OWL commissioner Nate Nanzer discusses player support, unions, and more
The Overwatch League has been in full swing for a few months now, and while the matches have been a rollercoaster to watch, so has all the behind-the-scenes action. The latest round of disciplinary actions started with fines and ended with player xQc and the Dallas Fuel parting ways. Overwatch League commissioner Nate Nanzer recently spoke to Dot Esports regarding the League’s Code of Conduct, the potential for a players’ union, and more.
The League looks at several factors when considering punishments. It’s not just about what happened, it’s about the context surrounding the offense as well. There’s an escalation path involved, much like disciplinary actions taken in other Blizzard titles. If an offense is repeated, the penalty escalates. According to Nanzer, the point of punishment is simply to try to prevent that behavior from happening again. Incidentally, boosting pulls one of the harsher punishments out there. Philadelphia Fusion player Kim “Sado” Su-min was handed a 30-game suspension for charging players for account boosting, even before the League officially kicked off.
Of course there was some talk given to the events surrounding xQc’s departure from the League as well. Nanzer points out that the League will continue to invest in things like media training for players as time goes on. Players aren’t without a support system — teams are investing in sports psychologists to help. The League held its player summit with the intent of preparing players for the ins and outs of interviews and general PR.
Nanzer also touches briefly on the subject of Twitch moderation and toxicity. He pointed out it’s not just a game problem, it’s an internet problem. There’s no easy way to solve that problem. But Nanzer thinks it’s on gamers to be thoughtful about making games welcoming for everybody. Especially pro players, who are in the spotlight, often with thousands watching their every move and looking up to them.
The subject of a potential players’ union also came up in the interview. While there are no objections to the idea, Nanzer points out that a union would need to generate from the players. The League has been doing its best to make sure all players are treated well. But if the players decide to form a union, the League would of course be supportive of it.
Nanzer touches on a lot of additional material as well, including the future of the League. Right now, the focus is on launching the League in multiple cities around the world — ideally, 20-28 teams. Blizzard is also toying with the idea of a fantasy league. While it’s being tested internally, it won’t launch until Blizzard decides it’s ready. Overwatch League season two is already set to launch in the first quarter of next year.
The interview is a lengthy one, but Nanzer covers a variety of topics — it’s well worth a read. Head over to Dot Esports to check out the interview in full.
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