Dark Sided’s roster change was not received well by the ANZ HotS community

Kori Bassi Roar Rookie

By Kori Bassi, Kori Bassi is a Roar Rookie

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    Heroes of the Storm, Blizzard's MOBA, in action. (Image Blizzard Entertainment)

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    Dark Sided’s latest Heroes of the Storm team roster change is making waves in the ANZ HotS scene.

    Joshua ‘Vicarrak’ Lloyd who was playing flex pick under Dark Sided’s HotS team, has left. He is to be replaced by robadobah who was previously a part of Nomia. Nomia are reforming with FAT94, john and Vanilla staying on with two new faces joining the team.

    This comes just after Nomia’s Arcaner announced that he was moving to the UK to hopefully seek out further opportunities to play in the HGC.

    What has polarised the community so much is how the change was handled. Vicarrak made an abrupt tweet about his swift exit outlining how this decision was dumped on him out of the blue.

    He also pointed out the timing, with three days left until Season 4 would be underway. Most teams would have finalised their rosters in anticipation for the new Season and commenced practicing together. A lot of players could sympathise with Vicarrak’s plight.

    Dark Sided CEO Matthew Westphal was forced to step in after allegations that the team and others in the community knew about this change well before Vicarrak was informed of this decision. In a Twitlonger about the incident Matt says: ‘The thing a lot of people are misunderstanding is that this was just a prospect.

    A lot of people are saying, ‘well Rob wanted to join so of course you waited for his approval’, actually, a number of players requested to join the team, prior to the prospect of a change came into fruition, and Vic was dropped before a new fifth was confirmed.’

    Although Vicarrak says otherwise as he did hear about this possibility of robadobah joining the team, and did reach out to his team as soon as he heard about that potential scenario to confirm.

    There was no confirmation and that was the last he heard of it until on the sixth of August he was given the news. After informing Vicarrak, they also gave him the option to stay on as a substitute, or to terminate his contract and find another team.

    The reasons Dark Sided had for replacing Vicarrak were briefly outlined by Matthew on Twitter:

    This is where things further start to get messy as Vicarrak and others ask if it was an issue of underperforming this should have been brought up earlier so Vicarrak could’ve addressed this and had a chance at stepping up his game. Dark Sided finished second in the Heroes Global Championship – Australia and New Zealand Season 3 Finals, back in July, just barely losing to long time rivals Nomia and it was arguably the strongest we’ve seen the team look as a unit.

    In Matthew’s Twitlonger he also highlights the delicate issue of telling a player that a potential team change may be coming: ‘One thing I’ll admit is, the team could have told Vic that the prospect of a team change may occur, giving him some forewarning.

    The issue surrounding this is, if the team decided a change wasn’t necessary, it would have ruined any future chemistry between Vic and the team regardless – hence telling him at the exact moment their minds were made up.

    At the end of the day, I wasn’t portraying my message clear enough in Twitter replies, but it’s important to consider that roster changes are also subject to the perception of how the person takes it, and what their expectations are, coming into a roster change.’

    I reached out to Vicarrak and asked that, if given the opportunity to be told about a roster change that never came to fruition, how would he have felt?

    “I mean negative feelings have been felt since they didn’t tell me. If they were like “Yo man we are thinking about replacements since we want to really win this.”I would have respected the openness and at least maybe made contingency plans to join others.”

    As Matthew highlights it’s a tricky situation and different players can react to this differently. Although even if the team would not have had a roster change – Vicarrak argues it is important to be told if you are underperforming team expectations.

    It would have allowed him to at least understand that there would be need for improvement or possible substitution and/or exiting the team. In my eyes, this would have been the ideal way to have handled the scenario.

    However what if we turn to another scenario, one where you needed to do a roster change involving a player who wasn’t underperforming? Like traditional sports in esports, it’s not uncommon for a team to go through periods of change with players coming and going.

    If we take anything out of this incident from Dark Sided, communication is certainly key and also being sensitive to timings of major events. I think a lot of people know this can be a cut-throat world, one where retiring in your mid-twenties is normal and no shortage of younger talent ready to take your spot.

    In light of all that, let’s not forget about empathy and the simplest way to achieve that – by putting yourself in that person’s shoes.

    Matthew asked a great question in his Twitlonger ‘I have one question for you, if you’re reading. If you’re in a team, and you’re going to get dropped, what is your ideal way of being dropped?’ Answer that question for yourself and you’ll surely be able to come up with a solution that shows compassion with not only your team, but the players best interests at heart.

    In this case for Vicarrak it was wanting to be told ahead of time so he could better plan for his future in HotS, which is a reasonable request. The unfortunate timing of this whole incident has meant unless a player drops out or another roster swap occurs (which means potentially another player would miss out), he may not be able to play competitive HotS this season.

    Dark Sided will be issuing an official press release within the next few days detailing plans for the team. They have also apologised to Vicarrak and wish him all the best for the future.

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