Last week, Hashtag United failed to progress out of any of their Gfinity Elite Series groups, becoming the only org not to feature in the playoffs for any of the three disciplines.
Jamie Hore explores why this happened in this opinion piece.
Hashtag, who are run by Youtube star Spencer “Spencer FC” Owen, finished bottom of their group in Street Fighter V and fourth in Rocket League.
They also surprised many by finishing fourth in their speciality, FIFA 18, with one of the strongest FIFA rosters in the competition.
Despite this being the org’s first foray into Street Fighter V and Rocket League, there was huge expectation for the FIFA division to produce big results.
Gfinity’s FIFA casting duo Richard Buckley and Brandon Smith both put Hashtag United down as having the strongest roster, with Smith even predicting that they would make the final in his season preview.
He previously said in this article: "Hashtag United or Unilad are the favourites just looking at the strength of their rosters."
So what went wrong for one of the fan favourites in the Elite Series, particularly in their FIFA 18 campaign?
A surprisingly strong opposition
With a swathe of new teams entering the Elite Series this year, unpredictability was always on the cards. Many had Hashtag down to make the final with Unilad, who formed an incredibly experienced and skillful team including the current FIFA Interactive World Cup winner, Gorilla.
However, many of the lesser-known players for the newcomers have put up fierce opposition, with Hashtag losing both fixtures in their ties with Nordavind and Team Envy, who topped their group.
Adapting to the competition format
One of the challenges of the Elite Series is that the games are not played over two legs like many FIFA tournaments. Those with big tournament backgrounds, such as former FIWC winner Hashtag Agge, may have found this difficult to adapt to in offline tournaments.
There is also concern that with such a massive focus given towards FUT Champions by many FIFA pros, both as a form of eWorld Cup qualification and as a way of providing content for their fans, LAN tournament experience could be lacking.
Hashtag Boras admitted in a Hashtag United vlog that, despite being drafted in for Week 4, he was yet to play a single offline game of FIFA 18. To be fair to Boras, it didn’t seem to bother him much as he romped to a 5-0 victory.
Is being a unique org a distraction?
It’s no secret that Hashtag are unlike any other esports org. They are heavily orientated around more than just securing wins at tournaments - and take pride in having a sports side to their brand.
It’s evident that Hashtag are keen to not only have one foot in sports and the other in esports, but to also try to integrate and blur the lines between the two, with both Harry and Agge recently featuring in the org’s Sunday league sides for a YouTube video.
It’s a nice idea, and entertaining to watch as a viewer, but it could be argued that it is a distraction to the esports players who should be focusing on getting results. Although content creation and football made Hashtag United, could it be a downfall when it comes to being a winning esports org?
Whatever the reason for failing to hit the mark, expect a Hashtag vlog in the near future to perhaps shed some more light on their Elite Series shortcomings.