Head Coach calls out OWL teams for 'stupid' scrim practice

Head Coach calls out OWL teams for 'stupid' scrim practice
Images via Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Sascha Heinisch


8th Sep 2023 16:00

Good preparation is essential in the Overwatch League. Considering that none of the rosters are large enough anymore to do in-house practice, teams are required to scrim their direct opposition.

A system has developed over the years in which teams book two or three so-called scrim blocks a day, ideally facing off against Overwatch League opponents they won't meet in official matches in the near future and provide adequate practice for match day.

In order to structure their players' day-to-day activities, teams have opted to book scrim blocks weeks in advance, a practice that London Spitfire Head Coach, Christopher "ChrisTFer" Graham has called "stupid."

What's the problem?

During an episode of the Tactical Crouch podcast, ChrisTFer received notice from the Head Coach of the Atlanta Reign, Blake "Gator" Scott that his team would have to cancel the practice session against the Spitfire on short notice.

While ChrisTFer wasn't upset about Gator's late cancellation, it did ignite a passionate point of contention in him that he elaborated on.

"I'm so sick of Overwatch League teams booking scrims five weeks in advance," the current reigning Coach of the Year started off with. "It's so stupid and so frustrating."

According to ChrisTFer, the issue of booking these scrim blocks in advance comes down to the competitive nature of the tournament format during bracket play.

"Do I know who I'm playing against in Play-Ins? No! Do I want to scrim against that team? No!” he explained, before specifically calling out one team in particular.

"Some teams…Boston… already booked their Play-Ins scrims. You are going to have to cancel half of these because of how the bracket goes."

The Head Coach elaborated that the core issue with this approach was that the team which would be cancelled on would also not find an alternative scrim partner.

Once one team chooses to employ this practice, it also indirectly forces every other team to follow suit, argued ChrisTFer: "If Boston book their scrims, I have to book my scrims." Teams who didn't mirror this strategy otherwise ran the risk of not getting an adequate scrim partner.

A fragile strategy

Not just unforeseeable brackets in tournament scenarios pose a challenge to the established practice of booking scrims in advance.

Moreover, other volatility introduced to the system appears to have similar issues. One example which is currently transpiring is the unaligned patch versions between the Play-Ins and the Playoff patches.

In North America, the Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, and the Houston Outlaws are already locked into Playoff participation without the retour through the Play-Ins. Therefore, it is undesirable for these teams to practice against teams on the Play-Ins patch, forcing these teams to cancel scrims on the Play-In teams and vice versa.

This has ripped holes into the practice schedule of several teams, which are not trivial to rectify on short notice, according to Overwatch League team insiders.

The problem has been pointed out on several occasions but would require a united effort by teams to not book too far in advance. However, as top-ranking teams have an easier time filling in empty slots due to their desirability as a practice partner, there is little incentive for them to change as one source explained to GGRecon.

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