Following recent turmoil surrounding his Overwatch League team, Dallas Fuel’s team owner, Mike ‘hastr0‘ Rufail took it to Reddit earlier today to address the questions and share his side of the story. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the AMA session. Note some questions were edited to accomodate space, emphasize context and provide clarity without affecting their tone.
General State of the Team
Watching DF players on social media they seem really tired and the team happiness is at the bottom.
- Seagull wanted to leave 
- Effect wants to leave 
- Harryhook commenting with 👌 on Effects “I want to win or leave” tweet 
- Taimou very unhappy and sees no place in DF 
Now my question: What do you want to do to help your team? I know you hired a mental-guru kind of guy and the oppurtunity to vistit him monthly(?) was given but no one took it . So what’s your plan to make your players happy again?
Mike: I won’t really confirm all of the things you mentioned above, because I think a few were taken out of context. However, in regard to what we are doing to make our players happy, we have really made a huge effort to have more group discussion on major team decisions. This was our biggest mistake as an organization this season in my opinion. Not one time in our 10 year history have we ever made major team decisions (player, coaching or support staff personnel) without consulting with our players.
To be honest, I don’t really know why we began to make decisions without including the players, but that was clearly a mistake and something that added to the frustration of the players on top of the situations they were putting themselves and their teammates into. We’ve changed that. Every player on our team will be involved in group and individual discussion leading up to any major change. Something that has already occurred in recent decisions that you’ve seen.
When you mentioned handing over all decision-making to KyKy, what powers did he not have beforehand that he gained from your decision?
Mike: First, I want to be clear that Kyle had nearly all of the control over the team from the beginning. I did interfere once with a roster decision. That was to play xQc vs LA Gladiators and Shanghai in Week 1 of Stage 2.
I wanted Felix to get his shot. That resulted in a 2-0 week, but it was absolutely not right because it caused Kyle to question what control he did have. I also want to be clear that not one roster addition or player transaction occurred without me consulting heavily with Kyle or our GM Mat Taylor. As mentioned above, the players should have been more involved in those decisions and we have already corrected that.
How do the Dallas Fuel choose their starting lineup for scrims and matches?
Mike: This is 100% decided by our coaches and/or players leading up to each match. The only case of myself or our management getting involved was in Week 1 of Stage 2 where we asked our head coach to give xQc a shot in the starting main tank position.
1) What’s up with Cocco? Any details? What did he do to warrant running Taimou as an MT?
Mike: Cocco is still on our roster and everyone in the organization still loves him. Coming into the season, we all knew that Cocco still had some work to do on his Winston play and that’s why we signed xQc to the team to fill that gap. xQc just did not pan out on the team so it put Cocco in a position where he really had to catch up.
The decision to play Taimou instead of Cocco on main tank was not made by me nor did I have influence on that decision. That was purely a coach’s decision. We’re working with him to find out what is best for his future whether that be remaining with us or having him available for another team. Sorry I don’t have more for you on that at the moment.
2) What were you thinking signing OGE and knowing Effect / Rascal would hate him since he’s a booster? I’m not condemning him, he probably needed money, he apologized and was penalized. But seeing Effect not even looking at him makes me think they can’t form a great team.
Edit: apparently it wasn’t known he was a booster before Fuel signed him. The question then is: what did the org do to remedy that fact? To make Effect and OGE real teammates?
Mike: Before we signed OGE, we had absolutely no idea he had participated in boosting. The league completed the standard investigation in his approval process. There was just no way for anyone to know he had done that without some really detailed knowledge. When we found out, OGE was very forthcoming about his minor involvement which the league addressed with a suspension and we addressed with OGE.
He is really a great person who made a mistake that we find to be forgiveable and hope the fans do too. At this point, we think both Effect and OGE are true teammates
Why release Kyky now that the team is finally performing better? Was this really the best moment?
Mike: This wasn’t a decision made on whether or not this was Kyle’s best moment, but instead a decision made to help the team make progress as a whole.
Any reasoning behind choosing individual apartments for players instead of a team house? Imo a team house improves chemistry among teammates.
Mike: We were actually the first Overwatch organization in North America (maybe the world) to provide our players with a team house. While it is an excellent tool in building the short-term chemistry within a team, we determined that the best route in the long run is with the privacy that apartments provide.
The Rascal Situation
Can you give some insight on Rascal’s situation? From public releases many have come to the conclusion that he didn’t have someone to translate for him? Is it true that there was insufficient translators for the Korean members of Fuel?
Mike: Kim “viOLet” Dong Hwan is a full time player manager for the Dallas Fuel. As a native Korean, former professional Starcraft 2 pro and one of the first Korean professional gamers to move full time to the US, he is available to assist our Korean players with their assimilation into the team and translation with coaches and other players.
In addition, we have made English tutoring available to our players. We are adding another translator to our team moving forward which obviously doesn’t help Rascal now. Maybe it was something we could have done better, but certainly not a situation where no communication was happening because translation was available to him.
Why not just bench Rascal instead of releasing him after the trading period?
Mike: After a full team discussion, it was a necessity to remove Rascal from the team. I know our coaches continually tried to include Rascal into the team as evident by his appearance in the last map of our series vs LA Valiant in Stage 3.
It is so unfortunate that this happened after the roster lock period, but because of the situation there was no other way for our team to move forward.
…what was your reasonings behind choosing to sign Rascal? Rumours flying round are saying he wasn’t cheap, and with the recent signing of AKM, you had just filled a dps slot, and it was clear EFFECT wouldn’t be going anywhere. On the other hand you had potential language barriers to face. So just curious what the reason was? Hero pool, calibre of talent, or something else?
Mike: It simply came down to the fact that we think Rascal is extremely talented and versatile with his Hero pool. In hindsight, our coaching staff should not have agreed to bring him into the roster because of the situation that resulted from it, but I think their willingness to do that was a result of factors I mentioned previously in the AMA.
Addressing the Bird
With Rascal gone what are Seagull’s play prospects since Fuel has a more solid tank line with OGE and Mickie?
Mike: This is a decision I am leaving to our current coaches and the team, but I think it is safe to say that you will see a lot more of The Bird.
Seagull has been outspoken on his competitive drive and chasing a top spot in the OWL, sacrificing lucrative streaming options to pursue it with Dallas. But it does not appear that he has been given serious chance at the main roster (noting the reported lack of scrim time, appearing only for role swaps/subs, and subsequent signings in his original role), despite solid performances and a top “win rate” on the team.
- Can you give an update on Seagull’s role with the team, and what fans can expect going forward?
- And does Dallas realize that signing a fan favorite like Seagull (knowing the context I provided), and not giving him a serious “shot” will only create animosity?
Mike: I answered a similar question previously in the AMA, but Seagull’s appearances for the team have been coaching decisions that neither I or our organizational management team have interfered with. We absolutely want to see Brandon in the lineup more and believe that will be the case moving forward.
However it wasn’t all doom and gloom though …
What would you rather bench, one Seagull sized Cocco or 100 Cocco sized Seagulls?
I would definitely rather have to bench press one Seagull sized Cocco than 100 Cocco sized Seagulls. 🙂
Full transcript of these exchanges can be read here.