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Outlaws’ Danteh declares free agency; Junkbuck joins staff

A day after the Houston Outlaws saw four players and an assistant coach announce their free agency, the Overwatch League club saw only one player do the same on Thursday.

But it could be the most painful departure of all.

Dante “Danteh” Cruz, perhaps the Outlaws’ most clutch player last season, announced via Twitter that his contract with the club is expiring and that he will be a free agent ahead of the upcoming season.

However, he also made it clear he isn’t closing the door on the team he joined following the 2018 season.

“My contract with Outlaws is expiring and I will be a free agent for the upcoming season. This doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t be on Outlaws next year but I’m free to explore my options,” the 21-year-old American tweeted.

The Outlaws did make one addition on Thursday, adding Jae “Junkbuck” Choi as co-head coach. He will share the role with Harsha “Harsha” Bandi, who remains with the club. Junkbuck spent the first three OWL seasons as an assistant coach with the San Francisco Shock, who won the league championship in both 2019 and 2020.

Danteh, who was with the San Francisco Shock for the league’s inaugural season in 2018, transferred to Houston before 2019. He was often credited with picking up heroes and making plays most critical to whatever success the Outlaws experienced.

Last season, Houston finished the regular season 6-15 and lost in the first round of the North American playoffs, 3-1 to the Boston Uprising.

On Wednesday, players Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin, Jeffrey “blase” Tsang, Austin “Muma” Wilmot and Lee “Jecse” Seong-soo and assistant coach Chris “Dream” Myrick all parted ways with Houston. Unlike Danteh, however, their announcements did not make reference to possibly staying with the club.

When the Outlaws get their new roster in place, two coaches will be overseeing the operation.

Junkbuck said in a statement, “My goal in Overwatch is to never stop improving, challenge myself and develop winning teams. I am very excited to help the Outlaws become one of the best teams in Overwatch and make the fans proud. I am looking forward to joining and working with an amazing staff and roster of new players.”

Lori Burgess, the chief operating officer of Beasley esports, the Outlaws’ parent company, said in a statement, “We are so excited for next season as we poise the Outlaws franchise to become a force in OWL and a team worthy of one of the largest and most passionate fanbases in the league. Junkbuck was our first choice for this expanded leadership role and we aim to elevate our team and the city of Houston as esports continues to dominate the sports entertainment landscape!”

–Field Level Media

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