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Photo: By Robert Paul for Blizzard

‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast

 

Contenders has always been a mess since its inception since the beginning of Overwatch League. In the latest iteration of NA Contenders, the XL2 academy lost to the ATL Academy in the semifinals of the season. Soon after, XL2 tweeted that they were looking for local New York players:

 

At the time, I didn’t think much of it beyond a marketing ploy, but it turned out to have further consequences as two of the XL2 players were cut to make room for these local players, Mangachu and Cloneman. Both tweeted out that they were now looking for teams.

 

My initial reaction was that it was a joke, but it seems to be entirely serious. These are some of the reactions from prominent community figures:

 

 

 

I was initially outraged as I’m someone who does believe in meritocracy. In that sense, competitive esports is one of the purest meritocracies there is. After all the games don’t have a physical requirement, it doesn’t care about your social or economic status, it only cares about how good you are in the server and whether or not that is enough to win.

 

However as I looked at the contenders scene, I have to say that it makes complete sense for XL2 to go this route. Just look at the costs/benefits of what this particular move does. Sure it’ll likely make hardcore fans of the game angry, but in reality Contenders has a remarkably small viewership so that hardly matters. At the same time, OWL Season 2 has proven that you can’t just sell off these academy players to new franchises that are coming into the league or to rivals. Most teams have gone into a Koreans arms race, so while players like Mangachu or Cloneman are good, in terms of teamplay and communication they probably won’t fit (On a side note, I’d recommend all aspiring players outside of Korea to learn Korean).

 

Another thing to consider, NYXL is a Korean roster, so their 2-way player will likely always be Korean. So they can’t make much use of any NA talent that happens to prove themselves on XL2 as it wouldn’t work in terms of comms. Finally, contenders isn’t particularly profitable. As that’s the case, why would XL2 pay the extra salary to keep these players around if they can just chop and change them for cheaper local players. Even in the case that they lose out in the season, they just get seeded back into the new season (unlike Second Wind or Gigantti).

 

All in all, while I personally dislike the move, I’m uncertain this is as much of a drawback as Selfless Brad thinks it is. Sure he’s right in that it doesn’t particularly help players, fans (though there aren’t particularly many of those for contenders), or marketing. But at the same time, do all of those factors combined outweigh the cost of paying that extra salary for legit players? As far as I can tell it doesn’t and sadly for everyone involved, the Overwatch Contenders System is essentially working as intended.

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