Blizzard-Activision is rumored to sign up to 6 new teams for the upcoming season 2 of the Overwatch League. Last week, Blizzard has made an announcement about two new additions, Guangzhou (China) and Atlanta (United States). If Blizzard were to achieve their goal of bringing 6 new teams, there will be at least 48 new players (8 players minimum per team) and up to 72 if all 6 teams decide to fill up the roster.
That’s a lot of players.
And team managers will be busy next few months eyeing Overwatch Contenders to recruit some of the best upcoming talents. While it is uncertain who will be picked up for Season 2, I personally believe that DDing from Kongdoo Panthera (Korea), Mangachu from XL2 Academy (North America) and rCk Team Gigantti (Europe) will be picked up for Season 2.
The general theme for Season 2 pickups will be flexibility. There’s simply no more room for one-tricks. Players that can play multiple heroes and multiple roles are becoming more valuable, and more frequently used. Players like Bdosin and Hotba have shown that players that can play multiple heroes and roles at a high level could help teams adapt and Overwatch is slowly becoming a game of adaptation.
“The general theme for Season 2 pickups will be flexibility. There’s simply no more room for one-tricks.”
Here is why I think these 3 players are the best candidates for a promotion to the OWL:
1. Jin-Hyeok “DDing” Yang – Kongdoo Panthera – Flex DPS
Choosing one single player from the Korean Overwatch Contenders is extremely difficult because there are so many amazing talents. I originally wanted to pick one of the players from Runaway, but I legitimately believe the whole team is going to be picked up as a team for Season 2 (that’s a whole different story on its own). Besides RunAway, DDing from Kongdoo Panthera probably has the highest chance of getting into the league. For two main reasons: his DPS superiority and his ability to flex into off-tank.
“DDing from Kongdoo Panthera probably has the highest chance of getting into the league. For two main reasons: his DPS superiority and his ability to flex into off-tank.”
History and Experiences:
DDing made his Overwatch debut as part of wNv Teamwork, a Chinese based esports organization that recruited a group of Korean players to participate in both Korean and Chinese Overwatch tournaments. It was quite a successful team as it was able to beat formidable Chinese teams like LGD Gaming, which then had players like MG, uNdeAD and Altering from Shanghai Dragons. wNv.KR can credit its success to its strong lineup with players like Bdosin (London Spitfire) and Kalios (Boston Uprising), and Crusty (San Francisco Shock) as their coach.
However, DDing was left out and was not able to get into any of the OWL teams. He was left out when few members of wNv.KR members got recruited to Kongdoo Panthera before they were picked up London Spitfire. He instead got picked up by Kongdoo Uncia, a sister team of Kongdoo Panthera that was viewed by many as the inferior of the two. Although, it did house a few notable players like Daemin (Shanghai Dragons), Poise and Butcher (NRG Esports) and Panker (Gladiators Legion), KDU did not have a lot of success. KDU ultimately got merged with KDP when its main roster moved to London Spitfire, and the roster remained relatively the same to this day.
DDing in Kongdoo Panthera:
DDing has finally given a chance to be under the spotlight by playing in Overwatch Contenders. By being in one of the best teams in Korean Contenders right now, a lot of the attention is on their DPS. And he has been performing exceptionally well. He is probably, at the moment, the best Pharah in Korean Contenders, probably at least top 5 in the world. If you happened to catch the Korean Contenders semifinals this past weekend, you’ll notice that he carried his team to victory on many of the maps including the first point of Lijiang Tower as Pharah.
DDing opens up the fight with 2K and then cleans up.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. DDing could play a whole variety of heroes and even flex into other roles, such as off-tank. While not the best, DDing is still able to play D.Va at a high level. However, he is primarily a flex DPS and his specialty is his wide DPS hero pool. He can play a deadly Hanzo and Junkrat, and he was the Sombra main back in Season 1.
DDing destroys everything.
Dallas Fuel. With Seagull’s resignation this week, Dallas Fuel is in need of a projectile specialist that can also play D.Va, like Seagull did time to time. And who can fill this pair of shoes better than DDing? Sure, there could be communication issues; however, there are OGE and possibly Effect playing by his side. Besides, who wouldn’t want to see an Effect/DDing dps duo?
2. Liam “Mangachu” Campbell – XL2 Academy – Flex DPS
There is a ton of good DPS players in North America right now, but Mangachu is a player that has been consistently good throughout the whole season. He also has veteran status with extensive LAN experiences, and these two factors alone should put him at the top of the list. It is true that most people know him for his Pharah; however, he has been steadily growing his arsenal and now have more tricks up his sleeves.
History and Experiences:
Mangachu made his Overwatch debut with a team called Grouchy Desperados until the team was signed by a Canadian based organization called Northern Gaming Red in May 2016. It did not have a lot of success and few members, along with Mangachu, was recruited by Tempo Storm in August 2016. Tempo Storm, with notable players like Beasthalo (Fusion University), Sleepy (San Francisco Shock) and Kellar (GGEA), performed relatively well, but mostly with weekly minor tournaments. However, they ultimately failed to breakthrough majors when they were disqualified from Overwatch Contenders Season 0.
When Tempo Storm was disbanded, Mangachu was quickly picked up by Renegades and this is when Mangachu had his hands wet in the “pro” scene. Although relatively unsuccessful, they were able to compete in both Season 0 and Season 1 of Overwatch Contenders of 2017. He also participated in Overwatch Heroes Rumble that had a wide variety of participants from Asia Pacific, Europe, and North America. Mangachu’s team, :Sun_With_Face: Clap, took 1st place along with other notable players like ZachaREEE and Elk (Fusion University), Goliath (XL2), iShiny (Team Envy) and Kellar.
He was also the team captain of Team Canada during the 2017 Overwatch World Cup, and they paved their way to the finals against South Korea and came in second. Team Canada, along with Mangachu, put on a good show and each of team members had promising futures. It didn’t take long until they started getting picked up one by one. It was xQc and Agilities at first when they were announced to join Dallas Fuel and Los Angeles Valiant respectively; followed closely by Joemeister (Philadelphia Fusion) and Surefour (Los Angeles Gladiators). While many fans of Mangachu waited for an announcement of his OWL debut, that news never came. It would not take long until he would prove that that was a big mistake.
“While many fans of Mangachu waited for an announcement of his OWL debut, that news never came. It would not take long until he would prove that that was a big mistake.”
Mangachu in XL2 Academy:
The roster for the XL2 Academy was announced on February 18th, 2018. Mangachu would be playing alongside, former teammate Goliath, and other notable players like Nenne and Flow3r (now Nanohana). There was a lot of hype over the team because of Flow3r’s widow performance during the World Cup. However, his performance alongside with XL2 did not meet the expectations as they were eliminated in the quarterfinals in Season 1 of Contenders.
Now in Season 2, XL2 successfully obtained the #1 seed from Group B without losing a single match. Of course, their new frontline, Tizi, and Woohyal contributed to its recent success. Also, it is true that Nenne has made a lot of flashy plays with his Widowmaker, and Tracer; however, I would argue that it is actually Mangachu who has been silently carrying the team with his consistent picks. Whether it be his air superiority with Pharah or his deadly aim with Hanzo, Mangachu is always on the left side of the killfeed.
His mastery of Pharah and Hanzo, along with a deep hero pool should net him a spot in OWL. He has also shown that he is quick to adapt, always being on par with heroes that are most relevant in the meta. Along with his extensive LAN experiences, as team captain for Team Canada and Overwatch Heroes Rumble, there is no doubt that Mangachu is going to get picked up for Season 2.
Heroes Rising: Mangachu by Blizzard
Oh, and how can we forget Mangachu’s legendary Symmetra play?
Houston Outlaws. While I mean no disrespect for anyone in Houston Outlaws, I believe that a solid projectile specialist is needed for Houston Outlaws. Houston Outlaws’ lineup is unique because there are too many players that specialize in very few heroes. They have 5 DPS players! Each of the players has a very limited hero pool, which results in frequent lineup changes, and limits team space. I believe that putting Linkzr as a hitscan specialist (maybe plus Genji) and recruiting Mangachu as a projectile specialist that can play a whole array of heroes could be more effective for the team.
3. Richard “rCk” Kanerva – Team Gigantti – Flex Off-Tank
rCk is a flex off-tank for Team Gigantti and is probably considered the best off-tank in European Contenders right now, and at least top 5 in all Contenders. He has good positioning that allows him to peel for his support and assist the frontline to secure kills. His timing to eat-up important ultimates has been impeccable. And his D.Va bombs have been on point.
History and Experiences:
rCk started his Overwatch career with a Finnish based organization called ENCE eSports. The team made their debut for the European Overwatch Contenders Season 0 but ultimately failed to qualify. After failing to qualify, ENCE focused mostly on minor tournaments in Finland. There they would face-off against their Finnish rivals, Team Gigantti, and that would ultimately change the fate of rCk. After losing against them in the finals in one of the tournaments, Team Gigantti offered positions for his teammates, LHCloudy and Ripa, and rCk would quickly follow a month later. The newly formed Team Gigantti then would dominate the Finnish Overwatch scene, and since then have worked their way up. Now, they are considered one of the best European teams in Contenders.
rCk in Team Gigantti:
European Contenders is a highly competitive region. My guess is that many of the players from the European region are going to get picked up for Season 2. I personally hope that one of the teams from Europe gets picked up as a whole, and then add a few players to complement the lineup. However, despite being a highly competitive scene, one person that really caught my attention is rCk. I understand that there is A LOT of good off-tanks in European Contenders but rCk is definitely one of the best.
When it comes to his D.Va, his awareness of the game and the positions of other players are on point. D.Va’s contribution in fights is knowing when and where they should be at a given fight. rCk has shown that his keen game sense allows him to know when he needs to be at the front with his tanks and know when to pull back to peel. This last fight against Eagle Gaming demonstrates that he has what it takes to do both on the fly and help win fights.
rCk attacks, protects and attacks again.
He can also play other off-tanks like Zarya and Roadhog. However, the one part that I wanted to really highlight is that he can flex into DPS, and he is a proficient DPS player. Before he was picked up by Team Gigantti, he was a DPS player, and he showed that he can play a wide array of DPS heroes including but not limited to, Genji, Soldier 76, Tracer, McCree, and Doomfist. In Season 2, we have seen that he had what it takes to play DPS at a high level. He has shown his Pharah dominance in Eichenwalde against Eagle Gaming, and in their match against One.Point, rCk brought out Doomfist last minute to finish off the point.
What rCk has shown is that this talented player has a lot to offer for teams that interested in recruiting a good off-tank and a good DPS, and in Season 2 of Overwatch League, teams will need players that can flex into multiple roles and can still play at a high level.
rCk brings out the Doomfist.
“What rCk has shown is that this talented player has a lot to offer for teams that interested in recruiting a good off-tank and a good DPS, and in Season 2 of Overwatch League, teams will need players that can flex into multiple roles and can still play at a high level.”
Currently, there is no team that is urgently in need of an off-tank. I would say that he would be definitely picked up by a new Overwatch team for Season 2.
Final Comments – The Rise of Projectile Specialists
I have put a lot of emphasis on projectile specialists, especially Pharah because I believe that the need for hitscan is falling as the meta is steadily heading towards a tank heavy meta. Even if the meta changes to a hitscan one, there is already a lot of god-tier hitscan specialists in Overwatch League right now, and I wager a demand for good projectile specialists, especially those that can play other roles, will be at the top of the list for Season 2.