Blizzcon is only two weeks away, but the Overwatch League off-sesaon is already in full swing. Tae-hong "MekO" Kim announced earlier this week that he would not be re-signing with New York Excelsior, but things wouldn't cool off for long. The stove got hot again this Friday, in which a flurry of major player transfers throughout the league highlighted the hectic week of off-season moves. Let's dive in to everything that's happened in the OWL off-season this week.
Men in the Arena No Longer
Washington Justice made a huge addition to its roster today, acquiring Los Angeles Gladiators Main Tank Gye "rOar" Chang-hoon to fill the space leftwhen the team relased its previous Main Tank Song "Janus" Jun-hwa. rOar joined the Gladiators before the start of the 2019 season and made his Overwatch League debut with the team shortly after the season began.
That wasn't the only member of the 2019 Gladiators that would not be returning, however. The Houston Outlaws picked up João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles only a few hours after rOar joined Washington Justice. Hydration gives Outlaws a dependable DPS with proven capability in flexing to multiple roles depending on the meta, and with the org's recent signing of Vancouver Titans coach Harsha "Harsha" Bandi Head Coach, Outlaws has upped its ante for the 2020 season.
It is hard to say whether the Outlaws are going to fix issues they came across during the latter part of the 2019 season; but, Harsha was an integral part in the Vancouver Titans phenomenal debut season in the Overwatch League, specifically in the form of a Grand Finals appearance just a bit under a month ago. Harsha just might be the person to be able to diagnose and alleviate any setbacks the Outlaws encountered. Signing Hydration certainly gives Houston's Head Coach more to work with.
For Gladiators, a top six finish in 2019 being followed up with an immediate 1-2 punch of splitting with esports organization Sentinels, who had been running operations for LAG owner Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, only to then lose two staple players on the team's roster does not exactly inspire confidence in the Gladiators for 2020.
The current iteration of Los Angeles Gladiators till has plenty of talent on its roster, but it will be up to the Kroenke Group to rise to the challenge of managing to an optimum.
Flying Home for the Winter
While Gladiators, Outlaws, and Justice shuffled stateside, connections were being made across the globe. ESPN Esports' Jacob Wolf reported Friday afternoon that London Spitfire elite talents DPS Park "Profit" Joon-yeong and Tank Hong "Gesture" Jae-hee would be returning to their home country of South Korea to play for Seoul Dynasty.
Profit and Gesture are amongst the best in their respective roles in Overwatch League, and these transfers may indicate that Seoul Dynasty is going all-in to finally become the elite team it was supposed to be at the start of OWL. This may also suggest that Seoul is looking to make huge moves in the offseason and open things up for Korean players. For example, a recently available MeKO would pair wonderfully with Gesture for a best-in-class Tank line.
Another possible signing for Seoul is Philadelphia Fusion DPS Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok. When it comes to pure talent, Carpe and Profit are arguably the two most talented players in the Overwatch League. If you see this roster come together, Seoul Dynasty may as well be called the Golden State Warriors of OWL.
As for London, it's hard to say what their plan will be this off-season. The org's only moves have been the release of three players and a coach, and now, the two most recent players to depart were almost inarguably the best on the team.
Spitfire may go full refresh mode on their roster and sign the current RunAway roster. It certainly worked for Vancouver Titans in the 2019 season, and there's certainly enough room for another titanic team in the Overwatch League.
Defiant Goes West
Toronto Defiant has not been quiet this off-season. The Splyce franchise offloaded four players at the beginning of the week, and re-signed two-way Support Park "RoKy" Joo-seong.
However, in offloading Jo "Yakpung" Gyeong-mu in addition to the previous foursome of Normunds “sharyk” Faterins, Daniel “Gods” Graeser, Jaeyoon “Aid” Go, and Hong“im37” Jin-ui, Defiant may be looking to rebuild aroudn its two late season Western DPS signings Andreas "Logix" Berghmans and Liam "Mangachu" Campbell.
Defiant also signed Félix "Féfé" Münch only a few days earlier in the week prior to the rest of the off-season madness. The Head Coach had just been released by Paris Eternal, so the organizational philosophy is looking to shift towards a roster with a primarily Western core.
Do not expect huge moves from Toronto, but it is time for them to continue to re-tool and rebuild, and it starts around Mangachu.
In addition to the major moves of the week previously covered, many other smaller transactions took place at several levels across the league. Boston Uprising opted to not re-sign DPS line Richard “rCk” Kanerva and Lee “Stellar” Do-hyung; both players announced their free agency on twitter this week. Uprising Support Renan "alemao" Moretto opted not to enter contract negotiations, leaving the team of his own volition for a break citing a loss of passion for competitive OW.
Paris Eternal seems to be looking for a re-shuffle within their organizational tructure. In addition to the release of Féfé, Assistant Coach Kyle "Kyky" Souder and Team Manager Alban "Albless" de la Grange were also released from Eternal. Former San Francisco Shock coach Bumhoon "NineK" Kim has been named the new Head Coach for Paris.
Houston Outlaws parted ways with Jeong "ArHaN" Won-hyeop after nearly two full seasons together. Florida Mayhem Support Jo "HaGoPeun" Hyeon-woo announced his free agency and subsequent search for a team, and certainly hopes to have a third season more like his first than his second. Lastly, Los Angeles Valiant Tank Russell "FCTFCTN" Campbell announced his free agency via twitter.
FCTFCTN performed admirably after being traded to a fractured Valiant from Florida Mayhem Academy mid-way through the 2019 season. However, it's not surprising that after missing Playoffs that Valiant would be looking for upgrades across the board.
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