After last night’s match against the New York Excelsior, the Shanghai Dragons have a 0-29 record in the Overwatch League, besting (worsting?) some of the longest winless droughts in professional sports history.
The 29-straight losses beats out the Philadelphia 76ers, whose 28-game losing streak spanned two regular seasons before it was broken with a win at home against the Los Angeles Lakers, in 2016.
Depending on your definition of pro sports, this is or isn’t one of the longest streaks ever. The Australian football league saw University, who played in the professional VFL/AFL without fielding any professional players, go 51 matches without a win starting in 1912, ending with the team folding in 1914. Fun facts aside, 29 straight losses is a pretty incredible string of losses.
In fairness to Shanghai, this season isn’t quite as disastrous as that record makes it sound. The early stages saw the team looking lost and outmatched in every role, but over time and with the influx of new talent like Ado, Fearless, and Geguri, the Dragons have at the very least made teams have to work harder for the win.
The Dragons have gone from scattered plays to more coordination, like a surprise jump on defence against the Dallas Fuel on Volskaya. And in matches like last night’s against New York, the team showed it can still take a map off even one of the top teams in the league. After a solid hold of New York on the final point on defence, the Dragons rallied back on offence and made it a 1-1, with both sides of the crowd cheering them on.
So while Shanghai may be losing, the team seems to gain fans with every match. Every week, it’s the question to ask: will the Dragons finally win one? And so many weeks, they’ve come so close.
It was hard to root for the team when it was getting swept in every match, but this new-look Dragons lineup is exciting. Its players are making big moments happen, the movement is starting to look more coordinated, the fire is more focused. Geguri herself has become a star in small moments, making heads-up plays that may not be flashy but push her team closer to the win, such as “boops” like this one, preventing a Mercy resurrection on a key player.
Has Shanghai set a massive loss record? Yes. And will it likely lose again tonight to the London Spitfire, to make it a round 30? Probably. But it’s the little steps that have made the difference. Every match isn’t a sweep, but 3-1's or 3-2's. After tonight’s games, the Dragons get a short break to evaluate and assess the issues before the last stage of the league, one final gauntlet of 10 games to break the drought.
The Shanghai Dragons still constantly feel like they’re one map away from their big break, but even as the devastating record grows, the likelihood of that first W seems just within reach.