The Chengdu Hunters could lose a number of key players ahead of the new Overwatch League season as the organization looks at options to balance its books, multiple sources told Dexerto.
Sources said that the recent departure of assistant coach Jeong-Min ‘JFeel’ Kim and the disbandment of Team Chaser, Chengdu Hunters’ academy team, are both tied to the organization making cutbacks ahead of the start of the new Overwatch League season.
JFeel, who had joined the Chengdu Hunters at the start of the year, may not be the only staff member to leave the organization, with Yan ‘Creed’ Xiao, another assistant coach, is also expected to announce his departure, multiple sources have said.
But the changes are likely to go beyond the Hunters’ coaching staff. Star player and 2021 Overwatch League regular season MVP Xin ‘Leave’ Huang is one of five players understood to be assessing their options with different organizations ahead of the new season.
The other players that have attracted interest from rival teams are supports XianYao ‘Yveltal’ Li, Tan ‘Nisha’ Li, Cao ‘Faraway1987’ Jiale, and Zhou ‘Mmonk’ Xiang.
It is unclear at this point whether these cutbacks were mandated by HUYA, the Chinese livestreaming platform that owns and operates the Chengdu Hunters.
The news will come as a blow to the Overwatch League’s efforts in China, one of the regions where the game continues to grow in popularity. The grand finals of the 2021 Overwatch League, which pitted the Shanghai Dragons against Atlanta Reign, set a new viewership record with an average minute audience (AMA) of 1.68 million. In China, viewership of the grand finals increased by 5%, according to figures provided to Forbes by the league.
The Chengdu Hunters are slated to face Guangzhou Charge on May 6 in their opening match of the season.