Despite what looked to be a promising offseason, the Shanghai Dragons really can’t catch a break.
China’s first Overwatch League team will be starting Season 2 without its main tank Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok.
The team made the official announcement on Twitter, explaining to fans that Fearless would be recovering from an unnamed illness at home in Korea. His condition was making it difficult fro him to keep up with the team’s rigorous training schedule.
Fearless had asked the team for permission to recuperate, and after some consideration Shanghai management approved his request.
During his absence, other players on the team will have to fill in for the Winston main. Fans can expect to see more of fellow Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim, and possibly flex player Jun-hwan “GuardiaN” Jo.
In the league’s inaugural season, Shanghai Dragons coach Van Yang had stated that the team practices up to 72 hours per week. This schedule included 12-hour days. It was an admission that led many to speculate that player mistreatment and burnout was among the reasons Shanghai didn’t win a single game throughout the long season.
Practicing for long hours is nothing new for esports competitors, with pros often admitting to practicing up to 14 hours in a single day in such games as League of Legends. Lack of sleep is common for esports athletes, which can lead to exhaustion, or even high blood pressure. The pressure to perform has also manifested as mental health issues, which was a major concern for developer Blizzard going into Season 2.
Shanghai Dragons addressed these concerns for players’ health with the announcement of additional player support, both physical and mental, for the new season. The addition of fan favorite Geguri was another hopeful sign that the Dragons will have a better performance this season.
The length of Fearless’ absence has not been announced.
The Dragons will open the season against new Chinese team Hangzhou Spark on February 14.