Coach of the year and OWL champion says he lives on welfare now

Coach of the year and OWL champion says he lives on welfare now
Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch

Published 

2nd Apr 2024 16:45

Former Overwatch League winning coach with the Florida Mayhem and season 6 coach of the year Jordan "Gunba" Graham and current head coach for ENCE revealed that he is currently living on welfare.

Few options

During an episode of the Overwatch esports podcast Uncoachable, Gunba was once more a guest for an almost four-hour-long episode. Covering various topics around the scene from rule issues to the recent results in the Overwatch Championship Series, the cast also covered the realities of employment in the Overwatch ecosystem.

Gunba explained he pitched his team to approximately 20 European esports organisations after the closure of the Overwatch League and during the transition to the OWCS and found little interest other than Spacestation Gaming, ENCE, and another esports organisation which he did not disclose. 

"Europe is a wasteland for orgs at the moment which doesn’t make sense. EMEA is really strong and one of the better regions to bet on for international competition," Gunba shared, adding that "hasn’t been represented in org interest."

With little optionality in the market and a majority Finnish roster, the team signed with ENCE and finished second in OWCS EMEA, after losing the rematch against Twisted Minds in the Grand Final.

Small compensation with bigger upside

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Hinting towards the payment structure, Gunba explained that not everyone on his team was making the same salary but rather distributed the available funds to establish a team with former top-tier Overwatch League talent. 

"Many of us are on incredibly low salaries, under a $1000 range, and a few of us are closer to $2000. [...] We’re giving the money to people who need it the most in order to take on the opportunity," the COTY explained, also expanding upon the idea that the prize money from tournament winnings such as OWCS Dallas or Stockholm as well as Esports World Cup were of higher importance.

The definitive prize money for EWC has not yet been revealed, while both major OWCS events will rely mainly on crowd-funding in the form of a revenue share model for digital items.

Gunba also clarified how he currently makes a living, saying, "I get money from the Australian government anyway, I get a decent amount of money just through welfare. That’s where we’re at." For their second place at OWCS EMEA Stage 1, ENCE had won $15,000 which is likely to be shared between its players and staff, with some of the cut also going to the organisation.

During Overwatch League season 6, the Florida Mayhem under Gunba's lead had won the last-ever season of the franchise League, beating the Houston Outlaws in the final. The team had worked under a modest budget throughout its existence, with Gunba being attributed for its turnaround after season 5, netting him the Overwatch League Coach of the Year award in 2023.

Sascha "Yiska" Heinisch is a Senior Esports Journalist at GGRecon. He's been creating content in esports for over 10 years, starting with Warcraft 3.

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