Atlanta Academy have announced they will withdraw from competing at Overwatch Contenders for the remainder of the 2020 season and will be going on an indefinite hiatus.
The announcement surfaced earlier this Sunday on Atlanta Academy official Twitter page, where the team explained they will opt out of Contenders until further notice.
Atlanta Academy's decision comes as a shock too many, considering the team fields some of the best individual Overwatch players in the scene. Their team currently consists of Garrett "Saucy" Roland, Kamden "Sugarfree" Hijada, Justin "Pika" Carasa, Daniël "daans" Scheltema and Carson "CarCar" First. Atlanta Academy also fostered some of the biggest names in the Overwatch scene, including Blake "Gator" Scott, Steven "Kodak" Rosenberger, Daniel "FunnyAstro" Hathaway and Xander "Hawk" Domecq.
Last season, Atlanta Academy claimed silver in Overwatch Contenders: The Gauntlet, Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 3: North America and Overwatch Contenders 2019 Season 1: North America West, as well as first-place at Overwatch Contenders 2019 Season 2: North America East.
The academy did not specify the reason behind their decision, however, it's fair to assume that their decision might be related to the COVID-19 outbreak. Although the Overwatch Contenders in North America are played online, the pandemic has in one way or another affected the everyday life of players and others involved in the team.
"ATL Academy is deciding on opting out of Overwatch Contenders this season, and has decided to go on hiatus until further notice," read the announcement on Atlanta Academy Twitter page.
The 2020 Overwatch Contenders began on March 10 with the first competitive week. The league is the second-tier of Overwatch regional tournament series and plays a similar role as minor tournaments in other esports titles. The 2020 North American Contenders featured 12 teams who were slated to compete throughout four competitive weeks, with top eight teams who will accumulate the most points getting a pass into the playoffs.
The first competitive week saw Second Wind take home gold, with Team Envy placing second and Square One and Maryville Saints finishing third-fourth. In the first week, Atlanta Reign placed fifth-eighth after losing to Maryville Saints in the quarter-finals.
The second competitive week in North American Contenders is slated to begin on Wednesday, March 25, now featuring only 11 teams. Due to the seeding that has been made before Atlanta Academy's announcement, Third Impact got a direct bye into the quarter-finals, where they will duke it out against Week 1 runners-up Team Envy.
With Atlanta Academy hiatus from the league, North American Contenders now feature Second Wind, Team Envy, Square One, Maryville Saints, Noble, Montreal Rebellion, Third Impact, Triumph, Skyfoxes, Revival, and Karasuno.
As of today, Atlanta Academy have yet to provide any details regarding the future of their players, as it remains unclear whether Saucy, Sugarfree, Pika, daans and CarCar will be able to sign with another Contenders team in a bid to continue competing throughout the season. More information about the situation with Atlanta Academy's roster should follow shortly.
The announcement comes shortly after the team parted ways with Robert "HaKu" Blohm and Yeseung "PERFACT" An, who left Atlanta Academy on March 14 and 19 respectively. The latter has become a member of T1's first-ever Overwatch team, while HaKu has yet to find a new home.
Atlanta Academy team is:
Garrett “Saucy” Roland
Kamden “Sugarfree” Hijada
Justin “Pika” Carasa
Daniël “daans” Scheltema
Carson “CarCar” First