OG, one of the most decorated organisations in DotA 2, today took the slightly unusual step of picking up a player from the fighting game community, and not just any community. One of the world’s top Smash players, Sheik main Swedish Delight, or James Liu as he’s known to his mom, has joined the organisation as their first ever pro FGC player.
Ranked 16 in the world, the American Sheik main has made a name for himself in recent years with his airtight punish game and consistent performances. Without winning any majors, he has moved up in the rankings steadily, and also maintains a friendly and professional persona away from the stage. The move also is a positive one for the scene at a time when a number of smaller orgs were walking away.
"I'm very excited to join one of my favorite teams. Looking forward to the future together as OG's first Smash player," Liu said in a statement on the OG Facebook page. It may be uncharitable to read too much into the details of the announcement, but the text and announcement themselves were not the highest quality when the new signing was made public, suggesting, but not confirming that this is more of a punt than a big deal for the team who enjoyed invites to the last two Internationals.
Difficult to profit
While it has had a long and robust history, Melee is a game that has always struggled to make an impact financially for the teams involved. A combination of the publisher being difficult to work with and the community itself being resistant to attempts to improve the profitability has meant that the full potential of the game has not been realised. However, some larger teams have stepped in, and OG is the latest in that line.
At present, the absolute peak level of Melee players represent such brands as Cloud 9, Evil Geniuses, Alliance, TSM and Liquid, with those below the summit enjoying deals with the likes of NRG and G2, but generally speaking it is a very small number of players with endemic, large orgs backing them. OG are traditionally a brand associated with DotA, making this potentially a very significant move for them as an organisation.
For Swedish, the challenge will be raising his game to the next level after a good year that could have been better in 2017. His progress from being just another punish Sheik in 2016 to one of the top 20 has slightly been a result of others stalling, and the beginning of 2018 has not been one to remember with 33rd at Genesis, where he lost to Ryan Ford, and back-to-back losses to CLG PewPewU at his last two events.
In other news from the Smash scene, new god Justin ‘plup’ McGrath, of Panda Gaming, announced on Twitter today that he is now a ‘Red Bull Athlete’ as the drinks company call their esports stars.
Excruciatingly ironic labels aside, it is an interesting move for a player that has long been associated with PG, as that organisation already lists Monster Energy as a sponsor on their site. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, this unfolds, but in the past sponsor conflicts have created issues for players.