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Drama for the Dallas Fuel has gone full circle

Drama for the Dallas Fuel has gone full circle
Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard EntertainmentStage three of Overwatch League is coming to an end. At the very bottom of the overall standings are the Shanghai Dragons - a team that has dealt with tabloid-esque drama and an overall lack of talent. No one expected much of them to begin with, and just a single victory could win them the hearts of every Overwatch League fan.But then there's the Dallas Fuel, tied for second-to-last with only six wins.Coming into the inaugural season, Dallas was looked at as the "Great Western Savior" that would stand up to the Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior - Korean rosters that most projected to take the top three spots in the end. The core of Dallas is made up of the former Team Envy roster. These ex-titans were the only foreign team to win a season of Overwatch Apex - the biggest global tournament held in South Korea prior to the launch of Overwatch League. They were also the North American Overwatch Contenders season one champions, making quick work of Faze Clan in the Grand Finals. Today, the Dallas Fuel are one of the biggest disappointments in all of esports. Let's take a look at how some of their decisions have contributed to - and mirrored - their unceremonious freefall.

Dallas Fuel ownership has not done their best

One aspect of Overwatch League that often comes under scrutiny is that it wants to be the next great sports league, but it hasn't quite figured out traditional esports issues. A very unfortunate reality is that the esports community is plagued with racism, sexism, homophobia, and other types of abhorrent behavior. Overwatch League has not been immune to this, with Dallas being at the forefront of much of the controversy. We all know what's happened to Felix "xQc" Lengyel by now. After being given multiple chances to change his unacceptable behavior, Dallas management finally stepped in and cut xQc from their roster. Unfortunately, their general attitude toward their players' behavior has been far too relaxed from the very beginning.Dallas Fuel and Team Envy owner, Mike Rufail, told Kotaku at media day that, “We welcome the idea of letting our players be who they are.” While this might sound reasonable, they should have known what they had in both xQc and Timo "Taimou" Kettunen. These players, though quite talented, have had long histories of being controversial on their personal streams. In this case, you have to scratch your head and ask, "Did you expect anything to change?" As if this questionable take wasn't enough, Dallas ownership took it a step further once the team really started to struggle:

https://twitter.com/hastr0/status/974083644926103554?s=19 This was a very strange announcement no matter how you view it. On one hand, you could wonder why or if the coaching staff didn't have full control to begin with, as caster Christopher "MonteCristo" Mykles asks in this thread. You could just as easily question why they handed everything over to a staff that had not proven itself. The answers wouldn't matter much either way, because just a month later, they released longtime Head Coach Kyle "KyKy" Souder. https://twitter.com/KyKy/status/986550683250769920 Dallas isn't the only team to make coaching changes this season, but no other team has done so in such a turbulent environment. Thus far, the coaching shift Dallas has gone for has not helped. What's perhaps even more hilarious about this whole thing is that KyKy has been spotted in the Houston Outlaws' dugout recently. It's like watching a dramatic jigsaw puzzle put itself together before our eyes: https://twitter.com/Slasher/status/989271851858907137 The apparent mismanagement of team personnel is far-reaching. Some of it might go as far back as pre-OWL times with the assumption that the global Overwatch talent pool was equal to what they had already faced. However, one move they made is one of the most ironic and telling of the Dallas Fuel to date. A call for Korean DPS After failing in stage one, Dallas acquired London Spitfire DPS star Dong-Jun "Rascal" Kim to help fill a gap alongside Hyeon "EFFECT" Hwang. Let's put this into perspective. The most underachieving team representing one of the proudest states in the USA - who was expected to be the only formidable mixed roster - went and hired a second Korean DPS player from a team (KongDoo Panthera) that 4-0'd them at Apex season three. If that's not a Hail Mary, I don't know what is. Obviously it didn't work out. Per the news release above, Rascal was let go at the same time as KyKy because of an apparent "unwillingness to communicate." Like everything else with Dallas, this also blew up on social media. Rascal's long-time teammate and friend, Chan-Hyung "Fissure" Baek, was another player who London parted ways with, only he went to the Los Angeles Gladiators. He had a sympathetic view of Rascal: https://twitter.com/tisrobin311/status/985774353496227840 Put in a similar situation, Fissure suggests that Rascal undoubtedly wanted to communicate more during matches, but that the language barrier prevented that. The result was a frustrated player who was probably playing on tilt more often than not since he couldn't call anything out. Still, others were of the opinion that Rascal must have been as toxic as Dallas made him out to be: https://twitter.com/Rogue_winz/status/985953676819742720 Michael "Winz" Bignet, former Overwatch pro and brother of Dallas Fuel member Dylan "aKm" Bignet, says the evidence speaks for itself. It almost felt like a publicity stunt - that Dallas went and did something completely unexpected just to keep people talking. But honestly, why? They had already signed aKm days before, and fan-favorite Brandon "Seagull" Larned could always fill. Allowing two players fight for their spots under such stressful conditions isn't good in any sport, as finger-pointing tends to dominate the story. Apart from the Los Angeles Valiant, Dallas is the only team that has been transparent to a fault. The biggest difference is that the Valiant are now leaps and bounds better than Dallas, all with the same language barriers and roster difficulties. They also controlled their own narrative through a video series instead of allowing themselves to become a meme at the hands of the community. It just really makes one scratch their head. The Dallas Fuel are living up to their name. Whenever there has been fire, the Fuel have made sure to throw themselves on it. Where there have been games to win, they have burned the road to victory. I expect better. Their hardcore fans expect better. The potential for greatness is still there, if they could only get out of their own way. They've now gone back to vintage form as of late, with Christian "Cocco" Jonsson tanking, Taimou on flex, Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod on off-tank, and Sebastian "Chipshajen" Widlund filling on support. Dallas has dusted off the Team Envy colors with one stage left in the season, as if to say, "It can't get any worse, so here are some familiar faces to cheer for."