Player negotiations have led the 2022 OWL champion Dallas Fuel to move to South Korea for the 2023 season. Here’s the details.

Are you still a Dallas esports team if you don't play in Dallas? We suppose that's the question as the OWL 2022 Grand Finals champion Dallas Fuel announced it won't be based in Texas or the United States for its 2023 season. Instead, the Dallas Fuel will play in the eastern-based APAC division, with the team being relocated to South Korea for 2023. The announcement was made on social media by Mike "Hastr0" Rufail, co-owner of OpTic Gaming.

Texas-based Fuel fans will have to burn bright elsewhere, we suppose.

Dallas Fuel APAC bound

The move for the Dallas Fuel to the East Division--also called APAC, short for Asia-Pacific--comes at a time when the division itself is in turmoil. Blizzard and Chinese relations are at an all-time low and the state of its Chinese teams in disarray. Another team recently made the move to South Korea in the form of the Philadelphia Fusion Seoul Infernal, though the Dallas move does not appear to be similar.

Or maybe it is. Who knows? Is a team called the Dallas Fuel actually from Dallas if it features an all-Korean roster being moved to South Korea to play against other teams in the APAC region? Is there a point to OWL teams hanging on to city names? What are local supporters of the Dallas Fuel supposed to do now?

These are all hypothetical questions at this point. The video from Hastr0 isn't big on information, but he does say that nothing more has been planned yet. "We're playing there [South Korea] this season. That's all we have planned at the moment."

Negotiation tactics

Credit where it's due: Hastr0 is blunt about the realities of why the Seoul Dallas Fuel is APAC-bound. In a follow-up tweet the team owner said:

Like many other organizations, we had to make some tough decisions this year. If we would have stayed in the OWL Western division, we would have had to completely rebuild our roster. Playing in the Eastern division allowed us to keep a good bit of our World Championship team and look to the future. Things aren’t ideal for the esports industry this year, but let’s make the best of it.

Mike "Hastr0" Rufail

When a user asked if this was part of the player's negotiations with the team, Hastr0 responded with "Yes. Location was respectfully and mutually negotiated alongside other terms." He also said "I only want the best for these players, but there are always limits to what we can offer in a contract package. We want the team in Dallas, but this move made sense for us this season."

In fairness, there's only a team if there are players. And in this case, there are only players if they are willing to stick around and, in this instance it didn't involve sticking around Dallas.

Will more teams with a predominantly Korean roster follow suit? Will the Chinese-based APAC OWL teams still be playing? Does OWL exist past 2023? All of these questions and more are on the table as a new season approaches.

Stay tuned to for more esports news.

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