Can anyone my age remember the last dynasty in Professional sports? Not in the “winning” sense, where teams like the Lakers or the Patriots dominate the competition for a few years straight. I am referring to the years when teams would maintain dynasty, franchised players that started and ended their careers with one organization in the same city for 15 or 20 years. Kobe is well on his way to the path of dynasty, but are others?
In light of a number of major free agency players in the NBA and the constant roster changes seen within Major League Gaming, I want to examine the evolution of the athlete and how it has destabilized storied, franchise teams.
Athletes of Today
LeBron James is quite possibly the biggest name in basketball. He is single-handedly determining the fates of half a dozen other big name free agents because his talents are highly sought. He wants to win and I don’t blame him; the Cleveland Cavaliers were the number one team during the regular season for the past two years straight and LeBron is arguably the best player in the league without a championship ring. Like many other athletes in his position, he has to determine what is best for his career and examine the options that present the greatest odds of winning a championship.
Major League Gaming’s players share a similar, “it’s all about winning mentality” highlighted by other athletes in different sports. Two years ago Final Boss ended, arguably, the only “dynasty” that we have seen in Professional Gaming’s brief existence. Two average event finishes and they called it quits. Saying that, Final Boss quit/gave up/switched rosters after only two non-first place event finishes is kind of sad. Very few, if any, of the Pro players within the league have maintained a solid roster throughout the life cycle of a particular game. There have been one season spurts here and there, often times the pieces do not fit for an event or two the following season and rosters quickly reassemble during the middle of a season. While discussing the concept of this article with Colin “Skyllus” Fogle, he pointed out a couple interesting correlations in the decision making process for players within the NBA or other professional sports and players on the MLG Pro Circuit.
- Life Cycles (Players Age vs Game’s time on Circuit)
Money is, without a doubt, the single most important factor determining the choices of athletes in this day and age. The mindset early on is almost always about making the most money possible. After fulfilling that goal, players are usually quick to trade teams ensuring that they have an opportunity to win a title. As seen with this year’s free agency hoopla with LeBron James.
Players within MLG are often times spending more money than they are winning, accelerating the process of finding the correct group of players, with the correct mindset, with the correct work ethic to finish out one single season on the circuit and make some money. If a game is at the end of its life cycle on the circuit, it further deteriorates the stability of a team resetting the roster changing chaos.
Professional athletes will usually try to position their careers in such a way that places them on championship teams towards the late stages of their careers. I believe the longer a player stays in the league, the more the desire to win a championship grows. Anyone remember Karl Malone and Gary Payton going to the Lakers?
The same life cycle effect could be playing a factor in player’s decision on the MLG Pro Circuit. Players know that this year will likely be the last year Halo 3 is on the circuit. It is in their best interest to make, what they think, is the best possible team to contend for that $100,000 check at the National competition. The problem is that teams like Instinct will probably be the only team that maintains their roster throughout the entire season. If they continue a great practice regiment, it will be difficult to contend with their roster.
From We to Me
Nowadays the player has become bigger than the team. It applies in both Professional sports and competitive gaming. Consistently performing well builds a reputation that sticks with a player throughout the tenure of their career. In both comparisons, gaming and sports, player egos can clash on teams at the drop of a dime, ruining the chances of truly reaching the potential of a “great” team. Players that maintain ego checks and work together towards a common goal usually experience greater long-term success.
Major League Gaming’s players have two factors, money and a game’s life cycle, simultaneously working against them causing the cycle of endless change. Initially players want money (spending money in order to win money), combined with the fact that a game’s life cycle can rapidly decline or change without much warning. A team that was on top one year, could be down in the dumps the next because the game they are playing is not identical to the previous year’s version.
The environment is promoting self interest over team interest, making it difficult to build a team’s brand over time. The end effect could be bloating individual egos, further stifling efforts to build outstanding teams. The scary thought is that most of this is relatively uninhibited and the relaxed ecosystem of the league is letting it happen. The players are not stressed — wait let me say that again with some emphasis. THE PLAYERS ARE NOT STRESSED ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING THEIR INDIVIDUAL AND TEAM BRANDS.
There are no classes, very little discussion in Pro Player meetings, and basically no instruction on the importance of maintaining teams and player identity throughout the season. The subject matter is entirely left up to the players on how to go about their “popularity.” If it’s not important enough to the league or to the players it will continue to happen and the dynasties will be year-to-year or worse yet, event-to-event from here on out. As a result, players follow what they see other players doing (i.e. acquiring the habits from other high profile players within the league). A testament to some of what we saw in 2009 — leading to this year’s devolution of teams.
I have a few solutions to this problem, but who really wants to change?
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