Philadelphia Fusion Marketing Specialist Evan Frasca on evolution of gaming, future of esports — Interview Part 2

Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Philadelphia Fusion Marketing Specialist Evan Frasca on evolution of gaming, future of esports — Interview Part 2

The following is Part 2 of a two-part interview with Evan Frasca, Marketing Specialist for the Philadelphia Fusion. In case you haven’t checked out Part 1, you can give it a read here.

JY: Now, gaming is evolving at a rapid pace. Where do you think we’ll end up eventually? Will we see something like Ready Player One?

EF: One thing people gloss over is the fact that while esports is huge and it’s still growing, it’s still in the early stages of its life cycle. Obviously, regulation is a huge pillar that I think people tend not to think about and how that’s going to end up happening whether the trend of franchise leagues continues to be the future or not.

What I would love to see is more availability in terms of esports frameworks. Right now, there’s a path being crafted for how you become a professional gamer. What I think will be interesting is how more normalized approaches to that start to appear.

Co-ops or internships that allow you to develop professional skills relating to being a competitive gamer.

Philadelphia Fusion Marketing Specialist Evan Frasca (Photo credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment)

JY: Things like going to school for statistical analytics and then branch off as a specialist in MOBA analytics or FPS analytics?

EF: All kinds of diversification like that. That’s probably the first example most people will think of in terms of tying a traditional education into gaming.

Even more casual than that, though, it could be more specific things that you could take to become a pro. Classes that help augment a player’s perspective on being a pro. All of that is super interesting to me.

JY: With how quick gaming and culture evolves, and we see that reflected in what’s popular in games, is that good or bad for the industry and how does it affect you in terms of building the brand and engagement?

EF: I think it’s definitely a good thing. There are changes that are happening in terms of the culture that may not be as favorable as others — that being said, what I love about what’s happening currently is we're kind of at the point where much of traditional audiences are absorbing it at the same time and at an accelerated rate.

People are experiencing what it’s like to blend aspects of pop culture with gaming and esports at a really fast rate. Music, fashion, food, and anime. All of the changes are really hard to take in as they come because they’re so massive, but the really cool thing is that they’re all happening at once.

JY: A couple of questions about the World Health Organization gaming disorder classification. As kids are more and more influenced by pro players and streamers, how do we draw that line between passion and obsession?

EF: It is exactly as you said. Drawing that line and finding the balance. It is exceptionally important for parents to identify digital trends that their kids are becoming aware of. Whether it’s gaming, Snapchat, or Tic Tok.

I’m not saying parents need to moderate and take charge of every single thing, but when you identify something your kids are passionate about, that’s when you need to step in and ask: How do we harness this passion? How do create a healthy environment to develop this passion? The parents need to be able to take a moment and ask why their kid loves this or that. They need to engage with them and understand and learn about it. That will shape the path for them to keep their kids safe and healthy.

JY: That speaks a lot to the responsibility of a parent, but what about players, teams, and organizations? Do they have a responsibility to be a good role model?

EF: Absolutely. For the Fusion, we pride ourselves on being a super diverse team. A team that is available for anyone of any given background to resonate with.

When it comes down to expressing priorities around mental health or physical health — there was an initiative on Twitter about spreading mental health awareness. It takes two seconds for us to write that tweet and put out that hashtag. That might not mean anything to a typical viewer, but to someone who is experiencing issues like that it can really resonate with them.

Going back to the gaming disorder, which obviously there’s a massive buzz around that, for me, I would not go out of my way to say that’s a legitimate disorder or something that you need to be careful of. What you do need to be careful of is letting your child or family take something and run with it to the point that you can’t control or be there for them anymore.

As long as the people in your family care about you and care to learn about the things you love, that’s what we want to spread as a team. We want to say: these kids are doing this and your kids can, too. It’s up to you and the teams to set the standard for which you can follow that path.

JY: Any final thoughts for readers and Fusion fans out there?

EF: Thanks to our sponsors and our amazing fans.  We’re really excited for the second half of the season and really excited for the grand finals, and we’re even more excited to get to Philly real soon.

Experiencing the Overwatch League for the first time and why you should too

Experiencing the Overwatch League for the first time and why you should too

The Philadelphia Fusion finally played in front of a home crowd for the first time Saturday at the Met. It’s been a long time coming but with a near sold out venue, it was clear that the city was ready for the league to make it’s way there during their regular season. 

And after the 2019 Overwatch League sold out Wells Fargo Center in September, I finally realized it may be time to pay attention to something that was taking over the nation … I just wasn’t sure how. 

Fast forward to this weekend of events. Still knowing nothing about the league, Overwatch in general or really what to expect at something like this … I decided to go. I wanted to see what it was like, essentially as an outsider, to see how things go. Here’s what I took away from the day:

First impressions

I arrived about a half hour before the initial start time and it was packed. Between the lobby, merchandise tables and gaming stations, the atmosphere was electric. It almost seemed like a mini ComicCon, or in this case BlizzCon — with fans in jerseys representing their favorite players, cos-plays of characters in the game and even a fake Gritty (the real Gritty was there too, but we’ll get to that later).

How does it differ?

One of the biggest questions I had heading into things was how different would this be from a regular sporting event? Turns out — it’s not. Two teams of six compete on three separate maps, with three games within them. It’s highly competitive and very intense. 

The crowd was also as Philly as it gets. The entire event went on for nearly four hours and the energy never died down. The first match of the Mayhem and the Outlaws had an interesting dynamic, where fans cheered for both teams. Everyone was just there appreciating the game and the atmosphere, but boy did it take a shift as soon as the Fusion and Justice took the stage. 

It was loud. I mean loud. From booing the Justice from the moment they stepped on the stage, to cheering on the home team for the very first time. It was the same energy you’d see from Flyers, Sixers, Phillies and Eagles fans. 

Not to mention, there was even an E-A-G-L-E-S chant that broke out, so it’s safe to say the Fusion were officially initiated into the Philly sports world. 

What I took away

I’m familiar with Blizzard Entertainment, having played World of Warcraft since my middle school days, but before this weekend I had held off to being open-minded to any other games they put out. If I had a better understanding to Overwatch overall, the way I do with WoW, chances are I’d probably become pretty invested into this. To be a player and to be able to watch some of the best in the game is a pretty cool concept. 

Not to mention, an appearance from Gritty is an automatic win in my book. 

Is it worth attending?

 If you’re open to trying new things, I’d suggest giving it a shot. Since this was the first time I was there and was still pretty much unaware of everything going on for the first few hours, two matches seemed lengthy. Luckily, if you wanted, you could’ve gone for just the Fusion that was set to start two hours into the event. 

The gaming community continues to evolve. If you’re a fan of Twitch — an online streaming site for players, this may be something to look into. It’s basically the live version of it but with the addition of a live sporting event atmosphere. 

I rather enjoyed my time there and look forward to the next time the Fusion are home (May 23-24). Now that I know what I’m going into, it’ll be exciting to be back with a new perspective. 

Meet your new Philadelphia Fusion roster for OWL 2020

The Philadelphia Fusion

Meet your new Philadelphia Fusion roster for OWL 2020

The Philadelphia Fusion has officially announced its main roster heading into the 2020 season of the Overwatch League. Overall, the team has five returning players and four newly signed players along with a new coaching staff.

Players Leaving

Image credit courtesy of The Philadelphia Fusion

Leaving the Fusion roster are DPS player Finley "Kyb" Adisi and support players Elijah Hudson "Elk" Gallagher and Alberto "neptuNo" González.

Kyb leaves the roster after not seeing any play with the Fusion roster since being traded to the team from the Guangzhou charge just before the start of Stage 4. Meanwhile, Elk leaves the team after struggling on the Fusion Academy roster after rejoining the contender roster when they moved to Korea.

Finally, neptuNo leaves the roster after playing a huge role as one of the key supports for the Fusion. During his time on the Fusion, neptuNo was one of the starting supports through both seasons, acting as the main Lucio and Mercy player. He was considered one of the core members of the roster and played the most maps out of all players in season one of the Overwatch League.

There haven’t been any rumors about the landing spots for any of these players at the moment. However, it has been rumored that the Toronto Defiant decided not to trial neptuNo due to feeling that he may be too toxic.

Returning Players

After a mediocre 2019 season, the starting DPS and tank duo for the Fusion in DPS players Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee and Josue/Josh "Eqo" Corona along with tank players Gael "Poko" Gouzerch and Su-min "SADO" Kim. Finishing off the group of returning players is support player Isaac "Boombox" Charles.

While Poko, SADO, and Boombox were brought back fairly quickly, the DPS duo was a different story. For Eqo, it was originally announced that he would be leaving the team after two long seasons with the team. The announcement was a shocking one at the time and left fans wondering what the future would hold for both the Fusion and Eqo. Meanwhile, after weeks of rumors since the start of the beginning of the offseason, star DPS player Carpe signed a 3-year contract to rejoin the team as the face of the franchise.

Overall, the return of these five players allows the Fusion to head into the 2020 season with a solid core that has great synergy together as a team. Along with that, the return of the DPS duo in Carpe and Eqo ensures the Fusion will have the ability to default to a tested duo that is capable of carrying the team to victory.

New Players

The biggest pickup for the Fusion during the offseason is the former tank player of the London Spitfire Jun-ho "Fury" Kim who is widely considered one of the best offensive tank players in the league. During the offseason, Fury was sought after by other teams as reported by Halo of Thoughts in the New York Excelsior. While the NYXL had initial talks with the Spitfire, the asking price was too high for the team.  Along with Fury, the Fusion picked up two more Korean players in Seung-hyun "Ivy" Lee, the former DPS player for the Toronto Defiant and support player Kyungbo "Alarm" Kim, who has been brought up from the Fusion’s contender team in the Fusion University. Finishing off the new players joining the roster is a former support player for the Atlanta Reign, Daniel "FunnyAstro" Hathaway.

Image credit courtesy of The Philadelphia Fusion

Along with the new players, the Fusion also announced new members of the support staff. Taking over the coaching duties after both Se-hwi "NamedHwi" Go and Elliot "Hayes" Hayes left the organization is Dong-gun "KDG" Kim, the former coach for the Seoul Dynasty, along with him the returning assistant coach Christopher "ChrisTFer" Graham will continue to contribute to the team. Along with that, the Fusion also announced Roston “Roston” Yoo as the new assistant general manager.

With these changes the Fusion roster heading into the 2020 season will be:

Support: Alarm, FunnyAstro, Boombox
Tank: Poko, SADO, Fury
DPS: Ivy, Carpe, Eqo
Coach: KDG (head), ChrisTFer (assistant)

With the new players, the Fusion could potentially field a nearly full Korean roster depending on the meta with a single non-Korean support which would likely be Boombox. One big concern that still exists in the roster is the lack of a substitute for the main tank role as SADO could continue to struggle once the 2020 season begins. Overall, the roster has made some solid upgrades and should look much better heading into the new season. The question now will be if these changes are good enough to push the Fusion into title contention once again.

The Fusion’s 2020 season begins on February 15th in Philadelphia.