COVID-19 Pandemic Causes Philadelphia Fusion to move to South Korea for 2021 Overwatch Lea
Due to the health risks and safety challenges occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philadelphia Fusion announced on December 10 that they would be temporarily relocation to Seoul, South Korea for the 2021 Overwatch League.
The Philadelphia Fusion announced this decision via Twitter.
“As we continue to navigate the global pandemic, the Philadelphia Fusion’s team operations will temporarily relocate to Seoul, South Korea and will compete against teams in the Pacific Division during the 2021 Overwatch League season,” the team said in their Twitter statement.
“Health and safety remains our top priority in making this transition and we are working closely with the Overwatch League and local health officials to ensure the wellbeing of our players, coaches and staff while in Seoul.”
The team added that they will try to bring the Grand Finals Championship back to Philadelphia no matter where they are physically located for the time being.
After finishing second in the regular season and fourth in the playoffs, the Philadelphia Fusion will be leaving the Atlantic Conference to join the Pacific Conference that has impressive teams such as the Shanghai Dragons and the San Francisco Shock, who’ve won the Grand Finals Championship twice in the last two years.
One of several relocated teams
However, the Philadelphia Fusion is not the first from the Overwatch League to relocate to South Korea, although they are the first North American team with Western players to do so.
Throughout 2020, the New York Excelsior and London Spitfire temporarily moved to South Korea due to stay-at-home orders that would prevent teams from travelling, as well as multiple Chinese teams who also made the move.
The Overwatch League had to make divisional realignment changes throughout the 2020 season due to COVID-19, where teams would not have any interconference games unless they made it to the Grand Finals weekend.
While relocating to South Korea may have competitive and health safety benefits, it can also be risky for some players.
One of the previously mentioned Chinese teams was the Guangzhou Charge, who ended up having to deal with visa issues for two of its players, Alberto “neptuNo” González and Qi “Wya” Haomiao.
Nothing has been finalized yet, but time will tell how many of the relocated teams will continue to play in South Korea or if they will head back home for the entire 2021 season.
Despite not having a majority of players being from South Korea on their roster, which could open the door for potential visa issues, the Philadelphia Fusion believes that being in Seoul offers their players the best chance to win the Grand Finals Championship.