A Look at the Importance of International Rosters in Esports

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Esports is a booming industry with a wide acceptance and a global market. The growth of esports has attracted investments from various sectors including the traditional sports teams. With a projection of $1.4 billion in revenues by 2020, Esports has truly arrived on the International scene. The recent inclusion of Esports before an Olympics committee is seen as a sign of progress and acceptance for esports.

The most prominent esports games are in the form of multiplayer team-based games. Titles such as Dota 2, CS GO, Overwatch, LoL have created a market for themselves amongst the player base. Regular tournaments and huge prize pools bring these titles into the mainstream media on a regular basis.

The esports scene in each of these titles has a very different format. CS GO has a free for all system where any Tournament organizer can organize an event. Blizzard created the Overwatch League with an intention to control the final product of their game. We are witnessing more and more International teams being formed in several esports. Importing the best talent from other markets definitely makes teams stronger, but how advantageous is it exactly?

Faze Clan – The CS GO International Team

Faze Clan - International Roster Image
The Faze CSGO roster is made up of superstar players from various countries

Faze is one of the most successful CS GO team in Counter-Strike. They recently reached the finals of the Eleague Boston Major as well as the IEM Katowice tournament. The organization kept changing their roster continuously since their entry into esports. The efforts to achieve the top position has led them to make several changes to their Counter-Strike team over the years. The roster at the start of 2018 saw a team filled with superstars on every level.

They achieved a lot of success with this Counter-Strike team. Consisting of veterans such as Karrigan,

Faze Karrigan
Karrigan is the In Game Leader of Faze Clan

Olofmeister, and Guardian; Faze shone as a shining light amongst all the other teams. They were seen as the best team in the world, with a lot of flair and style. In line with the Faze Clan organization, this team showed us how they can brute force themselves through matches just based on skill.

Of course, with Karrigan leading the team we have seen several innovative strategies by the team. The Faze roster has made improvements and their synergy has increased consistently with time. This comes from greater synergy, better communication as well as understanding each other’s playstyle. But they are really the exception rather than the norm in International rosters.

Are International Rosters The Solution?

There is always a debate about the success and effectiveness of International rosters. Faze is the best case scenario for an International roster. However, we have seen other teams with players from multiple nationalities failing to make an impact with their results.

To be fair, most of the teams in Counter-Strike today have players from multiple nationalities. Gone are the days when we used to see a Swedish dominant lineup, and a Ukraine dominated lineup. While such teams do exist in the form of Fnatic, Na’Vi etc; they are not the norm anymore.

Philadelphia Fusion roster. Credit: Overwatchscore
Philadelphia Fusion have players from Nine different countries

International rosters present a problem of synergy. Players coming from multiple nationalities often have different languages of communication. This does cause problems for the teams as Counter-Strike is a game heavily dependent on Communication.

Looking over to the Overwatch league, we have teams with players from up to 9 nationalities. Philadelphia Fusion has players from all over the globe and they are a decent team. Of course, that has not made them the best team in the League, but Philadelphia remains a very strong team in the Overwatch League. Speaking to the OWL teams during the press conferences, most of the teams are trying to overcome their communication barriers.

Overwatch being a very target focussed game, calling out the hero names definitely helps. It is a stop-gap solution for the teams as they look to bridge the language barrier. Players of Korean nationalities, generally considered to be of a higher skill level are scattered throughout OWL.

No Significant Advantages.

International rosters have not proven to have any significant advantage to the team in question. In rare cases such as that of Faze Clan, it might provide a boost to the team’s results. But that has more to do with the players’ high skill level rather than the team’s “international roster”.

But having an international team is not a sure shot way of making it to the big stage. International teams generally take too long to adjust to their teammates, it often leads to several problems such as language barriers, different cultures and often poor results in the beginning. Having international rosters usually means having players with different egotistical attitudes. The players have to adjust to each other and this often leads to various problems within the team.

More Problems Than Solutions  

Problems - Solutions
International rosters do not guarantee solutions, but can definitely cause problems

The signing of an International team is usually on the assumption of a higher skill ceiling for the team. But teams usually take a very long time to adjust to the addition of a new player. The cultural and linguistic differences aside, the teams need to practice together a lot. The lack of a common language often results in slower reactions, poorer gameplay.

Korean players are used to a strict practice regimen, something that is not as stringent as the western teams. When a western team adds a Korean player there are more avenues for cultural changes. Often times, this throws the player off balance in his daily life. Adjusting to the new environment leads to a disruption in his practice and gameplay.

Esports Has a History of National Teams

WESG Stage 2016
The World Electronic Sports Games include National teams in the competition

Esports has a history of fielding players from similar nationalities. The biggest reason for this has always been the convenience as well as the language barriers. Seamless communication often results in players adapting to each other well.

Europe has been the leading example of regional teams making it big in esports. The initial years of esports also saw a lack of funding for the teams. So importing a player from another country was deemed unviable to a large extent.

Esports history is on the side of ‘National Teams’ which have players speaking similar languages. However, the journey through esports has shown us an increasing number of International rosters. The advantage of having an international roster and a subsequent market are manifold.

Bigger Talent  Pool

Geguri Image
Geguri joins Shanghai Dragons’ Chinese roster in OWL

Expanding your catchment area allows teams to have a wider choice in terms of players. Widening the geographical reach and nationalities from where to pick up new players provides a wide array of choices. They can choose the best players and according to their particular playstyle. This can be based on the player attitude, their in-game performance as well as synergy with the existing roster.

A team which relies on a smaller pool to choose new players has its disadvantages in terms of skill. Regardless of the popularity of players, results do matter. Ensuring a more skilled roster is a quick way to guarantee advertising and brand awareness for the team. Quantum Bellator Fire which recently qualified to become a CS GO Legends team was unheard of before the Major. However, their success during the Boston Major essentially increased their brand awareness overnight.

Picking up players from new markets

Esports is still growing and has not matured in several markets. Lack of a structure in certain markets does not mean there is a dearth of skill. Individual players often make a name for themselves in new markets due to their insane skills. Picking up a player from another region essentially allows a team to establish themselves as a stronger roster. Helping the player adjust to the new team instead of trying to form a totally new roster from the ground is more lucrative.

WIth an international roster, teams can pick up individual players who might have outperformed their peers. The performance of a player is judged by scouts on a regular basis. Contemplating on his synergy with the existing members is a part of the job. International rosters allow the teams to bring in new and talented players and help them grow individually and as a player.

Economy

Recruiting a player from another market is often more financially viable than hiring from your own 

Ropz Image - ECS Season 4
Ropz was picked up after an impressive showing in the Ladder

market. Taking a cue from the OWL teams, we have seen several Korean players scattered throughout the league. Their high skill level, as well as a relatively lower price tag, makes them a lucrative hire.

In CS GO and Dota 2, we see teams picking up new upcoming players from the ladder all the time. Players such as Ropz, Cerq & Admiralbulldog have been picked up by professional teams and provided an opportunity to make a name for themselves.  

Olympics & Esports?

Olympics + Esports
Image Credit: YugaTech

The Olympic Games are considered the world’s foremost sports competition with more than 200 nations participating. They are held every four years and are considered to be the pinnacle of various sporting competitions around the world. Inclusion in the Olympics is often considered a matter of pride for several sports titles.

There has been a lot of debate about the inclusion of esports into the Olympics. These debates form a subset of the question “Is esports a real sport?”

However, if Esports are included in the Olympics, we will see the formation fo several national teams in various titles. The National teams will include players from multiple teams. They will have a similar language and there should be no communication issues. If esports is included in the Olympics, we will see the formation of National teams. However, this does not mean that International rosters will completely fade away. There are advantages in choosing an international roster, which cannot be overcome by the nationalist sentiments.

Final Thoughts

While there are advantages and disadvantages to having an international roster, neither one takes precedence. It heavily depends on the actual performance of the players and the role of the coach in shaping the team.

There are always going to be tournaments available which promote the competition between National rosters. WESG, Overwatch World cup, a potential Olympics inclusion are just some of the examples of tournaments where National teams will always have a spot.

In other tournaments, however, international rosters will always be available. The advantages of signing new talent, increasing your brand reach as well as the potential for success with international rosters is high.

 


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