In what might seem to be a drastic move, Overwatch League team the London Spitfire has released its entire player roster, letting go of their coaching staff as well. The move has apparently been in the works for a while as part of a strategy meant to restructure the team’s development. Starting from scratch may have required the burning of some bridges, but it may also put the London Spitfire in a unique position to gain a competitive edge.
Apparently, the intention behind letting go of both the team’s roster of players and coaching staff is the first step in an effort to take on a long-term team-building strategy. We’ve written previously about how esports organizations such as David Beckham’s Guild Esports have taken on “the traditional sports academy model” as seen in England’s Premier League football/soccer teams. As such, it’s not surprising that the London Spitfire may be inspired to follow the lead of their UK peers.
In a couple of articles from The Esports Observer, writer Kevin Hitt covered the developments with the London Spitfire’s moves. According to Hitt and his sources, “the Spitfire is looking towards a new long-term model where the organization will cultivate its own talent from teams such as the British Hurricane, the academy (minor league) team.” That may not be the exact same as Beckham’s “sports academy model,” but one can see the ways in which a “long-term” strategy looking to “cultivate its own talent” may well share an ethos.
Reports that the Spitfire was looking to make these cuts go back a couple of weeks, when word first started circulating at the end of September. In addition to allowing for some strategic benefits, the move will end up saving the Spitfire money in the long run, an important factor given the impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the global economy.
Obviously, the strategic and financial benefits are unlikely to be appreciated by the players and coaches on the receiving end of the axe. If anything, there may be some comfort in knowing that they are the not roster to be fired by their teams recently. The Vancouver Titans recently released their roster due to international traveling concerns related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Ideally players Krillin, Although, Babel, Clestyn, Highly, Jihun, and Schwi, as well as their counterparts on the coaching staff, will find success and new teams to play for; yet, it must be asked if the London Spitfire has considered how their fan base will respond.
On Twitter, the reaction from fans has included a fair amount of disappointment alongside well-wishes for the players as well as thanks for their work. Others have implied that they are unlikely to continue to support the London Spitfire. At this point, only time will tell how the London Spitfire’s now-empty roster will play out.