Wednesday, April 24, 2024

New York Excelsior reportedly ignoring concerns about its 2023 marginalized gender OWL team

According to a report from Dot Esports, the New York Excelsior are planning to create an Overwatch League team comprised of folks of marginalized genders for the 2023 season. The idea seems like a well-intentioned effort by the organization to bring more diversity to the OWL scene, but sources who spoke to Dot Esports instead feel it will do a disservice to the players involved.

According to these sources, representatives from the Excelsior have been reaching out to players of marginalized genders, particularly those who played in the most recent Calling All Heroes Challengers Cup qualifying tournament. Calling All Heroes is OWL’s initiative to increase gender diversity within competitive Overwatch. It includes the Challengers Cup, which is an additional tournament for marginalized gender folks to compete in alongside the pre-existing Path to Pro route.

Viewership for the qualifier rounds of the Challengers Cup have hit the same numbers as some OWL games, which team owners have seemingly noticed.

“Hearing them say they wanted to make a female roster, it hit me as a positive thing, that it was great they were willing to look at talent from marginalized genders,” said one of Dot Esports’ sources, who requested to remain anonymous. “Upon further discussion about how there aren’t enough people to make a [tier one/professional] roster ready for OWL, it came off as a bad idea that was only set out for PR.”

There has only been one woman who has competed in the Overwatch League so far, the now retired Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon. Beyond this, only a few non-cis male competitors have made appearances in the Contenders scene. Because of this, there isn’t really a pool of experienced players from marginalized genders that a team could potentially pull from, which is a major problem according to Dot’s sources.

“Truthfully, I don’t believe there are enough marginalized-gendered individuals out there who are at the Overwatch League level,” said Chassidy, also known as Aramori, speaking on behalf of players who contacted her about their concerns yet wished to remain anonymous. “An argument can be made for one or two, but to foster a complete roster of six players? It’s just unheard of.”

Because of this, many of the players Dot spoke with believe that NYXL has been contacting players of marginalized genders who are currently below the skill level of Contenders, and/or who have very minimal competitive experience.

According to one source, the New York Excelsior “do not want to consider a mixed roster” because the “statement isn’t wide enough.” Another source indicated that this idea came up in conversations about how to revitalize the roster after their 4-20 regular season performance led to a full wipe of the team and staff. With the success of Calling All Heroes, management allegedly put forward the idea of showcasing marginalized talent. Dot’s sources told the outlet that though the idea seems well-intentioned, the organization isn’t listening to the negative aspects of the idea, which could ultimately put the marginalized and inexperienced players in the crosshairs of failure.

“It is disheartening that an org would be willing to throw players together that already deal with enough hate for their gender into this roster, which would lead to immense backlash if they happen to lose games,” one of Dot’s sources said.

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