Ringo’s Rambles: Maybe it’s because I’m a Londoner….

I have made no secret of my general dislike of how Blizzard have handled their approach to esports with Overwatch. Credit where credit’s due, however, we have 12 organisations bought in and the inaugural season will get underway shortly. 

The Overwatch League promised a truly global league with representation for the entire world as teams would hop to different locations and compete at each franchise’s local stadium. The initial presentation teased various franchise locations across Europe, Asia as well as the States and South America. 

What we’ve ended up with is 9 of 12 teams actually being based in the States. Then there’s a Seoul franchise (owned by a chap in Silicon Valley), a franchise in China (owned by Blizzard’s Overwatch distributor) and the good old London franchise – Cloud9. 

I’ll watch the Overwatch League, but like most of esports it’s unlikely that I will side with one team because I’m overly enamoured with the brand. The OWL is making a big play on the “we are traditional sports guys” card, with jerseys being sold in-game and everyone being encouraged to pick a franchise. 

I am from London. I should theoretically support the London Spitfire. My local team, representing the only European franchise in a league dominated by North America – let’s go Spitfire! 

Then I look at the brand. Chosen the name Spitfire, pointing to the history of Great Britain and the war. It almost implies that British flows through the brand. On closer examination, the “London Spitfire” has no presence in London. It has an extremely talented, yet all Korean roster. Half of the brand’s social media is in Korean. It seems as if more effort is being made to retain the roster’s previous Korean fans than it is to represent London. So why are we even bothering with these global franchise spots? 

Well, at least they did a cool giveaway offering fans tickets to go and watch the preseason. I mean, with $20 million being spent on just entering the OWL alone, it’s a fairly nice gesture to send a couple of fans over from London to support their local team in Burbank, right?

Oh, wait. The tickets are basically only available to people who live in the area. There’s no travel or accommodation included so they’ve not even made an effort to involve the “local fans”. It’s just bizarre. With your slot costing so much – what’s a couple of thousand dollars to show the local area you’re making an effort and that you actually want to win the hearts of the local fans? 

As it stands, the more and more I see from the “London Spitfire” social media account, the less and less it makes me want to support them. We’re not used to the American franchise system over in Europe and a global franchise system is fairly unheard of anyhow.

It doesn’t feel like the “London Spitfire” are at all representing London – but more feels like what it actually is. An American company with no roots in London who have acquired a top Korean team and are set to compete in the States for at least one, maybe two seasons of a League i’m not particularly excited for.

Other franchises are doing the regional representation a lot better – but the Spitfire are failing miserably.