The Washington Justice, off to a 5-0 start in the fourth stage of the Overwatch League’s 2019 season, made another big move when the team hired Analynn “bawlynn” Dang as their next general manager. Dang is currently the general manager for Team USA for the second year in a row in the Overwatch World Cup and was previously the director of social media and community with the OWL’s Los Angeles Gladiators.
“Analynn brings an undisputed wealth of game knowledge and organizational expertise with her to the role of GM, and is the perfect addition to the Justice moving into the new season,” said Grant Paranjape, VP of esports business at the Washington Justice, in a press release.
One of Dang’s notable achievements in L.A. was the development of a loyal fan base and face-to-face community with Gladiators Frontline in a city that already boasts a second professional Overwatch team, the Los Angeles Valiant.
“Even when they lost there was a flood of love," Dang said, gushing. "That’s the exciting thing, helping people realize players are people too just like any other human beings, they make mistakes, learn from it and do better.”
Overwatch is Dang’s “favorite game of all time,” and she had ambitions to be a professional player before moving to management. She’s achieved the rank of Grandmaster, the highest possible level in competitive play.
It’s not just Overwatch in which she excels. Dang boasted in a Reddit AMA of beating former Gladiator support flex Young-seo “KariV” Park (now at Los Angeles Valiant) in Battleship and tank Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa (now at the Overwatch Contenders league team Revival) in Hearthstone.
“Being a player myself, I understand their struggles and how to help them with tilt,” Dang said, referring to a mental state where players feel off balance. “I’m most excited to have this opportunity to improve [players'] quality of life.”
The Justice, part of Blizzard’s new expansion, has had a rocky inaugural season. They were consistently in the bottom three through their first two stages and didn’t win a single game in stage three.
Significant turnarounds in performance are not uncommon in the OWL’s brief history, particularly with the fluidity of rosters as teams shuttle in new players and the overall state, or meta, of the game morphs. The Shanghai Dragons, who went a record-breaking 0-40 last season, are currently sitting in eighth place with a positive win-loss record.
The first thing Dang plans to do is meet with everyone on the team to asses their strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly to any meta changes at Blizzcon, the annual gaming convention of OWL parent company Blizzard to promote its games.
“I won’t be able to make immediate changes until I get a feel for what is going on,” she said.
Dang will take over the vacant position left by Kate Mitchell, who announced her retirement from Washington Esports Ventures in April. In a Medium post attached to a Tweet, Mitchell wrote, “I’ve also been confronted with toxicity and casual cruelty from strangers that outpaced anything I saw in years in gaming and politics, especially from people on Reddit.”
Mitchell said she wanted to blaze a path for other LGBT women to follow in esports, “but facing this away from my family and my home turned out to be bigger challenge than I was able to take on.”
Dang, who officially starts in her new role Monday, isn’t concerned with the conditions faced by her predecessor.
“I’m here to change the industry for the better,” Dang said, adding that her gender doesn’t affect how well she does her job. "I hope I can show other women, if I can do it then they can do it”
Just over two years ago she was a paralegal taking college classes in the evenings, and now she’s leading a professional team for her favorite video game.
“I’m just so proud of how far I’ve come," Dang said. "I’m so grateful I’ve had the support of the people from the community to the players.”