From general managers to assistant coaches, the hierarchy of an esports organization is set in place in order to run a ship smoothly. However, in between the cracks of these standard roles, are niche leadership roles that cater to what aspects of competition the organization itself deems important compared to other things.
Some teams value interpersonal relationships and hire a coach specifically for that. Others see the importance of statistics and deep-woven algorithms that may be key to solving a stagnating roster. In the case of the Hangzhou Spark, a “Data Analyst” is a coaching role that fits their needs.
For multiple seasons, not many people knew the responsibilities of these more unique roles in the Overwatch League. Fans can usually decipher what a Head Coach does or even a Translator, but roles like the Florida Mayhem’s “Performance Coach”, the Shanghai Dragon’s “Senior Operations Specialist”, or the Spark’s Data Analyst is not immediately understood.
The role of a Data Analyst was not all that known beyond the common understanding that the individual “analyses statistics” – until this week.
— Hangzhou Spark (@Hangzhou_Spark) October 12, 2021
On October 12, 2021, the Hangzhou Spark made a public social media post that the organization was holding an open tryout for their recently vacant Data Analyst role. With that post came the job description of the role in its entirety, giving onlookers a glimpse at the duties of an Overwatch League-level coach.
Know The Game
The first and third requirements are standard pickings. The first is having a “background of working or studying in statistics or data analysis area”. The third requirement is being “able to work on the data analysis tools or office [software] to summarize and [write] reports.”
The fourth and fifth points also seem self-explanatory with this being the role of a Chinese-located OWL coach. “Being passionate about Overwatch and professional Overwatch, able to follow team management and schedule requirements” as well as “willing to stay in China” make sense.
The most intriguing requirement, however, is the second one.
Don’t Just Know The Game…
The description asks for someone who “knows the game Overwatch and competitive Overwatch well,” as well as having a “certain amount of playing time in many metas”.
While the idea of understanding the game of Overwatch seems important, the specificity in the Spark asking for some who has “played” the game extensively as well is interesting.
Understandably, any team would value someone who has played the game to an extent. But this listing seems to suggest that Hangzhou is looking for an individual who can both break down complex numbers from a statisticians point of view but also understand the intangibles within the metas of the classic 6 vs 6 version of Overwatch.
Teams will have to adapt to the 5 vs 5 playstyle of Overwatch 2. So, using player data combined with what is already known from half a decade of Overwatch vanilla is what the Spark are striving for. Especially, since the team asks for the applicants “expectations for Overwatch 2.0” in the “How to Apply” section of the listing.
The How to Apply section is where the Spark double down on their modern esports Data Analyst ideal.
Applicants will need to provide basic information, but beyond that, they will also need to provide “screenshots of [their] most recent 3 seasons rank profile in your server”. On top of the data analysis skills required, the team is also looking for someone who has played in multiple metas over the years and has also met the threshold of whatever rank (Platinum, Diamond, Master, etc.) Hangzhou is looking for.
The previously-described “niche role” of an OWL Data Analyst, may seem quite excessive. But from a historically competitive aspect, Hangzhou’s ask sounds logical.
Sports vs. Esports, Once Again
While the comparison between traditional sports and esports may not always be valid, the difference in what is valued in a statistician in sports vs the OWL, based on this listing, seems to be significant. Obviously, not every sports analyst is going to have the same opportunities as an esports professional to play at a high level in whatever style of competition they analyze.
In fact, many sports statisticians may not even play the sport at all. Cite the story of Moneyball, for example.
But in Hangzhou’s eyes, they value the idea of having their Data Analyst be both proficient in statistics, as any statistician would, but also be versed in playing Overwatch itself with how readily available the competitive platform is.
That availability to play Overwatch anytime, anywhere is potentially what separates the sports Data Analyst from the esports Data Analyst. And by the Spark saying that to be the case, it gives a successful OWL statistician a bountiful amount of knowledge that a sports analyst could only dream of when looking at an NFL, NHL, MLB, etc. playfield.
It is understandable why Hangzhou would want to fill this role for the 2022 season of the Overwatch League.
Follow Jordy on Twitter: @JRDNGRCA for more like this Spark Data Analyst Piece!
Featured Image Courtesy of the Hangzhou Spark.
Spark Data Analyst
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