You’ve Heard of the Battle for LA, Now Get Ready for the Battle for McDonald’s
A now familiar scene for fans of the Overwatch League, the “Battle for LA” is always exciting. The Valiant and Gladiators know how to compete with each other, and each has its local fans who show up to cheer on their favorite home team. As a kid who grew up in Chicago, home to the rivalry of the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox in Major League Baseball, I know exactly how invested some of us can get in these experiences. There is no comparison.
The San Francisco Shock also call California their home, but no match-up is as iconic for them as the Battle for LA is to the Gladiators and Valiant. There has been some occasional reference to a Battle for Texas — which ideally ought to be renamed the Texas Shootout or something else a bit more on-message — when the Dallas Fuel and Houston Outlaws square off, but the enthusiasm hasn’t usually reached the levels that the Battle for LA has. Perhaps it’s just catchier. There was a somewhat recent film called, “Battle for Los Angeles,” after all, so it even has a namesake.
There, might, however, be a match-up to look forward to in Season Two of the Overwatch League, and we have memes, at least in part, to thank.
After the Overwatch League skins were announced as an in-game addition to be available for purchase in Overwatch — at roughly $5 per skin, a subject for another day — many players commented on the Shaghai Dragons and Florida Mayhem skins, which used red/yellow and yellow/red as their primary/secondary colors, respectively. The skins weren’t necessarily recolors themselves, but were about as close as one gets in the game, and fans were quick to notice the color pallet resemblance to the McDonald’s brand.
In many forms of media that reference McDonald’s as a fast food franchise either for the purpose of parody or as a plot device, the name changes but the color pallet stays the same. It has become one of the most recognizable color combinations in American advertising, close in competition with Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and other huge brands. Many Americans and non-Americans as well have certain color and shape associations subliminally messaged into the vision every day, so it’s no great surprise that a team like the Florida Mayhem, who use a capital-M and yellow/red color pallet, would be compared to the McDonald’s brand on a superficial level. The logic also follow for the Shanghai Dragon’s to an extent, as McDonald’s uniforms, commercials and billboards frequently use a red/yellow swap of their colors. The image of a large yellow “M” on a solid red background is hard to shake.
There’s not many similarities to draw between the Dragons and the Mayhem. The Dragons as a roster are primarily from a hitherto solitary division of Overwatch esports as played in China, and the Mayhem were built primarily with a starting roster of the top Overwatch team in Europe. Their most famous players, their history as organizations and rosters, all of this is relatively unique to themselves, with the exception of their infamous losing streaks.
While the Dragons set a sporting record for most consecutive games lost, the Mayhem’s record in the Overwatch League is not far behind. They’ve certainly pulled off a few more excellent plays than the Dragons have, but their overall play as a pro team is roughly comparable. If the Dragons had their own godlike Widowmaker, say, perhaps a clone of Sayaplayer (Jeong-woo Ha), then perhaps the two teams might have a chance to give each other a run for their money. In fact, we may yet have a chance to see such a contest occur.
The Overwatch League is nearing the end of its inaugural season, and the Mayhem and Dragons both have some thinking to do. Each team will now not only have the entire off-season to train, they will both assuredly also have their staff and potentially their player rosters revamped. In Season Two, anything goes; we’re still too far out to know what the meta will be like. We might get another two heroes released by that time. We might see substantial player signings or trades. New teams might form.
I confess myself enamored with the Dragons-Mayhem match-up. As thrilling as it is to watch the best OWL teams go head-to-head, there’s something interesting about watching teams of professional players play something a bit closer to the Overwatch the rest of us are stuck with. Not only do the Dragons and Mayhem have the opportunity to up their game, it’s a distinct possibility that the matches could be quite fun to watch even if they don’t. That was how I felt watching the two teams face off this past season. Given the number of variables still in play for the second season, we truly are living in a world of Overwatch possibility.
I’m hyped. We’ll either see some very high level play from two stacked rosters of professional players or the esports equivalent of a fistfight between two suburban teenagers in a McDonald’s parking lot. Either way, I’m ready to live the meme.