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Things keep getting worse for Overwatch League

A professional Overwatch team seems to have lost its entire player roster. The Vancouver Titans, one of the top teams in the Overwatch League, has parted ways with several longtime players, as well as two of its coaches. 

Naturally, an upset of this size requires a response. Luckily, a statement was released to fans explaining the situation. The team's management says that many of the issues that led to this mass exodus can be traced back to the current coronavirus pandemic. 

The statement reads, "The organization and the team have been dealing with a very complicated situation which included sensitive information and player confidentiality made even more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic."

Due to the pandemic, the planned Overwatch League season was moved to an online-only format for the safety of players and staff. However, according to the statement, this added a further strain to things. It apparently became nearly impossible to get everyone on the team on the same page. "The time difference made it difficult for management and the home fanbase to connect with the team and technical challenges for the players playing from home further exacerbated the situation," the statement says.

To that end, the Vancouver Titans' management is evaluating options. A new team roster announcement is expected to be announced in the near future. 

However, according to a report from Kotaku's Nathan Grayson, the issues laid out in the statement are only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, it appears as though these statements are an attempt at saving face.

Grayson writes, "two sources with knowledge of players' interactions with the Vancouver Titans and their owners, Canucks Sports & Entertainment, said that the player roster's departure was the culmination of a larger pattern of mismanagement."

These anonymous sources have informed Kotaku that the players on the Vancouver Titans roster were not at all happy with the accommodations afforded to them by the team. Before the pandemic forced the season into an online-only format, these sources claim that the Vancouver Titans' players were given rooms that were "were akin to small hotel rooms with concrete walls and little else." This is interesting, because the statement from management describes its facilities as being much more impressive and conducive to stronger performance.

There were also problems with players' contracts. Apparently some of the departing players expressed dissatisfaction with their earnings, particularly in light of their excellent performance in the previous season of Overwatch League. There were apparently rumblings of some kind of player strike in the days before the pandemic began. There are also claims that at least one player, Baek, was falsely dropped from his contract. 

Some of these claims have been refuted by Vancouver Titans management, however. According to the organization, players were not only properly paid for their time and effort, but they had also allegedly "agreed" to stay in the facilities mentioned within the complaints. Titans management further claims that Baek was found to be in breach of his contract, however this is not elaborated upon.

The more you dig into this story, the more it seems to be that there were major communication issues between Vancouver Titans management and its players. This makes a bit of sense, considering the fact that the organization is based out of North America while its roster hails from South Korea. Still, that doesn't account for the allegation that at least one member of Titans management was supposedly out of communication for a month, leaving many of the players frustrated and in the dark.

According to one of Kotaku's anonymous sources, "A lot of these teams, especially the Korean ones, have/had support staff on-site who were capable of helping the players to adjust to living in an unfamiliar area ... The Titans really didn't have that. I think the easiest way to describe it would be that it [was] like the org wanted to get involved in esports but didn't take day-to-day ownership of their investment. They treated it like it was something you only had to invest time in at the beginning of the season, and the team would operate itself."

At the moment, this is a very difficult situation to decipher. There's a lot of hearsay going on, so we may never know the exact circumstances behind this big upset in the Vancouver Titans' roster. Still, it's definitely been an interesting time for Overwatch League, to say the least. Just last week, 2019's Overwatch League MVP Jay "Sinatraa" Won announced that he would no longer be playing the game competitively, making the switch to Riot Games' Valorant.