by Justin J. Andreozzi
Blizzard Entertainment's announcement of their industry shattering Overwatch League has introduced several game changing dynamics that are new to esports, and in turn create a new facet to esports talent representation. Among other things, Blizzard announced that the league will host a "first-of-its-kind esports combine." According to Blizzard's Nate Nanzer, "[w]e're going to put players through tests that will determine if they'll be an excellent Overwatch player." Thus, esports competitors who aspire to champion the Overwatch League will first have to impress team scouts by showing out at the combine.
While the idea of a combine may be foreign to most esports agents, agencies like Pillar Sports Management, LLC are looking forward to capitalizing on the "unknowns" and providing their clients with advantages over the competition. Pillar Sports Management's focus in the past has been almost entirely NFL-based, where an annual combine designed for players to showcase their skills in hopes of securing a professional contract is familiar ground.
"I've navigated through other esport Agencies' websites to see if they provide any services that aren't typically provided for NFL athletes, and I've noticed that the services are essentially the same," said Christian Kranz, an NFLPA Certified Agent who works in Pillar's esports Division. He added: "We've developed some phenomenal tactics for our clients to prepare for the NFL combine, and most of them appear to translate directly to esports. We have been putting a lot of effort into identifying the keys to success specific to the Overwatch Combine, and will be using this research to give our clients an advantage over other participants."
Christian and I have talked at length about the various dynamics of the NFL combine, and speculate as to what overlap there may be with the Overwatch Combine coming sometime later this year. Will there be a Wonderlic test? What events will best forecast a players talent such that the teams may pay the most attention to them? Anyone who follows the NFL combine and draft knows that of all of the various tests, the 40-yard dash bares the closest correlation to draft-grade. A player who under-performs on his 40 time may not find himself on a team, while a player who over-performs may increase his draft grade by several rounds.
The top Overwatch players should make sure that they hire an agent with combine experience, so that they are adequately prepared to excel on the big stage.