Overwatch League Embarrassed By “Shouldergate” Apology

The Overwatch League found themselves in an embarrassing situation yesterday when the coach of the Los Angeles Gladiators, David “dpei” Pei, issued a bizarre apology for accidentally bumping into two Houston Outlaws players after his team’s victory. Pei’s statement, made on the Gladiators subsection of the official Overwatch League website, read:

“Yesterday during the Outlaws match, I inadvertently bumped into two of the Outlaws players. I hadn’t been watching where I was going. I was distracted thinking about what to say to our team for Kings Row, but I wanted to apologize immediately. I apologized to their players immediately after the game and Tairong shortly after. I am sincerely sorry for my actions and assure you that there was no malicious intent. Even though it was an accident, it was still unprofessional of me to shoulder bump players from another team so again, I am sorry.”

Given the strange nature of apologising for something so innocuous, and supposedly accidental, fans of the league tried to theorycraft what this could all mean. Was it a protest over the recent wave of suspensions? Was it a clever commentary on the overreaching code of conduct that the public is yet to see? Was it a piece of satire designed to bring attention to an upcoming in-joke on the broadcast? Sadly, none of these things were accurate and the apology was completely genuine. With many of the Overwatch League’s detractors being critical about a child-like and overly-sensitive environment it has fostered, this did little to challenge that image.

The real reason this happened? According to our sources, who were present at the time of the match, once it was over Pei deliberately pushed his shoulder into two of the Outlaws players, namely Austin “Muma” Wilmot and Jacob “JAKE” Lyon. Why he did this to these players isn’t clear but rumours of it circulated and were passed on to ex-ESPN journalist Rod “Slasher” Breslau. After he verified the occurrence with his own sources he contacted Blizzard to ask for comment, which at the time of publishing this they did not provide. Coincidentally shortly after Breslau asked for comment the LA Gladiators learned of his interest in the story, prompting the apology as a way of “getting ahead” of the story.

Speaking to sources from within the Overwatch League it was clear that the league operations team did not pre-approve this bizarre statement. “They certainly are not happy with how the message was put out and will be advising LA Gladiators how to handle situations like this in future” we were told. They added “it wasn’t a good time for this, coming so soon after the xQc situation.” They were not able to say whether or not Blizzard will be investigating the shoulder bumping incident.

The stupidity of the apology prompted other teams to jest about it on social media. LA Valiant alluded to it in this tweet and London Spitfire deleted a much more explicit reference. Our sources indicated that Blizzard have advised teams to try and not draw attention to it during broadcast week hoping that they can “move on” and leave it behind them.