The Seoul Dynasty entered the Overwatch League as the expected favorite. For many teams, calling themselves the Dynasty would beg the question of what they had done to deserve such a prestigious title. For Seoul, the League’s second Asian representative alongside the Shanghai Dragon, the answer was obvious. The former Lunatic-Hai roster had won the OGN APEX tournament in Korea twice over.
The first season of the Overwatch League has proven enlightening, and the Dynasty have fallen short of expectations. Still, COO Kent Wakeford is confident for the future. Heroes Never Die had the opportunity to sit down with Wakeford and discuss the recent changes to the organization. KSV eSports, the Dynasty’s parent organization, has rebranded to Gen.G Esports. Branded in black and gold, the two G’s shaped like a fan’s hands forming a heart, Gen.G is more than just a cosmetic rebrand—it represents a reinvestment of resources, and a commitment to reaching those early expectations.
“Right now, gaming is a lifestyle for hundreds of millions of people, and games connect people in a shared common experience that breaks down culture barriers, unifies people, whether they’re playing, watching, cheering, in communities around gaming - it’s a connective experience that hundreds of millions have.” said Wakeford. “When we thought about a name, Generation Gaming stood out because that reflects who we are and what we believe.”
Gen.G is playful, an example of branding that is meant to reflect what fans would shorten Generation Gaming to and chant during tournaments. Compared to KSV, Gen.G is a fun brand. It also brings the flagship brand in line with the Overwatch League-unique brand of the Dynasty. “[The black and gold] is similar to what we did with Seoul Dynasty. The philosophy there is we want to create a gold standard within esports - bringing together championship players, coaching, nutritionists, physical trainers, wealth management, video production, social...”
Here’s where the rebrand becomes interesting — while a new coat of paint is certainly beautiful, the Dynasty is a team that’s currently struggling to remain relevant. While other teams have publicly splintered under the contrast between expectations and results, the Dynasty have stoically shouldered the burden.
Foundation and pillars
Wakeford, throughout our talk, stresses the idea of the gold standard. “Our philosophy has been to bring together championship players and gold standard teams. We have Seoul Dynasty, they’re not number one right now but they’re a collection of some of the best players in the league and I still have a lot of hope for this season. Our League of Legends team, Samsung Galaxy, won the championship last year, they’re still in contention this year. Our PUBG team is ranked number one, our HOTS team is ranked number one, our Clash Royale team is ranked number one.”
While the Spring Split has been rough for League of Legends, and the Dynasty has fallen short of the throne, Wakeford notes that the team has been tenacious compared to other rosters in the spotlight with competitive issues. “I think it starts with the players. With Seoul Dynasty, these are very experienced players. It’s something that just amazes us about the players. While they’ve won a lot of games, when they lose, they take it in a very professional manner. They’re upset they lost, but then it’s about how can we get better? How can we reshape our strategy? How can we mix things up a little bit to give things an edge? It’s the players on the Seoul Dynasty who set a high bar when it comes to professionalism.”
Around the players are support staff, including trainers, coaches and other health infrastructure staff. Wakeford notes that he still has faith in the competitive team, and the first season of the Overwatch League still has a full stage left — one with Brigitte and a new competitive meta.
A Dynasty needs reach
Every team throughout the Overwatch League is competing for fans and social reach, especially since every organization is working out of Los Angeles for the first season of the Overwatch League. Gen.G has video and marketing teams around the world: Seoul, Los Angeles, and Shanghai.
Wakeford made sure to mention the efforts of the marketing team lead by Chief Growth Officer Arnold Hur. There are the three pillars of content: gameplay, including hero strategies and Overwatch League breakdowns, humanizing content that shows the players off and then content showing off leadership and thought processes from the Dynasty’s players in the field.
While the Dynasty is currently located in Los Angeles, there’s still their Korean fan base back home, and they’re building a loyal fan-base of women who back the Dynasty, regardless of their stage three placement. “In Korea, the majority of the fans Seoul Dynasty are female. We have thrown events, we’ve thrown small gatherings, big gatherings, we’ve done contests, we’ve done meet and greets specifically for that audience.”
One event in particular put 1500 tickets up for sale. In 90 seconds, all tickets were gone. 1400 of the purchases were by female fans.
Wakeford consistently has a quiet confidence through the interview, unconcerned with the results of the LCK Spring Split or the Dynasty’s stage three results. When he talks about his fans, however, you can hear the smile in his voice. “They’re the best fans in the world. They come to the game, they write songs, they cheer. It really adds to an excitement and a thrill of going to the game and event. That is something we’ve been definitely cultivating for a while. They are the heart and soul of our team.”
The Dynasty is currently struggling against nearly impossible odds if they want to make a mark on stage three, with tonight’s match against the London Spitfire defining everything. That being said, Wakeford and Gen.G have faith in the Dynasty’s future, and they still have time to establish their legacy in the League’s inaugural stage.