April 28, 2018 by coachcarter717
Scott “Custa” Kennedy has proven to be the positive influence the LA Valiant needed to become true contenders in the Overwatch League (Courtesy of LA Valiant on Twitter)
Written by Carter Cotrupi
Stage 3 has proven to be the most dynamic stretch of time for the Overwatch League in its inaugural season. All twelve teams have had time to integrate new players into their rosters and dust off any cobwebs that kept them from competing in the first two stages.
Also, there is no shortage of stories to cover about the controversies and internal disputes that seem to be affecting certain teams. Instead of multiple long, drawn-out articles covering each story, I will showcase a few snippets of the most important stories to cover. With that in mind, here is a simplified version of the important news stories that have happened so far in Stage 3.
The LA Valiant save their season with key roster changes
The LA Valiant and Dallas Fuel highlighted the crazy action that capped the OWL player-signing window that ended April 3rd. The most shocking transaction came from these two teams in the last week of the window, in a trade that sent Dallas Fuel’s Scott “Custa” Kennedy for LA Valiant’s Benjamin “Unkoe” Chevasson. Custa was primarily thought of as the captain of the team and overall positive presence in the room for the Fuel, a sentiment that was quickly reiterated by each of his new Valiant teammates. Many Dallas fans were very unhappy to see him leave, even if the trade brought Unkoe, who is equally skilled, if not, better mechanically than Custa was.
Personally, Custa, who is the only Australian OWL player (there are two Aussie coaches), is one of my favorite players to watch. He is the perfect example of how to draw a large fanbase to the Overwatch League. His positivity and energy are matched only by his creative thinking displayed as a Mercy main in the Valiant’s matches.
The Valiant would not stop with their main support acquisition though. After buying out the contract from Seoul, Jun-hyeok “Bunny” Chae was sent over to LA to step up as their Tracer main alongside DPS star “SoOn”. As mentioned before, Bunny took a backseat to former Dynasty teammates “Munchkin” when the team was figuring out who to put alongside Fleta as the primary Tracer player. Despite little experience playing together, both Bunny and SoOn have come together to form a dangerous DPS duo for the rising Valiant squad.
Dreamkazper released from the Overwatch League
(Courtesy of Blizzard Inc.)
Fans outside of the New England area rejoiced as another Boston-based team was subject to a controversy that spread like wildfire. It was revealed that Jonathan “Dreamkazper” Sanchez had been maintaining a lewd relationship with two underaged fans, both 14 and 15 years old, over his Twitter DMs (Sanchez is 21). As if the situation wasn’t bad enough, Sanchez had also been in a relationship with his now-ex girlfriend while communicating with the underaged girls. The 14-year old wrote a statement revealing the extent of Sanchez’ involvement and it was posted on her Twitter. The girlfriend, after hearing the breaking news, went onto reddit to express her extreme disappointment and frustration with Sanchez’ actions. Apparently, he had a history of mistreating her in terms of pushing her to the background while he focused on other people.
Boston Uprising were quick to suspend Sanchez indefinitely from the team and his official release from the Overwatch League came shortly after. The last response still in play is whether Sanchez will be facing legal action from the State of California for his relationships with two minors. There are some fans that are still not convinced his messages with the girl warranted this type of action. Although, it is clear from the overly flirtatious and secretive nature of the conversations that Sanchez knew this was not acceptable behavior for anyone, let alone a public figure in a budding esports league.
Dallas Fuel continues to fall apart
Former Dallas Fuel head coach Kyle “Kyky” Souder embraces his team in the middle of a disheartening inaugural season of the Overwatch League (Courtesy of Dallas Fuel on Twitter)
Oh, Dallas. There is little more to say about this team since the dismantling of its previous core roster of Team Envy. While the players themselves are still connected, team management has bungled the current lineup beyond recognition.
The first bit of news that broke earlier in Stage 3 was the sudden release of Head Coach Kyle “Kyky” Souder and DPS/Flex player Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun.
Coach Kyky was vocal about his expectations of the talented roster from the start of the season and continued to be as transparent as possible when it came to the team’s attitude after the hard losses. Dallas fans were quick to blame Kyky for the Fuel’s abysmal performance through the first two stages, and wrongfully so in my opinion. Yes, Kyky was slow when it came to finding ways to address the overarching communication issues that sabotaged most of their match losses, but he was close with the players and had their trust as a leader. In short, it was apparent that the team needed a scapegoat to cut from its organization and Kyky happened to be the most visible target to single out.
The release of Rascal was not something Dallas fans were expecting, however. After this news broke, more stories came to the surface concerning the mutual disappointment between the team owners and Rascal himself. Dallas owners claimed that Rascal was not committed to being more involved in communication with the team. However, like Fuel teammate EFFECT, Rascal’s native language is Korean. He communicated entirely in Korean with his former teammates on the London Spitfire while the Dallas Fuel communicate primarily in English, so the accusations by the team owners seem misguided. From Rascal’s perspective, it can be said that the Dallas Fuel lacked the discipline and professionalism in their organization that teams like the London Spitfire pride themselves on. There were several reports of tension between Kyky and Rascal in the later weeks before both their departures, but it seems their time with the Fuel was naturally coming to an end thanks to the general toxic atmosphere and unstable strategies going into matchups.
Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek, main tank player for the LA Gladiators and another one of Rascal’s former Spitfire teammates provided the best firsthand perspective on the struggles that Rascal faced on the Dallas Fuel:
The most shocking news that directly affects the strength of the Dallas team is EFFECT returning home to South Korea on a sudden “break”. Anyone who has followed the Fuel in this inaugural season knows that EFFECT is almost always the highlight of every match they play. His performance as the Tracer main has saved the Fuel countless times and until Dallas acquired aKm, he was the only consistent DPS player they had. It is doubtful that he will return before the end of Stage 3, which can be taken in one of two ways: 1) He needs a mental break from the stress of nearly carrying his team every game, or 2) Like everyone else with two functioning eyes, he sees that it is impossible for Dallas to make the playoffs at this point in the season.
The English translation, thanks to Twitter user @projectInu:
“I’m not going to do stupid things like trusting someone and waiting helplessly.
It’s either I leave or the team changes, one of the two.
Until that result comes, I will not be using social media. I’m going to delete everything.”
The only tweets after this one on April 16th described EFFECT’s mental state as he looked forward to taking a break from the Overwatch League. At this point, it would be a surprise to no one if news broke that EFFECT asked for a release from the Dallas Fuel after everything he has done for the team. Since the player signing period is officially over, it is up to Dallas’ interim head coach, Emmanuel “Peak” Uzoni, to reset and salvage some semblance of a professional esports team.
Overwatch League analyst and caster “MonteCristo” has the best insight on the state of the Dallas Fuel following recent events, as summarized in his series of tweets below: