With the retirement of Pine, Jake, and Custa all within a week of each other, the Overwatch League is now short three major player personalities. Their departures are leaving many to wonder not only about the health of the league, but also the ability of the remaining players to personally engage fans. Pine, Jake, and Custa brought elements to the arena beyond their mechanical skill. All three were able to inspire others with their leadership skills, their goofy personalities, and their ability to out-meme everyone around them. Very few Overwatch League players could replicate their talents. However, there are a few players, both rookies and veterans, who could take up that mantle of fan engagement.
Relationships between a player and their fans are a valuable tool for growing the audience of the Overwatch League, and the charisma these former players possess will not go to waste. Custa and Jake will be joining the broadcast team, while Pine is staying on as a streamer for NYXL. However, current players also have to convey some of that same charisma without being at the analyst desk. Some already are. Here are some examples.
I’m happiest when I am with Uni 💙 pic.twitter.com/ZPUjTkXOPx
— Gamsu (@GamsuOW) November 21, 2019
Positivity is very important in an esport like Overwatch. Both Blizzard and the league want to see the game grow out of its infantile shell and into the arena of family-friendly entertainment. They have a vested interest in cultivating a player like Gamsu. This main tank player, freshly signed to the Dallas Fuel, has a relentless, quiet positivity. Where other players can get caught up in the drama and the toxicity of their Twitch audiences, Gamsu acts as an eye in the storm. He certainly fits the vision of the Overwatch League as an organization that spreads good vibes.
Another Dallas Fuel member, Mickie, has always been a ray of sunshine. In fact, he earned the Dennis Hawelka Award for being a ray of sunshine at the 2018 All-Stars tournament, the same one that would be awarded to Custa the next year. By all accounts, Mickie lives up to the ideal of constantly bringing up those around him. He is also acutely aware of the camera. People who look up to him are watching, both on the stage and off. His attunement to this knowledge, and his powerful authenticity have made him the personality that he is, more than any accomplishments of his team.
Saebyeolbe, up until Pine’s departure, was the assistant meme lord of the NYXL. Nowadays, it seems he will have to take on the role full time. Always ready with a smile and a joke, Saebyeolbe also has a maturity that draws others to him. There’s a reason he is the best Tracer in the world, and it’s not just his mechanical skill. He is a leader, and takes that part of his job very seriously.
Admittedly, this may seem like an unorthodox pick. International attention swarmed over Geguri when she signed with the Shanghai Dragons in February 2018. However, in the years since then, she has worked hard to differentiate herself from the exclusive label of “first female Overwatch League pro”, and has developed a significant following. Her charming sense of humor and her impressive devotion to frogs have endeared her fans to her just as much as her accomplishments have.
While many Overwatch League players become famous due to their skill, and just as many others because of notoriety, it’s just as important to cultivate wholesome personalities within the league. Blizzard’s best interest lies in supporting players who embody the values their game represents. With several of their best ambassadors moving to the casting seat, there is room for new players to take up the mantle of what the Overwatch League can be.