Since the Overwatch League announced eight new expansion teams for season two, there’s only been one question on everyone’s mind: what colours will they use? At first, it seemed they were all going to be duds, falling back on the sea of blues and reds already dominating the matches. The Chengdu Hunters did something interesting with their yellow kit, but nothing can match the most recent announcement: Hangzhou Spark and their baby pink.
Back when the expansion teams were first announced I wrote: “I find it very unlikely that any of these new teams will unseat the Shanghai Dragons as my favourite, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see their player acquisitions, logos, and most importantly, colour schemes. The first team to deck themselves out in pink like top Korean team Runaway will be a strong contender for my undying support.” Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting someone to take me up on the offer, but I’m very glad that Hangzhou did. (Please note that this is not a commitment to supporting them over Shanghai. I can multitask.)
It's not just the colours (though they are, again, very good). The Spark have gone all in on a cutesy social media presence, introducing members of their team with emoji and plenty of exclamation marks:
Here is our PINK coach team!!! ヾ(◍°∇°◍)ﾉﾞ
?Mask was the head coach of X6-Gaming. Sup7eme was the head coach of Team Seven, and YinDong was the head coach of LGD Gaming. Welcome to our Spark family! pic.twitter.com/P4ORGkIfyL
— Hangzhou Spark (@Hangzhou_Spark) November 16, 2018
It's a smart strategy. Though many fans choose "local" teams, any choice about who to cheer for is mostly arbitrary. Teams that are samey in style and who don't have a distinct voice on social media are liable to get overlooked. But the Spark are also filling a niche for the many fans who just aren't that interested in the directions that many teams choose to take their branding, whether that be standard trash talk or, in the case of the recent video put out by expansion team Paris Eternal, weirdly celebratory of "empires" and "conquerors".
The Spark are showing some promise as a team already - they haven't announced many players, but they have signed top Chinese tank Xu "Guxue" Qiulin, who was a key part in team China making it to second place in the World Cup. But regardless of their actual performance, they've already succeeded in making themselves stand out, and that's a good way to sell these extremely cute shirts.
— Soe Gschwind-Penski (@Soembie) November 16, 2018
And don't get me started on skins for my Overwatch heroes. No one can tell me that this isn’t the best possible look for Reaper.