New York Excelsior implode their academy team for ‘local’ talent, but is it the right move?

The New York Excelsior organization has made a peculiar decision to remove three key players from their roster after a disappointing 3-4th place finish in Season Three of Overwatch Contenders. Over the weekend, XL2 announced they’re hosting an online tournament for hopeful players that are searching for guidance and mentorship as part of their organization.

With Season Four of Overwatch Contenders on the horizon, was this the right move for XL2 to make? And what will become of their former star players that they dropped in the process?

New York State of mind

The New York XL Academy has been under fire from several Overwatch pros and organizations for their callousness in handling their roster situation. In an attempt to grab more local talent, they have now parted ways with three North American players in favor of keeping three foreign players on the main team as they search for players from New York to supplement the rest of the squad.

On paper, this is already an unpopular move that defeats the purpose of the identity they’re trying to craft for the team. Leaving talented players like Liam “Mangachu” Campbell and Anthony “Goliath” Pietro on the sidelines in favor of unproven talent just because they hail from your city is highly irresponsible for the competitive edge XL2 regularly looks to obtain.

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Blizzard Entertainment | MLG

One could argue this motive for XL2 to become more ‘local’ is actually just a farce, and the moves for players could stem from economic issues. The NYXL organization has one of the biggest salary bases for their main team and housing another talented academy roster may not be as lucrative a turnout as they expected originally.

If this unfortunate reality is true, it makes sense why XL2 are deciding to forgo proven talent for a chance at an unlikely solo queue phenom coming into their team and performing well. Regardless of their intent, the timing of this move and the discarding of three talented North American players is not a good look for an organization that wants to build a stronger American fan base.

Cutting through the noise

At the end of the day, one could point at all the inherent flaws that XL2 are making but it’s obvious that the changes aren’t lining up with their inadequate reasoning. XL2 have been one of the most consistent rosters in OW Contenders in all three seasons they’ve participated in.

While having New Yorkers on a NY team is a useful marketing gimmick, there is actually no guarantee that any players will be an upgrade to the players they lost. Goliath and Mangachu are hot commodities in the scene that could have been used in trades or assets for XL2. Instead, they have been cut with little to no time to find a new team and XL2 will lag behind greatly as their roster starts from scratch again.

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XL2 Academy

Not only that, but the probability of one of these endemic NY players getting good enough to feature on the main roster is a zero sum game. For a main team that is littered with Koreans, its surprising for an organization like NYXL to put so much focus on local players with no real intention of integrating them to the main roster.

Any fan of the Overwatch League or the Contenders scene interested in the best competition is surely shaking their head at such a reckless move. For now, these changes could be considered wishful thinking at best. If XL2 fail to make playoffs next season for the first time in their history, we will know for sure it wasn’t worth it.