The Overwatch League has suspended the Hangzhou Spark’s Cai “Krystal” Shilong after the player avoided participating in matches and practice.
Earlier this week, Krystal was fined when he didn’t tell the Chinese team’s management that he would be absent for 10 days. While the Spark had agreed that Krystal could return to China for a family emergency, he extended the trip without any communication with the team.
In an official statement on Twitter, Spark management explained that he had “negatively impacted” their scrims with his unexplained absence. The team stated that it hoped a fine and warning would get Krystal to return to the fold but the situation has only gotten worse.
According a post on Weibo from Spark supervisor Long Duo, which was translated on Reddit, Krystal “damaged the team’s discipline” by missing training multiple times. He also detailed lingering issues between Krystal and the organization.
Around October of 2018, when the team officially assembled, Krystal brought up his “sleep quality,” requesting to live away from the team in a rented location. After some evaluation, the Spark agreed to let him live on his own, despite it not adhering to the team’s rules.
“But at the same time, we clearly emphasized to him that his accommodation must be safe, that the arrangement could not impact the team’s training schedule, and that he must be on time for practice,” Duo said. Instead, Kyrstal was documented showing up for practice late multiple times.
At the end of January, all of the Spark roster traveled to the United States. Duo recalled Krystal suddenly asking for the team to arrange a visa for his girlfriend. Team management refused, which caused Krystal to “fake traveling to the US with the team.”
While most of the team arrived under their P1 work visas, Krystal had used his B tourist visa to enter the United States. This was against the Overwatch League’s regulations, which had been brought up to the team on multiple occasions. For that reason, Duo stated the team believes Krystal used the wrong visa on purpose.
As a result, Krystal had to travel back to China and then re-enter the US with the correct visa.
“This negligent behavior severely affected the team’s preparative progress, and management strictly instructed him to, upon arriving in China on the 28th, to immediately return to the US by noon on the 30th,” Duo continued.
But on that day, Krystal allegedly claimed he had contracted pinkeye. He told the team his doctor had instructed him to rest for a week. By this point, it was February 14, and Krystal had already missed all of the preseason.
“With all of the previous attempts at communication proving fruitless, the company issued an official lawyer’s letter, requesting that he immediately stop violating company regulations and rebelling against team arrangements, and to immediately return to the team,” Duo stated.
According to Duo, the Spark’s management, players, and coaches already had an “extremely negative view” of Krystal by this point, but the organization hadn’t given up hope. He started training on Brigitte up until the end of Stage 2.
“Just when we thought he was making positive steps towards development, Cai Shilong once again delayed his return to the team because of visa reasons, delaying training for a week. Even worse, after he returned he did not immediately begin training. Instead, five days before our first game of Stage 3, he went to management and requested to switch roles,” he said.
Krystal couldn’t be persuaded otherwise. The team reluctantly moved him to the DPS position. This created “three days of peace” with Krystal, followed by an extremely “negative attitude” during training. It started to affect other players’ rest and practice, and then Krystal finally stated he was unable to get out of bed due to “physical discomfort.”
“He tried to earn his spot through continuous arguing, constantly saying that he ‘didn’t get fair treatment in training’ or ‘the team favors Korean players,’ and requested more training time and chances to play on stage. Honestly, if someone lies in bed and slanders others, and still gets the chance to play, is that fair to the other players?” Duo reflected.
By June 18, Krystal announced that he wanted to be traded. Team management was in contact with other teams, including the Guangzhou Charge, Boston Uprising, and Washington Justice. But no team had any interest.
At the end of Stage 3, Krystal left for China once again. This time, it was under the guise of caring for his very ill mother. The team was suspicious, but they went along with his request.
Their doubts were ultimately proven correct when they saw photos on his mother’s Twitter account of her, Krystal, and his girlfriend going on various adventures together.
Krystal then told the team that he would not be returning as he was suffering from depression. He stated he was getting examined in the hospital.
“After signing Cai Shilong, the team has made many compromises, paid his wages on time, suffered through unwarranted harassment and loss of reputation, and always valued its outstanding domestic player, fulfilling his various unreasonable requests, protecting his external reputation, and refraining from publicly airing these issues in a timely manner,” Duo said.
He went on to apologize to Spark fans for how the situation interfered with the entire team’s hard work.
Duo stated that for the seven years he’s been in the esports business, he has never witnessed a player who acted like Krystal.
“From this personal point of view, as someone who works in esports, I can say this: more than anything I hope Chinese Overwatch will offer up even more outstanding players. To show the world the brilliance and worth of Chinese players on the stage of OWL requires even more talent in our reserves. We also hope to spread the word that from now on, when Spark signs a player, the first requirement is professionalism,” Duo concluded.