New York Excelsior is one of the top predicted teams in Overwatch League. We get the scoop from Scott “Bearhands” Tester on the team. How he organized the roster and what their goals are going into preseason.
OWS: Taking over a New York sports team is a big responsibility. Scott, what got you motivated for the challenge?
Scott: We are definitely in uncharted waters. That’s why I was excited to be approached by Sterling.VC, the owners of NYXL. They have a strong track record within esports from a technology and media perspective as well as a knowledge set from traditional sports ownership, which creates a near perfect situation for launching this franchise. The Sterling.VC team has been involved every step of the way which gives the players and coaching staff a sense of trust that is so important when building a franchise from the ground up.
I also love the challenge of being a professional sports team in New York. The sports history is so rich and there’s no better place to win. The players understand what they’re representing and are not taking the responsibility of wearing that ‘NY’ on their jersey lightly.
OWS: Tell us your approach to building the team. Did you have a plan already when you got to NYXL?
Scott: The SterlingVC team conducted an exhaustive search around the globe to select the best possible players for NYXL. Overwatch is a game that requires a full team with a diverse set of skills and a lot of synergy playing together, which is built over time. And so we looked to build a roster of players that have experience playing together and a rigorous coaching system rather building an entire team from scratch. Our hope is that this core of players and coaches will set the tone for NYXL and foster a culture of winning for years to come.
OWS: For a lot of these players it is a huge cultural shift here in the U.S. What is your biggest challenge to get everyone settled?
Scott: With the season approaching so quickly, we sometimes forget that these are young men who are coming to a new country for the first time, learning a new language and moving into a new home. We are doing everything we can to make the adjustment smooth for them, whether that be cooking familiar food, team outings, English classes that stress their specific communications needs as players, or providing the top tech available for their in-house training facility. There’s bound to be some homesickness but overall, the spirit within the house is high and the guys are excited to be a part of this new journey.
OWS: How do you see season one stacking up? You guys are high on a lot of ranking lists.
Scott: We’re confident in our team and can promise that each member of NYXL will be ready to compete at a high level as soon as play begins. The Overwatch League has brought the best of the best from around the world to compete against each other so there’s already a lot of familiarities when it comes to specific matchups. The fact that many of our players are longtime teammates and the support they have from our seasoned coaching staff to get them acclimated and prepared should give us a slight advantage from the start. That being said, it’s a long season so the cream will most definitely rise to the top.
OWS: What is it about Overwatch that draws so many fans into the esports side of the game?
Scott: As you know, I spent years helping developing, testing and delivering feedback for Overwatch so I take a special amount of pride in seeing it rise up the ranks and become this type of phenomenon within esports. I think the reason you have seen so much buy-in from these players, coaches, and owners is the fact that Blizzard is dedicating so much effort to this league and I know fans will notice too.
OWS: Who were some of the biggest surprises on your roster that fans should know about?
Scott: The most important aspect of our roster is the level of cohesion that the team has through prior experience competing together. We just had a few players compete and win at the World Cup and that reflects the level of play that we think will meet the expectations of a New York sports team. On top of that, our players are loving getting acclimated to the NA scene and I think fans are noticing when they watch them stream. We also have a few players who don’t have a long history of playing professionally but who are extremely talented like Jjonak and Ark, they’ll surprise people for sure.
OWS: Where do you see the league in about 3 years time, when you are fully established in NYC?
Scott: We’d like to see the Overwatch League as the leader in esports, not only in New York and the United States but around the world. More specifically, we look forward to seeing how the league expands beyond LA and providing NYXL fans with a local touchpoint to engage the league and our players. Community building in our market is key for us, so after some time getting set up we expect to be very active in that regard providing fans here a lot of ways to be engaged. Sterling.VC has invested so much time and effort into this franchise and I’m absolutely thrilled that they are allowing me to be a part of it. It’s already been an incredible ride and we look forward to beginning league play and giving New York new team to be proud of.
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