Former Infinite Esports director accused of misconduct in Overwatch negotiations - Dexerto
Overwatch

Former Infinite Esports director accused of misconduct in Overwatch negotiations

Published: 17/Oct/2018 17:34 Updated: 17/Oct/2018 17:53

by Joe O'Brien

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Former Infinite Esports & Entertainment director Ali ‘Alicus’ Saba has been accused of misconduct and unethical negotiating practices relating to the organization’s Overwatch Contenders teams.

According to a report by VPEsports, Saba repeatedly mislead players during his time as Scouting Director for Infinite, the parent of various esports companies including OpTic Gaming, Houston Outlaws and GG Esports Academy.

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It was recently reported by The Benchmob that GG Esports Academy, which in Season Two of Contenders NA acted as the academy team for the Houston Outlaws, would be removed from Contenders Trials for Season Three after failing to meet the roster submission deadline.

The Benchmob report also alleged the mishandling of negotiations with players from Last Night’s Leftovers. This latest report from VPEsports reveals that similar misconduct occurred back in early 2018 when Infinite was establishing its Contenders team for Season One.

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At that time, Saba reportedly contacted a group of players with an offer to play as the official Outlaws academy team. The situation grew more complicated, however, after the players discovered that through GGEA, Infinite intended to manage multiple teams in Contenders. This was also alleged at the time, with Over.gg reporting that GGEA could be running up to five Contenders slots.

After learning that the organization was also attempting to sign another squad, the players requested confirmation that the offer to play as the official Outlaws academy team – which would also require relocating and for at least one player deciding between pursuing Overwatch and enrolling in college – was firm.

Saba reportedly informed the players that the offer was stable, and repeatedly confirmed that their team would be connected to the Houston Overwatch League team via branding. He allegedly told the players that the other players being negotiated with would be placed on different Contenders teams for brands separate to OpTic and the Outlaws.

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The players were then reportedly told they would be playing under the GGEA brand, rather than OpTic Gaming. After questioning whether this would affect their standing as Houston’s academy team, the players were told by Saba “I know players who are way more accomplished than all of you who would suck dick for this opportunity…I can show you my Discord.”

According to the report, formal complaints were filed with Infinite over conduct of this sort from Saba, but no actions were taken by the organization at the time.

The players were eventually given multiple contracts over a period of days as the organization reshuffled which teams would play under which brands. The first reportedly listed the team as “Houston Outlaws Academy”, the second “GGEA Desperados or FaZe”, and finally the third as “Ace.”

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Less than 24-hours before the roster deadline, however, Blizzard intervened to prevent Infinite from controlling multiple Contenders teams. Subsequently, the players reportedly had their contracts voided.

Though several of the players ultimately ended up signing with Simplicity in a deal facilitated by Saba and OpTic Gaming, two left the team to pursue alternative options and one quit competing altogether. One player told VPEsports that “the incident destroyed our team and likely ended the careers of most of our players.”

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Saba was later moved to Director of International Development at Infinite Esports & Entertainment, and ultimately departed the organization on September 22, a move that was reportedly unrelated to these accusations.

When asked for comment, Saba told VPEsports: “GGEA is the org that was running this. I was assisting GGEA. My job was to do as I was told. They said they had things under control and they had deals with other [Overwatch League] teams and that it was cleared that GGEA can run a bunch of academies.”

The report comes at a turbulent time for Infinite, who recently replaced president Chris Chaney with Ryan ‘OpTicJ’ Musselman amid a series of staff lay-offs. Meanwhile, several high-profile figures have departed, including OpTic Gaming general manager Romain Bigeard and content creator Austin ‘Pamaj’ Pamajewon.

VPEsports’ full report on the accusations against Saba and Infinite can be read here.

Overwatch

Jeff Kaplan reveals his ideal competitive Overwatch meta

Published: 8/Oct/2020 3:13

by Theo Salaun

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Blizzard Entertainment’s Vice President and Overwatch’s beloved Game Director Jeff Kaplan has revealed what he thinks is the ideal competitive meta for the expansive title.

Overwatch exists in many forms, from its highest ranks to its lowest, but the game’s competitive meta at the professional level has also varied greatly since the original release back in May 2016. 

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In the olden days, teams prioritized dive compositions led by Winston’s jumps and Tracer’s blinks. Then, in 2019, fans around the world either groaned or cheered as the divisive GOATS meta took center-stage, featuring a hefty squad built entirely with tanks and supports. 

Now, Kaplan is explaining his perspective on the game’s ideal state, following criticisms he levied back in July against the game’s double-shield reliance. Examining the game’s departure from a static, Orisa and Sigma-dependent environment, he dissects his compository ideology. 

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Brigitte stuns Junkrat on Volskaya
Blizzard Entertainment
Barriers have held an uncomfortably powerful role in Overwatch for a long time.

As discussed in an interview with the Loadout, Kaplan is both aware of the professional scene’s interests and the casual base’s tendencies. Coupling those factors, he believes the game is at its best when there is some blend of high skill caps and diverse team compositions.

“The most ideal, healthiest state of the game is when the meta is somewhat fluid, when the meta is more map dependent or team match up dependent than it is static. We’ve all seen those moments when the meta has been completely static and all six players will just play the same six heroes every time. I think that’s fun from a mastery standpoint, but I think it’s a lot more exciting for viewers when creativity and curiosity come into play,” he said.

When Kaplan refers to a “static” meta, the simplest example is 2019’s GOATS, where three healers (Brigitte, Lucio, and Moira) were coupled with three tanks (D.Va, Reinhardt, and Zarya) and would barrel into opponents.

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It took tremendous teamwork to be pulled off successfully against other professional teams, but many fans considered it more tedious than entertaining after months of gameplay.

In its current state, Overwatch is not completely balanced, but there is a degree of variety to it. That diversity seen in the Overwatch League spans downward into the casual ranks. Kaplan indicates that this is in line with his department’s hopes.

“I think most of our players would say in the ideal meta, all our heroes would be viable in some way competitively. I think as a competitive goal from a game designing and game balancing perspective that is extremely challenging, but it’s obviously what we strive to achieve.”

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While he assures that Overwatch would be completely balanced in an ideal world, in the meantime, his team would at least like to push toward a game that varies to some extent based on coaching, player preference, and map.

It remains to be seen if current and upcoming patches can accomplish that, but Kaplan’s emphasis on “fluidity” is a welcome driving force.

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