Overwatch League is In Dire Need of a Players Association, According to Seagull
The Overwatch League players had a pretty tumultuous year, that’s for sure. Teams dropping rosters seemingly out of nowhere, or simply letting one or two players go. It’s not been a good time for players who rely on the OWL to make a living. There are plenty of reasons to have an Overwatch League Players Association though, and Seagull has stood up to say that one is “desperately” needed. What a notion, that professional athletes and players should be treated fairly! From JMAC leaving the London Spitfire, Los Angeles Valiant dropping a trio, to Dallas Fuel dropping eight players, it has to be a stressful moment in time.
The offseason sounds pretty scary. Why’s that, though?
Speculation and Horror
This particular offseason might be even worse. There’s a rumor that the next season isn’t going to start until April, for example. When you combine that with dwindling viewer numbers, teams are going to want to save money however they can. With no official OWL matches going from now until possibly April, what are those players going to do? Probably get dropped by their teams. Then, the OWL orgs can just sign some new talent sometime in early next year to get ready.
Most of the Overwatch League one-year contracts will be coming up soon (if not already done), there are surely players worried about their future. With that in mind, Seagull thinks an Overwatch League player’s association would really help. The idea is that they would have the power to negotiate with team owners on the behalf of the players, to get fair deals and possibly better-working conditions.
There’s also the notion that Overwatch 2 is on the horizon. When you combine that with the above, teams are going to be doing everything they can to save money to drop the real cash on OW2. During the Overwatch League offseason, there are no matches going on, so we aren’t surprised that teams would start dropping players, instead of paying them to do nothing but practice until April.
Seagull’s question was a simple one, “Why spend money on talent that might not be talent when OW2 hits?”
He’s not wrong, it makes sense. It’s still a terrifying prospect if you’re a professional Overwatch player. The Overwatch League Players Association would hopefully act similarly to the NFL players association. They could negotiate on behalf of their players. The downside is that there’s no real successful union in esports; though there probably should be. Unions are scary to the people with control of the purse strings though. They don’t want to spill more money or invest more than they have to.
Another downside to this is how hard it would be to set up. You’d want as many of the Overwatch players joining forces at once. Some of those players have better contracts and careers than others though. Someone who has a sure thing is less likely to sign on for this, when it could risk their future. There’s no telling how orgs would respond; they could simply drop all the players for whatever clever reason they think of, and replace those with others who want it more.
This could be a very bad offseason for a bunch of players that are now Free Agents. Will some of them be picked up? Of course, there are some world-class talents waiting to be signed. But what do they do until then? Hopefully, they invested wisely.