When the off-season is too chaotic to tell what's going to happen, paranormal solutions are required.

19:30, 27 Oct 2020

You enter the tent of the fortune-teller your colleague suggested to you in this time of need. Over the last two weeks, you had been moping at your desk, energy-zapped, even more of an empty husk than you usually are, which you have so proudly worn as a personality. Your withering away hasn’t gone unnoticed. Of course, you didn’t open up that the disintegration of your favourite Overwatch League team and the rosters around them had been a major source of grief. “I’m just having a hard time right now… You know, with everything?” you assured the co-workers. Slamming a business card on your desk, one of them took to intervene: “When the world stops making sense, what’s the harm in turning to unconventional means?”

“Your fortune-teller has a LinkedIn and...even worse...a TikTok account?!” you asked in your bewilderment reading the information of the card.

“Pandemic be damned, the life of professionals around the Overwatch League has hit peak uncertainty. With a six months break until season start in April 2021 in an unknown global situation with an overwhelming amount of free-flowing and interdependent variables, taking an educated guess at what’s going to happen proves challenging at this point in time”, you thought to yourself.

Somehow your co-worker convinced you, because, in a time during which rationality doesn’t help you much in this free fall towards the cold hard ground, you’d at least like to hold on to the biggest boulder that’s falling alongside you so there’s at least something to believe in until the bottom delivers clarity.

Now that you’re here, contrary to your expectations, there are no candles, no lit foreign herbs in the air, and nothing else that suggests witchcraft just yet. As you enter the tent, the room expands vastly; the only light source is quickly tugged away as you and the fortune-teller stand in front of each other in pitch-black darkness. Did this guy just play Legend of Solgard on his phone? 

“Another one?! Alright...sit down!” a voice tells you as you quickly oblige. With the way things are going, you are definitely not looking to pick a fight with the paranormal.

“What brings you to me, young one?”

“I...I want to know if we will be fine? Will people find employment again? What about Rasca...” In a flash of emotion, you almost gave your real concerns about the future of the Overwatch League away, but there’s no point in specificity, is there? You’re about to be cold-read on the things you want to hear, and you will hopefully be feeling better afterwards, very likely because of a placebo effect. Who cares as long as it helps?

“At least the start of Overwatch League season 4 will NOT be played on Overwatch 2.”

[...]

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“Come again?!”

“Those are the quiet whispers, young one.”

“Who… what?”

“Think about it...The delay of the Overwatch League can easily be explained by other reasons such as a higher chance of having a more controlled global situation the further out the season takes place…”

Your mouth is left wide open in amazement. Who is this guy? How does he know, and why does this tent smell like day-old energy drinks? You hear the stranger's hand cut through the air, his extended arm pointing towards you as he releases his fist though never touches your face. Tiny needle stings like gust-whipped sand grains hit your face.

“Ouh...What was that?!”

“Take this information with a fist full of salt and don’t be salty if it ends up being untrue. It still echoes through the aether. Now be quiet and listen.”

Dazed by the information and with your eyes watering from the salt, there’s not much you can do to escape. The fortune-teller has mentally and physically incapacitated you.

“There are many futures I can envision for the next season. Here is what we know: Teams have reacted to the situation around COVID-restrictions in very different ways. The Overwatch League will have more budget teams than before but not much more so. An equal amount of teams have brought the war chest, and the offers that top candidates have seen aren’t different from the ones we’ve seen in seasons prior.”

This is just too bizarre of a situation to be real. Convinced you must be having a dream - unsure if it’s a nightmare just yet - you try to force lucidity.

“Oh yeah? So who will be the top teams next season?”

“It’s of course way too early to tell, but several teams beyond the top team regulars have implicitly announced their intentions for a title contention by how they have moved in the market. Dallas Fuel and Washington Justice are the obvious ones, but the Los Angeles Gladiators and the Hangzhou Spark are definitely teams to keep an eye on coming into this off-season.”

“What about the Fusion?”

“Ah, another great question. The whispers point towards [Bumhoon "NineK" Kim] being [Dae-hee "Crusty" Park]’s finest disciple. He appears to have had a bigger impact on the coaching of the Eternal than his title as General Manager suggests. Perhaps it was the only reasonable upgrade available over [Dong-gun "KDG" Kim].” 

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“Does the...aether… say anything about the bottom teams?”

“It does indeed. Some teams will be very restricted in the coin they can spend and are limited to a degree never seen before. Fortunately for them due to at least an initial downsizing of most teams, that also means a lot of quality players will still be looking for jobs after the top spenders are done with the market. Players in that category will do well to understand that their salary demands can’t and won’t be met. Those too slow to realise will have to start anew in Contenders. Hear this, young one: The number of teams who vastly overpay for average talent is dwindling.”

“Does that mean a lot of free agents won’t find a new team?”

“Yes, but perhaps only initially as time will tell. The news of the hefty decrease in anglophone viewership has hit at a time during which teams have to set a budget for next season, and it has had the expected outcome for some teams. Let the dust settle, young one, and let’s revisit the situation once teams are weeks out before season start and their scrim results indicate that additional signings will be needed.

Needless to say that those having to fight their way through the seven layers of T2 Overwatch, the new contract structure by which teams can have a quicker turn around on roster moves make it so that more movement between Contenders and Overwatch League is to be expected.”

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You sit quietly across the stranger. This is a lot to take in. No Overwatch 2 for season start? Glads and Spark as top teams? More consistent chances for promotion from T2? You will have to have a thorough think about this later, but there’s one burning question yet unanswered.

“What will happen to Rascal?”

Humming in agreement, the stranger lets you know that you’ve finally asked the right question.

“Well, well. You’ve reached for the knowledge your heart desires most. About Rascal, the aether says that he…”

Water splashes your face, and you’re wide awake again in your cubicle with your co-workers’ concerned faces looking straight at you. “Did you still not see the doctor I told you to see? You haven’t been yourself, B. Go home!”

In fury of your clairvoyant vision being so rudely interrupted at the worst time, you storm out of the office. How much of this was real?

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

 

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