Merchandise is not only a way for fans to support their teams, but also a ranking system of what teams have the best marketing. This year with teams being able to create their own merchandise, the bar has been raised. The one good thing for North America these past seasons was that at least the merchandise was created in America. That meant that fans living in NA never felt the woes of their online stores not having the merchandise that they wanted. EU and APAC fans have dealt with this issue since the inception of the Overwatch League. Is this the year that the NA fans will feel the pain of the EU/APAC regions, with teams creating region-locked merchandise? Gen.G have already shown region-locked merchandise in a few merchandise drops in the past. Here is a look at the past and how that might impact the future.
The Chinese seller in 2019 was TaoBao, which had designs for many Overwatch League teams including the Seoul Dynasty. The Taobao website made it so that even if one could read the website it was hard to send items outside of Asia. The designs were essentially region-locked.
The designs were eye-catching and made social media a buzz. Many people found it disappointing that they could not get the merch without connections from someone in Asia. It does seem in the latest merch drops it has mostly been the Chinese teams and that Seoul had not been added to that.
This has been seen not just with Overwatch League merchandise that was Seoul Dynasty related, but also with Gen.G teams. The 2020 Puma and Gen.G collaboration merch was a limited edition drop. It was only available on the Korean website to buy it. There are ways to get around it such as the website Koreanbuddy, but it doesn’t work when it is a rush buy. In these cases knowing someone in Korea to help buy these items is one of the best ways of getting the merchandise.
— 젠지 이스포츠 | Gen.G Esports (@GenG_KR) June 30, 2020
There were times in which that Gen.G released limited amounts in both regions. An example of that was the Jehong ‘Ryujehong’ Ryu and Byungsun ‘Fleta’ Kim shirts. The American website sold out in less than 30 minutes of the merch. There was more available on the Korean website along with a couple of other items. This makes sense that there are regional specialties as Gen.G is straddling the Korean as well as North American market when it comes to merchandise. Arnold Hur the COO of Gen.G in his interview on Dusttin Bowerman Show did say that they are not as big on merchandise as other organizations. That is why the organization likes to collaborate with businesses that specialize in merchandise such as Puma.
What does this mean for fans? That potentially this year’s merchandise will be harder to get than previous Seasons. There is a NA privilege in the Overwatch League. The first two years were based in California, the two previous merchandise sellers, intotheAM, and Fanatics, were both in North America. This year NA fans, especially NA fans of APAC teams, may have to get a taste of what other regions have experienced. It is doubtful that the Dynasty would leave NA fans high and dry, but it is foreseeable that there might be some region-locked merchandise in Tiger Nation’s future. The Seoul Dynasty is still on the teams that have not released any information about their merchandise yet, so the fans can only wait and see when the announcement drops.
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