Overwatch

Dallas Fuel detail plans to rebuild after shaky OWL 2019 season

by Brad Norton

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Following a tumultuous season for the Dallas-based Overwatch roster, CEO Mike ‘hastr0’ Rufail has unveiled the first steps in rebuilding for the 2020 Overwatch League season.

Having failed to reach the Overwatch League playoffs throughout the 2018 and 2019 seasons, with 10th, and 15th place finishes respectively, the Dallas Fuel squad is looking to drastically shake things up ahead of the next season.

With an abundance of professional players currently declaring their free-agency, it remains to be seen exactly how the 2020 Dallas main roster will come together. Reassuring fans that the hard work is well underway however, hastr0 has given fans an update on the coaching situation.

In an October 16 announcement on The Dallas Morning News, hastr0 revealed that head coach Aaron ‘Aero’ Atkins will be returning for the 2020 season, having just signed a contract extension. 

Additionally, he confirmed that assistant coach Julien 'daemoN' Ducros will not be re-signed to the organization as the Fuel seek out an “assistant to focus on overall strategy.” Throughout the 2019 season, the team boasted a significant support staff with five coaches in total.

Blizzard - Overwatch League
Blizzard - Overwatch League
Astro alongside Overwatch veteran AKM.

Aero joined the Dallas Fuel late into the inaugural 2018 OWL season and immediately took over as head coach. Rapidly revitalizing the roster, he took the squad from the bottom of the pack to an appearance in the Stage 4 playoffs where they were eventually knocked out by the New York Excelsior lineup.

Finishing 19th in Stage 4 of 2019 with a 12 game losing streak to round out the season, it became evident that the roster was struggling and change was necessary. As the Dallas Fuel CEO expressed, “The 2019 Season started off great for us and ended flat. Disappointing when we are putting a lot of effort and resources in. We owe it to the Dallas Fuel fans to be better in 2020.”

Serving as head coach for not only Dallas Fuel, but also Team USA in the 2019 Overwatch World Cup, Atlanta Reign support player Dusttin ‘Dogman’ Bowerman took aim Aero and slammed his coaching methods. With no Atlanta-based players selected for the 2019 World Cup roster, Dogman vented the frustrations of his team, "so what I have to say to coach Aero is: gg buddy.”

“He’s a nice guy, I just think he’s incompetent,” Dogman explained shortly after a 3-1 victory over Aero’s Dallas Fuel in the regular season.

While professional players have taken aim at Aero’s coaching prowess, hastr0 evidently holds a great deal of faith, entrusting him with the process of restructuring the crestfallen Overwatch League team ahead of the 2020 season.

Throughout the upcoming season, the Overwatch League will see a full transition to home and away games, with the Dallas Fuel hosting five landmark events over the course of the year. With roster developments already underway, the organization appears eager to not disappoint its home crowd.