The Rocket League roster formerly known as RCD Espanyol has broken ties with the football club, mere hours before they were set to compete in the European RLCS Promotion Playoff.
The relationship between the players and organisation appears to have broken down after the players’ ran down their contracts with no apparent intention to re-sign.
El RCD Espanyol redissenya la seva estratègia digital a eSports: ⬇️— RCD Espanyol de Barcelona eSports (@RCDeSports) April 12, 2020
🔗 https://t.co/E5eqPJxjRV#RCDE #EspanyoldeBarcelona #eSports pic.twitter.com/WRIuyTwsqe
The situation led to the former head of digital strategy at RCD Espanyol, Laureá Folch, to make an emotional plea to Psyonix to disallow the roster from competing in the Promotion Playoff.
“The sector needs, more than ever, all the "actors" to be up to the task, but when the players, often inexperienced, do not act with the principles they are expected to have, it must be the publisher who puts on the board that, above all, there are values, principles and ethics that everyone should have and respect.” Laureá wrote in a post on Linkedin.
“Can you imagine a team...playing all season under some colours, representing a Team and playing the promotion phase representing another Team and with other colours? Under no circumstances should #gamers that have represented the RCD Espanyol de Barcelona in the #RLRS play the promotional tournament for the RLCS tomorrow.”
The call was unanswered as the former RCD Espanyol took their place in the Promotion Playoff under the name ‘Stonkers’.
The reason the players decided not to re-sign was made clearer when Nelson "Virtuoso" Lasko, who will be playing in the Promotion Playoff with Endpoint, revealed the players’ contracts ended on the 31st March, with Lakso further describing the esport organisation as “dodgy”.
In a reply to a Reddit post announcing RCD Espanyol’s exit from Rocket League he wrote: “RCD's contracts have ended 12 days ago, they are not signed with any org.
"Also, RCD is a very dodgy org (they were dodgy when offering us as well and also another big Spanish org) like most Spanish organisations. Tox signed the contract while he is 16 and RCD didn't even ask his parents to co-sign which meant that his contract was not legally binding. [sic]”
The issue may be down to the way RCD Espanyol got involved with Rocket League in the first place. The acquisition of a Rocket League team was brokered by esport agency Esportia, who according to their website, “develop and manage esports sections for professional sports clubs”.
Esportia have worked with a number of Spanish sporting institutions including Getafe C.F, Real Betis, and F.C Barcelona - with the latter fielding their own RLCS team.
RCD Espanyol confirmed their exit from Rocket League with a statement posted to their website, expressing their intention to focus on fielding players in the FIFA video game series and revealing they will no longer be working with Esportia.
The statement (translated to English via Google Translate), reads: "RCD Espanyol redesigns its digital strategy in the eSports sector, promoting FIFA competition, a tournament that will lead the bulk of the white-and-blue entity at the virtual level.
"Within this redesign, the club retires from Rocket League as competition rights do not allow for a stable and guaranteed growth of the team for the clubs. RCD Espanyol will also end the contractual relationship with Esportia."
Curiously the former RCD Espanyol roster is not the only team entering the Promotion Playoff under a different name. Team SoloMid dropped their roster on the eve of the tournament - with that team now playing under the name 'Karen'.
The Promotion Playoff sees the 8th and 9th placed RLCS teams face off against the 2nd and 3rd placed teams from the 2nd-tier Rival Series, with the two best performing teams qualifying for next season’s RLCS.