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The Philadelphia Fusion is rebranding to the Seoul Infernal ahead of the Overwatch League’s sixth season. The team moved its operations to South Korea’s capital during the pandemic and chose to stay rather than move operations back to the U.S..
The team is owned and operated by Comcast Spectacor, which is deeply involved in Philadelphia’s sports community. In gaming, the company was behind the relaunch of G4TV and co-owns T1 Esports alongside SK Square. T1 Esports has won League of Legends Worlds three times, setting itself up as an elite brand in esports.
By moving the Philadelphia Fusion to South Korea, the team can share facilities, staff and talent pipeline with T1. The Seoul Infernal will retain its current roster and management through this transition. Earlier in 2022, the team shifted plans from a $50 million, dedicated esports facility in South Philadelphia to a multi-use facility.
“As we gear up for next season, we’ve been evaluating how we can best compete at a consistent, championship level, and we’ve realized that our franchise will be best positioned to succeed in Seoul,” said Dave Scott, president and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, in a statement.
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Seoul Infernal branding
The Seoul Infernal branding is designed to reflect the culture and heritage of the team’s new home. The logo itself features a Dokkaebi, a goblin/nature deity in Korean folklore. They are said to both trick and help humans.
The rebranding features a color shift from orange to red. This red is meant to represent the Infernal’s burning desire to win and passion for the game. While this red is not the same as T1, the sister teams now have a more similar color pallet.
Finally, the Dokkaebi is featured with an Imperial Crown. This is meant to evoke the power, glory and legacy of the organization.
While this may not be a primary reason for the branding shift, T1 Esports is closely associated with Lee “Faker” Sang-hyeok. The mid laner for T1 is often considered the best League of Legends player of all time and is known as “the unkillable demon king.”
Impact on the Overwatch League
The Overwatch League and its teams’ ambitious plans for a global, city-based structure has been complicated by the pandemic. The league planned to begin traveling around the world in 2020 but this was derailed. Teams began relocating operations as a result of the pandemic and to reach the Overwatch League’s more active Chinese audience.
However, the Philadelphia Fusion/Seoul Infernal is the first team to rebrand in Overwatch League history.
The league is divided into two divisions: East and West. With teams on the move, the league may need to rebalance these divisions ahead of the 2023 season.
The upcoming season of the Overwatch League is critical to the project’s future. Viewership has been on the decline since the inaugural season in 2018, however 2022’s playoffs bucked the trend. Overwatch 2’s release contributed to the boost, but its unclear if this momentum will carry through the offseason.
Season Six of the Overwatch League will kick off in Spring 2023.