After winning the Overwatch League’s 2022 championship, the Dallas Fuel is moving that shiny trophy to an entirely different continent.
The team announced today it will be competing in the league’s East Region in 2023, relocating from the West Region it has called home for the past five years of competition. While this change allows the Fuel’s players to spend more time in their homeland, South Korea, it’s the latest in a series of massive changes that could affect the team’s fanbase.
Dallas co-owner Mike “hastr0” Rufail explained the logic behind the Fuel’s big move in a video posted to Twitter on March 6. For the past two years of the OWL, players and staff have been based out of Dallas, Texas. Though this was optimal for live events, Fuel players were “away from home for several years,” hastr0 said.
Allowing them to play out of South Korea was a way to support the team’s mostly-new roster.
Hastr0 noted the OWL and the Fuel are in a “period where we have a lot of transition.” Early in the offseason, Dallas management opted to allow all of the 2022 championship roster to become free agents, letting them seek opportunities with other teams. As a result, many players accepted offers from other squads, and the Fuel was forced to rebuild.
On the league’s side, much of the East Region is still in flux after a broken partnership with NetEase effectively removed Overwatch 2 from servers in mainland China. Teams like the Hangzhou Spark and Seoul Infernal are just beginning to announce roster additions; other teams have yet to publicly announce a single change.
As of now, this swap in region means the Dallas Fuel will compete alongside the Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Chengdu Hunters, Seoul Infernal (formerly known as the Philadelphia Fusion), Seoul Dynasty, and Shanghai Dragons.
The Los Angeles Valiant, which previously competed in the East for the past several years, will return to the West in 2023.
For Dallas fans who are already reeling after a stressful offseason, hastr0 offered a crumb of hope in the video: management “fully plans” to bring the team back to Dallas in the future.
The Overwatch League season begins in the West with a Pro-Am Tournament on March 23. All regions, including the East, begin the full season on April 27.