Los Angeles Valiant releases their players and staff citing COVID-related visa issues

▲ Source: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment


One of the most storied franchises in the Overwatch League made a huge announcement regarding the future of their roster and staff moving forward. The Los Angeles Valiant, who has been a beloved franchise since the inception of the Overwatch League, announced their release of their players and staff due to COVID-related visa issues with no further information.



Recently, when OWL announced that teams were splitting into East and West divisions in the 2021 season, they revealed that the LA Valiant was slated to be included among those teams in the East region. The East region, however, contains the Asian teams such as Seoul Dynasty and the Chinese teams. LA Valiant's move to the Asian region would require either a new roster or visas for their existing squad.


Initial reports of the LA Valiant's roster changes came from Overwatch League reporter, Arran “Halo” Spake, where he tweeted the Valiant had been sold to an unknown Chinese organization. Furthermore, Halo reported that none of the players and staff were aware of the situation and scrambled to find new teams. 



The Valiant later released a statement of their own claiming his rumor was false, citing that Immortals Gaming Club (IGC), which owns the LA Valiant, is excited to grow their brand globally this year by competing in the East region. While the Valiant denied the rumors, they did not mention how their move in the East region was going to affect the team's future, until today.



Many of the now-former LA Valiant players and staff tweeted out their thoughts about their release after the Valiant made their roster update. Brady "Agilities" Girardi, who came back to the Valiant this offseason, stated his disappointment with the whole situation and that he will not compete in OWL this season.



Kai "Kai" Collins (formerly "ksp"), who was a pillar of the Valiant's success last season, was also released but grateful for the opportunity that the Valiant gave him. 



Also, longtime Valiant staff member, Mike "Packing10" Szklanny, wrote a TwitLonger stating he will not be involved with the Valiant this upcoming season but is going to stay with IGC to help coach and manage their VALORANT team. Under Packing10, the Valiant stayed competitive in OWL, even with a depleted roster last season. 



Not only the former Valiant players and staff expressed their emotions via Twitter, but OWL personalities also expressed grief with the Valiant's announcement. OWL desk analysts, Josh "Sideshow" Wilkinson and Brennon Hook, stated the Valiant had unethical practices and even abused specific emergency measures in the OWL handbook in attempt to dodge financial responsibilities.



According to Overwatch League's "Roster Construction Rules for 2021 Overwatch League Season", the following was stated:


"Season-long contracts are terminable by the team without cause, subject to payment of a buyout fee to be agreed upon by the player and their team. The minimum buyout fee will be equal to the salary owed for either the lesser of 30 days or the number of days remaining in the season, any earned but unpaid bonuses payments, and any earned but unpaid prize money."



While the Valiant did operate within the confines of the OWL rules, players, coaches, and management are now left jobless as a result. With the 2021 season coming in April, many former Valiant players and staff have not yet announced any moves to other OWL orgs, and there is limited time for them to sign to a new team with the season starting soon. As of now, there is no announcement to the future of the LA Valiant regarding players and staff.


This is an ongoing story. Check back here for updates as further information comes forward.


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