What’s the logical next step for the first team outside of North America to reach a Call of Duty Championship grand final? Dump their captain in the off-season, obviously.
Last night, Joshh Tweeted that he was leaving Splyce, stating explicitly that he was dropped rather than parting ways out of choice.
Rated cited friction, not ability, for a decision that’s dumbfounded the community. Bance attempted to palm off a backlash on Twitter with tied hands, claiming to have fought Joshh’s corner throughout a spell of simmering quarrels that finally boiled over after Champs.
Indeed, a statement from Splyce recently brought to light that Bance, despite his frustrations, was Joshh’s lifeline after several conflicts during Stage 1. He’d often praised Joshh as a positive force in his own development as a player but, as the messenger this time around, he capped a Hollywood style betrayal as the friend who pulled the trigger.
You can’t help but sympathise with both sides. From the outside, with little insight into their day-to-day practice, we tend to identify teams by records and milestones. One of the greatest differentiators at the highest level is team chemistry, so success or progress implies a healthy culture that has everyone in a positive state of mind.
But Call of Duty esports is volatile. A single, deciding round can be the triumph that remembers a journey’s frustrations as fond experiences necessary for improvement, or failure that calls every prior decision into question and regret.
Even the remedy of a $250,000 cheque hasn’t restored the atmosphere in Splyce. Despite a season that included victory at Gfinity, second at ESWC and a record placement at CoD XP, Joe, Rated and Bance have put a winning formula at risk. Improving the mood, they hope, will lead to greater success in the long-run. Their collective public response hardly suggests any arrogance or disbelief in Joshh, but they won’t be short of cynics lurking in the tall grass on Infinite Warfare.
Joshh has been here before in various forms: replaceable, surplus to requirement or the fifth man in a 4-player game. Considered the worst of the very best. The favourites lost to him at EGL 10 and 11 on Black Ops 2 and, following exclusion from Millenium, he emerged at the end of this season as the most successful UK console player by prize money. Whether he’s a scapegoat for a loss or condemned for demanding more from his teammates, Joshh always returns to the fray as a winner.
Disputes are inevitable at the top level. That is the nature of higher stakes and the determination to squeeze a bit more out of every subsequent performance. Experience together on the playing field shouldn’t be underestimated as one of the greatest factors in team chemistry.
Splyce may or may not live to regret a decision that followed a period in which they had all but the world in their pocket, but what’s certain is that Joshh will be back to lead another team to the primary goal of every player: winning.