Warsi Faraaz “Stoop” Waris and Justin “reprize” Hand, respectively Associate Head Coach and Assistant Coach, leave Los Angeles Valiant.
As the Overwatch League resumes this weekend, the Los Angeles Valiant faces hardships. Due to economic struggles, the team has to release two members of its coaching staff: Warsi Faraaz “Stoop” Waris and Justin “reprize” Hand.
It saddens me to say that myself and @Stoop_OW are no longer with @LAValiant. This isnt performance related. It hits even harder given how much we put into rebuilding the team and how much of a family we’ve become. But times are tough and I understand
— Justin Hand (@reprizeOW) March 26, 2020
Hand and Waris announced on Twitter than they were no longer with Los Angeles Valiant. In their messages, they say that it “isn’t performance-related” but “due to the current economic struggles.”
LFT:@reprizeOW and I have been let go from @LAValiant due to the current economic struggles. I’ve been here for about 3 years and loved every second. Players/staff can vouch for our passion and performance throughout each season as a reference.
Twitter DMs open
— Faraaz ‘Stoop’ Waris (@Stoop_OW) March 26, 2020
The current health crisis impacts the esports world in more ways than expected. Some teams had to relocate early this year due to the expansion of coronavirus in China. The whole Overwatch League then suffered due to the homestand cancellations. Now, as China was under lockdown for two months and the whole world comes to a halt, an economic crisis is on the way.
Hand and Waris are the first victims of this past few months’ loss of income for teams and organizations. More similar news could come soon, as each Overwatch League team lost a lot of money canceling their homestand events. Now, though they don’t have the revenue to cover the venue costs, they are missing out on crucial opportunities to sell branded merchandise.
Trouble for the Overwatch League
Moreover, the two consecutive weeks without any Overwatch League action took a hit on all team revenues, even Blizzard’s. No activity during four full days means no advertisements and no Crunch Time. And without advertisement, no money comes in to fuel the whole industry.
If social distancing may be a hardship for organizations in the short term, it can be beneficial for the overall esports scene in the long run. As traditional sports cannot keep their schedule, they turn to online sports games, like the NBA or FIFA hopping to their respective video games. This rise in popularity among non-gamers gives more exposure to esports. The exposure ensures better representation in the future, and, therefore, more money from sponsors and advertisers.