Sterling.VC officially branded and revealed the roster of its New York ESports franchise that will be taking part in the Overwatch League on Monday.
Branded the Excelsior, or NYXL for short, this is the first ESports franchise to ever represent New York City and an inaugural member of the Overwatch League, which will officially start on Jan. 10, 2018.
"We couldn’t be more excited," Farzam Kamel, a partner at Sterling.VC said. "We’ve been building up to this moment for a while and this had been an internal thing for so long. Now to go and reveal everything to the New York community we just couldn’t be more excited.
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NYXL is one of 12 inaugural members of the league that also includes teams in Boston, Dallas, Houston, London, Los Angeles (two franchises), Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seoul and Shanghai.
"'Excelsior' represents the extreme scale and boundless ambition of the city, and the passionate drive of a team committed to reaching the top and never letting up," the team released in an official statement. "Excelsior represents the heroic optimism and positivity of Overwatch, a game that empowers everyone to become a hero. Within Excelsior is the abbreviation XL, which encapsulates New York at its most powerful: the city of more people, more fans, more creativity, more drive, more passion, and more soul."
The roster is made up of eight players, who are some of the best in the world:
-Joong “Janus” Hwa - Tank
-Dong-gyu "Mano" Kim - Tank
-Kim "Mek0" Tae Hong - Off-Tank
-Kim "Pine" Do Hyeon - Flex
-Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong Yeol - DPS
-Hong “ArK” Yeon Joon - Support
-Bang “JJoNak” Sung-Hyeon - Support
-Kim "Libero" Hye Sung - DPS
NYXL director of player development Scott Tester was able to put together a roster that already has some experience playing together, which could be huge in the new league.
"A big part of it is learning each other’s tendencies and generating chemistry as a team," Tester said. "I think one of the advantages of the approach that we’ve taken is that in large part, these players have already done that. Three of our players are competing this weekend at Blizzcon in the Overwatch World Cup."
"The majority of our team comes from one of the top Korean teams that have competed in Apex ( for a couple of seasons over there," he continued. "They have experience playing together and I think we’ll be able to turn that chemistry into success in the Overwatch League.
Sterling.VC, a venture capital fund, may look familiar to many New York sports fans considering it was co-founded by New York Mets owner Jett Wilpon.
"It is an amazing opportunity to have NYXL be part of a brand new professional league and representing the city of New York,” Wilpon said. “We’ve put together a strong team and look forward to competing at the highest level.”
There will obviously be challenges introducing a new league and sport to a market that has plenty of competition within its limits. The New York metropolitan area features nine teams across the big four leagues of baseball, hockey, football and basketball, not to mention an additional two MLS franchises.
But that's not concerning Kamel.
"We’re pretty bullish," he said. "I think that this competition will be looked at a different way. It’s an opportunity to tap into that fandom that’s been built through decades of sports history through New York, which is an incredibly rich sports history. We have the opportunity to bridge the gap between traditional sports and ESports.
The Overwatch League begins its preseason on Dec. 6 before the real deal starts up in Los Angeles.