There are a lot of changes coming to the North American Contenders region next season – some good, most bad.
The region will be split in two – East and West – with each region fielding eight teams, up from a total of twelve. While we don’t yet know how that split will translate to lower levels (Open Division and Contenders Trials), it can be assumed that this will generally open up more opportunities for T3 teams to move up into T2. That’s a good thing, even if the removal of LAN finals, decreased resources for non-NA regions, lack of promotion and social media coverage, relegation of non-academy teams like Second Wind and First Generation, and redistribution of prize money is certainly not.
A Single Silver Lining
With the increase in total teams in NA, Overwatch League squads have a great opportunity to enter the Contenders scene. If they were so inclined, anyway.
At present, the west (using the same boundaries OWL uses for its divisions) has three Academy teams: NRG (San Francisco,) Envy (Dallas), and Gladiators Legion (that one should be obvious.) The east has five Academy teams: Mayhem Academy, Uprising Academy, Atlanta Academy, the recently besmirched XL2, and the three-time champion Fusion University. That means there are five open spots in the west, and three in the east. While there aren’t sixteen NA OWL teams, there are more than a few that could stand to enter the T2 game. Let’s go one by one.
Los Angeles Valiant
The Valiant would stand to benefit a great deal from an Academy team, and we’re frankly not sure why they don’t already have one. The Valiant have always stressed the importance of developing their local fanbase and interacting with their community. An academy team would provide eight more bodies to slap some green and gold on for local events and fan meet-ups. The math checks out there, right?
When approached for comment, the Valiant had nothing to say about a potential Contenders team. It’s safe to assume that if the Valiant wanted to be in the T2 game, they would have done it already.
Vancouver Titans/Toronto Defiant
These two teams are in a weird spot, but could end up going in very similar directions if they approached the Contenders scene. Despite being based in North America, their rosters are both entirely Korean. Despite the mismatch of nationalities, though, an academy team could be a great opportunity to interact with local fans more consistently. With all OWL teams set move back home in 2020, that’s definitely something the expansion teams will want to jump on.
These two could even field some impressive Canadian talent, if they were so inclined. Perhaps recently minted free agent Liam “Mangachu” Campbell, Envy flex support William “Crimzo” Hernandez, Second Wind main tank Adrian “Akawa” Kawa, and Joe “Joemeister” Gramano as Head Coach? That sounds spicy.
Toronto have already put out feelers on Twitter regarding a potential Contenders spot, which means the ball is already rolling. Multiple sources have told The Game Haus that TA’s management staff have already been selected, and that those managers are in the process of trialing a number of potential head coaches, as well as finishing out the main roster.
Hmmmm… who thinks that @TorontoDefiant should have an official Academy team for the upcoming season…?
"RT" for Yes!
"Like" for Hell Yes!
Do both for OMG JUST GET TO THE DETAILS ALREADY!
— OverActive Media (@OverActiveMedia) January 11, 2019
We’re well past Christmas, but Houston are holding it down on the Contenders naughty list right now, and will probably stay that way. The Outlaws used to have academy team called GGEA, but the team kind of imploded after the Outlaws parent company Infinite Esports shuffled things around back in October.
A lack of time and a lack of money spelled the end for GGEA, but that doesn’t mean the Outlaws couldn’t field another academy squad if the stars aligned. It’s just really, really, really unlikely.
Washington’s first steps into the Overwatch League have been fraught with annoyances, but that wouldn’t necessarily be the case for the Contenders squad if they started one. There’s a healthy variety of All-American talent to choose from at the moment – Second Wind currently wields four American players, and First Generation has two more.
If they wanted to go abroad for an import or two, they’d have plenty of options there as well – like Norwegian dynamo and former LNL main tank Jørgen “Decod“ Myrlund and his German tanking partner Dominik “NexX” Scheerer, perhaps? Given that they would be working under the same General Manager, Kate Mitchell, it would be a pretty smooth transition.
Despite the strong potential a Washington Academy team might show, several sources have confirmed with The Game Haus that Washington will not be fielding an Academy team.
STAY UP TO DATE
Follow me on Twitter @thibbledork! Ask me questions, or tell me how I’m doing!
You can also message me on Discord! (thibbledork#0282)
Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment