The Overwatch League 2021 season will look a little different than previous seasons with the COVID-19 pandemic causing travel restrictions, event restrictions, and lockdowns in place. This year, the Overwatch League will split teams into two separate regions to ease the need for constant travel. One half of the league will play in North America and Europe, while the other half of the league will play in China and Korea. Due to the split, one team is making a drastic change in roster.
The Los Angeles Valiant is one of the Overwatch League teams designated to the Eastern group that will play in China and Korea. Last season, the LA Valiant finished the season with a 12-10 record, and were later eliminated from the playoffs by double-elimination after winning the first playoff game against the Florida Mayhem. Although the LA Valiant had a decent season, none of the players from the 2020 season will make the trip to China and Korea.
The LA Valiant has dropped all players from their roster. The former team was made up of three South Korean players, four US players, one player from the UK, and one player from Denmark. The LA Valiant recently put out a statement thanking the players who are leaving and cited COVID-related visa issues as a reason that the Valiant could not retain its Overwatch roster. LA Valiant is owned by Immortals Gaming Club, which has been under fire for rumors that the team would be purchased by a Chinese organization, but IGC has denied these claims.
According to IGC CEO Ari Segal, “it would be impossible to secure visas for [the team’s] players to get to China.” However, the US Embassy in China states, “China currently allows foreign nationals with valid residence permits and visas to enter the country under certain conditions.” For players to enter China, they would have to secure a valid visa, take two COVID-19 tests before departing, spend 14 days in quarantine, and be subject to more tests in China.
Many believe that the reason for dumping the entire roster is not because of COVID-related issues, especially since the Philadelphia Fusion announced last month that the team is retaining its roster and relocating to Seoul, South Korea. Former Overwatch pro Scott Kennedy also weighed in on the situation.
Immortal Gaming Club is already under fire for the controversial move, and if the organization does sell the team to a Chinese organization, IGC will likely experience backlash from Overwatch League fans. However, as of this writing, IGC still owns The LA Valiant.
Overwatch is available now on PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One.
Source: Washington Post