With the recent influx of information regarding the future of Overwatch Contenders, the gears in the Tier Two Overwatch scene, previously buried away beneath mountains of questions, have begun to grind once more; each clan’s territorial claims have been redrawn and redrawn again, all of them hoping to retain or to expand upon their holdings in the scene. The most recent shift of power boasts striking similarities to the original exodus of organizations from the scene after the announcement of the Overwatch League, when rosters dropped like frozen petals due to the mass paranoia that ensued after said announcement. For the past few weeks, this reshuffling of teams has mostly pertained to the Eastern regions of the world, such as Taiwan and South Korea; however, with titans such as the mighty Lunatic-Hai relinquishing their competitive thrones, what possible boundaries could stop such an inexorable tide from rolling across the West as well? As it turns out, very little: on January 23rd, Europe suffered a dramatic post-OWL power-shift, as 123 announced that it had sold their slot in Contenders Season 2 to Mosaic eSports (ironically enough, the announcement comes on the date of 01/23). Thus ends one of the hallmarks of the pre-OWL era: a team which proved itself to be incredibly capable, but whose players were denied the opportunity to compete with a bona fide organization, or with the reassuring support of sponsors.
Meanwhile, for Mosaic, such issues are seemingly a thing of the past, as they appear to have done what many a skeptic has deemed impossible: Mosaic, a Tier-Two team competing below the Overwatch League, has acquired partners in its pursuits as an esports organization. For far too many teams, this has been an unreachable goal, finding themselves floundering without monetary support; now, however, the potential for an increase in the scene’s revenue flow has improved exponentially, thanks in part to this venture. As monumental as it is for the entire scene, this is just yet another step for Mosaic in the long road toward strengthening their position in the Overwatch scene, a road which they know all too well.
Unbeknownst to many who are just now hearing of the organization, there was another iteration of Mosaic eSports, albeit one which experienced limited playing time. Mosaic’s previous lineup consisted of DPS players BromaS and Vizility, Tanks Fusions and eMIL, and Supports Kodak and Luddee (the latter of which being the younger brother of Houston Outlaws player Mendokusaii). Unfortunately for this group, though, a severe lack of meaningful competition prevented any major successes, leading to the organization moving in favor of a team revamp. Joining Kodak and eMIL in the updated Mosaic lineup would be DPS players Fischer and Vallutaja, Tank ChrisTFer, and Support Dennia. While Luddee was originally intended to join the team alongside the present group, he and the organization were unable to come to terms on a contract, leading him to part with Mosaic on friendly terms; he then went on to join Angry Titans, reuniting with former teammate Onigod.
Regardless of their previous endeavors, Mosaic now seems to be in a comfortable position to become a solid, if not dominant, team, thanks in part to the immense amount of skill that now occupies the roster. While many teams are now left looking for “diamonds in the rough” in terms of talent, each player on the current Mosaic team has previously competed in Overwatch Contenders; in fact, Vallutaja won Season 0 alongside his teammates on eUnited. Additionally, two of Mosaic’s players (ChrisTFer and Fischer) have represented their respective nations at previous World Cups.
The overall amount of experience that the roster possesses proves almost unmatched by any other team wishing to compete against them. However, as nice as previous experience may seem on paper, it holds no water if a team is unable to hold their ground against opponents; fortunately for Mosaic, this doesn’t appear to be a problem, as Kurland was more than happy to detail the team’s positive scrim results. “We have maintained a rigorous daily scrim schedule since fall of last year,with a large number of those matches against Contenders teams. We’ve been doing very well,” stated Kurland. He also added: “In a hypothetical matchup between us and any active contenders team, I wouldn’t bet against us.” With experience, talent, and scrims as evidence (though the latter may not always compute to live success), it’s safe to say that Mosaic will likely have a good chance to compete for the crown in Contenders Season 2.
The team’s apparent capabilities do have a slight hindrance, albeit one which is likely to be considered of little matter in the grand scheme of things: Mosaic is based in Phoenix, Arizona, while the team itself will be competing in Europe. Awkward as it may seem, having a North American organization fielding a roster in the European region, such occurrences are nothing new in the world of Overwatch; in previous seasons of Contenders, Envy competed with no North Americans on their team, despite playing in that same region. Kurland insists that, for fans, there’s nothing to worry about in this regard. “Our goal is to really approach this in our own way. We want to be different, we want to build a lasting organization, and we want to be able to bring together people from diverse backgrounds to succeed together. I think our EU roster exemplifies that way of thinking. It’s also why we call ourselves Mosaic.”
However, Kurland also ensured that Mosaic would, in time, come to reside in the organization’s home region: “We do plan to move everyone to a team house in the U.S. sometime this year.”
Having secured a slot in the foremost competition below the Overwatch League, Mosaic now possesses a deadly combination of attributes: a consistent avenue of play, excellent players, and, perhaps most importantly for the rest of the Tier Two scene, blossoming non-endemic partnerships. On January 15th, the organization announced via Twitter that they had secured two North American partners: Camelback Healthcare, a Phoenix-based healthcare provider; and BillFixers, a Tennessee start-up company. Neither of these businesses appear to have made any previous forays into esports, making Mosaic their first, and thus far only venture. Kurland detailed the process undertaken by Mosaic to acquire their partners, disclosing that the organization has had “several partners” contact them, in addition to contacting potential partners which they have deemed to be a “good fit for Mosaic.” He further established that the organization was more than ready to accept sponsors from across the globe: “While we’re currently competing in Europe, our end goal is to compete in Phoenix, so we’re focused on both international and U.S. sponsors.”
While it certainly means a lot for Mosaic as a singular entity, their recent partnerships may mean even more for their counterparts in the scene: in a world where the Overwatch League has snuffed out a large number of potential sponsors due to fear of becoming obsolete, a relatively new organization luring two prospective sponsors into the scene is enormous for the future of the scene. “It’s huge for us, and for any organization,” said Kurland, discussing the importance of sponsors for teams. “In addition to money, partners contribute legitimacy to an organization. Not directly, but because of what those partners represent: someone not within your organization giving you a vote of confidence.”
In any case, having partners in general appears to be a huge bonus for the team. “Firstly, it’s generally a sign that you’re doing things right when people want to associate themselves with you. Secondly, it helps keep the lights on.” Since being founded by current CEO Brandon Kim, Mosaic has certainly “kept the lights on,” not to mention essentially powering the whole block along with it; however, Kurland, who has been with the organization ever since Kim brought him on board, noted the difficulties of even starting an esports organization, saying that you have to be “at least a little crazy” to do so.
“But,” he continued, “it’s a great feeling when that pays off.”
Establishing the Scene
In addition to increasing the number of sponsors, Kurland also believes that developing a Tier Two, perhaps even a Tier Three scene, will be paramount.
“Having a greater number of professional teams will really allow potential fans to engage with more teams and find one they can identify with. Overwatch League is a great start but there aren’t many teams at the moment. A tiered system also allows for there to be more stepping stones for players wanting to get involved, encouraging more players to choose Overwatch over another game.“
“Given the structure and initial success we’ve seen with the Overwatch League, I believe the Tier Two scene going forwards will center around that. I’d love to see Blizzard build up Contenders in the same way: advertise Contenders matches in the Blizzard launcher and in the game itself, offer in-game skins and content that players can buy or earn to support their favorite Contenders teams, and potentially host more matches in physical arenas.”
Kurland was also keen to emphasize the importance of the collegiate level of Overwatch. “I’d also love to get more colleges and schools involved – you better believe those kids are playing Overwatch already, let’s bring them all together. To that end, I’ll give quick shout-out to The Fiesta Bowl Organization, Blizzard, Playstation, Tespa, and Arizona State University for their work to set up the Fiesta Bowl Overwatch Collegiate National Championship that will take place February 17th at Arizona State University.”
Mosaic: the Trendsetters
Thus far, and likely henceforth, Mosaic is certainly turning out to be a team geared toward the future. Whether it comes from supporting the Tier Two and Tier Three scenes, from following in the footsteps of teams such as Envy in terms of diversity, or from the stability which the organization has currently found success in implementing, fans will undoubtedly be able to find a number of redeeming qualities in the patchwork banner of the Mosaic. It may come to be that their hallmarked black-and-white symbol will end up seeing more and more time in the limelight, both in Contenders…and on some sick new merchandise. “Merchandise is definitely a part of our plan for the future. We want to give our fans material and creative avenues to express their support. We don’t have an exact timeline for it, but it’s something we’re really looking forward to.”
Kurland couldn’t express enough gratitude for those who helped build Mosaic. Among Player 2 Studios and John Pierce (benefactors for the expansion of Overwatch in Mosaic’s home base of Phoenix), he was infinitely thankful for the supporters who helped to build Mosaic from the ground up: “I want to thank everyone that has been a part of this journey so far: our fans, partners, staff and players, and especially our two recent additions to the mosaic – Camelback Health Care and BillFixers.”
“Thinking back on it now, so much has happened since those first conversations that it’s almost impossible to summarize.”