The Overwatch League was forced to cancel its live playoffs in Dallas and its live finals in L.A. this week, in response to worsening COVID conditions and related visa challenges for APAC teams. The move has sparked some intense responses, with some pros expressing their disappointment while others have expressed their anger at the change and how the postseason will be handled going forward.
Here are some of the most notable responses we have seen to Overwatch League moving the postseason to an online format with NA teams playing from Hawaii.
OWL players react to playoffs being moved to Hawaii and played online
The most universal response to the announcement was disappointment and sadness from many players, including Gladiators player Shu, Houston Outlaws player Crimzo, former-Pro McGravy who were all looking forward to the NA-based LAN events.
Some players went past their disappointment and criticized the OWL plan to host the NA teams in Hawaii during the postseason. San Francisco Shock player Nero stated that NA will have a "massive disadvantage again" in response to the decision, though he acknowledged there wasn't anything that could be done about it.
Houston Outlaws player Danteh expressed his frustration with "Jetlag + losing practice time + Scuffed setups aghhhhhhhhhhhhh."
Perhaps most controversially, Atlanta Reign's Gator published numerous Tweets about the situation. Firstly, he stated "What a joke, they can't do one thing right" on his own page. He also replied to the Overwatch League announcement saying, "make one right decision challenge."
Both comments sparked some backlash from OWL fans and journalists. In response to the backlash, Gator went on to clarify that he isn't upset at the cancellation of live events over COVID, but he is upset that the Overwatch League playoffs will be played online instead of on LAN, and that 5 NA teams will be forced to go on the trip to Hawaii once again.
In one Tweet, Gator suggested that it would be preferable to have both regions play separate playoffs, then host a single final match on LAN somewhere after a quarantine, as they did in 2020. He also pointed out that, due to Pelican's lung collapse, he won't be able to attend now that the finals are taking place in Hawaii, since the medical condition will prevent Pelican, an MVP candidate and star DPS player for Reign, from traveling.
Gator's teammate Masaa responded with a much less tactful response, just a video of someone laughing hysterically to show his disagreement with the Overwatch League's postseason plans.
Even if the cancellation of the live events was necessary, it's clear that players are not happy about the situation and that the reputation of the OWL 2021 postseason might end up a little scuffed as a result.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.