The news that Overwatch League side London Spitfire parted company with its playing staff may not have come as a total shock to the players, but the majority of fans of the all-Korean-based team will no doubt have been hoping the players would not be following its coaching staff out of the exit door after their departure last month. But their hopes were in vain.
It is with heavy hearts that we must announce that we must bid farewell to our players. We have offered free agency to most of our players to ensure that they can find a new team to thrive in with the least amount of resistance. #AcesHigh pic.twitter.com/PqRIKHGAEn
— London Spitfire (@Spitfire) October 15, 2020
Spitfire tweeted: “It is with heavy hearts that we must announce that we must bid farewell to our players.
“We have offered free agency to most of our players to ensure that they can find a new team to thrive in with the least amount of resistance.
“We would like to extend a sincere thank you to all Spitfire players and coaches that have displayed incredible resilience throughout all of our difficulties this season.”
News draws mixed reception from Spitfire fans
Fans of the 2018 Overwatch League champions have mixed reviews on the news, which seem to be evenly split between wanting to give the inexperienced players more time to gel and urgently needing to see better results. As with many sports, there isn’t always room for the two. Whichever camp the fans sit in, neutrals will point the finger at the side’s 17th place finish in the 2020 Overwatch League as a damning indictment of the club’s fall from grace. Thankfully there is no relegation in the Overwatch League, because the former champions would be staring relegation in the face after a torrid season. Not that the cold, hard evidence will appease the club’s die hard fanbase.
Spitfire franchise owners Cloud9 ultimately made the decision based on the team’s 2020 performance, but questions linger over the management of the team’s players and coaching staff. While the 2019 season was nowhere near as successful as the previous year for London Spitfire, the departure of Jihyeok ‘Birdring’ Kim, who left to coach the Los Angeles Gladiators, while the entirety of the Spitfire coaching staff left for positions at other franchises. Cloud9, of course, also owns the Los Angeles Gladiators, leaving fans questioning whether Cloud9’s U.S.-based bosses Stan and Josh Kroenke truly have London Spitfire’s best interests at heart.
Bookies not taking bets on new coaching team
While it is too early for online sportsbooks to take bets on the 2021 Overwatch outright markets, speculation is rife among fans and eSports commentators as to how the London Spitfire team will line up for the 2021 season come next March. While 2020 London Spitfire players Although, Babel, Schwi, Jihun, Clestyn, Highly and Krillin are now all free agents, the rumour mill is churning debating who can replace them, not to mention coaching staff Agape, Pavane, Twinkl and Sqix.
One thing is for sure, at World Sports Betting (as among London Spitfire fans across the globe) we will be on tenterhooks to hear the announcement of which players and coaches can take London Spitfire forward. Will it be promotions from the Hurricane Contenders academy team, fresh blood altogether or a combination of both? Can they regain their 2018 crown in 2021? It will be a tall order, but if Cloud9 can make the right appointments and get the right mix of youth and experience they are too big a franchise to not be in with a shot.