Comcast Spectacor announced Friday that Philadelphia Fusion—the Overwatch League team it co-owns with South Korean esports organization T1—will be rebranded and officially relocate to Seoul, South Korea, where the team has been operating for the past two years following a relocation during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team will now be called “Seoul Infernal” and will be more closely aligned with T1’s League of Legends Championship Korea (LCK) team, sharing facilities and resources. Comcast Spectacor emphasized in its announcement that the team will “maintain the same ownership, management, and roster of currently-signed players,” with new additions being brought on to build out the team as it prepares for the 2023 OWL regular season, which will start in Spring 2023.
The move is likely related to the implosion of the Fusion Arena deal due to the height of the pandemic in 2020 -2021. The $50M USD home for Fusion was supposed to be built in Southern Philadelphia adjacent to the Xfinity Live! dining and entertainment complex. The facility was to be a part of the Philadelphia Sports Complex, which houses the Wells Fargo Center, home of NBA team the Philadelphia 76ers and NHL team the Philadelphia Flyers; Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL team the Philadelphia Eagles; Citizens Bank Park, home of MLB team the Philadelphia Phillies; and the Xfinity Live! sports retail and entertainment center.
In late-September of 2019, Comcast Spectacor and its real estate partner The Cordish Companies held an official event to commemorate the groundbreaking of the site where the arena would be built. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, members of the city council, then-OWL Commissioner Pete Vlastelica, and executives from Comcast Spectacor, real estate partner The Cordish Companies, and facilities design company Populous were also in attendance for the momentous occasion.
At the time, principles involved in the development of Fusion Arena claimed that it would feature a 3,500-seat auditorium enhanced by balcony bars, club suites, lodge boxes, private suites, and 10,000 square feet earmarked for a training facility sponsored by Xfinity called the Xfinity Training Center, which would offer broadcast studios and team offices.
The Fusion Arena was set to open in early 2021, with Nerd Street Gamer’s Philadelphia-based Localhost facilitating homestand games in 2020 while the facility was being built. But a year later, Comcast Spectacor announced that construction on the project had been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In October of 2021 Comcast Spectacor said that it had basically abandoned its plans for the Fusion Arena, instead focusing on building a multi-use space within the Wells Fargo Center that would facilitate “concerts, esports, and much more.”
With Fusion Arena all but dead, it makes sense that Philadelphia Fusion would be rebranded; after all, Fusion has been operating out of Seoul for the last two years, and with no place to call home in the United States after the pandemic eased, it doesn’t seem like management had much choice in making South Korea the team’s permanent home.