D.C.’s Overwatch team denies operational misconduct allegations made by former pro

The situation is more complex than initial reports suggest.

Photo by Robert Paul via Blizzard Entertainment

Multiple Overwatch League professionals have been implicated in serious allegations made by a former Overwatch Contenders player in a video titled “Washington, D.C. manager is scamming players and coaches.” 

Michael “mykL” Padilla released the video earlier this week, accusing Washington, D.C. general manager Kate Mitchell of staff mismanagement. Padilla alleged that Mitchell offered multiple players and potential staff members Overwatch League jobs before retracting the offers. Padilla specifically named former San Francisco Shock analyst Harsha Bandi as a person jilted by Mitchell. Allegations made in the story are more complex than Padilla’s video implies, multiple parties have since said, due to a lack of journalistic rigor in Padilla’s sourcing. Padilla has been known throughout the Overwatch League off-season for posting “leaks” of roster changes to his YouTube channel.

Related: Washington, D.C. Overwatch League team signs Janus, WizardHyeong

When reached for comment, Mitchell said that his video was “riddled with errors, presented irresponsibly, and was posted without request for comment from the subjects.” Padilla also failed to disclose a personal relationship with Mitchell, who managed the team he owns, Kungarna, during Overwatch Contenders Trials in 2018.

Washington, D.C. management issued a statement to Unikrn yesterday. “While our GM has been speaking with many potential candidates for our team staff and roster, we did not make any official offers that were rescinded,” the representative told Unikrn. “We understand and respect the serious responsibility that comes with impacting people’s careers. Our staff is fully aware of our process and our organization’s values and have assured us that the situation has been mischaracterized.”

The D.C. representative’s comments align with Mitchell’s initial statements.

“Esports is a complicated and fast-moving business,” Mitchell said. “Poorly-researched and incorrect ‘leaks’ like these hurt those interviewing for positions across the entire scene. Mostly, though, I’m disappointed in Michael. I wish he would use his talent and audience responsibility.”

A day before Padilla released the YouTube video, Bandi announced his departure from his San Francisco Shock. “I’ve recently left San Francisco Shock to pursue new opportunities and am now LFT for coaching positions in S2,” Bandi wrote. Bandi declined Dot Esports’ request for comment.

“I’m just here to drop big legit stories,” Padilla wrote on Twitter after posting the video. Padilla has not responded to Dot Esports’ multiple requests for comment, but has since posted a lengthy TwitLonger post, where he said he would stop posting rumors—but not what he called “100 percent info.”

“I honestly don’t know anything about journalism and I had no idea reaching out to a party was such a big deal,” he wrote. Despite this, Padilla said he “stands by his story” and is working “on further backing it with evidence.” Padilla also referred to an incident with a Los Angeles Valiant “leak” originally posted on Twitter yesterday. (Padilla has since deleted the tweet.) Immortals and Los Angeles Valiant CEO Noah Whinston denied the rumor in a response to Padilla.

“I also see you still haven’t learned to ask for comment,” Whinston wrote in a string of threaded tweets. “Like I said, leak whatever you want. But if you’re reporting on rumors, people will often take it as fact, and that can have undeserved negative impacts on players and orgs.”

In the midst of a busy Overwatch League off-season, organizations and teams across the community are undergoing changes. Many teams will look quite different than they did in season one, overhauling both coaching staff and rosters. It’s a chaotic period with a lot of moving parts as teams, players, staff, and the Overwatch League front office work in conjunction to prepare for a second season. 

In early September, Overwatch League executives confirmed the addition of eight new expansion teams for the league’s season season, upping the total number of rosters to 20. Washington, D.C., owned by Washington Esports Ventures, is one of those eight expansion teams. Mitchell’s hiring was made public shortly after the expansion team’s announcement. Later in September, the Washington, D.C. organization signed former New York Excelsior coach Kim “WizardHyeong” Hyeong-seok and tank player Song “Janus” Joon-hwa.

“We didn’t move forward with certain hirings only because they weren’t the best choice for our coaching staff,” Mitchell told Dot Esports.

Exact details of the situation aren’t entirely clear, including whether unofficial offers were once issued. But multiple parties deny allegations of a “scam,” including players that have previously played under Mitchell’s leadership.