In a move that’s drastically shaking up the Overwatch League and Overwatch esports scene in general, the Los Angeles Valiant released its entire roster of players and staff members to move to the Overwatch League’s Asia Pacific region. This was all done because the organization’s ownership group, Immortals Gaming Club (IGC), stated “visa issues” in moving the staff to China.
“We want to thank all the players and staff moving on today from the LA Valiant due to COVID-related visa issues, as we prepare to compete in China this season.
We’ve worked to facilitate the best available next steps for our players and staff and wish them all the best moving forward.”
2021 Roster Update: pic.twitter.com/wLegf51MAI
— Los Angeles Valiant (@LAValiant) January 29, 2021
Basically this China and APAC shift is what IGC meant in a previous tweet:
“IGC will continue to own the LA Valiant, and we are excited about the opportunity to grow the brand’s global reach this year.”
Anger Within The Esports Community
One can argue that this is a dick move pulled off by IGC, as the group is essentially using the visa problems as an excuse to dump the team’s roster and rebuilding it as a Chinese organization. For comparison, Philadelphia Fusion and New York Excelsior are competing in the East group with each respective team comprising of existing South Korean, Denmark, Israel, France, and UK players who have been with them for a long while.
Naturally, people are livid about this, and rightfully so.
Moving your entire LA based team to make a Chinese team and then using COVID-related visa issues as the reason you're dropping the team
pls pick up these players they don't deserve this https://t.co/aQpYJ7o83f
— Scott Kennedy (@Custa) January 29, 2021
IGC has now betrayed the hometown OWL LA Valiant fanbase, ran the legendary Optic brand into the ground, absolutely ruined MiBR as the premier Brazilian esports organization and its CS team several times, and Immortals itself is barely relevant from the days of Noah. solid work👍
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) January 29, 2021
I most likely won't be competing in OWL this season after this, going to be focusing on my stream for 2021 and see what happens next year. pretty disappointed in how this situation unfolded but what can u do. I hope all the players find a good home and get to compete again https://t.co/JnBTVTYReD
— Brady Girardi (@agilities) January 29, 2021
— fuck it seominsoo (@fuckitseominsoo) January 29, 2021
Aged like milk. Dogshit move. pic.twitter.com/ZpjHvaNd03
— ButterBoy (@andy_jespersen) January 30, 2021
This also means a number of things in the Overwatch League and esports scene:
- Pro players who want to compete in North America and get out of their own non-USA regions to go to the coveted Overwatch League are out of options.
- This isn’t helping the fact that there’s a huge sentiment that US and Europe players in major Overwatch leagues are being displaced by South Korean or Chinese talent. It’s like as if there’s an East vs West thing going on within the game’s esports circuit. The same can be said for most major esports games like Dota 2, so…
Long story short, this will put a damper on every Overwatch pro player’s plans if they’re based outside of South Korea and China, or anywhere further from APAC.