Where do Fusion fans go from here?
The Philadelphia Fusion is leaving Pennsylvania for good, officially moving all operations for the Overwatch League team to Seoul, South Korea, and rebranding as the Seoul Infernal prior to the start of the 2023 season.
In its official announcement, owners Comcast Spectactor, a company based in Philly, said the move was made to bring the team closer to its “sister organization” in T1, which the company operates in a joint venture with SK Telecom. The press release shows a new logo, which looks like a devilish version of the Titans’ logo, promises “fresh logos [and] new jerseys,” and assures fans that the Infernal will retain the same ownership, management, and current roster.
For the Philly fan base, it’s a punch in the gut after five years of heartache and heartbreaking results, amplified by the team having already been competing from Korea over the past two seasons following the COVID-19 pandemic. Fusion fans have been through a lot over the past half-decade; great years that ended with bitter playoff disappointment, lackluster seasons, and even unimaginable loss in the case of the tragic death of Kim “Alarm” Kyeong-bo.
While many fans latch on to players and coaches to root for, a huge portion cheers for their local team. Caster Mitch “Uber” Leslie wrote that he considered himself a Fusion fan because of players and staff but also acknowledged that fans of Philly should be upset.
“If I was a Philly native and followed this team because of that Id be fucking mad,” Uber wrote on Twitter. “This is a move that definitely disenfranchises those that identify with a team and not just its individuals.”
There are other reasons why Philly fans feel distant from the current and future team, and not just because of its location and name. Plans for an esports-focused Fusion Arena in the South Philadelphia sports complex, originally announced in 2019, were changed last year to fulfill more general venue needs, and the venue remains unbuilt. The team’s main man for all five seasons, Lee Carpe Jae-hyeok, left the Fusion and Overwatch as a whole this past offseason.
On the Competitive Overwatch subreddit post regarding the rebranding, numerous Fusion fans expressed their disinterest in rooting for the Infernal. “I’m out. That was the last little bit that made this team recognizable to me. Now it’s just another one of those teams I can’t make myself care about,” one wrote. “This completely breaks what has tied me to the team for 5 years,” wrote another.
During the remaining offseason, Fusion fans will have to decide whether to continue rooting for the Infernal, find a new team, or maybe even just stop watching OWL altogether. As for the newly rebranded Seoul Infernal, it still has a starting roster to put together before the free agency deadline, which is set for March 13, 2023.