Overwatch League's LA Valiant team drops all their players ahead of a move to ChinaPlatforms: All
COVID-19 has impacted live events worldwide, including the world of Esports due to travel restrictions, it forced many Esports events to be done remotely, including the Overwatch League.
To avoid this again, the Overwatch League 2021 season will be dividing its teams into two regions: West and East. The West group will play in North America and Europe, and the East group will spend the season in China and Korea.
The Los Angeles Valiant has been drafted to the East group and will be heading to China for their season. But it will be the "team" in name only, as the entire active team is being left behind.
"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," read an official statement on Twitter. "We've worked to facilitate the best available next steps for our players and staff and wish them all the best moving forward."
According to LA Valiant owners, Immortals Gaming Club's CEO Ari Segal, their organisation and the Overwatch League itself both concluded that "it would be impossible to secure visas for [the team's] players to get to China."
"We recognise that our teams have had to make tough decisions as they prepare to compete amidst a global pandemic," an OWL spokesperson told PC Gamer. "We will continue to stay in close coordination with franchises as they finalise their plans."
A Washington Post report also claims Valiant coach Michael "Packing 10" Szklanny will have a new role in the organisation, and that "multiple players" from the former roster will be going to other OWL teams.
Overwatch League fans are angry with this latest development, believing that IGC has used visa issues as an excuse to drop the current roster and rebuild it as a Chinese team, which plays into existing speculation that IGC had sold the team to a Chinese company, a claim that IGC has denied.
The Philadelphia Fusion and The New York Excelsior are also part of the East group with both teams currently training in South Korea. The Philadelphia Fusion team has moved all operations to Seoul, with a roster featuring players from South Korea, Denmark, Israel, France, and the UK. No one has seemingly been dropped in this move which makes LA Valiant's move even more contentious.