Another common problem has raised its ugly head again during the Overwatch League 2021 offseason as teams continue to release players.
As former Overwatch pro Brandon “Seagull” Larned pointed out, without a players association to protect player contracts and put the organizations in check, players are at risk of being tossed to the side at the drop of a hat.
Just in the last 24 hours, 13 different players have been released from their teams either because of their contracts expiring or the organization deciding to move in a different direction. Just two organizations, the London Spitfire and Dallas Fuel, have dropped a total of 21 players since the end of the season.
And unlike the NBA, NFL, or traditional sports leagues, there are no protections afforded to those players by a players association in the OWL. Sure, there are specific requirements that organizations have to meet for contracts, such as length, monetary amounts, and other rules like that. But there isn’t a larger infrastructure in place for the players as a whole to push the league to provide more or rival its decisions.
And Seagull isn’t only raising concerns about the lack of protection for players, but also the potential malpractice shown by certain organizations. He claims that some of the teams might be releasing players simply to save money on salary due to the uncertainty surrounding the league and what could end up happening with Overwatch 2.
Overwatch 2 doesn’t have a set release date. But depending on how big some of the changes in that game are compared to the base game, some players might not translate well at the highest level. This means that teams might not be rushing into free agency on Oct. 24 to sign new players because they want to have a better grasp on the landscape of the league moving forwards.
That is a smart business tactic but could seriously hurt some players in the free agency pool and even some currently under contract.
Multiple people, including Atlanta Reign coach Brad “Sephy” Rajani and caster Andrew “ZP” Rush have spoken out against this mindset, saying that it is more to do with teams wanting to hard reset their rosters to compete at a higher level. Though even they admit that organizations are going to be more budget-conscious due to COVID-19, which will likely lead to smaller overall rosters.
Seagull and others urge players to take other steps in their career, including streaming on the side and trying to go their personal brand to give themselves more options if something does happen to their competitive career.