There’s still three weeks to go until opening matches for Overwatch League start Jan. 10. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing going on though, quite the opposite. Blizzard has shed more light on the so-called “Path to Pro”, which Overwatch League franchises have announced their academy teams and how they’ll compete in the upcoming Contenders season.
Besides all that, there was some (in my opinion slightly overblown) drama surrounding Dallas Fuel tank xQc throwing competitive matches on-stream. But first, let’s talk Path to Pro.
On Monday, the league made several announcements regarding Path to Pro, Contenders and introduced the league’s academy teams. Registration is now open for teams interested in competing in the upcoming Open Division, which has no rank requirements other than players be past level 25.
Play for the Open Division starts at the beginning of January and will go for six weeks in a Swiss format. The top teams at the end of the six weeks will be invited to compete in Contenders Trials. The Open Division will run in the same seven regions as Contenders — Australia, China, Korea, Europe, North America, the Pacific and South America. Open Division seems like a good way to get new blood and teams competing in Contenders and a great way to keep the professional Overwatch talent pool growing.
Overwatch League Academy teams, on the other hand, will be automatically included in the 2018 Contenders season. Each OWL team was given the option to field an academy team team in the Contenders region of their choice, but not every team has chosen to do so. Shanghai will enter a team into Contenders china, the Spitfire will enter their team in the Europe region, while Boston, Florida, Houston, The Los Angeles Gladiators, NYXL, Philadelphia and San Francisco Shock will all enter in North America.
Absent from the announced list of academy teams are rosters from Seoul, the Los Angeles Valiant and Dallas Fuel. These teams could be waiting to see how Contenders shakes out for the other franchises, or they just have their own plans to develop talent.
Now to the topic that has consumed most of Reddit and Twitter this past week: Dallas Fuel tank Félix Lengyel aka xQc.
Specifically, xQc being handed a temporary ban due to his throwing of competitive matches. First things first, xQc threw, there’s no denying that (exhibit A). Especially when other OWL pros, specifically London’s Rascal, are on the opposing team reporting him (Here’s the clip of Rascal reporting xQc).
Initially, xQc responded with a video in which he said he would accept Rascal’s apology and re-add him as a friend if he, and presumably the rest of the Spitfire, quit losing to “sh*t-tier teams.” Obviously a reference to London’s surprising preseason loss to the Boston Uprising. This was, needless to say, not the right way to handle the situation.
Since this all went down last week, xQc’s main account has been un-banned since Monday, Dec. 18 and the French-Canadian has published an apology video on Youtube on Tuesday, Dec. 19:
There were questions heading into Preseason about how some players would react to the new, more intense spotlight being put on them.
Minnesota Twins Pitcher Trevor May, who was a keynote speaker at the OWL Summit, talked about this on episode four of the Overwatch League Daily podcast before preseason matches began.
“There’s an element of… goofery, they’re goofing around,” May said about not just xQc but most OWL pros who stream. “These things are going to become a lot more serious in a context of a lot of people are looking up to [them] now.”
“They’re going to have days where they get on to stream and something happens, a one trick or something, and [they’re] going to have to respond to that,” he said.
Obviously, xQc didn’t respond the way he should have. But, the reaction and backlash to his throwing and subsequent behavior seem to have taught him a lesson, even if it took him awhile to learn it.
There’s no word yet on whether xQc will be disciplined by the league or if he’ll miss any match time. More than likely though, he will. This should serve as an example to other OWL pros prone to “goofery” on their personal streams. Having a good time is alright, but when the tilt starts to take over, it’s up to them to recognize that and not let it ruin their game or reputation. They have to remember they now represent something larger than themselves or their personal brands.
“I’m sorry but what can I say?” xQc said towards the end of the video. “I was super tilted.”
It’s alright Félix, we’ve all been there.