The first 12 team slots in the Overwatch League cost, reportedly, £15 million each. This was mostly because at least a dozen rich people were willing to give that much money to Blizzard, but was also at least in part to avoid situations like the ongoing disgrace that is the Miami Marlins, where a cash-poor owner leveraged his way into control of a franchise and then refused to properly invest in it. The logic here was this: If you can pay £15 million just for a seat at the table, then you can afford to build a half-decent roster in a league where teams employ just seven to 12 players each at a relative pittance.
There are nine players on the league’s best team’s roster; the league minimum salary is equal to around £38,000 plus benefits. At the very most the best teams in the league are spending a couple million dollars a year on their rosters. What I’m saying here is that being cheap alone would not explain the Shanghai Dragons having one of the shittiest seasons in the history of professional sports. But they did, getting swept last night to mercifully end an 0-40 opening season in the OWL.
The Process Sixers or any number of Browns or expansion teams never came remotely close to the depths of shittiness plumbed by the Dragons this year; very few teams anywhere in the world have. The Dragons went 0-40, sure, but the gap between them and the rest of professional Overwatch was even bigger than the seven wins that the league’s second-worst team picked up.
Overwatch League matches are best-of-five maps, although if one team wins the first three maps they play a fourth for some stupid reason. The Dragons were 21-141 on maps, for a minus-120 differential on the year. No other team lost more than 120 maps total. They won 21 maps total; every other team in the league at least doubled that, and three-fourths of the league tripled it.
My favourite stat, though, is that after firing two different head coaches, making some positive additions to the roster, showing clear improvement, and having their two best chances at winning both come in the last six weeks of the season, the Dragons finished the season worse than they started it. They won six maps in the season’s first stage and four in the last.
It must have extremely sucked to be nearly anyone on or involved with the Dragons this season. They started with an all-Chinese roster, then added three Korean players, including the league’s first woman — only to have their interim head coach admit that he wasn’t allowing the new players to speak Korean in the game. (From an interview with the league’s official website: “I’ve told the Korean players to avoid using any Korean in game, because they all need to be using Chinese and Chinese only in the future.”)
They cut one of their best players in late March for reasons that were very possibly related to him cheating on his girlfriend. Okay. Dotesports reported in May that the Dragons had a way harder practice schedule than anyone else in the league — 10:30 in the morning to 10:30 at night, six days a week. Two head coaches got fired in a nine-week period over this mess. Hopefully everyone still involved gets to take a break now.