The announcement was made via social media, with Jon Spector, Vicepresident of OWL, explaining that as it stands, a lot of teams (particularly from APAC) would have issues trying to bring their rosters to the United States for the playoffs.
"After continued consultation with our teams, we are no longer confident that all of them would be able to travel to the United States with their full rosters. We have therefore made the difficult decision to pivot from live events centred around Dallas and Los Angeles and will instead return to Hawaii for postseason competition."
Throughout the 2021 season, the top two teams playing in the North American region have travelled to Hawaii in order to play each monthly tournament against APAC squads established in Korea and China, connecting to Tokyo servers for ping purposes.
The playoffs were scheduled to be played this upcoming 16th September at the Esports Stadium Arlington, with the grand finals to be held at Galen Center in Los Angeles on 25th September.
As a result of this change, many pro players from NA squads have expressed discomfort with the situation, including Atlanta Reign's main tank Blake "Gator" Scott, who criticised the decision of forcing five teams to make travel arrangements for the benefit of only three APAC squads.
then why do me and my teammates have to make another 15 hour trip to Hawaii in the middle of a pandemic while the other region does not. Just get 1 winner from each region to play for grand finals then so every one is safe. Also, pelican cant go :)— Gator (@Gator_OW) August 26, 2021
Reign's head coach, Brad "Sephy" Rajani made some important revelations on a Reddit post, explaining that "OWL players and staff were not consulted in this decision and not given the chance to propose alternatives."
"The current plan hampers two teams (Paris & Atlanta especially, but still all western teams are hurt) for the sake of 1-2 apac teams. It's just triage, not a net gain, and in a worst case scenario (Pelican not able to attend, Paris qualifying) produces a worse competitive integrity outcome than hosting travel able teams in North America and playing equal high ping for those that can't," Sephy explained.
In the case of Atlanta, DPS player and Rookie of the Year candidate Se-hyun "Pelican" Oh would be barred from travelling due to having surgery the past few days after a collapsed lung.
As for Paris Eternal, since the team is competing from Europe, they'd need to sign an emergency visa approved roster to even have a chance of competing.
It remains to be seen whether or not OWL addresses these concerns.
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