We got the chance to speak to the production head of Overwatch community tournament League Zero. Marc “Acrinator” Acri has been part of the league since the beginning, and has gone from player to production head. He’s seen it all, and has some great stories and interesting details about a lesser-known part of the Overwatch community.
SQUAD: What is League 0?
Acrinator: League Zero is a volunteer-run, community Overwatch tournament. Asking someone else may get you a different wording, including “amateur Overwatch competition.” I think my answer is more accurate because we are more community-based. Everything that we do structurally is in the interest of the community, instead of being the most competitive environment.
How long has the league functioned?
Officially, I think the start date was Oct. 1, 2018, but there were pick-up games for about 2 weeks before that. Season 0 – our first season – went from Oct. 2018 to Feb. 2019. Season 1 went from April to August last year. Season 2 started this December, and will run into April or May 2020.
How is the league structured to make it a fun experience for all ranks?
We have 3 divisions, novice (bronze-gold), intermediate (platinum-diamond), and advanced (masters and up). That gives us a large enough player pool to make a good number of teams, while still giving people a good chance of getting on a team. We do have an upper cutoff limit of top 16 open division. They are just too good and will stomp everyone.
In season 1 we had a few players try and get a top player to join the league, but right when he was going to sign up he was drafted for Contenders.
What is the most challenging part of maintaining the league?
The drama. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it can go nuclear in a heartbeat. Teams falling apart because they lose too much, or people trying to circumvent the draft. We recently had a player set up a fake crowd sourcing campaign. Thankfully the money was recovered, but he fell out of our good graces. League Zero has the same kind of drama as other esports communities, maybe a bit more because of our size.
Does the league have any ties to higher competitive Overwatch play?
Not really, we are kind of on our own. We are a non-profit and volunteer run, so no sponsorships. All our production and graphics are made in-house by the community.
Have there been players for League Zero that have gone onto playing with top Open Division or Contenders teams?
Oh yeah, we have a whole list of players that have moved up the ladder. One of the participants of season 0, Nicholas “Tyche” McCutcheon, is now a Contender’s coach, Marcus “Günther” Raskob as well. Yusuf is prevalent in top Open Division teams, and was an assistant coach for Egypt during the 2019 Overwatch World Cup.
What was the most dramatic moment a team had in previous League 0 seasons?
A team in season 0, Ez Clap, was at the bottom of the rankings. People stopped caring and ended up leaving the team. They had to completely rebuild, and as they rebuilt they became a crazy wildcard team. They eventually ended up making it to semi-finals of the season. I believe only 4 players remained on the team from the initial draft.
Have there been more crazy comeback situations like that in the past?
A team called Plat Chat. They went 1-9 in the regular season, and somehow ended up winning the entire league. A lot of the players started caring and practicing a lot more. Long story short, they just started putting in a lot of effort and won a 7-map series for the championship title.
What has been the most hype moment for you as a leader of this league so far?
That’s tough, because what I officially do is production, and I’ve seen a lot of great moments. For the most hype moment, I have to go with Crest vs Z9 in season 1. Both were incredibly advanced teams, and took it to a really intense map 5. People normally wouldn’t expect high level play in an amateur league, but some of the plays can be just as exciting as Overwatch League moments.
Where does production and broadcasting of League 0 take place?
Games are broadcasted on Twitch, mostly through independent channels. This helps them get affiliate and generally feeds back into the whole community. We also try to announce matches on our Twitter. Our main hub is found on Discord. We try to get as many people on teams and playing as possible, and there are many other ways to be involved in our community!
SQUAD would like to thank Acrinator for his time and answers! Smaller tournaments like this are a great way to help players reach their dreams of Overwatch League.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.