s a lot to understand and adapt to if you’re new to the game. However, for reference we must understand that, on the low end, a good passing team in the NFL has at least a hundred different plays for offense and another hundred for defense, and we must assume the same for their opponent. So, every play we’re looking at one of forty thousand possibilities. Granted that’s a lot lower than four hundred million, but something different about sports is that while in video games people may invent a new strategy, sports may pioneer entirely new ways to play the game, so truly the possibilities for real-life sports are endless.

I myself started as a casual fan. I played video games sporadically and watched games sparingly. I really don’t attribute my growing closeness with eSports to any effort substantially put forth by myself, instead I must give credit to the medium itself becoming more appealing and accessible to the crowds. In recent years eSports has started taking notes from traditional sports more and more often with crucial successes in new ventures. For starters, eSports realized they could not sit back and wait for people to discover them and they couldn’t rely on online streaming sites to get views or sponsorships. So, appropriately, eSports expanded to new mediums. Ads began appearing on tv and on YouTube for ELEAGUE, a program surrounding professional gaming run by the Electronic Sports League (ESL) of old, no longer tucked away in the corner of the internet and updated for modern viewing. The tournaments I had become ensnared in now captured the minds and imaginations of people around the country. eSports had officially entered the public eye. Things began to change, tournaments started selling out in pre-sale tickets, prize money doubled and then tripled in some cases, the earnings for professional players cracked seven digits, and colleges started offering scholarships for the best virtual trigger pullers in the world. I became more and more enraptured in this weird cultural concept simply by living in a country that was already doing that as a whole, it was through almost no extraneous effort of my own. Today, everyone is involved in eSports one way or another. Either you like it, someone you know does, or a celebrity you follow does; there’s no escaping it and that’s not a bad thing. eSports is also doing its best to follow even closer in traditional sports steps, first by lobbying to compete in the Olympics which I’ll be honest I’m not sure how I feel about that, but by also de-emphasizing the traditional club-team style the league has previously gone with, making it easy for people to choose a team to root for. Gone are the days of NiP and Fnatic duking it out, today we have the Houston Outlaws against the Shanghai Dragons and the future of eSports couldn’t be brighter. Atlanta, a newly added franchise, will be squaring off against these teams and seventeen others with the inception of the second season of the Overwatch League and you bet I will be wearing a jersey into class.

An Obliging Proposal

For my semester project I will be focusing on the concept of competitive electronic gaming, or eSports, namely the meteoric rise of the culture surrounding the phenomenon as well as the future prospects for the concept both as an economic and as a cultural force. The competitive video gaming scene has been present for some years, even I personally recall watching the finals to a major tournament being live-streamed over popular streaming website Twitch in 2014 and immediately being hooked, but in the most recent years both the following and the foundation have grown exponentially. For starters the respective leagues have been garnering a great deal of respect in recent years, with ESPN televising and re-televising finals to major tournaments, and the establishment of popular show E-League, a program dedicated to following professional players and their major tournaments.

Additionally, powerful names in sports have been catching on and more importantly investing great deals of money into new leagues like The Overwatch League, a traditionally city-based eSports league surrounding the popular title Overwatch released by Blizzard Entertainment in 2016. These names include Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, and Stan Kroenke, owner of the LA Rams, who own the Boston Uprising and the L.A. Gladiator teams respectively. With team slots going for $20 million the first season and $30-$60 million for the rapidly approaching second season it’s easy to see the monetary potential of this developing market. As of now the Overwatch League has 12 teams from London to Shanghai, with another 8 franchises signing on for season 2, including Atlanta, it’s easy to get excited for the future.