Franchise GOAT for each team vs. the best player to suit up for each team

Something I've often seen come up in discussions on places like r/nba is the difference between a Franchise GOAT and the best player to ever suit up for a franchise. At first glance, there may not seem to be a difference, but here's an example to illustrate: Michael Jordan, as we know, won six championships with the Chicago Bulls and is without a doubt Chicago's franchise GOAT. He was the heart and soul of that team and absolutely put the Bulls on the map. That said, after his Chicago tenure, he actually played a few comparatively lackluster seasons with the Washington Wizards after being well past his prime. In doing so, he arguably became the greatest overall player to ever suit up for Washington, but that doesn't necessarily make him Washington's franchise GOAT – they didn't even make the playoffs either of those seasons!

There are a few other basketball examples of this: Hakeem Olajuwon, who won two championships for the Houston Rockets as far and away their best player, spent his last year with the Toronto Raptors, and might just be the best overall player to have worn a Raps jersey despite only being there for a year. LeBron James might be the best player to ever suit up for the Miami Heat, but Miami's franchise GOAT is probably Dwyane Wade – and so on.

Naturally, I got to wondering how this would translate to the comparatively much younger league we follow here – in other words, I asked myself: Who is the franchise GOAT for each team, and, separately, who is the best overall player to have suited up at any one point for each team? The league only existing for four years plus frequent roster turnover has made this distinction less clear cut and the picks not super obvious, but I decided I'd try to put some names forward and thought it could give us something new to discuss while the outside world continues to go up in flames during this long, plodding offseason. Sometimes the names overlap; sometimes they don't. Some of them I have no idea about and would be keen to hear takes on.

Please note that I'm not counting players signed for Season 5 but who have yet to play for a given team re: the 'best player to suit up' distinction.

So to start with –

Teams with relatively straightforward answers

Philadelphia Fusion

  • Franchise GOAT: Carpe
  • Best player to wear jersey: Alarm

This one is arguably the easiest. Carpe has been Fusion's franchise player from minute one and he's been there for every incredible high and heartbreaking low that the team has endured. That said, the late great Alarm (RIP) remains the clear-cut best player to wear a Fusion jersey, as our 2020 ROTY and one of the greatest support players to ever play the game. Alarm's dominance and hero pool were undeniable through his two seasons with Fusion, as heartbreaking as it still is to be saying that in the past tense.

Toronto Defiant

  • Franchise GOAT: Logix
  • Best player to wear jersey: Heesu

Technically, Twilight became the best player to wear a Defiant jersey the second he was announced by the Defiant, but since he's not technically worn one in a game yet (see the stipulation above) I'm going to go with our baby-faced assassin Heesu. On the flip side, Logix was easily the face of the franchise for a few years and well-loved by the fans, though the circumstances surrounding his eventual departure from the team were pretty goddamn shitty on the Defiant's part.

Shanghai Dragons

  • Franchise GOAT: Fearless
  • Best player to wear jersey: Fleta

Fearless is my pick for the Dragons' franchise GOAT – sticking around from S1, to being on the sidelines down in Team CC when the team regained steam in S2, to their dominance in S3. As the only S1 member who was a starter even after the Cinderella turnaround happened for the franchise (sorry Geguri) Fearless takes the cake for me. For the best player to suit up, you could frankly pick literally anyone from the 2021 championship squad (Void? Lip? LJG? etc) but I'm going to go with our 2020 MVP Fleta for this one.

San Francisco Shock

  • Franchise GOAT: Super
  • Best player to wear jersey: Viol2t

Another easy one re: franchise GOAT – Super has never not been the face of the Shock in and out of the game. Even when he was coming off the bench behind Smurf, it was more because the championship Shock teams just had such an embarrassment of riches they could leave the best Rein in the world on the sidelines at times. You could similarly make a case for almost anyone from those championship teams as the best player to suit up for the Shock, but my pick remains Viol2t – because frankly, almost nothing matches the absolute terror that was peak Viol2t.

Washington Justice

  • Franchise GOAT: Corey
  • Best player to wear jersey: Fury

This one's a bit contentious – it feels weird to pick Corey for franchise GOAT given he's not played with the team for a season and a bit now, but Corey was absolutely the face of the team since their inception until his departure, and even now it seems the sentiment amongst Justice fans is that he's missed a lot. His Hanzo eviscerating the Runaway Titans alone remains one of the greatest single-series performances we've seen in the league. The best player to suit up, on the other hand, was a toss-up between Fury and Decay for me. I think you could make an argument for either one, honestly, but peak Fury's championship win pulls him just a bit ahead for me.

Chengdu Hunters

  • Franchise GOAT: Jinmu
  • Best player to wear jersey: Leave

Many options here for the first category – I can see an argument for Ameng as the franchise GOAT as well, but Jinmu has just as consistently been in the spotlight as Chengdu's representative to the world. But re: best player to suit up, Leave is our 2021 MVP for a reason.

Atlanta Reign

  • Franchise GOAT: Gator
  • Best player to wear jersey: Pelican

Gator didn't really play for the Reign till the end of S2, but I can't really make an argument for anyone else on the team for franchise GOAT. Pelican on the other hand, as our 2021 ROTY and an MVP candidate, is clearly the best player to wear a Reign jersey to date in my eyes.

Teams where I felt franchise GOAT == best player to suit up

Florida Mayhem

  • Franchise GOAT: Yaki
  • Best player to wear jersey: Yaki

I mean, I really can't see an argument for anyone else here. Yaki was the face of the Mayhem for two years, hard carrying the boys in pink through both wins and losses. His Tracer alone took them to a stage finals in 2020 and remained the only bright spot even as the team started to cool off post-May Melee in 2021.

New York Excelsior

  • Franchise GOAT: Jjonak
  • Best player to wear jersey: Jjonak

Same boat once again: Jjonak was NYXL in a way almost no other player could lay claim to for their respective teams. Until next year's NYXL take the stage, Jjonak is the only player who can claim to have played every single official match his team has ever been a part of, regular season and/or playoffs (I'm excluding S1 pre-season here, since he was too young). The competition may have caught up eventually, but our 2018 MVP changed the game with NY at his peak.

Teams where I have some sense of who to pick, but not an obvious answer

Hangzhou Spark

  • Franchise GOAT: Guxue
  • Best player to wear jersey: Shy?

I'll be the first to admit I haven't followed the Spark as much since they lapsed into mediocrity, so please yell at me if I'm off-base here. But far as I've seen, Guxue has been the face of the franchise for the Spark since Day 1, though Shy's dominance last year on hitscan just might catapult him above for the 'best player' side of things. Maybe there's an argument for Architect too given how good peak Architect was once. I don't know. Help me out here, Spark fans.

Guangzhou Charge

  • Franchise GOAT: Eileen
  • Best player to wear jersey: Shu

Another one I'm unsure about more because of my own ignorance than anything else (I didn't really follow the bottom half of APAC too much last year…). Shu to me is the clear cut answer for the latter category, but for franchise GOAT I'm picking Eileen for consistently being a part of the team and helping lead them to their only stage title with his fearsome Genji.

Houston Outlaws

  • Franchise GOAT: Jake/Danteh
  • Best player to wear jersey: Meko

This is probably the hardest toss-up in the franchise GOAT category for me. Jake is the Outlaws, but Danteh has been tenured for just as long (three seasons after all) with just as important a role. Danteh remained a starter last year too even as Jake subject us to the occasional Jercy and Jrigitte, so I really can't pick. Help! For the best player to suit up, I'm picking Meko — he had a down year with the Outlaws, but at his best Meko was a force to be reckoned with as the clear-cut best D.Va in the league when NY was most dominant.

Teams where I have no goddamn idea who to pick as franchise GOAT

Let me know what you think in the comments about these teams in particular!

Boston Uprising

  • Franchise GOAT: ? (formerly long-tenured players include Myunbong, Fusions, CHex)
  • Best player to wear jersey: Striker

I have no idea who to pick for Boston, frankly. Their best season was with Striker, but he had an acrimonious split with them after S1. It does somehow seem all mended now with his surprising return, but I'm hard-pressed to pick him as the franchise GOAT when he wasn't there for the past three seasons, even if he's the best player to wear a Boston jersey in my eyes.

Dallas Fuel

  • Franchise GOAT: ?
  • Best player to wear jersey: Fearless

The Fuel have had multiple makeovers, with Hastro finally striking gold with last year's Fuel Mystic and finally getting a stage title after his fourth chequebook adventure. It did make Fearless the best player to wear a Fuel jersey (though one could make an argument for either Sparkle or Hanbin) but I'm still having a hard time picking a franchise GOAT. Taimou was the face of the team ages ago but hasn't been active for a while now; OGE was tenured for a bit, but not actually that long; Mickie was a fun presence out of game but exclusively using Self-Destruct to re-mech didn't really do his in-game performance much favours. Thoughts?

London Spitfire

  • Franchise GOAT: ?
  • Best player to wear jersey: Profit

The Spitfire broke the bank very early on with an utterly busted combination of two top APEX teams but then cooled off on that front with the following rebuilds. Profit is unquestionably the best player to have worn a Spitfire jersey (with Fury and Birdring close behind) but who do you pick as the franchise GOAT for a franchise that had two subsequent full-on redos?

Los Angeles Gladiators

  • Franchise GOAT: ?
  • Best player to wear jersey: Moth

The Glads have also had a fair amount of turnover and similar amounts of bank-breaking to the Fuel – they seem to have had some consistent faces now in Space and formerly Birdring (:/) but the longest-tenured Glads players were actually Shaz and BigGoose, who were well-loved but eventually let go by the team. I can't in good conscience pick either though – the best Glads looked during their tenures was primarily off of players like Fissure, Surefour, Birdring, and Kevster. So who's to say? The best player debate is a bit easier though – although it feels strange to pick him given his season was mostly spent on the bench, 2x champion Moth was the best main support in the world at his peak, so just based on the rules we're working with I'm going to pick him over Shu/Kev/Birdring and the like.

Beijing Los Angeles Valiant

  • Franchise GOAT: ?
  • Best player to wear jersey: Izayaki

Once again, no idea who to pick as the franchise GOAT for a team that had a similar makeover timeline to the Spitfire, though I suppose Izayaki is a fair pick for best player to suit up for the team. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Paris Eternal

  • Franchise GOAT: ?
  • Best player to wear jersey: Xzi

I could just as easily pick Sparkle/Hanbin for the best player designation, but Xzi unleashed was a terror to witness, and as much as that Summer Showdown title had Sparkle's Genji as the centrepiece it was Xzi's consistent hitscan virtuosity that also made that DPS duo such a force to be reckoned with. You could literally pick any of the three as best player, all things considered, but who do you then pick as the franchise GOAT? (Benbest perhaps?)

Seoul Dynasty

  • Franchise GOAT: Profit (maybe Fits? see below) EDIT: How the fuck did I forget Tobi
  • Best player to wear jersey: Fleta

Seoul's all-time lineup has an embarassment of riches to work with. That said, even though it's only been two seasons, I'm breaking my own standards a bit here and picking Profit as Seoul's franchise GOAT for leading them to their two best seasons to date (one with a finals appearance, the other with their best regular season win percentage). An argument could be made for Fits here as well but I'll leave it to the Seoul fans in the crowd to help me decide whether they feel he should get the nod. One could similarly pick Profit as the best player to wear a Seoul jersey, but I'll toss Fleta some more love here for still being as much a hyperflex machine.

Vancouver Titans

  • Franchise GOAT: ?
  • Best player to wear jersey: Haksal

Vancouver's history is a bit too fragmented for there to be a clear-cut franchise GOAT, but if anyone has some nominations, please be my guest below. That said, you could pick nearly anyone from the original Runaway Titans for the best player category, and I might side with Haksal on this one. The clear-cut best Genji in the world (don't @ me, I'd been saying it since early APEX) and a GOATS Brig so clearly better than the competition it was frightening to witness.

Those are my picks, but in some cases I still couldn't really decide. What do you think? Any answers to the franchise GOAT picks I'm unsure about? Other thoughts? Please tell me why I'm wrong about things below!


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