Only two of Team China’s original Overwatch World Cup players will play in the tournament’s finals event.
Once made up entirely of players from Chinese Overwatch team Miraculous Youngster, the Chinese national Overwatch team swept its qualifying group stage without dropping a map. But that dominant team won’t be at the Nov. 3 and 4 tournament: Instead, visa issues whittled the team down to two—support player He “zhufanjun” Junjian and flex player Huang “leave” Xin.
The roster adjustments were made public on Oct. 25. Four players from LGD Gaming, Miracle Team One, and Oh My God will fill in for the players denied entrance into the United States. Team China’s stand-in players are good, but will they show the same dominance as in the Shanghai qualifier? That’s uncertain.
And unfortunately, this is a common problem in esports. In October, Denis “Tonic” Rulyov of European Overwatch team 123 was denied a United States visa and could not attend the Overwatch Contenders finals in California. The Russian player traveled to Ukraine to apply for his visa, but was denied for undisclosed reasons.
Overwatch World Cup is scheduled for Nov. 3 and 4 at BlizzCon in Anaheim, California.
A Chinese Overwatch fan, Silen Chan, wrote an open letter to Blizzard posted to Reddit urging the developer to consider the players.
“I wish everyone, starting from Blizzard, could pay more attention to the players’ visa issues,” Chan wrote. “Don’t let the problem of visas become a barrier on those talented ones’ way of achieving their esports dreams.”
It’s an issue that Blizzard won’t be able to ignore. With the global Overwatch League kicking off in December, international players will soon begin descending on Los Angeles—where the first season will be held—from around the world. Salaries are high and rosters will soon lock: Most organizations won’t be happy if their players can’t get United States visas.