Fans of the Overwatch League were both excited and confused following the format announcement made by vice president Jon Spector. On one hand, the new tournament centric regular season is something fans had demanded after the success of regional tournaments in 2020, however, eyebrows were raised when the Los Angeles Valiant was announced as one of the squads that will compete in the East region, with the team playing from China.
(Picture: Blizzard Entertainment)
Unlike New York Excelsior, which boasts an all-Korean roster, or Philadelphia Fusion, a team with massive interest in the Asian market due to Comcast's ties with T1, the Valiant has no such links.
Rumours started spreading, with leaker Arran "Halo" Spake sharing via social media, that according to his sources, Immortals Gaming Club, owners of the OWL franchise, has sold the team to a Chinese organization, which was not named.
Overwatch: According to multiple sources, Immortals Gaming Club have sold the Los Angeles Valiant, to a currently unknown to me Chinese organisation.— Arran “Halo” Spake (@haloofthoughts) January 14, 2021
Also according to sources is the new Valiant owner does want a team with a heavy Chinese influence.
The information also mentions that, as the potential new owners would look to inject Chinese talent into the team, the current roster and coaching staff would be let go just months before the start of OWL 2021.
As a response to the report, the Valiant Twitter account categorically denied the allegations of IGC selling the franchise to Chinese investors.
We would like to confirm that this rumor is false.— Los Angeles Valiant (@LAValiant) January 14, 2021
IGC will continue to own the LA Valiant, and we are excited about the opportunity to grow the brand's global reach this year. https://t.co/Ma9fMDbvgo
"IGC will continue to own the LA Valiant, and we are excited about the opportunity to grow the brand's global reach this year," the statement reads.
It's worth noting that a recent report by Esports Observer early in December stated that Blizzard was looking to reduce the debt among both Overwatch and Call of Duty Leagues, aimed at helping franchise owners gain some stability as the COVID-19 pandemic made them close down potential revenue avenues like LANs across the world.
The same article mentions that IGC was indeed actively looking to sell their OWL franchise spot, after successfully offloading their CDL spot, with 100 Thieves stepping in as buyers.
On top of IGC selling their Call of Duty League spot, they secured $26 million during a funding round, as they continue their pursuit of "investing aggressively in growth in competitive gaming," chief executive Ari Segal mentioned.
We'll keep you updated as soon as the story develops.