As in any professional sport, off-season recruitment and ‘silly season’ is a vital and fascinating time for all esports teams. Given the influx of new teams joining the Gfinity Elite Series for Season 3, demand for talented and experienced players will be at an all-time high. New franchises will be looking to fill their rosters with players with prior experience and knowledge of the series format, whereas the existing squads will be looking for that one key player that could be the difference between championship glory and not even making playoffs.
With all this in mind, let’s look at some of the highest-profile free agents, including those from recently departed Elite Series teams, and what they can add to a prospective roster for Season 3.
One of the strongest Laura players in Elite Series, Shivryuken was right at the heart of Prophecy’s march to the Season 2 finals and a constant source of magic moments that turned entire matches on their head. In spite of a frustrating result in the Season 2 finals, Shiv still has a lot to give – particularly as Laura came out of the recent SFV Arcade Edition patch arguably stronger than ever. Those looking to recruit for Season 3 would do well to bear that in mind – the Shiv/Laura combination could potentially be more devastating than ever.
Speaking of Season 2 Playoffs, Infused made back-to-back semi-final appearances in their two Elite Series appearances – certainly no mean feat. The larger-than-life Gun Slinga was at the heart of their strong showings, standing tall for his team on multiple occasions and giving us some of the most spectacular pop-offs of Season 2. It would be a travesty if he wasn’t lighting up the Gfinity Arena in similar fashion for Season 3 – and he has more than enough skills and flair to back up the celebrations.
One of the very first products of our own Challenger Series, Broski joined Endpoint in the very first Elite Series Draft before Season 1. It always felt like Endpoint were so close yet so far when it came to missing out on playoffs, but Broski was always a consistent contributor nonetheless: his 60% game win percentage in Season 2 was the best of any Endpoint player in Season 2. His potent Dhalsim play combined with experience of the first two Elite Series seasons could make him a great pickup for one of the newer franchises.
(Since the time of publication, Broski has been signed by Method! Nice work!)
Similar to Broski, Shakz’ stats for Season 2 make for impressive reading – a 59% win ratio as he lead the charge for his team into back-to-back playoff semi-finals. As his teammates showed off their personality, Shakz more often than not was the younger dynamo who got down to the important business of winning – and win he did, plenty of times. A previous semi-finalist who will be hungry to put right the defeat to Prophecy in Season 2, Shakz would be a great pickup for any team going into Season 3.
If Shivryuken was the maverick of Prophecy, Akainu was the rock-solid anchor. He could always be relied on for wins under high pressure. If a match had started badly, Akainu could be counted on to step up to the plate to help turn it around. This ability to perform and grind out victories under intense scrutiny was one of the biggest factors in Prophecy making the Season 2 finals. Although he was unable to halt the Envy train in the finals, Akainu was arguably Prophecy’s MVP of Season 2 with a 63% win percentage – that’s 10 wins from 16 games. Given the right team behind him, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do the same again. The question is, what team will it be?