Startups
Sports

Yes, Philly just lost its professional Overwatch team, the Philadelphia Fusion

The Fusion is transitioning to a new name, look and home base in Seoul, South Korea.

The Philadelphia Fusion in 2018. (Courtesy photo)
Full disclosure: Comcast is a Technical.ly Ecosystem Builder client. That relationship is unrelated to this report.

Fans of Philly’s professional Overwatch League team, the Philadelphia Fusion, faced a tough start to the new year: Parent company Comcast Spectator announced it would be rebranding the team and officially relocating it to Seoul, South Korea in the final days of 2022.

Though the team was founded here in 2017, the Fusion had been operating in South Korea for nearly three years, starting at the onset of the pandemic. Its move comes with a new name, the Seoul Infernal, and a rebranded identity and look.

“As we gear up for next season, we’ve been evaluating how we can best compete at a consistent, championship level, and we’ve realized that our franchise will be best positioned to succeed in Seoul,” said Dave Scott, president and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, in a statement. “We’re excited to begin this next chapter as the Seoul Infernal, and our team is proud to represent our current and future fans on the global stage.”

The announcement comes a few months after the company confirmed it was no longer building the 65,000-square-foot, 3,500-seat arena envisioned for the Fusion back in 2019. Instead, Comcast said, it would build a smaller, multi-purpose venue for concerts, shows and esports events. A spokesperson for the company confirmed to Technical.ly on Tuesday that this smaller arena was still in the works, though there aren’t yet public details about a timeline.

Though the Fusion arena would have been a source of new jobs in the esports industry here, Comcast wasn’t receiving tax incentives to build — the land is privatized, like the Wells Fargo Center, which Comcast Spectacor also owns and manages. The transition of the Fusion team to Seoul further builds on Comcast Spectacor’s co-ownership of T1 Entertainment & Sports, a partnership with South Korea’s SK Telecom made in early 2019.

Philly’s Joe Marsh, CEO of T1, and Tucker Roberts, president of Spectacor Gaming, will join Scott in continuing to lead the Overwatch team. The rebranding of the team includes its name change, new logos, jerseys and team colors. All of its currently signed players will remain on the team, as will management. New players will be brought on as well.

Though a company spokesperson declined to comment on the record, he addressed some fans’ disappointment about the losing the Philadelphia identity that was represented in the global esports scene, noting that the team has always had a global fanbase, and many esports teams are not tied to geographical home bases. (At the time of the Fusion’s launch, few players had even visited Philadelphia, as Billy Penn called out.)

For some, though, the Philly name was an important part of the growing scene.

A lot has changed within the Philly esports scene within the past couple of years, from the quick growth of venture-backed Nerd Street Gamers to community-focused hubs popping up to reach underrepresented young people. Local esports enthusiasts and professionals told us in November about how the loss of the promised Fusion stadium could impact the growth of the industry here.

“Philadelphia is hot right now — it has a very strong sports culture and team success,” Stephen Sye, cofounder of Futures First Gaming, said then.

“The arena would have had eyes on the space. If the goal was to bring attention to the tri-state area, or the quad-state area or region together, I think it’s a loss for esports and for Philadelphia,” he added. “But it doesn’t mean the ball can’t be picked up elsewhere.”

A 2022 deep dive into the Philly esports scene
Companies: Philadelphia Fusion / Comcast
Engagement

Join the conversation!

Find news, events, jobs and people who share your interests on Technical.ly's open community Slack

Trending

Philly daily roundup: Women's health startup wins pitch; $204M for internet access; 'GamingWalls' for sports venues

Philly daily roundup: East Market coworking; Temple's $2.5M engineering donation; WITS spring summit

Philly daily roundup: Jason Bannon leaves Ben Franklin; $26M for narcolepsy treatment; Philly Tech Calendar turns one

Philly daily roundup: Closed hospital into tech hub; Pew State of the City; PHL Open for Business

Technically Media