XL2 Academy, the Contenders team owned by the New York Excelsior, sent shockwaves through the Contenders scene on Saturday evening by parting ways with nearly half of their playoff roster.
Liam “Mangachu” Campbell, James “Cloneman16” D’Arcangelo, and Anthony “Goliath” Pietro all announced via Twitter that they were no longer part of XL2, and were looking for teams. All three cited XL2’s desire to recruit New York native players, as the team announced on Friday:
📣 CALLING NYC 📣
Do you have what it takes?
We're looking for NYers to represent XL2 next season. We'll provide opportunity and mentorship so we can make it big together! 🙌
Candidates will be invited to an online tournament.
— XL2 Academy (@XL2) January 11, 2019
Remaining on the roster are Seung-hyun “WooHyaL” Seong, Jang-hyeon “TiZi” Hwang, Andreas “Logix” Berghmans, and Jeremy “Jer” Santacruz. Jer is the only North American player still with the team; the others occupy the three non-regional player positions permitted under the upcoming Contenders region-locking rules.
While XL2 only made the quarterfinals this season, after reaching the finals in 2018 Season 2, they were still widely regarded as a strong team. The move brought immediate reaction from the Contenders and greater Overwatch community. Most were critical:
The fact that @XL2 is kicking some of its most talented players for random NY ladder/LAN players is so incredibly dumb I can't even begin to comprehend it.
XL2 has been one of the best NA Contenders teams for two seasons now, get ready for a paid Skyfoxes with token NY players.
— Avast (@Avast_o) January 12, 2019
Dont agree with breaking up a strong roster who had consistant good results like XL2 did.
— Thomas Mok (@maid_OW) January 13, 2019
Some were more cynical:
lets be honest @XL2 doesnt care about city representation they just know the western players wont be moved up to nyxl so why keep them for a more expensive salary when you can just pay locals for cheaper who are only there to help develop KR talent that you can move up or sell
— Matthew DeLisi (@super_OW) January 13, 2019
… and some chose to not to bother with subtlety at all.
🦀 XL2 IS DEAD 🦀
— Elk (@elk) January 13, 2019
Aside from the team account retweeting each of the released players’ LFT announcements, XL2 has made no official announcement regarding the changes. As the schedule for Contenders 2019 Season 1 has not been announced, XL2’s timetable in replacing these players remains unknown.