Manhattan Island, 22.8 square miles of glass, steel, and Central Park, is home to 1.64 million people from all corners of the globe. That’s a population density of 72,033 per square mile, the highest in the country and one of the highest in the world. With such dizzying demand, cost of living in Manhattan is astronomically high. So why bother? What makes 1.64 million people willing to cram themselves into a finger of land chosen seemingly at random, wedged between perfectly good landmasses with much more space?
“New York is the world’s cultural melting pot, where every language and community not only exists but thrives,” says Farzam Kamel, from Sterling.VC, the venture-capital firm that owns the New York Excelsior, or NYXL. Kamel, a New York City resident, loves what he describes as the city’s bold, ambitious, and relentlessly driven identity. If he’s played his cards right, NYXL will harness that unique energy and add to New York’s impressive sports legacy in the Overwatch League.
A Team of Proven Talent
Some teams in the Overwatch League have pinned their hopes on newly minted combinations of players from around the world. NYXL, on the other hand, went straight to a hotbed of competitive Overwatch, South Korea, and recruited a team of all-stars with proven credentials. This bold and ambitious move was made with one purpose in mind: dominating the Overwatch League.
“Overwatch is a game that requires a team with a diverse set of skills and strong chemistry among players,” says Kamel, “so we looked to build a roster of players who have experience playing together rather than building an entire team from scratch, and then coupled them with a seasoned, data-driven coaching staff to establish a professional and winning culture from day one.”
From the Brooklyn Bridge to the Empire State Building, New York City doesn’t do small. That’s why the New York Excelsior chose their name, which means “ever upward” in Latin, and cleanly abbreviates to a street-style yawp of excess: XL.
If that sounds like an overly businesslike way to run an esports team, that’s because it is: NYXL wants to be the most ambitious, calculating, and plain-old smartest team in the league. That doesn’t mean management is a bunch of cold-hearted penny-pinchers, though. They simply have a genuine belief that a cerebral, logical approach to competitive Overwatch is the best way to ensure NYC is represented by winners in the inaugural season and beyond.
“Every decision that we make regarding this franchise is with the city in mind,” says Kamel. “That means not just optimizing for performance, but recruiting and developing players of high character, players who are wildly enthusiastic about representing New York City and building authentic connections with the local fan base, which is one of the largest in Overwatch in the world.”
Scott “BEARHANDS” Tester, director of player personnel for NYXL, is an effusive mainstay of the Overwatch community who quite clearly loves his job. (“This sounds awesome,” he writes, when I invite him to familiarize me with each player’s personality.)
“[Park] “Saebyeolbe” [Jong-yeol] played in World Cup and is one of the best Tracers in the world,” Tester says. “He’s also really good at Roadhog.”
Biggest Rivals in the Overwatch League?
Boston and Philadelphia are the NYXL’s most logical rivals. There are plenty of bragging rights to be had from being the best team on the East Coast. “That being said, rivalries are built on history, which we as a franchise have yet to create,” says Sterling.VC’s Farzam Kamel. “We’re excited to begin competition and develop rivals as the league’s first season kicks off.”
He has something equally positive to say about everyone on the team. To hear him describe it, you’d think NYXL have the world’s best player in every role. Maybe they do.
They’re going to need it, because NYXL don’t just want to come out on top in the inaugural season—they want to build a dynasty that brings home championships left and right for the city they view as the greatest in the world.
“New York is an international hub for fashion, media, entertainment, and sport,” says Kamel. “We boast two professional teams in every major sport in the country, have [an] endless number of venues and immensely passionate fans. We focused on these traits when creating the franchise, from the name and logo to our players and coaches who come to New York as so many others have in the city’s long history: self-made, humble, hungry, enraptured by New York, and talented enough to do whatever it takes to succeed.”
That’s a mouthful and a half, but it gets the point across: the NYXL love their city, and they’re not messing around when it comes to representing it in the Overwatch League.