London Spitfire are the inaugural Overwatch League champions, and part of the reason why is their fantastic communication.
Every single player on the team is from South Korea, compared to their opponents, the Philadelphia Fusion, who have 9 different nationalities represented on their roster.
Having every player speaking their first language is great for the team, but not so great for any other player hoping to join the champion roster next season and beyond.
Etienne proudly held the Overwatch League trophy after his London Spitfire team dominated
The morning after their historic win, I asked Spitfire’s owner, Jack Etienne, whether the amazing bond the players have means it will be difficult for non-Korean players to join in the future.
The short answer is yes, it will be. For now.
‘I’ve run several mixed language teams before, and I don’t care what anyone tells you, it’s really hard,’ said Etienne.
‘I couldn’t sit here and say it would be no problem to bring an English speaker onto this team. It would be really difficult.
Jack knows how hard it is to run a multilingual team so Spitfire will remain as solely Korean
‘Their skill would have to be fantastic, and they would have to learn Korean, because that’s the language of this team right now.’
His comments are sure to once again bring up the argument over whether geolocalising the Overwatch League is actually worth it.
How much does the London Spitfire actually represent London when the players are all Korean, it’s owned by an American company in Cloud9, and an American owner in Jack Etienne (with a French name, he hastened to add in Saturday’s press conference)?
The answer is, they’re trying to do it in every other way possible.
British esports veteran Paul ‘Redeye’ Chaloner has been involved with the organisation, as has British YouTuber Stylosa, who was on stage with the team when they collected the trophy on Saturday.
Anyone who follows Spitfire’s Twitter feed knows about the very British-centric memes that come out of it.
At the Barclays Center, the team came out to music by The Manor, a London based band which the majority of the crowd in attendance had probably never heard of.
‘My goal is to get us out to London,’ said Etienne when I asked him about the offseason. ‘I wanna bring those guys to London so they can see the fans face to face.
‘It’s going to mean a lot to the team because they’ve seen how the teams in Los Angeles have been able to interact with their fans, and they’ve been jealous of that, so they can’t wait to meet their fans.’
This season, all Overwatch League matches have been played at the Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California. It certainly created the atmosphere of a home game whenever the Gladiators or Valiant played.
With all that said, the English skills of the players are certainly improving. Gesture in particular seemed to have a grasp of the language, especially the first words that everyone learns when learning a new language.
‘The steak was f***ing good,’ he said, referring to the celebratory dinner they had eaten the night they won, all paid for by Jack Etienne, of course.
Etienne is keen to point out that the Korean focus of the team won’t last forever.
‘It doesn’t mean it’s going to always be that way, but [Korean] will be the default language for this team right now.
‘So if you’re a phenomenal player and you want to be on this team, you should start practicing Korean, for now.’
Finding a player good enough to join the championship winning Spitfire team will be a tall order, Korean or not, but it’s a long time until Season 2 of the Overwatch League begins.
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