Moneyball is a term originated from a book called Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis. The term was popularized in baseball by the Oakland Athletics in 2002, when the team depended on analytics to form a team prior to the season. They obtained a winning record of 103-59, despite a budget of $40 million, according to USA Today. In comparison, a big market team such as the New York Yankees had a budget of over $125 million.
How did the Athletics do it?
During the preseason, the Athletics lost three key players, 2000 AL MVP Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, and Jason Isringhausen to big market teams in free agency. With a limited budget to scour the free-agent market, Athletics’ GM Billy Beane acquired small key pieces (within their small budget) to fill a hole in their hitting and traded for key pitching. The Moneyball philosophy helped the Athletics to successful seasons for the following 4 years.
How does this relate to the landscape of the Overwatch League?
After San Francisco shocked the world and won the championship this past season, many teams did not hesitate to start the offseason. There are star players, such as Je-hong "Ryujehong" Ryu and Lane "Surefour" Roberts, hitting the free-agent market looking for huge contracts with contending teams. There are also players who may be looking to play at specific cities to be closer to home.
Not only the players are looking for something they prefer, but teams are aiming to win the offseason. Some teams look for star players to fill their rosters, while other teams look to rebrand in this new era. With the Overwatch League hitting the road next season, teams need to impress their home fans in any way possible. Ways to do this are to sign star players to build and market their team around, build a brand that fans will latch onto through the ups and downs, or play Moneyball.
There is a way to market a team consisting of a ragtag bunch of misfits. Lesser-known players with high potential skill ceilings are on the market. There are players in the market that teams need to look out for, such as the Los Angeles Valiant, Boston Uprising, and Florida Mayhem, who are presumably running on a budget like the 2002 Oakland Athletics. According to Ben “CaptainPlanet” Trautman from the Overwatch League, he created a stat called TAPIR (team-adjusted player impact rating) that implies whether a player is outperforming their team’s performance, which includes players on underperforming teams. Let’s take a look at what players are under team’s radars and need to be looked at.
Buy, Buy, Buy
Min-seok "Aimgod" Kwon is a support player that recently played for Boston Uprising. Even though his time at Boston did not work out, he had moments of brilliance on heroes like Zenyatta and Moira. Aimgod is a player with a lot of potential that needs to find the right team to extract that skill. Teams like the Philadelphia Fusion, Los Angeles Valiant, or Florida Mayhem could be a home for Aimgod. There is a chance that he could go to Contenders, but he deserves to stay on an Overwatch League team.
Lucas "NotE" Meissner is a tank player that played with playoff-caliber rosters such as Boston Uprising and Dallas Fuel. When he was traded from Boston to Dallas this past season, many fans heralded NotE as an A or B-tier foreigner. He is known for his excellent D.Va play throughout the past two seasons. Additionally, he’s been a solid tank for Team Canada at the Overwatch World Cup. If teams look at NotE, they should know they have a solid tank player on their hands that is dependable no matter what meta the game is on.
Yeonjoon "ArK" Hong is another support player that played for New York Excelsior and Washington Justice. I know he’s not on CaptainPlanet’s list of TAPIR players, but it is hard to put a stat on how leadership affects a team’s performance. For Washington Justice, his experience and leadership helped the team come from obscurity in the first half of 2019 to a contending team in Stage 4. If ArK can do that for Washington, there is no doubt he can help any team in the Overwatch League. The Los Angeles Valiant, Houston Outlaws, Hangzhou Spark, or Boston Uprising are teams that should look at ArK for being more than a player, they should look towards his leadership.
Sports Nonsense in My Overwatch League?!
No doubt there are still players out there that need to be picked up by teams. Moneyball is a technique that teams should analyze and scout for any sleepers in the market. You never know what you come across. A gem? Rock? Coal? This offseason is looking to be a memorable one with many players from Overwatch League and Contenders looking for offers. Next season cannot come any sooner.
Follow me on Twitter @itsjustchris for more coverage on Overwatch League and various games.
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