With 2018 closing in, one story stands tall in the esports industry. Unfortunately, that story is about disappointment and regret. The Shanghai Dragons are responsible for this story; for having the worst record in esports history.
Esports spans across many games like League of Legends (LOL), Counter Strike’s CS:GO, Overwatch, and Call of duty. The speed at which news in the esports industry generates is incredible. With so many professional leagues and players, it can be hard to keep up to date. However, one story stands out over all the esports news that came out this year, and it has to do with the Shanghai Dragons.
Who are the Shanghai Dragons
The Shanghai Dragons are an esports organization out of China, and was formed in 2017. The creation of the Shanghai Dragons was huge news in Shanghai as the city is expected to be the next world center for eSports. One of Shanghai’s most recognized esports leader is Wang Hailei who said in an interview “It is a fortunate era for eSport practitioners, as the society has developed a higher acceptance toward eSport. Both the government and capitals are optimistic about the prospect of the market.”
With so much recognition of professional gaming in the city, it made sense to have a Shanghai team (the Dragons), as well as competing in one of the countries most popular games, Overwatch. The original Dragons consisted of:
And just like that, the new Overwatch team was created on July 12th of 2017. It did take some time for the marketing campaign to begin as the Shanghai Dragons official Twitter account made it’s first tweet on Sept 28th, 2017:
A massive campaign was going on to get brand awareness for the Shanghai Dragons. The new franchise in the Overwatch League was going to come in with their guns blazing and be the new kids on the block ready to compete.
With social media accounts locked and loaded; with all the top news outlets informed in China, and this powerful intro video lasting only 0:47 seconds, the Shanghai Dragons were ready to take on the world.
An Inaugural Season Full of Promises
A new exciting team was welcomed to the Overwatch League; esports was blooming in Shanghai, and the Dragons consisted of players with solid past experience in the esports industry. There was a lot of promise, and a lot of hope that the Dragons would be another dominate force in the Asian esports scene.
One of the Shanghai Dragon’s first tweet was a hopeful one; a tweet that on so many levels represented innocence, hope, meaning:
However, the opposite was true. In the their inaugural season, they finished with the worst record in esports history. Shanghai Dragons final record was 0-40. That’s not a typo. The team did not get one single win out of 40 matches. If you want to include the “pre-season” games (which there were only two), they lost those also. To hear about a team not registering at least one win in an entire professional esports season is unheard of. With the growth of esports in general, something was going to give and with so many leagues around there was bound to be an unfortunate player, or team to concede to this horrific stat.
How do other leagues compare?
You have to dig deep into major league sports to see if there have been any other teams that have done worst. No teams in the NFL. NHL, MLB, or NBA has done worse. There’s only been a handful of teams that weren’t able to achieve at least 1 win in a regular reason, and that’s the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns. Both teams went 0-16 in the regular season in the NFL. Mind you, they did not play 40 games. It’s definitely hard to compare, however, given the number of games played the Shanghai Dragons take the cake.
What about professional gaming teams?
In the 2015 Overwatch League season, Team FNATIC went undefeated in their summer regular season, something that has never been done before. With such an amazing accomplishment, people were wondering if the opposite has happened. It never did, not until this year’s Overwatch League. When one organization like FNATIC thrived, another one had to fall, thus creating the yin and the yang.
Plenty of teams have come close to that record. However, no one has ever achieved it within the esports industry. There has been plenty of teams that have had 1 win seasons. A good number that went winless (ex: League of Legends Pro League and League of Legends Master Series). But the League of Legends split is significantly shorter than an Overwatch season. To note, there have been a few CS:GO teams that went an entire ESL pro league without winning. But the only reason they were not counted was because they were disqualified before the season ended.
Was there any hope during the season for SD?
In week one of the Overwatch League, they lost to the LA Gladiators, San Francisco Shock, Houston Outlaws, and Florida Mayhem. It was around this point that people realized Shanghai Dragons had a problem.
The team’s manager (Yang Van) even released a statement saying:
“We understand your concern on the train schedule of the Shanghai Dragons in US, Here’s a simple explanation. Training starts 10:30 everyday and ends at midnight, which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and breaks.”
Yang Van also said that the team was hungry for their first victory. They were willing to do anything in order to get at last ONE win which explains such a gruesome training schedule. After getting wiped out for the rest of “Stage 1”, they returned to “Stage 2” with a new line up.
Mix-up in SD’s roster
By the end of Stage 1, the Shanghai Dragons roster didn’t look bad, shaking it up with some new Korean faces on the team. The new Korean players that signed with the Dragons were overlooked during the initial signing phase of the season, thus making them available at the time. But this new look of optimism was overshadowed by management. Management overhauled their roster when there was some signs of life, and kicked their best player in the middle of the season from the team.
Unfortunately, the roster change didn’t do anything for their loosing streak, and the Dragons lost every game in “Stage 2”. Even changing coaches didn’t do anything for the team. They continued their loosing streak and made one of the biggest blunders in the inaugural season by dropping Fang “Undead” Chao, who some considered was their best player. He was replaced with Kim “Daemin” Daemin in the roster which was a huge boost to the teams morale, however, the results stayed the same.
Was there any hope in Stage 4?
The Dragons ended the 4th and final Overwatch stage with the worst record they had. They managed to do worse even with replacing “Undead”. Their final season detailed score was:
- 21 Map Wins
- 2 Map Ties
- 141 Map loses
The Florida Mayhem, who were the 2nd worse team in the league managed to win at least 7 matches. Above all, it was still nothing to brag about, but they found a way to win some games. So the question is, where did is all go wrong? What could have been the culprit of such a horrendous season? The truth is as follows…
In professional sports there are many teams that have great players on paper, however, they do not perform well as a team. This was the same problem SD has. They had great “individual players” who’ve shown they were able to dominate on their own. However, they struggled when it came to playing as a team. The main culprit could be the lack of synergy SD’s players had between themselves. Regardless of the hectic training schedule that Shanghai Dragons had, they weren’t able to layout a concrete plan for the entire team to follow, and create some sort of synergy among themselves. Another issue was communication; the Korean players were speaking Korean. They weren’t fluent in Chinese and English wasn’t their stronghold, so that created a language barrier.
After the disastrous season, the only Dragon to remain from the original roster is Weida Lu. There’s many reasons that he decided to stay on the team, but letting a disastrous season define who he is isn’t one of them. With the new roster in place, Weida Lu is off to a good start and hopefully creating the “synergy” that Shanghai Dragons so badly need. The only positive going into the new season is that it can’t get any worse for the Shanghai Dragons.
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