The Vancouver Titans have announced they're dropping their entire active Overwatch League roster this Wednesday, due to the internal struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement named "A letter to our fans" surfaced on Vancouver Titans' official Twitter page, where Tim Holloway, the esports director at the Aquilini Entertainment (Vancouver Titans’ parent company) spoke to the fans and explained the situation that has caused the inevitable release of Titan's Overwatch roster.
Mr Holloway started the announcement by thanking the fans for their patience during these difficult times, during which the organisation was dealing with some very complicated situations, that included sensitive information and player confidentiality made the whole ordeal even more challenging by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season started well for Titans, who had their spirits at an all-time high and were ready to avenge their loss in the Grand Finals of 2019 Overwatch League. With the addition of ex-Seoul Dynasty support Jehong "ryujehong" Ryu and Chanhyung "Fissure" Baek, who came out of retirement to play for the OWL 2019 silver-medalists, Titans were ready to take on the world.
Titans' newly-established partnership with Adamas Esports Training + Performance further lifted the spirits in the team, that now had a world-class facility located in one of the top human performance centres in the country, Fortius Sport & Health. As revealed by Mr Holloway, Adamas also provided the players with a built-in esports training centre "that came with chef-prepared meals, top-end equipment for both gaming and fitness, and access to physical training and mental health resources".
Everything looked to be going well for Titans, who were set for another successful run and even started the season with two convincing wins, but all the while, the impact of COVID-19 that was felt all over the globe, slowly started to affect Vancouver Titans as an organisation and business as well. Due to the cancellation of homestand events and with travel becoming increasingly limited, Titans players were bound to their training facility and once it became apparent this would be an extended situation, the players were flown to their homes in South Korea in order to stay with their families.
"Our initial plan was for the team to join the Asian division and continue to play the new schedule from the comfort of players’ homes, but it was quickly apparent that this created a whole new set of challenges. The time difference made it difficult for management and the home fanbase to connect with the team and technical challenges for the players playing from home further exacerbated the situation," said Mr Holloway.
"With the organization unable to meet the players' expectations in Korea, and after much deliberation and conversation with the players, the difficult decision was made to move the team back to the North American division and both the players and management agreed that finding a new home for the players would be in everyone’s best interest. "
Due to the unfortunate situation, HyoJong “HakSal” Kim, Minsoo “Seominsoo” Seo, Seongjun “Slime” Kim, Chunghee “Stitch” Lee, Juseok “Twilight” Lee, JeHong “RyuJeHong” Yu, Yangwon “Yang1” Kweon (coach) and Jae Hong “Andante” Hwang (coach) all agreed to mutually part ways with the team, while Titans released Fissure from the roster.
Mr Holloway ended the announcement by thanking all the players and coaches for everything they have done for the organisation and the positive memories they have helped to create. He added that going forward, Titans will be supporting young, talented and passionate Overwatch players on their path to pro, although refrained from unveiling too much about Titan's plans. Mr Holloway also hinted that Vancouver Titans are working on building a new core of players who will represent the team, with more information said to become available sometime soon.
The Overwatch League transitioned to the online format in March when the league also cancelled all live events amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused many teams to not only suffer financial losses due to cancelled home series, but as it's the case with Titans, the coronavirus pandemic also resulted in players leaving for their home countries.
“A force of nature is a collective one, and we know that we need to step up our game in order to truly make that force felt across the league for years to come,” added Holloway.
“We look forward to announcing our new roster of Titans in the coming days. We hope that you join us as we move into this new chapter of Vancouver esports.”