As the Overwatch League reached its conclusion for the remainder of 2020, crowning the San Francisco Shock as the first back-to-back Champions in history, the offseason has started with massive layoffs from almost every team in the League.
Perhaps the most extreme cases are that of the London Spitfire and Dallas Fuel, as both squads would end up releasing a total of 21 players, with only damage dealer Kim "Doha" Dong-Ha being confirmed as a returning member for the Texas team.
While London, who was full Korean, is aiming at a reconstruction building a squad with European and Western talent in general, Dallas looks to move the other way, parting ways with a mixed roster with European, North American, and Asian players, looking to construct a purely Korean roster.
The uncertainty of players' futures as professionals has made former pro and veteran of the scene, Brandon "Seagull" Larned, raise his concerns, urging that OWL institutes a players association to protect them against malpractices and potentially damaging contracts.
OWL desperately needs a players association.— Brandon Larned (@A_Seagull) October 17, 2020
With OW2 on the horizon, poor viewership, and a rumored late start to the season (April), teams are incentivized to drop players and save money.
Why spend money on talent that might not be talent when OW2 hits? pic.twitter.com/eKfw7W0s9T
"OWL desperately needs a players association," Seagull tweeted out, adding that "with OW2 on the horizon, poor viewership, and a rumored late start to the season (April), teams are incentivized to drop players and save money."
Accompanying his comment was an alarming and ever-increasing list of talent that is now a Free Agent in the Overwatch scene. Not only that but as rumours have circulated, the possibility of a late start to OWL in 2021 means many teams could potentially release players based on the fact that they're not willing to pay wages for the foreseeable future with no competitions to fill the void.
(Photo: Blizzard Entertainment)
Atlanta Reign's coach, Brad "Sephy" Rajani, chimed in via a Reddit post explaining that teams are indeed looking at ways to reduce costs but pointed out that free agency does not necessarily mean players are left out to their own devices.
"The LFT (Looking-For-Team) posts yesterday absolutely are not some kind of scam to save 2 months of money and it would be really silly to think of team owners as that petty or that short-sighted," Brad said.
Sephy mentioned how a shrinking player base is inevitable due to teams looking to cut costs, leading to fewer substitutes or rotation players, adding that, some owners are going as far as letting players with "a very large salary on their +1 option explore their options as part of a desired renegotiation."
According to the OWL official roster construction rules, a player that signs a minimum one-season contract can be tied to their team via a "unilateral team option to extend the term for one additional season." This is usually applicable to coveted and highly rated players, ensuring that the team in question can potentially negotiate a buyout fee instead of letting the player go as a free agent.
The scenario looks gloomy for the pro scene, at it will remain to be seen how teams decide to bolster their squads come 24th October, the date in which teams are allowed to start signing free agents.