Jonathan “Reinforce” Larsson, Blizzard Entertainment
During Stage 1 of the inaugural Overwatch League, strengths and weaknesses manifested amidst our 12 teams. Some weaknesses are minor, but other teams have experienced major drawbacks that could potentially hinder their playoff hopes. The signing period began a couple weeks ago, and some teams have already made groundbreaking moves.
With Stage 2 kicking off, I’ll be examining three teams that are trying to shake things up with their signings.
As seemingly every fan’s second-favorite team in the league, the Dragons were a team looking to bolster their roster for the upcoming stages—and drastically so.
After being criticized earlier in the season for their choice of players and coaching staff, the pressure eventually took its toll on the only Chinese team in the league, who grasped for their first regular-season win but came up just short. They hinted at a reverse sweep against the Philadelphia Fusion, and later pushed an underperforming Dallas Fuel to the brink of internal crisis, fighting as hard as they mentally could. Alas, work ethic alone does not make up for an 0-10 result, and as a result, four new signings have been brought in to lend a helping hand in Stage 2 and beyond.
Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee, who led Element Mystic to an APEX Challengers Season 5 victory, will occupy the main tank role, offering the more conservative playstyle that Wenhao “Roshan” Jing lacked. Gi-Hyeon “Ado” Chon, formerly with MVP Space, will assist in the projectile hero department, which Weida “Diya” Lu was forced into after being primarily known for his stellar McCree and Widowmaker play prior to the Overwatch League. Se-Yeon “Geguri” Kim is commonly praised as one of the best Zarya players in the world, and with D.Va now prominently in her Hero pool, she will most certainly be an instrumental part of a new starting core. Both Geguri (2016 Nexus Cup) and Fearless (2017 Nexus Cup) were scouted at tournaments held in China by Netease, the company that owns the Dragons.
Adept South Korean players aside, perhaps the most crucial addition comes in the form of Chinese talent Junjian “Sky” He, formerly known as “zhufanjun” during his time with Miraculous Youngster, a top Chinese team. He’ll be able to contribute both a fantastic Ana and an aggressive Zenyatta to a Shanghai Dragons support division that was mostly known for having top Lucio players in Zhaoyu “Fiveking” Chen and Yage “Altering” Cheng going into the regular season.
With impressive signings addressing needs across all departments, the Shanghai Dragons—who have nothing to lose at this point—are hopeful they can grab their first Overwatch League wins soon. All four additions must wait out the lengthy visa application process, so they may not see immediate playing time, but if the team can integrate their new players smoothly, this could be the start of a great narrative.
If anyone ever said there’s such a thing as too many DPS players, they’re wrong—according to the Dallas Fuel, at least. This is a team that has gone from the kings of the Western Overwatch scene to the injured puppy everyone wants to get back on its feet, and more signings are in store for a roster already experiencing growing pains.
Spending money can always act as a last resort bandage for desperate problems. For Dallas, the signing of Dylan “aKm” Bignet and the transfer of Dong-Jun “Rascal” Kim from the Stage 1 champion London Spitfire buys the team more time to fix the issues from their earlier lackluster results, and decide if additional roster shakeups are necessary.
Now boasting five damage dealers (including Brandon ”Seagull” Larned, who could also be considered a decent flex tank player), the question on everybody’s mind is: who makes the cut once the Fuel announce their starting rosters?
With his recent confidence issues, can Timo ”Taimou” Kettunen clinch a spot ahead of a new fan-favorite signing in aKm? And will Seagull ever see the light of day again when he must compete for a projectile DPS role against the jackest of all trades in Rascal? Surely trying to split play time equally among all of Dallas’ 10 current players would be a coach’s nightmare.
It’s worth mentioning that the Mercy-oriented meta we’ve now passed perhaps wasn’t one favoring Dallas, a squad notorious for Jonathan ”HarryHook” Tejedor Rua’s phenomenal in-game awareness on Lucio and Sebastian ”Chipshajen” Widlund’s ability to change the outcome of matches with Ana’s Sleep Darts alone.
I’d like to see this Dallas Fuel team return to its former glory as much as the next person, but there may be deeper issues at hand than what your traditional Swedish massage would resolve. Only time will tell if they can turn the impending DPS logjam from a potential headache into a strength.
After an underwhelming start to the Overwatch League, the Mayhem took out their wallet in an effort to avoid falling too far behind in the Atlantic Division standings as they chase a slot in the playoffs in July.
After signing perhaps one of the most diverse players in the world, Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti—formerly a Contenders Season 1 champion with Team Gigantti—some specialization was necessary, and two more player signings were finalized from the revered South Korean team Meta Athena.
Aside from a new assistant coach in Hyun-Jin “r2der” Choi, who also joined the team from Meta Athena, Florida can now rely on the hitscan mastery of Jung-Woo “Sayaplayer” Ha and a new main tank addition in Sung-Hoon “aWesomeguy” Kim. These are three welcome additions to a squad with multiple symptoms breaking out during Stage 1, including the lack of a capable Mercy player, and key members such as Andreas “Logix” Berghmans failing to provide the extra DPS punch necessary in such a competitive league.
I believe we’re going to see major changes play out once the new additions become comfortable with their new team, with all of the new signings potentially moving into starter positions in this very next stage. While no blame for the underwhelming results should necessarily be put on current main tank Johan “CWoosH” Klingestedt, perhaps the Florida staff sees the 23-year-old aWesomeguy as a more reliable long-term option, at the very least offering a new chance at implementing a consistent shot-calling structure in a Florida team that has looked lost multiple times in the past.
As for Sayaplayer, getting a call from the Overwatch League was just a matter of time. Having played in the old Meta Athena lineup with high-caliber players such as the NYXL’s Hye-Sung “Libero” Kim and the London Spitfire’s Jong-Seok “Nus” Kim, this 19-year-old young gun will hopefully provide the firepower necessary to turn things around for a desperate Florida Mayhem organization.
Known for his revered Tracer, McCree, and Widowmaker, he and projectile maestro Kevin “TviQ” Lindström shouldn’t have any problems adapting to any of the Heroes required by the new meta. Given that Sayaplayer’s name was already in discussions last year during the rebuilding phase of the former Misfits squad, which became the Florida Mayhem, perhaps the signing was long-awaited.