Jessica S. August 4, 2020
The Dallas Fuel roster had a major shakeup as Gui-un “Decay” Jang, Louis “Tikatee” Lebel-Wong and Aaron “Aero” Atkins were all let go from the organization.
The day started with an announcement from the Fuel that Decay was being released from his contract early at his request. Immediately after that news broke, team owner Mike Rufail came to Twitter to explain.
“Decay had a few months left on his contract but refused to work with our staff,” Rufail said. “When a player refuses to practice, it is time for us to move on and give our players their best shot.”
There were rumors of Decay “benching himself” back in June. These rumors were brought to light by a Reddit comment from Atlanta Reign head coach Brad Rajani. The comment was in response to a post about mismanagement by the Fuel staff. There was no evidence to back the claims Rajani made even after he doubled down on them, and no further mention of the rumor was made until Decay’s release.
Rufail further stated that Decay didn’t fit into the team and didn’t want to cooperate with the goals of the staff. He went on to wish Decay the best going forward, but the nature of the messaging has fans wondering how sincere that wish is.
Just an hour after Decay’s release, assistant coach Tikatee was thanked for his services and released from the team as well. It was made clear from Tikatee’s Twitter feed that the departure was not at his request. Tikatee said that he would be issuing a statement later this week with his thoughts.
Dallas Fuel part with Aero amid staff turnover
Decay and Tikatee were not the last of the casualties at the Fuel, as the last to be announced to the public was the release of head coach Aero. Yong-Jin “Yong” Kim will be serving as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Aero then went to Twitter to discuss the decision. Aero claimed that it was his own decision to leave. It has been speculated that Aero resigned when Tikatee was released, though nothing further has been confirmed by the team or by its former coaches.
Fan reaction has been mostly negative.
Decay’s departure was suspect to some because of its timing. The signing window for players closed on July 31. Rufail refuted that there was any consideration of this timing when former player Min-seok “OGE” Son questioned the move occurring just after the signing period ended.
“We made this change as soon as he requested it. Had nothing to do with us wanting to prevent him from joining another team. You know I would never do that to someone on purpose,” Rufail said.
The reply didn’t satisfy many fans, who still assert that the timing looks bad regardless of the intent given that Decay must now wait until the 2021 season to join an OWL team.
Decay’s circumstances are almost identical to those of Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun, who was released for similar reasons according to Rufail. At the time, Rufali had accused Rascal of poor communication with the team and a general lack of commitment. Rascal was on the Fuel for less than a month before he was kicked.
Fuel fans will hope that things return to normal at the organization before they play against the Washington Justice in the knockout rounds of the Countdown Cup, which begins August 7.