The Smite Pro League, more specifically in North America, has seen an insane amount of roster changes recently. The SPL players will make the argument that it’s for the betterment of the team. However, the frequent roster moves are starting to become a joke.
Now before people begin to overreact, roster changes are a necessity in the SPL, as they are in any traditional sport or esport. If something isn’t working, or if there is a weak link, teams will find players to fill that role – that’s just how it works. The issues come from how the roster changes are handled within the SPL.
Take Ben “Benji” McKinzey’s change from SoaR to eUnited for example. Benji didn’t feel like SoaR was the place for him and was given the chance to go back to eUnited. This is all fine and good, but it happened in the middle of a week, in the middle of the Spring Split. It resulted in his former team, SoaR, having to forfeit versus his new squad, eUnited. This should simply not be allowed.
Then we have Mike “PolarBearMike” and Steven “Zapman” Zapas. Both took a leave for a legitimate reason. PBM wasn’t feeling it with Smite anymore and had some personal things going on in his life. Zapman left for a similar reason. He had been playing Smite for five years without a break and felt he needed one. The problem is he decided to take it in the middle of the Summer Split, leaving his team to find an ADC. He also left them without an organization as he owned Team Eager. Zapman has already said he’s looking to come back in the Fall Split. His team was already looking like they weren’t making Dreamhack, which meant he only had three weeks left in the Split. Essentially, Zap left his team high and dry for an extra three weeks of vacation.
Issues Involved with Roster Changes
The roster moves mentioned above all have a similar story. They’re all about the player needing to make a change. There’s nothing wrong with it, but the issue comes with how it’s handled. Players making changes in the middle of a split only to come back is a farce. Understanding the age of a lot of the players, the maturity level when it comes to business decisions just isn’t there. The simple fact of the matter is that the SPL is a business, and it should be treated as such.
Mid-split roster changes are laughable, and they don’t look good on professional Smite as a whole. The SPL exists to bring in revenue. Sure it’s fun for the fans and the pros, but at the end of the day, it exists because it makes money. What these types of roster changes do is make it seem like a playground kickball game. Billy didn’t like losing so he changed to a different team. Roster changes before and after a split are necessary, but during one is just unprofessional.
Solutions to Roster Changes
Hi-Rez needs to take a look at the way roster changes are happening and do something about it. First off, the situation with Benji should not be allowed to happen, ever. To combat this, once you’ve played for an SPL roster, you should be locked to that roster for the remainder of the split. If you want to leave mid-split, that’s fine, but you can’t return to a different team a la Benji, or the three players from EnVyUs that joined Team Allegiance in Season Three.
Organizations should follow in the footsteps of Team Allegaince and their roster. The players signed a one year contract with ALG, planning on sticking with them through Worlds next year. Now obviously, PBM left that contract, but citing personal issues should free players from contracts. And obviously Zap is immune in this situation, he owned the org. Something like this makes purchasing a team jersey worthwhile, because the players should be around for a year at least. It generates revenue, as well as team hype, making players and orgs more popular. Roster changes are inevitable, but the way they are handle should be looked at in the very least.
Feature Photo by Hi-Rez Studios