Overwatch League has a talent desk crowded with men who can’t seem to find a button-up shirt that fits them. But every now and then, the hosts step out of the box and show off a look that catches the eye, one way or another. I sat down with Kotaku’s seasoned fashion writer Gita Jackson to run down the OWL hosts’ outfits in Stage 1.
Maddy: Hi Gita! So, for the purposes of this fashion rundown, I didn’t choose outfits for every on-camera person, because there are 14 regulars at this point, and that’s just too many people. Most of them wear button-ups with the occasional jacket, and I included some of that, but I’m also excited to talk about the moments when hosts stepped out of that box.
On traditional sports broadcasts, we’re all familiar with the ill-fitting three-piece suits on every talent desk. Esports broadcasts tend to give off a more casual vibe, but there are few longstanding conventions for how esports hosts “should” look. OWL has seemed uncertain, overall, about how formally their hosts should dress. Should they be in casual long-sleeve T-shirts that look comfy but clean? Or should they be in three-piece suits and cocktail dresses? The stylists for the show have run the gamut with their answers.
I want to start with Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles. Recently, I called him out for wearing a baggy pink T-shirt with suspenders. The suspenders are actually a Monte staple from his League of Legends casting days. On OWL, he’s paired the suspenders with some other looks, most notably this tie:
Gita: Oh jeez. That’s an adventurous tie, but the fit on that shirt is awful. He’s swimming in it. Especially compared to the guy he’s standing next to, who looks like he’s been to a tailor at least once in his life.
Maddy: What’s your position on suspenders in general? I think they can look good if the shirt has a snug fit. In Monte’s case, it seems like the stylists just haven’t yet found shirts that fit him. I can’t figure out what the problem is with that, by the way, because it doesn’t seem to be the case for all of the hosts.
I also feel I should note that I actually like his tie. Even though some people on Twitter did make fun of it.
Gita: I think his tie owns, the tie haters can suck it. I’m with you on suspenders. They’re a little twee, but if the rest of your outfit is perfect, you can make them work. With a shirt that baggy you 1) don’t even see the suspenders and 2) look like you’re wearing them to distract from your ill-fitting shirt. I feel like the fit issue comes mostly from the sleeves here, and it might just be that Monte is a skinny guy and shirts fit a little weird on them. But I feel like Blizzard has money for a tailor.
Maddy: I have a theory that the stylists are sharing clothes between hosts. Not literally, but in preparing for this article I’ve noticed some patterns. For example, the pink shirt that I mocked Monte for wearing keeps popping up on other hosts. Probably not the exact same shirt, but the same idea!
Jonathan “Reinforce” Larsson in the photo below looks like he’s swimming in the thing. I admire whoever is trying to get these esports men to wear pink, but I think the quest would go a lot better if the pink shirts fit anyone.
Gita: In that picture, look how professional and put together Wilkinson and Gschwind look next to Larsson, who looks like he’s LARPing as his dad. You can wear literally almost anything if it fits correctly, I promise.
Maddy: I know!! The stylists have to give these guys shirts that fit, because the whole “esports is LARPing as tsports and also their dads” thing becomes so much more apparent when they swim in their clothes.
Let us now transition to the world of sweaters—some good, some bad. Here’s Monte wearing a sweater that I didn’t like at first, but it grew on me. Then there’s also Erik Lonnquist wearing a shirt that subtly whispers “gamer.” I saved this photo as an example of a sweater I didn’t hate, but maybe we should talk about Lonnquist and his tendency to always button up shirts all the way to the top. You’ll recall Lonnquist, of course, as the guy with the slick plaid jacket that you liked a couple minutes ago.
Gita: Honestly...... I really like Lonnquist’s look? I like that he buttons his shirts all the way. It’s a tiny bit hipster-y, but it works with the scruffy beard and glasses.
Monte’s look is a lot more subtle, but it’s growing on me. Together they both look like Guys You Can Grab A Beer With, which I would imagine is the vibe OWL wants to cultivate.
Maddy: I have another sweater here that I’m going to need you to either talk me into, or we can agree that it was a mistake. I’ve got a couple of photos of it, and I’m going to take you on a journey. Again, you are welcome to love the looks that I do not love. That’s why you’re here.
Gita: Mostly I love a scruffy nerd with glasses, but that’s my bias showing.
Maddy: Good news: that is almost everyone in OWL.
Gita: Why haven’t I been watching OWL again?
Maddy: Part one: this is a photo of Alex “Goldenboy” Mendez from the back, wearing a sweater that looks a little unusual. When you see this photo, you might think, I want to see more! Maybe it’s good!
Gita: Okay.... with you so far..... The texture here is very nice, I’ll say. Looks comfortable.
Maddy: It does look very comfortable. But let’s see it from the front.
Maddy: I don’t know. Honestly? Maybe it’s fine. Maybe it is actually good. Help. Help me understand.
Gita: Maddy, I have a story to tell you.
One time, at a day job, my boss came in and I could tell he though he looked like hot shit. He was really swagged out, kept talking about how his suit was so comfortable. It had somehow entirely skipped his notice that he was wearing silky pajamas as a suit.
That sweater looks like pajamas. A cardigan without buttons can really work, but it’s kind of an edgy look BECAUSE it is so close to pajamas. You’d expect to see that paired with more of a like, Japanese urban street wear outfit.
Maddy: Even though I don’t love this, I do applaud the audacity of the stylist who chose this. It almost seems like an intentional dig at Goldenboy, who I almost never see without a jacket. I expected him to shine in this roundup, since normally, he dresses like this:
Gita: I fucking love this shirt. LOVE it. He looks so put together. Whoever put those patterns together is a genius. The ditzy floral print with the oversized check is just busy enough that it looks young and stylish, but not so much that it looks clumsy.
Maddy: Yeah, he looks fantastic, right? But his OWL looks have included That Bathrobe Sweater, and also, some other surprisingly casual choices, like this one. By the way, he’s talking to Malik Forté here, who is also sporting a more casual look. Again, I can’t figure out the rhyme or reason as to why sometimes the guys are in cocktail attire, and other times they’re in chill loungewear.
Maddy: By contrast, here’s Malik wearing a more formal outfit and rocking it. I’m pretty sure he brought his own clothes, because I can’t figure out why else they fit him so well.
Gita: I really like that first sweater on Malik... I can’t decide which of these I like better. I think it comes down to that tone issue you keep mentioning. If OWL is meant to be a casual event, then the first look is perfect. If it’s more like tsports, then the second. It’s confusing to jump back and forth like this.
Maddy: I agree, that casual jacket that Malik has on in the first photo looks great. Also, I think his signature bracelet and watch help tie together both the casual and formal outfits that he ends up wearing. I don’t think any of these guys actually get to choose what they wear, hence the fit problems and flip-flopping between casual and formal looks, but I do think they get to choose their accessories. That would explain why Monte gets to wear his own suspenders.
The final Malik look that I saved is this one, which is the most casual of all, but again, I enjoy it. Who is styling this man? Why are they finding clothes that fit him, and no one else?
Gita: And of all these guys, Malik looks the least like he’s playing dress up here. A lesson to learn from this: accessories can really change an outfit!
Maddy: So true. I’m now noticing that he’s actually got multiple bracelets. Each of them a delight.
Gita: I think it also helps that across all looks, Malik keeps it pretty simple. He’s wearing one deep primary color, and then a lot of neutrals. It’s great for broadcast because the patterns aren’t distracting, but the simplicity goes a long way to make him look stylish and put together.
Maddy: See, this is why I asked you to do this. I did not even notice that!
Gita: When you’re having fit problems, neutrals help! Might be why it seems like things fit him better, even if he has a similar body type to the other presenters.
I think Monte’s big issue is that the suspenders have the opposite effect of Malik’s bracelets. Instead of tying together his personal style, they distract from every other element he’s wearing.
Maddy: Let’s close this out by talking about the one woman on the talent desk: Soe Gschwind-Penski. Thanks to the unnecessary prison that is gendered fashion, the OWL stylists have let Soe get her pick of incredible looks, while the men get left to waffle between slouchy sweaters and too-big button-ups. I think my only complaint about Soe’s looks is the same one that I had about everyone else’s, which is the jarring valley between “casual” and “formal” on OWL.
Sometimes, she looks ludicrously overdressed in comparison to everybody else. For example, I loved this outfit on her, but... when you’re standing next to guys in loungewear? Odd.
Gita: I am in LOVE with this outfit, but it did look very out of place. I mean, I want it. Look at how great her tattoo sleeve looks.
Maddy: I feel like the solution to that is: step up the men’s fashion. Leave Soe looking amazing!
Gita: Haha! I just noticed the asymmetrical straps on her top and... just wow. Who designed this?
For my part, I’m leaning more towards the casual looks for the guys, which does unfortunately mean Soe would have to step it down a notch.
Maddy: Here’s one of the most “casual” Soe looks that I stumbled across today. She’s got on jeans and a T-shirt here, but it’s another asymmetrical finish on the bottom of the shirt, which seems to be a favorite for styling her — perhaps to match her asymmetrical haircut. I’m not sure about the jacket, though. I mean, I like the jacket, but with the outfit as a whole? I don’t know. Again, we’ve got that uncertainty here with how formal we want the hosts to look.
Gita: The jacket is nice, but it does seem tossed on at the last minute. I like the idea of a cropped jacket with this look, but I think it’s the color that’s bothering me. I also think it could be cropped even more to break her body up a little bit.
Yeah... I think the blue of her jacket is too similar to the blue of her jeans. She obviously looks great in colors, so they had a lot of options.
Maddy: These last two Soe outfits, I think, are great examples of toeing the line between formal and casual—and also seem like a level that the male hosts could get to, although I’m not sure how that would end up looking for them.
In look number one, Soe manages to mix navy and black and have me not hate it:
Gita: Again! The accessories make this look! I love the shoes and the belt here.
Maddy: This is also an example of how a button-up can be an exciting article of clothing if it has some other details that make it pop. The sleeves on this shirt are wonderful.
Gita: I was about to say—between the fabric and the sleeve detail, this button up is still professional but doesn’t look stodgy.
Maddy: Last one: another fun shirt on Soe. I wish we could see the guys in more fun patterns. (I understand they are not ready for belly shirts.)
Gita: Whoever is picking out Soe’s shoes, I salute you.
Maddy: It’s also a utilitarian choice, given her diminutive height and how many audience interviews she has to do. She ends up looking stylish and not having to hold up her microphone as high when she’s doing interviews.
Gita: All of Soe’s looks have been good examples of Just Enough. It’s Just Enough pattern, Just Enough accessorizing, and Just Enough professionalism. This fits my mental image of what I imagine esports presenters look like. Like my friends who play games, just with a slightly higher budget for clothes than me.
Maddy: I’m looking at the little photo in the top right of her Instagram montage there, of Soe at the desk with the dudes, and their sad baggy button-ups. Please, OWL stylists. Please do something about this.
Gita: It is in general an issue for men’s fashion that the clothing is more conservative. But if you really embrace looks like Malik’s casual jacket or Goldenboy’s giant check blazer, you can defeat the ill-fitting button up, I promise.
Maddy: I have no idea what esports broadcasts “should” look like. Should they be formal, casual, what? There is no right or wrong answer to that question. I think it would help if OWL made a decision and stuck with it, but it’s also been fun to see them play around in the gulf between T-shirts and ties. Even when I see outfits I don’t like, I enjoy seeing anything that isn’t yet another loose button-up.
I feel like Soe’s looks have steadily improved, and now Malik is on the desk setting a high bar for the rest of his colleagues. Sounds like our advice to the male hosts is to find some fun accessories that could work with what the stylists already have on hand. And for the stylists... please get these men some shirts that fit them? Even if it’s a bathrobe.