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Video Game Draft: Building My Team of Superstars

When you think about some of the powerhouse video game companies and franchises in the world, you think of the characters that helped build them. You think of Mario, a staple of the Nintendo brand since the release of Super Mario Bros. in 1985. There’s also Donkey Kong, Link, Kirby, all 896 Pokémon, and a whole cast of characters who collectively make the deepest roster of celebrated characters in gaming. How about Sonic, who’s pushed Sega to industry mainstay status since the ’90s. The One-Winged Angel, Sephiroth, and Cloud Strife of Final Fantasy VII practically put Square Enix on the map.

The point is, every gaming company is built on intriguing characters with many different quirks, attributes, and admirable qualities. These characters are specially crafted to entertain the masses and do big business in the marketplace. In a similar parallel to professional sports teams whose rosters are composed of the finest athletes in the world, their success is largely based on the individual skills of its players and the team’s overall chemistry as a unit. Drafts are held annually to help fill these rosters with young-up coming talent, with the hopes of building winning franchises (and snag a future franchise player to build around if they’re lucky.)

Video Game Draft: Building My Team of Superstars 8

In the spirit of the recent 2021 NBA Draft, I thought it’d be fun to “draft” my own team of video game characters and build my own super team. The goal here is not to simply compose a list of my favorite video game characters or a list of the most iconic characters—that’s already been done many times.

The management team consisting of me, myself, and I carefully considered a vast pool of video game talent to pick the characters that best fit our team’s vision and needs. To do this, I factor in many of the attributes that pro sports teams look for when scouting potential recruits: intangibles, versatility, and physical and mental aptitude; potential, durability, and strengths; finally, weaknesses, special abilities/powers, and mass appeal. To be clear, this doesn’t necessarily project how the characters would actually fare on the basketball court (with a few exceptions.)

To keep the basketball/NBA feel, I’ve drafted a starting lineup of characters to fill each of the five positions in basketball. Without further ado, the “Stropse Elite” are on the clock! Let’s play ball!

Point Guard—Tracer (Overwatch)

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

The cavalry’s here and we’re ready to dominate the competition!

Tracer is the ‘mascot character’ and the center piece hero of the team-based multiplayer shooter Overwatch. For my point guard, I need someone who’s battle-tested and has experience leading a team, and Tracer is more than qualified for the position.

She’s my game manager who works exceptionally well under pressure and can put the team in the best positions to succeed. It also helps that she’s super quick on her feet with her more than handy (and awesome) ability to “blink” through space and rewind her personal timeline, which is an invaluable asset in clutch situations and can literally be a game-changer. She’s one of the exciting leads of the new generation of video game characters and the perfect leader for my team who I can build around for many years to come.

Shooting Guard—Mario (Mario)

Courtesy of Nintendo

Simply put, I need a guy who can do it all. In his illustrious 36-year career, Mario has succeeded in just about every situation and variation of games imaginable: role-playing games, racing games, sports games, puzzle games, party games, and even fighting games as an original Super Smash Bros. character. He’s the sole character in my lineup that wasn’t specifically built for serious combat, but he can still throw hands when necessary. But we just need everyone’s favorite plumber to hoop and be the face of the franchise.

Anything he does is going to do numbers, which means success for the whole team. If I need him to drop a 50 piece on a game launch day, he’ll do it. If I need him to dish out 15+ assists while featuring in a teammate’s new game, he’ll certainly do that. Hell, if needed, he’ll drop a quadruple-double on launch day with industry-leading sales, ratings, social media impressions, and DLC purchases. He’s a walking bucket in every metric of success in the video game business. That’s the kind of guy I’d want to build my offense around.

Small Forward—Sora (Kingdom Hearts)

Courtesy of Square Enix

As a fated wielder of the Keyblade, my guy Sora holds the literal key to success for my squad. Given the limitless capabilities of the Keyblade and his mastery of it, Sora is a primary playmaker who can be positioned wherever the team needs him. With his unyielding loyalty, high spirit, and heavy reliance on the power of friendship, he is crucial to overall team morale and chemistry. I originally had him slated to come off the bench, but he’s too valuable for that. He’s the heart and soul of the team. 

Plus, his Keyblade’s ability to open the portals to different worlds is hella convenient for travel between games. Major key alert.

Power Forward—Ryu (Street Fighter)

Courtesy of Capcom

My stretch four power forward is the leading man of the legendary Street Fighter series, Ryu. This seasoned warrior dedicates his life to a good fight so Ryu wouldn’t be hesitant to play down low and is not afraid of contact—in fact, he welcomes it. His agility and versatility allow him to stretch the floor and play on the perimeter too, despite being a big man. Having trained to not only compete with but defeat the toughest fighters around the world, Ryu is fearless and doesn’t shy away from high leverage moments (word to ESPN analyst Max Kellerman);

I’d feel comfortable with the ball in his hands to close out the game. As a world-class martial artist, his conditioning is superb, so I can trust that he will always be in game shape and can play long minutes if needed. Also, he has great footwork thanks to his years of extensive training which is key on both offense and defense.

Center—Jax (Mortal Kombat)

Courtesy of NetherRealm Studios

BIG JAX is my resident killa’ and the force I need to bang on the block and battle in the trenches down low. We have a small lineup, so Jax is the reliable low post presence needed to secure rebounds and score inside. A juggernaut of a man with his brolic physique and bionic arms, this big guy will make you think twice about entering the paint. Major Jax Briggs is also a military man, so he brings invaluable leadership experience to the team, as well as tactical intelligence—especially relevant here, as we’re not expecting to actually lace em’ up and ball out. Unless anyone wants the smoke that is… then it’s whatever.

Sixth Man (SG/SF)—Genji (Overwatch)

Courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Tbh I just needed a cool swordsman on my team (not counting Sora and his Keyblade.) There’s legit none cooler than Genji..

Team Analysis

The tune squad ain’t got nothing on us!

My team is composed of a superstar roster of characters who would be and have been welcome additions to any game franchise or company. We have the fan favorites of Mario, Sora, and Ryu who have led their respective franchises for up to three decades plus; worldwide success is inevitable with those three as the core of the team. Tracer is my next generation representation and one with high upside who has the potential to be a force in video game land for years to come. Then we have Jax the veteran, who isn’t one of the most talked-about characters in gaming history but is still just a dope figure.

What would your starting lineup look like?!

The game ain’t over until it’s over, and I got more to say!

As mentioned at the beginning, this team wasn’t necessarily put together with any projection of their actual basketball skills. That said, I correlated their likeness to the basketball court to connect with their real attributes.

But now, just cause, I will project how I think they’d fare in an actual game of hoops:

Tracer—Tough to say; I feel like she’d be either really bad or really good; no in-between. I could see her having an ugly-ass jump shot, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if she had real skill.

Mario—Now Mario we know is a superstar athlete with all of the sports games he’s been in over the years, basketball included. Legit hooper.

Sora—Honestly, I feel like Sora would literally be the last player picked in a game of basketball lol. All love though.

Ryu—All this guy thinks about is fighting—he’s probably never touched a basketball in his life. Trash.

Jax—There’s no way Jax doesn’t have some history as a baller. He’s probably got some game, but then again, he could be one of those overly aggressive football players when hooping

Genji— A natural at everything.. probably cold af. 

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