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Toronto Esports: The Off-Season’s Strangest Story

If you’ve been keeping an eye on things this off-season, you might have noticed a weird blip on Twitter. A single account making some waves in the Tier 2 scene – Toronto Esports Club. 

 

This strange series of social media musings started off simply enough. Toronto Esports challenged the Toronto Defiant to a friendly show match to see who holds the title of “Toronto’s Best Overwatch Team.” Standard banter between squads, right?

[Tweet from @TOesports reads: Hey @TorontoDefiant what do you say to a 7 game showmatch? Winner takes the title: Toronto’s Best Overwatch Team. Let’s make it happen!#BattleofToronto #HalloweenChallenge]

Most people never expected the idea of a Toronto v. Toronto show match to ever proceed past some friendly tweets. The team was, however, insistent. A series of tweets followed the initial challenge, reminding the Defiant that the gauntlet had still been thrown.

Lengthy threads of discussion between TO and their fans took place on their Twitter page, where the team defended its insistence with comparisons to UFC and tongue-in-cheek assessments of the Defiant, the off-season, and Overwatch as a whole. “OW scene is crickets rn,” one tweet read. “fans want some action, sooooo yeah…”

Each tweet was stranger than the last.

[Tweet from TOesports reads: Too busy for them to write exactly what you just wrote on twitter and answer us and the hundreds of fans asking them to stop ignoring us ? Their silence is tellin. ;)]

[Tweet from @TOesports reads: Bm? We’re just retweeting fans bro. Keep moving please.]

[Tweet from @TOesports reads: Pff. Get out.]

As commenters waged social media war with a Contenders team, community members like Harsha (former coach for the Shock) and Mateus Portilho (Social Media Manager for Cloud9) said what most were thinking – this was just weird.

[Tweet from @ggHarsha reads: Toronto Esports has to have the cringiest social media presence in all of Overwatch]

Dr. Ryan Pallett, owner of Toronto Esports (and, coincidentally, the manager of their Twitter account) was not happy with this assessment. Via the Toronto Esports Twitter, Dr. Pallett plied Mateus with questions.

“So who are you exactly ? like what’s your stake in this ? you work for an owl team ?”

When Portilho declined to answer, Dr. Pallett’s line of questioning took a darker turn.

These DMs, linked by Portilho himself, were followed by a series of confrontational tweets between Pallett, Portilho, and Harsha, among others. Pallett proceeded to block dozens of detractors, then went on to lash out against the community at large, and those who had criticized his methods:

[Tweet from @ryanpallett reads: A few of [sic] people like @Portliho out there who for larger non competing orgs who for some unbenounced [sic] reason feel the need file a public opinion on another companies [sic] twitter actions. But right, it’s us who are being “unprofessional”. Hypocrisy is real]

For awhile, that was the end of the confrontation. Dr. Pallett and the Toronto Esports twitter were relatively quiet… until more news came from on high.

Time to Rebrand

“We have been informed by Blizzard that we will be forced to remove “Toronto” from our brand in only 6 weeks,” TO announced via Tweet on Monday. “Mid Contenders season 3. The reason cited: have purchased “exclusive naming rights”. We will be leaving Overwatch effective immediately. Good riddance.”

“We have asked Blizzard to fully confirm that this is their stance – we aren’t holding our breaths. We also feel they are displaying incompetence in developing a proper tier 2 talent development ecosystem.”

The announcement was… polarizing, to say the least. More than anything, the prevailing question was simple: what happens to the players?

For some time, there was no response on that front. TO assured fans that they would “take care of [their] players,” but no one really knew what that meant. Boston Uprising’s President of Gaming, Chris “HuK” Loranger, spoke out on the situation 40 minutes after TO’s announcement.

[Tweet from @LorangerChris reads: I do not have the ability at the moment to address the recent or current decision out of and we were not part of the decision at all. That being said we retain ownership of all the player and staff contracts and ownership over the contenders slot.]

In a follow-up tweet, HuK elaborated that “We will continue to compete as a team, but obviously under a new brand. That is all I can say at the moment, but will provide further details at a later date.”

After all of this, confused fans took to Twitter and Discord to try and figure out what was going on. In the public TO Discord server, Dr. Pallett defended his choices thus far, to an appalled group of gathered fans.

 

 

In conclusion, this off-season is weird. Is it February yet?

 

 

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Featured Image Courtesy of Toronto Esports

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