The year is 2020 and I am writing a TwitLonger about the Paris Eternal situation
It feels pretentious to make a TwitLonger but the thread I was writing was super long, so apologies in advance. I wanted to share my feelings and maybe a little bit of insight on the current situation with Paris Eternal and I guess kind of OWL in general. The big 𝐃𝐈𝐒𝐂𝐋𝐀𝐈𝐌𝐄𝐑 here is that despite popular belief, 𝑰 𝒅𝒐 𝒏𝒐𝒕 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒌 𝒇𝒐𝒓/𝒉𝒂𝒗𝒆 𝒏𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒌𝒆𝒅 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝑷𝒂𝒓𝒊𝒔, so everything below is my opinion and understanding based on what I know.
➼ 𝗧𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝗶𝘀 𝗮𝗹𝗹 𝗯𝗼𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘀𝘁𝘂𝗳𝗳 𝗮𝗯𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝘄𝗵𝘆 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺𝘀 𝗵𝗮𝘃𝗲 𝗻𝗼 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿. 𝗕𝗮𝘀𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹𝗹𝘆 𝗻𝗼 𝗵𝗼𝗺𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘀 = 𝗻𝗼 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆.
We all hate to see our favourite players let go, traded, sold, etc... but like any other sport, esports are a business. For a business to be successful there has to be enough revenue to "stay out of the red." These orgs had to spend big bucks just to be in OWL to begin with. If I remember correctly the franchising fee for the inaugural teams was around $25mil and the expansion teams were somewhere in the $30mil-$40mil range. That was the fee just to get their foot in the door, not their budgets for salary, benefits, housing, etc.
If you've been following the off season, I'm sure you've seen a lot of talk about budgets being cut and for good reason. This season was not profitable, in the least, for almost any team. Put yourselves in the shoes of the CFOs during last year's off season. You have multiple homestands set to bring in a ton of money, if you've planned well enough you are getting your big event space almost for free (at least in the States, a lot of venues will be free or low cost, as long as your event brings in a certain amount in other sales, such as food and beverage or hotel accommodations). Knowing that you'll be making a ton of money off these highly anticipated homestands, you set the budget for the year. The coaches, managers, whomstever else are then given a number. This is the amount they can spend on recruiting.
⁃ 𝗧𝗲𝗮𝗺𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝘆 𝘄𝗼𝘂𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗔 𝗟𝗢𝗧 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗶𝘀 𝘆𝗲𝗮𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿𝗲𝗳𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝘀𝗽𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗔 𝗟𝗢𝗧 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝗻𝗲𝘆 𝗼𝗻 𝘀𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗿𝗶𝗲𝘀 𝗴𝗼𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗼𝗻. ⁃
According to OWL (https://overwatchleague.com/en-us/news/2021-player-contract-status), the average salary was $106k and the median salary was $92k, both up about $10k more than the previous season. (Average = adding every salary up and dividing by total number of players, Median = basically the middle, so is generally a better estimate.) To use friendly numbers, let's say our team had 10 players. That's around $100k MORE than the previous season, just on player salaries. At the median salary, that's $920k total. This does not include coaches, managers, staff, etc. This also does not account for benefits, accommodations, travel expenses (when that was still a thing).
Now back to homestands. On average, teams were hosting 3 events each. The event spaces themselves had an average capacity of 2500 spectators at around $100 a pop for the weekend. (I did an extensive series in January about the homestands, so these figures are what I remember from that.) Generally in event planning, you budget based on half capacity. Obviously you'd love to sell out your venue every time but things don't always go that way. So 3 homestands, average ticket price, half capacity, that's $375k in ticket sales. Add in revenue from merchandise, add-ons like meet & greets, and you're probably looking at AT LEAST $500k from the homestands. Obviously there are operating costs and all, but...friendly numbers.
So being Mr. CFO again, I feel confident that we can eat the cost of $100k extra in salaries, because we'll be pulling in at least $500k from the homestands. But then COVID happened and all that future money went away.
Homestands were the only real way for teams to make revenue this season. From what I remember, teams get very little (if anything) from Fanatics merch sales. With the exception of merch sold at their homestands. And even if they did get a cut back from the online merch sales, sales were down a ton, mostly due to the increase in price but also because no one actually likes Fanatics and their laughable low quality products. 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗹𝗲𝗮𝗴𝘂𝗲 𝗼𝘂𝘁𝗽𝗿𝗶𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗶𝗿 𝗳𝗮𝗻𝘀 𝘁𝗵𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝗶𝘀 𝗮 𝘁𝗼𝗽𝗶𝗰 𝗳𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 𝗱𝗮𝘆.
Now there is other official merch available from places such as ULT, like the somewhat recent neon 90s shirts and hoodies. Again, from my understanding, teams had to pay a fee to be represented in that line. They then would get a cut of the sales but if they are already hurting for money, they aren't going to go spending more. This is why sometimes with these collections, not all teams are included. Same thing happened with last year's 3K jerseys. Not every team wanted to spend money for the right to have a 3K jersey AND spend money to have the jersey designed.
The other way for teams to earn money is by sponsorships. Some teams, like Paris, don't have any sponsors though, so again...no money.
• 𝗕𝘂𝘁 𝗣𝗮𝗿𝗶𝘀 𝘄𝗼𝗻 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝘁 𝗼𝗻𝗲 𝗧𝗼𝘂𝗿𝗻𝗮𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁!
Yes. Yes they did. And it will forever be a highlight. However, the prize money was only $50k. Contractually at least half of that had to be divided amongst the players. So the org maybe got $25k. In the larger scope of things, that's not paying for anything.
Paris was paying around $4k a month per apartment. With 2 players/staff per apartment plus a practice room, that is around $40k a month just for those accommodations.
To save on costs they were also leaving behind players who wouldn't play at homestands. Like Sp9 before he turned 18 and Kruise since he was benched (and someone had to babysit Sp9 clearly). This was not uncommon for teams this season, a lot of them left behind anyone they didn't think they'd need, including some coaches and staff.
• 𝐔𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐇𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐡𝐜𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐂𝐨𝐬𝐭𝐬:
Something else to consider, specifically for Paris but I'm sure it applies to teams like Houston as well, is the cost of healthcare this year. While we didn't delve into the cost of benefits above, we do know that the entire team was incredibly sick for most of February and part of March. Thankfully it was just a nasty case of the flu and not COVID. Because this is America and we don't have a NHS, healthcare is ridiculously expensive, with or without insurance. So adding onto everything else is the dozen or so doctor's bills, medication costs, etc.
𝐷𝑜 𝑦𝑜𝑢 𝑠𝑒𝑒 𝑗𝑢𝑠𝑡 ℎ𝑜𝑤 𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑐𝑘𝑙𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑑𝑒𝑓𝑖𝑐𝑖𝑡 𝑎𝑑𝑑𝑠 𝑢𝑝?
➼ 𝐌𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐜𝐢𝐟𝐢𝐜𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐬:
Paris was already running a pretty tight ship financially. Our team did not have staff to the same extent as other teams. Did you notice that we didn't really have content this season? That all of our videos came from Avalla? That's because we didn't have a dedicated content team.
Last season we were contracted with ULT who would plan, film, and edit all of our videos. They even ran our social media accounts. This year we only had a Social Media Manager and a Graphic Designer, both who were freelancers on contracts. Both were also covering Paris Eternal, Paris Legion, and C0ntact Gaming all at the same time.
With NineK serving more like a Coach than the GM, this really just left Avalla to provide whatever content she could while still fulfilling her duties as Assistant GM.
• 𝗪𝗵𝗶𝗰𝗵 𝗯𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘀 𝘂𝘀 𝘁𝗼 𝗔𝘃𝗮𝗹𝗹𝗮!
What many people don't realize is that she's currently doing EVERYTHING for the team. She is interviewing prospective coaches, running player trials, handling the social media accounts, making the farewell videos, etc... So when you @ the Paris account with hateful rage about everything going on, you are directly @-ing her. You can imagine this can't be easy on her either, losing all of the players and staff she's grown so close to and now she has to also read those messages. 𝑺𝒐 𝒑𝒍𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒆 𝒕𝒓𝒚 𝒕𝒐 𝒃𝒆 𝒂 𝒍𝒊𝒕𝒕𝒍𝒆 𝒃𝒊𝒕 𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒓 and show her some love. She's doing her best!
• 𝐋𝐅𝐓 = 𝐋𝐨𝐬𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐅𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐜𝐡 𝐓𝐚𝐥𝐞𝐧𝐭
Today I think came as a big surprise to the whole community. SoOn, Ben, and Nico's contracts were all set to expire Nov. 13th, so no one expected an announcement almost 2 weeks early. It's very important to note that contracts expiring and LFT doesn't necessarily mean that they won't re-sign with Paris. It just means that they didn't settle on their same contract and can now trial with other teams/go looking for offers. Ben even specified in his second tweet that he is still in talks with Paris. But neither Nico or SoOn included that same stipulation.
While I try to play the optimist and have a 𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑡𝑙𝑒 bit of hope that this means we may hold onto at least one of them, I also have to be a realist. With all the aforementioned financial issues, I don't think it would be smart for any of them to stay.
The big rumour is that Paris is trying to stay very low budget and possibly only pay the minimum salary, which is still $50k. And I can completely understand why. But I also understand that paying an OW veteran like SoOn the minimum base salary, would be absurd and insulting. It hurts, I know it does, but it is far better for these players to find a spot on other teams that can pay them for what they're worth rather than for them to take serious pay cuts just for "team loyalty".
Now is a great time to remind all of these players how much you love and appreciate them. Instead of bashing Paris/McCourt on their LFT posts, try giving them encouragement or sharing how they inspired you. Aside from their talent in-game, teams will also be looking at how marketable a player is. If they see an outpouring of love from a strong fan base they will be more inclined to make an offer than if that player has a toxic fanbase. 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗲𝘁𝗮𝗯𝗹𝗲 = $$$.
• 𝐒𝐨 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭'𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐱𝐭?
Avalla posted in her Discord that she is "trying to build up another Paris Eternal that hopefully will make you guys proud." Last season when we went to a mixed roster there was an uproar that the org was destroying the team and look how well this season turned out. Right now it's best just to accept things as they are, continue to support our players that are moving on, and show our appreciation for Avalla, FD, and Xzi, the only 3 members still with our org.
With the rumours and leaks, it seems very likely that Xzi will also be moving on but until it's official, he is still ours. From what I've seen he apparently declined an offer from Dallas because he prefers to play on a mixed roster. 𝑻𝒐𝒅𝒂𝒚 𝒊𝒔 𝒂𝒍𝒔𝒐 𝑿𝒛𝒊'𝒔 𝒃𝒊𝒓𝒕𝒉𝒅𝒂𝒚, so please make sure to wish him a Happy Birthday!
➼ 𝐏𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐢𝐬 𝐄𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐚𝐥
Everyone knows that I have been a supporter from Day 1 and a lot of that was attributed to my love for these players and the French community. I have volunteered most of my free time to Paris over the last 2 years because I wanted to see this community thrive.
I've known that the org was strapped for cash, that's why the Discord was emote-less for a whole season because the org wouldn't commission anyone. That's why I spent my own money on emotes this year, as well as upgrading some of the bots so we had more available functions. Even all of the writing I did earlier this year as a freelance journalist was unpaid. All the homestands I attended? Paid out of my own pocket. All in an effort to shine more light on this team and give back to the community.
I will continue to support this team as it continues on but I will also support our players in their future endeavours. The org is doing what it has to to survive. I rather have a low-budget, rebuilt Eternal than no Eternal at all. If we all packed up and abandoned the org now, then the latter is a very real possibility. Look at what happened to Valiant last year, they dropped their roster for low budget rookies and ended up having a great season.
In a perfect world, we sign a budget roster, kick ass, and then in a couple years we are in a much better financial position that we can re-sign some big names and favourites. Start small, grow tall. Look how well it worked out for the Shock as well.
➼ 𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐚𝐝𝐞 𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐫, thank you. I've had a lot of thoughts on a lot of things and I'm sure I'll read this back later and be like "oh f, I forgot to talk about that other thing". I will always love this team: past, present, and future. And I hope a lot of you can see past the current hurt and continue supporting them as well.
Until next time, Fiat Lux.