WELCOME….to Around the Watch: the Overwatch esports podcast that’s neither a pod, nor a cast. Here’s how things work: myself, Harsha, and Pesto_Enthusiast catch each other up on the week’s Overwatch esports news and discuss, argue, and speculate about the scene in an easy-to-read text-based discussion. It’s live opinions, but archived for your leisure.

Today, we’re going to discuss the following topics (this will serve as a table of contents to skip to each discussion)

NA roster shuffle rumors including

-NRG

-Complexity

-Renegades

-Remaining Free Agents

As well as:

-Reunited closing

-Miami Heat investment into Misfits as well as the NBA’s recent spike in esports interest

-Renegades’s coming out party as a top team, and IMT’s recent improvement in play

Enough intro, let’s dive right in!

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CaptainPlanet: Since Harsha just posted a pretty spicy “speculative” article about NRG, how about you tell us what’s going on there

(read more here: http://www.over.gg/2593/nrg-revamping-building-around-seagull-and-dummy)

Harsha: Alright, if we’re starting with NRG, I think you have to mention that they’ve been in a sort of slump for quite a while.

CaptainPlanet: That’s putting it lightly…they kind of stink. When was the last time you remember a positive result out of them? APAC invitational?

Harsha: They did “ok” in the Overwatch Open, then got an easy draw to get top 4 at APAC, and then did terribly at every other tournament they attended

Pesto_enthusiast: Well, they beat Liquid at the OW Open, after getting smoked by Liquid the day before.That’s not much of a highlight reel.

CaptainPlanet: Suffice to say, this move makes sense. NRG is financed by a very attentive multi-millionaire (Andy Miller) and Shaq who I can’t speak for his actual interest, and they have arguably the most popular player in the entire game in Seagull.

Harsha: Yeah. I think they were a bit frustrated having a player like Seagull, yet failing to achieve anything notable

CaptainPlanet: Er, we should probably mention the move first huh. Harsha fill us in

Harsha: So essentially what’s going on is that the team will for sure be building around Seagull and dummy. Everyone else was informed that they MIGHT be replaced (nothing is certain at the moment). I’ve been told that some of the remaining four players are a bit frustrated by that and don’t want to have an uncertain future, so they might be moving on.

CaptainPlanet: I’d definitely feel the same way too. I’m surprised that Enigma was on the list of “cuttables”

Pesto_enthusiast:Yeah. They need to keep Enigma. I don’t think that they’d be able to get anyone better for an affordable price.I mean, are there better hitscan DPS players? Sure. But they’re either signed to better teams, or are off their teams but still have very large buyouts.

Harsha: Oh actually…I’ve just been told seconds ago that they’re keeping numlocked as well.

CaptainPlanet: Interesting. I’m a fan of Seb (Numlocked), but it’s been so long since I’ve seen him play I’m having trouble placing him in the pantheon of Reinhardt/tank players

Pesto_enthusiast: They brought him in to shotcall, no? Then moved him to the role worst suited for shotcalling?

CaptainPlanet: Let’s just say not much that NRG has done since leaving Luminosity has made much sense, at least to me. At least, with their current players. Blowing the team up is the right move

Pesto_enthusiast: So for me, NRG has two issues.

First is that they just don’t seem to have solid roles. Seagull is a great projectile DPS player, and he’s also their Zarya, and when he needs to switch between the two roles mid-game it doesn’t really work. Numlocked was brought in to shotcall then was put on Reinhardt. I feel like maybe the team as it stands now doesn’t have the right combination of hero depth.

The other problem is that they like to play reckless. At the OW Open, Liquid smoked NRG that first game because NRG tried to hold a defensive line way too high, foregoing solid defensive points in favor of being ultra-aggressive. And when that line failed, they got snowballed. As far as I know they’ve never tried that again, but it’s illustrative of the team’s character. They sometimes just make bad, almost unjustifiable in-game strategic decisions.

CaptainPlanet: Someone – can’t remember who – explained NRG’s play (at least their current roster) to me in that they can do well when Seagull pops off. But I believe they were speaking to his Genji, which is also an important part of his pool. Unfortunately in the current meta, we don’t get to see it very often.

Harsha: I do have to say that they’ve looked uncoordinated at times, which is a bit weird since the team was at one point legitimately good. That was back when they were called Luminosity / Mixup, though. Seem to have taken a downwards turn after they moved.

CaptainPlanet: ‘member when Harbleu was on Mixup? I ‘member

Pesto_enthusiast: It took them a long time to get a coach, too. So they weren’t improving as fast as other teams were, and got left behind.

CaptainPlanet: Anyway I think we’re all in agreement that NRG needed this change. And I think it comes at a very opportune time, given the amount of roster moves happening all of the sudden.

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CaptainPlanet: So roster moves – the news that kind of kicked off this whole crazy week (and it’s only tuesday) was the shutting down of Reunited. Reunited was one of the top teams through closed beta and beyond, frequently taking second place to the old IDDQD crew who eventually turned into EnVyUs.

And they were somewhat distinct for being player-owned, although i understand they had a CEO and COO financing parts of what they were doing. Per their announcement, they simply ran out of money

Harsha: So this is rumor-based, but I’ve heard they were unable to find a suitable investor because they were simply asking for too much money. Whether or not this is the case, it’s hard to ignore Kruise’s big fanbase and the talent on the roster (vallu, unfixed, etc)

CaptainPlanet: That could definitely be true. Morte was saying that they were in talks with investors, just that they didn’t pan out. Their announcement seemed to make it think that investors didn’t want to invest so far from the start of the OWL. But if the asking price was too high, that could definitely be a factor

Harsha: I’m sure a lot of people are looking to pick them up

Pesto_enthusiast: If they were asking for too much, that’s two ways that they shot themselves in the foot. Kyb leaving the team right before OGN APEX in Korea hurt them. They brought in ONIGOD to replace him – a projectile DPS player to replace a projectile DPS player – and then did a last-minute roster swap and put ONIGOD on tanks. That really hurt them.

CaptainPlanet: They also noticeably dropped Onigod and Winghaven before this announcement of shutting down the org. Presumably to make clear that the core did not include those two

Pesto_enthusiast: They want to get picked up as a new six-man though

Harsha: Yeah, Kruise says that they’d like to move as 6. Whether that happens or not…we’ll see.

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CaptainPlanet: Well this brings me to another rumor – which isn’t really a rumor. Winghaven has allegedly been scrimming with Complexity as a potential replacement for Jkw. Add another to the NA roster shuffle dance!

Harsha: So even though I love Winghaven, this change disappoints me a bit because I think Jkw really popped off at MLG. I think Wing is definitely one of the best Reinhardt players given how he’s famous for his mindgames, but I feel like this is less of an upgrade than it could be.

CaptainPlanet: I can see why Complexity may be entertaining change though. They’ve been together as long as or almost as long as EnVyUs without many top finishes

Harsha:That’s true

Pesto_enthusiast: That was coL’s best showing in a long time. They were solid against EnVyUs, who paved the rest of the tournament after beating coL.

CaptainPlanet: They were the only ones to take a game off them if i recall

Harsha: Yep, and FaZe didn’t even manage a single point

Pesto_enthusiast: But personally, coL has looked a bit too much like a one-trick team for a while.

CaptainPlanet: Are you talking about the Sombra thing?

Pesto_enthusiast: Yeah. They live and die by Sombra, and Sombra’s just not good enough. Or maybe she is and she’s not being used right. But if someone’s using her better, I haven’t seen it.

CaptainPlanet: Well they’re the only ones brave enough to even attempt using her so I give them props for it. I think the Tank meta hurts them a lot. The TJO bros are amazing hitscan players (insert aimbot joke here), so they’ve been forced into playing D.Va and Mei. Also its a problem that they can’t have two Harbleus to play Roadhog and Zarya

Harsha: Honestly, I think one of their problems is that Pharah isn’t in the meta as well. Nico was second only to Talespin when she was important imo.

CaptainPlanet: God how long ago would that have been? 6+ months?

Pesto_enthusiast: Not that long, surely. Six months would be June or July.

Harsha: Well…then yep. 6 months. August was when she finally died.

Pesto_enthusiast: Darn. Kind of depressing. Pharah v Pharah battles were some of the most entertaining matches to watch as a spectator.

Pesto_enthusiast: But hey, we saw some in last week’s NGE games.

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CaptainPlanet: Yes! I was just going to say that actually – Mangachu played a decent amount of Pharah for Renegades who swept all of their matches.

…And guess who’s not immune to the NA roster shuffle?

Pesto_enthusiast: Is it Renegades?

CaptainPlanet: IT IS!

Pesto_enthusiast: I was cheating. I have that game on in the background. Which is a shame, because Renegades v Immortals really demands full attention. I’ll have to rewatch it later.

CaptainPlanet: This also ties back to Reunited, because as we speak RNG is playing this week’s NGE matches with Kyb. Which as you all will recall was Reunited’s Genji ace that replaced their original lineup after benching Twoeasy. Kyb replacing Manofsnow, btw.

Harsha: You have to feel bad for manOFsnow, but I honestly think Renegades made the right decision. Kyb is too good to pass up.

Pesto_enthusiast: And he would have just yesterday come off of contract.

CaptainPlanet: Also true, since the org is no more. I wonder where this puts RNG in the NA pantheon

Harsha: Also, just to note, the team is officially known as Renegades 5-Hour Energy.

CaptainPlanet: you’ve got to be kidding me with that

Harsha: The Overwatch team specifically is!

CaptainPlanet: I was talking to Phaz from Rise earlier and he said they’re very, very good. But beatable. Apparently they went 3-2 live servers and 5-0 on PTR vs RNG. of course, scrims =/= tournament play.

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Harsha: So as we speak, they just lost their first map of the entire tournament to Immortals, another upstart team. Albeit not as upstart.

Pesto_enthusiast: Yeah, Immortals being good should not be a surprise. When the GosuAwards named them the up-and-coming team for 2017, it felt more like a coronation than a prediction. They’d beat C9 in online tournaments.

Harsha: If you check out the Alienware Monthly Melee, they run a highlight reel during breaks. GrimReality is literally half the highlight reel. He and Agilities are insane, and only 17. While the rest of the scene is pretty old on average

CaptainPlanet: Hyp3d is my favorite but i’m totally biased having come from Hearthstone/Tempostorm

Pesto_enthusiast: But back to roster change itself, it’s a coin toss for me. When they were Kingdom, they were looking on the up. They did well in the Alienware online events. But in the past week they’ve kicked it up a notch. They’re vastly overperforming people’s expectations. I don’t think anyone expected them to go into this week’s action undefeated. Why mess with success, if they’ve hit a groove. But on the other hand, kyb was a bona-fide star. It’s a talent that you don’t get to pick up very often, especially as a free agent.

CaptainPlanet: Well the uptick in performance coincided with the acquisition of Mangachu no? It’s good to have him back in the pro scene and not languishing (if you can call it that with 3k+ viewers) on twitch instead

Harsha: Yeah I would agree with that. Notable that they qualified with GODS and Pookz as well.

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Pesto_enthusiast: Yeah, those two. There’s a frighteningly deep pool of free agents right now. GODS and Pookz from NRG. Grego and Reaver and debett from C9. Skipjack (although he may be taken already if rumors are to be believed). iddqd. Talespin. I’m sure there are others.

Harsha: So when we’re talking free agents, we have to be careful. Some of these guys are still under contract (iddqd, Talespin) while some are completely unbound

CaptainPlanet: True. Now some contracts can be easily bought out but not players of Tale and IDDQD’s caliber

Pesto_enthusiast: Which puts those two in an awful limbo. Every team wants to strengthen before the Overwatch League, and they can’t really get entrenched in a good team now. They’re going to need to hope that roster shuffles continue like this right up into the summer.

CaptainPlanet: Yea their contracts will (most likely) be up before the league and they’re good enough players that i’m sure teams will take a chance on them. which then in turn kind of screws whoever they replace

Pesto_enthusiast: Sure, but if they can’t join a new team now, they’re missing potential long-term opportunities that are available now.

CaptainPlanet: And like you said, it may mess up the chemistry of the team already it’s the equivalent of say….trading Paul George to the clippers in February

(which is impossible don’t flame me NBA geeks)

Harsha: So my problem here is that their contracts will likely expire in the next 2-3 months. I can’t speak as confidently for iddqd, but Talespin will most likely have a 1 year contract, meaning it’d expire some time between February and April (when he first signed with EnVy vs when IDDQD the team signed with EnVy)

CaptainPlanet: Overwatch league is slated for Q3 right? that means….August-October range?

Harsha: I think that a large buyout would drive people to wait until he’s free in his case

CaptainPlanet: I think that may be plenty of time for him to join and mesh with a new team, if he’s interested. Less sure about IDDQD

Harsha: Yeah, exactly. That being said, the scene is getting more and more money, and the reported 15k buyout for iddqd might not deter as many as it once would have.

CaptainPlanet: Yea there’s been crazy sponsorships going around lately

Pesto_enthusiast: If a team is doing really well comes May and June, there’s little chance that they’ll do a roster shuffle even to get someone like iddqd or Talespin. Why risk it not working out if you think that the team you have now is good enough to make it into the League. Which means that iddqd and Talespin would have to get picked up by tier-2 teams hoping that the addition makes them instant contenders.

Harsha: I’m not sure about that. Look at Renegades. It’s very hard to pass up on that kind of talent.

CaptainPlanet: Well Renegades also was a t2-3 team up until like the past two weeks. They’re flirting with T1 now, but that’s very recency bias. And we’ve also got all sorts of extraneous factors like meta and outside forces entering the scene

Pesto_enthusiast: Yeah. I’m saying iddqd isn’t slotting in and displacing someone from EnVyUs or Misfits. Not a top-5 team. But sure he’ll get something decent. He just won’t be surrounded by a full team as good as he is. He’ll have to carry more.

CaptainPlanet: I think that that kind of strategy could work though. at least to move you upwards in the rankings. But again, I’m already pouring one out for whatever player they replace….where are they going to go? Only down, if they even stay in the league.

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CaptainPlanet: Anyway, speaking of buyouts, investments, and money…There was a big announcement this morning coming from yet another NBA team: The Miami Heat have invested in Misfits!

(read ESPN’s Jacob Wolf’s piece on the investment here: http://www.espn.com/esports/story/_/id/18444193/miami-heat-invest-esports-misfits)

Now this seems to be primarily focused around their league team…at least all of the pictures and social media I’ve seen have been of them. But I would not be surprised if the OWL had something to do with it. Misfits is an EU team, and was one of the last great ones left (NiP may be the last top EU based team) – the Heat buying in could be in response to the NA-base of the OWL

Harsha: So from what I’ve heard, the NBA owners had a mixer discussing the future of esports, which drove them to invest in teams in general. Seems like this is one of the responses. I do think they will take a shot at moving to Miami in the summer.

CaptainPlanet: Reinforce already has “Miami Misfits” in his discord tag after all, hehe. What I want to know is who was at this mixer? And who was so convincing? Did Nate Nanzer give em the business?

Harsha: So this was reported by an ESPN reporter, and he left the timeline vague. I don’t know if he was referring to Blizzard’s mixer that Monte spoke about, or if he meant there was another that followed between just NBA owners. All that I know for sure is that these guys see a big opportunity in a demographic that’s struggling currently in traditional sports.

CaptainPlanet: Hang on, can you explain more what you mean by struggling demographic?

Harsha: So if we’re talking about traditional sports, ESPN reportedly lost nearly 10 million viewers over the past year on TV, and most traditional sports outside of basketball are struggling.

(600k in a month http://www.outkickthecoverage.com/espn-loses-621-000-subscribers-worst-month-in-company-history-102916)

CaptainPlanet: well, pretty darn smart of the NBA to capitalize on other sports’ failings. I say this as a huge NBA fan already

Pesto_enthusiast: Well, the MLB got cozy with League of Legends. I don’t think it’s just an NBA thing.

CaptainPlanet: This is true…but the NBA teams seem to be the ones buying the actual orgs

Pesto_enthusiast: But going back to Misfits for a second…I’m a Miami native. If Misfits moves to Miami - and I think that they will for the Overwatch League - that means I have a local team. I’m actually super hyped. I was ‘full on adrenaline rush’ level hyped when the news first came out. I didn’t think I’d care about local teams when it was just a concept being floated. And then I had a local team and it was like a switch. Instant hype. Nate’s a genius.

CaptainPlanet: As someone who’s been pretty down on the idea of localization in a space that’s inherently global (online gaming)…maybe you’re right. Maybe this Nate guy knows what he’s talking about ;)

Pesto_enthusiast: Monte has been saying it for a while: localization isn’t going to lose esports any fans, but it will gain them some. It’ll gain them fans in the region that they’re based.

CaptainPlanet: Here’s also something I’m just remembering from an old Bill Simmons podcast. NBA and NFL teams need stadiums, obviously. But when it’s not game night, or even game day, what are they being used for? Sometimes, they’re just empty, and that isn’t making the team any money. Esports events could easily fill the gaps in stadium usage and while they may not fill the stadiums, maybe they’ll at least be profitable.

Pesto_enthusiast: Not just stadiums.The owner of the Miami Heat is also the chairperson of Carnival. I’d really love to see them hold a LAN on a cruise ship. Sure, you could do it in the Heat’s stadium, but wouldn’t it be interesting if you had an Overwatch cruise. That’s still years off. Overwatch needs to get bigger first. But it’s a fun idea.

CaptainPlanet: Porque no los dos? Hearthstone is going to the Bahamas, Overwatch could easily one-up them with a cruise to Hawaii

Harsha: Hopefully we don’t have a Titanic situation, I don’t want to lose Johnny the Giant…So to reiterate given the news about a mixer, the Heat are definitely not the last NBA team to invest in esports.

Pesto_enthusiast: Scr1be (another Gosugamers writer) really wants the Patriots to grab a team and bring them to Boston. Someone is going to wind up in Boston - whether it’s the Patriots or the Celtics or the Red Sox or whomever that buys the team - Boston has 300,000 college students. You’d be mad to pass that audience up. And we know that Robert Kraft (the Pats owner) was at BlizzCon.

CaptainPlanet: So the teams already invested as we know it (NBA-wise) are technically:

-Sacramento Kings (through Andy Miller / NRG)

-Warriors/Wizards (part owner owns Liquid now)

Pesto_enthusiast: Philadephia 76ers picked up Dignitas. Who do, in fact, still have an Overwatch team

CaptainPlanet: Jonas Jerebko who plays for the Celtics owns Renegades. Rick Fox who used to play for the Lakers owns Echo Fox. Miami Heat - Misfits.

Pesto_enthusiast: <3

Harsha: Grizzlies invest in Immortals iirc? Shaq and Magic Johnson are also involved in other teams.

CaptainPlanet: Yea. So that’s 5-ish team investments and 2 player/former player investments. Shaq is with Andy Miller. Not too shabby, gotta say.

CaptainPlanet: Since we’re coming up on time, let’s play a little game: Predict the next NBA team to invest, and the team to be invested in. Doesn’t have to be Overwatch.

I’ll go first: Charlotte Hornets, owned by Michael Jordan, are going to buy EnVyUs. It just makes sense right?

Pesto_enthusiast: Really? You think that EnVyUs are going to stay in Charlotte? They’re a marquee team, so I had them pegged as being in LA, New York, or Chicago by the time everything was said and done.

CaptainPlanet: They’re building / have built this state of the art practice center. I think they’re in it for the long haul

Harsha: I want to say Clippers invest in Cloud9, but Jack (C9 owner) seems unwilling to let shares go to big money. I can’t really think of another likely scenario outside of your Charlotte pairing, though. I have a feeling the Lakers will be one of the later teams to invest given their already-immense fanbase, along with the Knicks and Celtics.

Harsha: Rockets are definitely going to do something soon, though!

CaptainPlanet: Oh yea they hired one of the guys who started team Archon as their esports manager

Pesto_enthusiast: So I just said that someone is going to buy a team and put them in Boston. Again, 300,000 college students. That more than makes up for it being a smaller city. I have no idea which org is going to get bought, but Boston is going to happen. So that’d mean that I’m picking the Celtics as the next NBA team, even though the Patriots might beat them to the punch.

CaptainPlanet: I can dig it, both outcomes. Well gentlemen we have a prediction! We’ll have to check back next week to see where the dice fall. If you have any socials / pieces you’d like to promote, now is the time

Harsha: Follow my irrelevance on Twitter @ggHarsha, and that’s pretty much it!

Pesto_enthusiast: I’m @PestoEnthusiast on Twitter. I also write for GosuGamers. Finally, check out /r/CompetitiveOverwatch.

CaptainPlanet: And I’m CaptainPlanet, you can follow me @CaptainPlanetOW and read my meta reports as well as these transcripts on www.overbuff.com/blog

#Peace!

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