In an effort to spread creativity and a team identity throughout the Overwatch League, the league allowed teams to create alternate jerseys along with their home and away jerseys. This initiative is similar to the NBA, where teams created “City Edition” uniforms for the 2018-19 season.
In the history of traditional sports in Los Angeles, being a sports team in LA defined popularity and prestige like teams such as the Lakers, Kings, and Dodgers. Living up to those expectations is the Los Angeles Gladiators this season. They are trending upward going from missing Stage 1 playoffs to losing only one game in Stage 2, on the backs of players like Gui-un "Decay" Jang and Chang-hoon "rOar" Gye.
LA Born and Bred
Growing up in Los Angeles not only means high expectations for its sports teams but also behind a strong Latino heritage. It is expressed through music, arts, and food. For David Siquieros, head designer of Meta Threads and designer for the Los Angeles Gladiators' alternate jersey, he is Los Angeles born and bred.
"I come from a big Mexican family living in Southern California — born and raised in Long Beach. Strong family bonds in my mom's and dad's side — it was something we always had and the history of my dad's family in particular. I remember as a kid, you had to do one of the school projects where you track your family's lineage. My dad and I stayed up all night and went 18 generations back since we were interested in the rest of the family. The Siqueiros family name is super interesting — we had a great muralist in the family that was popular in Mexico - he did all these great murals in schools, buildings, etc. He was best friends with Andy Warhol and taught Jackson Pollock at his own studio in New York. I'm honored to have the name. It's a lot to live up to."
Siquieros added, "I had a lot of jobs in my lifetime — I'm 31 years old at this point. It started off at 16 [years old] working for a cruise line terminal. I was always into gaming and playing with computers. I started gaming at the age of 12 playing Wolfenstein and Doom. My passion for gaming has always been there. For me, I tried different things — I was a computer programmer for a couple of years working for a small software company and wasn't satisfied with what I was doing.
After that, I was trying to figure out what to do. I was playing paintball in Southern California, had a couple of friends and a team I was playing with. They were hiring a graphic designer on site. I thought that I knew how to use a computer so I can do that kind of stuff. Sure enough, I got the job and it was a part-time gig.
I always had a big passion for art. I was actually named after a great grand uncle who was a muralist in Mexico. It was destiny I got into art. I had the passion for it, just never knew I can make anything of it. From working at a part-time gig, my passion grew and it is something I enjoyed. I like the idea of creating something people would see and identify with."
Art Is In His Blood
He lived in Los Angeles throughout his life with creating art in his blood. For those who are unfamiliar, he is related to one of the most famous and highly regarded muralists in Los Angeles, David Alfaro Siqueiros. As a new generation in the family line, Siquieros is continuing his great grand uncle's work, but in esports.
"I remember one of the most fascinating moments of my life on my name was when my wife and I lived in Los Angeles for a year and riding down PCH for miles until we hit Santa Barbara. When we arrived, we stopped at the main street there and grabbed food. There was an art museum and walked past it. We walked back and something caught my eye that looked familiar to me — I stopped and it was the touring mural by David Siqueiros. I couldn't believe I got to see it in person — it was super fascinating and I fell in love with it. It brought joy to my heart. It was seeing that real artwork and he was such a master at what he did. I appreciated it. I love my family roots."
Siqueiros reminisces on watching esports, "I remember one year — probably 4 or 5 years ago — seeing Dota's premier event The International on ESPN. At the time, the prize pool might have been around 8 million dollars at the time, which was insane to me. I remember seeing this game on TV and I was mesmerized.
My thoughts were that this is the next step, this is what we have to get into. I remember at the time, all these teams were wearing shirts and it was super basic — it was a black or blue shirt with their logos slapped on it. I thought I can do way better than that since I thought my paintball jerseys looked better. It took about a year and a half to develop the esports jersey that you see today."
The Process Behind the Jersey
As a team representing Los Angeles, a part of Los Angeles’ history and Latino heritage is embodied in the Gladiators' alternate jersey with Siquieros as the main designer.
"I went in two levels — I wanted to go Mexican roots but I wanted to go with an Aztecan feel. I went with a custom hand-painted pattern in the back that kind of looks like some of the weave work the Aztecas would do. I wanted it to be very subtle and it was kind of the centerpiece of it. I also wanted to put my own spin on things. It was mentioned that we should do a sugar skull type of design. I incorporated that with an excellent line work that you would expect from Dio De Los Muertos sugar skull design."
Siqueiros went to add, "I didn't want it to be true to tradition, I wanted to be something I did — I modernized it. I made the skull anatomically correct and it's something modernized on my end. It's something I've done many times in the past whether it's in the paintball or gaming industry. I wanted to show that you could still have those Latin roots and heritage but modernize it and still be recognizable in this day and age.
I think the Gladiators jersey is different from other designs. It's unique because it has a person working behind it. I don't think it's just the organization dictating what the design will look like; esports, streetwear, etc. This is actually heritage. I think the Gladiators took a different approach from the rest of the OWL teams in that regard to where this is heritage, this is Los Angeles. I think they wanted to make a statement with it and I think they did."
The model presented in the Gladiators' jersey reveal is Gladiators' DPS João Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles. He stated, "I'm Brazilian American so having a jersey made for Latino heritage is sick."
The Gladiators are set to unveil their alternate jersey when it is their Team of the Day at the Overwatch League on June 16th when they face Yeonjoon "ArK" Hong and the Washington Justice.
Header photo courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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