Impressions from the Philadelphia Fusions First Week at Blizzard Arena

The Philadelphia Fusion, unfortunately, got less prepare time than other teams due to VISA issues stopping them from participating in the preseason. The 10-man roster is all foreign-born players from across the globe. A team assembled from numerous different teams with little crossover from player-to-player, entered the regular season with, as the casters preached, “the element of surprise.”

In any case, first impressions of the Fusion are a mixed-bag after a 1-1 start. It was good to see the Fusion come out and get a win over the Houston Outlaws in their first game on the big stage, but unluckily the Fusion drew the Spitfire in game two and ended week one with a 3-6 game record.

The Strength of the Fusion

Carpe and Shadowburn. Photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

However, fielding a starting damage-duo of Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok and George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha will give the Fusion two reliable players that will keep them in games. That was clear heading into this season. However, the one aspect of this roster that came to the surface in week one was the strength of this teams tank line.

Arguably one of the biggest surprises of the week was the play of flex player Gael “Poko” Gouzerch. Alongside Finnish tank-main Joona “Fragi” Laine, the two paved the way up front for Carpe and ShaDowBurn, while showing up in the kill feed often. Poko was in on nearly every engagement and was finishing off players at a hectic pace.

In their very first game under the bright lights, the world got a first-hand look at the potential of Carpe on Tracer and the hard-hitting ShaDowBurn on Genji and neither disappointed. Taking a look at how each player wants to play, the styles match up quite well. Both players excel in one thing above all else and that’s building ultimate charge and we saw that against the Outlaws.

In a similar fashion, Poko’s ability to stay alive on the payload and build ultimate charge also plays into this teams strengths. Each fight seemingly ended with a fully-charged ultimate from one of those three Fusion players. It’s rather impressive watching this team find shots to build.

The Weak Spots

Boombox practicing. Photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

It wasn’t all good for the Philadelphia Fusion last week. Playing a team as talented as the London Spitfire will expose a team’s weaknesses without a doubt. For as strong of the front line of the dive-composition is for the Fusion, the backside support doesn’t exactly inspire the same level of fear in opponents.

Facing the Spitfire displayed an inability for the Fusion to defend against diving on Mercy and the failure to avoid attacks from the backline. Against the Outlaws, it was unlimited dragon blade’s and pulse bombs, but facing the Spitfire it came down to simply outshooting the opponent. With more support deaths Carpe and ShaDowBurn weren’t able to play to their strengths.

In light of this, the onus falls to Poko and Fragi to play better up front. The lack of impact from Isaac “Boombox” Charles and the mixing of Mercy’s between Alberto “neptuNo” González and Park “Dayfly” Jeong-hwan seems to be a problem. The Fusion have a talented group of support players with Joe “Joemeister” Gramano coming off the bench, but each player wants to play a different way.

Furthermore, the inopportune timing of the support ultimates against the Spitfire was a big reason why this team lost. It’s not the time for this team to make a change, as Boombox is essentially the only Zenyatta on the roster, but there might come a time where this team needs to reexamine the supports.

In spite of a loss to the Spitfire, this team showed that there’s a good chance they end up in the top-six at the end of the season.

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Featured photo via Philadelphia Fusion twitter

The “Poko Bomb” is tearing up the Overwatch League

Teams in the Overwatch League will now have to prioritize the ultimate status of Gael “Poko” Gouzerch’s self-destructs after sheer domination with it through the first two weeks. Throughout the entire league, no other player is even within striking distance of total ultimate kills and after a huge performance against the San Francisco Shock, it’s not looking like anyone will catch him.

In fact, the team twitter account is actually looking to change the name of D.va’s ultimate to the “Poko bomb.” If this keeps up, I think Blizzard will have no choice, but to change it. Here’s a stat to illustrate Poko’s self-destruct dominance.

That stat says it all. Poko’s success rate is at an incredibly high-percentage right now and that’s proven by the gigantic lead in ultimate kills league-wide. The overall number is impressive, but it’s not the volume of ultimate kills, it’s the consistency. 

During the Philadelphia Fusion’s 2-1 victory over the Shock, an overwhelming amount of fights were won simply off self-destructs. Poko’s not only consistently getting kills, but finding quick ways to build his ultimate. Following his aggressive tank partner, Joona “Fragi”  Laine, who helps clear out space allowing for the DPS-mains and an ultimate building minded Poko to farm ult-charge.

Once it’s ready, it’s just a matter of time before D.Va’s mech comes crashing down on you because it’s not only the angles he throws the self-destructs at, it’s the timing. Waiting for the moment the opposition uses their ultimates or decides to fall-back to strike. It’s also the creative heights in which he flies and the targets he picks out. It’s all calculated.

From here on out, tracking Poko’s ultimate usage is going to be a priority. On the final game on Eichenwalde, three straight self-destructs led to double-kills while taking out Mercy. This was the case all afternoon for the Shock. Expecting a George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, the constant aggressive self-destructs kept catching the backline off guard.

In only three games, Poko has established himself as a specialist with that ultimate. Moving forward, it’s going to be in the back of teams’ minds. Teams will be forced to make adjustments if he continues to find kills at this high of a success rate.

Additionally, Poko’s style of play is very much aligned with how his Fusion teammates approach the game.This bodes well for them as they develop and hone their strategy. Poko fits in this role behind two capable DPS-mains and Fragi on the Winston. Those three distract as Poko positions himself for an end of the fight self-destruct. 

However, a team that is focused on flanking could be hard-countered. In their loss on Dorado, the Shock committed heavily to anti-dive and waited for ShaDowBurn to flank. It was the only time the Shock had success against the Fusion dive composition. 

However, is this sustainable for Poko? He’s landing two-kills on basically every self-destruct attempt. The 2.38 ult kills per 10 minutes is not sustainable but don’t expect to see anything less from Poko. He’s logged plenty of practice time into perfecting the timing and distance of D.va’s explosion. Even if he lands fewer kills, Poko is still a threat to turn every team fight when he has full-charge. 

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Featured photos via Overwatch Wiki

Player Spotlight: Babybay

Courtesy of Babybay

Overwatch League Player Spotlight: Babybay

Every week here at The Game Haus we will be highlighting one player from the Overwatch League. This weeks player is Babybay of the San Francisco Shock.

Andrej “Babybay” Francisty is the main DPS/Flex player for the Shock. He is part of a very strong roster of talented players but Babybay manages to separate himself from his peers. He was one of the biggest stand outs from this years preseason where his Widowmaker play was simply something to behold.

Another reason he is able to separate himself is that he is American. Americans aren’t known for our Esports prowess. Babybay is more well known for his Genji, Mcree, and Soldier 76 which was part of the reason his Widow stood out to so many people. After the matches during the preseason he was interviewed and seemed to relish in the crowds cheering.

History of Babybay

The last time Babybay played in a LAN competition was the Overwatch Winter Premiere back in January of last year. That isn’t to say he hasn’t been competing for longer than that. His history in Esports runs fairly deep. The last team he was a part of was Kungarna. He was part of their roster on two separate occasions.

The Shock have two more players joining their roster later this season as they are ineligible to play due to the Overwatch League age requirement. Babybay and the Shock will look to keep up the high level play as they not only fight for the Overwatch League title but fight for California supremacy as they are joined in California by the two Los Angeles teams, the Valiant and the Gladiators.

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Overwatch League’s Uprising may cause some upsizing

Big numbers in Day two of the Overwatch League. Big numbers coming out of cities hosting watch parties 

Boston Uprising watch party at The Greatest Bar.

Upsizing not Uprising

This is a picture taken last Thursday at the Boston Uprising watch party held at The Greatest Bar (clever name, not my opinion.) inside the TD Garden where the Celtics and Bruins play. Over 125 people crammed into the two floors of a Boston sports bar.

Now I don’t know if any of you have been to Boston sports bars, I’m sure some of you have. This is the last thing anyone expected. Especially The Greatest Bar. Boston Uprising hosted the event and also had people there giving out free merch to fire up the crowds. To see people cramming themselves into a bar to watch video games gives me immense hope for this sport. For this league. For the next generation of geeks.

Watch parties like this have been held all over the country for the Overwatch League. San Francisco hosted one and had Sinatraa and Super, players who are currently ineligiable to play, there to meet and take pictures. Around 100 people showed up to watch that one.

Picture of Houston Outlaws watch party.

Houston, from all the pictures Posted around the internet had what appears to be the biggest watch party of them all. Over 600 people came out in support of the Houston Outlaws! That’s insane!

Some fans even drove across the country to the Blizzard Arena to watch their favorite teams complete.

These two guys drove 2,700 miles to watch the NYXL. Viewership on Twitch yesterday peaked at just about 250,000. I know it’s still early. I know it’s the “cupcake phase” or however you want to say it. It’s still new and exciting but even people who aren’t fans of Esports have to at least admit this is impressive.

Did you attend/throw any watch parties for your favorite team? Let us know! Also be sure to follow The Game Haus on Twitter, Like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel! Links are down below!

Credit to The Esports Writer.

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Do the London Spitfire have a roster problem?

In this week of completely logical, and non-overreaction reactions, one (successful) team seems to have an eventual roster issue if things stay as they were in week one. The London Spitfire did come out and dominate to no one’s surprise, but the lack of substitutions raised some questions.

Birdring and Profit coming to stage in Burbank, CA. Photo via of London Spitfire Twitter

The first question, and the most important question moving forward, is if this starting roster will continue to play the majority of games? There’s a good chance that the starting six will stay: Kim “birdring” Ji-hyuk and Park “Profit” Joon-yeong on the damage heroes, Kim “Fury” Jun-ho and Hong “Gesture” Jae-hee on the tanks and Choi “BDosin” Seung-tae and Kim “NUS” Jong-seok as support mains.

In all eight games, the Spitfire stuck to this group. No substitutions throughout the week. Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung, who’s notably one of the best Winston mains in Korea, sat on the bench behind Gesture all weekend. In the same vein, players such as Jo “HaGoPeun” Hyeon-woo on support, Jung “Closer” Won-sik sitting back NUS on Mercy and another well-known player in Kim “Rascal”  Dong-jun all sat on the bench.

Will it change in week two?

Based on interviews, it feels as if the Spitfire is running with two separate groups. In case anyone didn’t know, the Spitfire is made up of primarily one of two of the best Korean teams at the time of the signing period for the Overwatch League. It seems as if there’s internal competition, and while the starting lineup is made up of some GC Busan players, it still feels lacking.

Now, a scenario could arise where the Spitfire go with an entirely different unit than in week one. It doesn’t seem likely, but it’s a possibility. Remember, this team has the maximum number of players on one roster so there’s the option to start a different six than before. It feels even less likely that Fissure or Rascal will continue to ride the bench.  

Here’s another scenario, the Spitfire coaches are carefully watching to see how each unit works against what teams and comps. It’s early in the season and the Spitfire knew they matched up with a bottom six team in the Florida Mayhem and the Philadelphia Fusion who missed the preseason entirely. It’s a good chance to see what they are up against.

Is this the best starting six?

Coach Park Chang-geun setting the starting lineup. photo via London Spitfire twitter

Lastly, the question needs to be asked if this coaching staff will role with this six considering the hero pools of each player and skill level. Yes, the lineup they went with in week one is considerably better than almost any combination from any other team in the league.

Looking at these names, Profit is arguably the best Tracer and birdring the best Widowmaker/Soldier 76. Gesture and Fissure are as equally gifted Winston players, but Gesture’s only role is on the dive-Winston. In any scenario where that’s the play, Gesture will outshine Fissure. Same goes for Fury on the D.va instead of taking Sung “WOOHYAL” Seung-hyun.

It goes without saying, but BDosin has a long-standing history of incredible Zenyatta play. It will take quite a turn from BDosin to be forced out in favor of HagoPeun, especially after week one. I expect Closer to get some run at Mercy over NUS.

So, in essence, this is likely the best starting six possible based on the composition and game planning strategy this team runs with. Regardless, don’t expect this lineup to stick forever. There’s plenty of talent on the bench to give this team a needed push when called upon.

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Featured photos via London Spitfire twitter

And the Overwatch League Week One MVP is…

The opening week of the Overwatch League has now come and gone, and after two games a piece the teams are already starting to separate themselves. In similar fashion, certain players stood out amongst the talented group and flashed early on.

It is no surprise, the best teams in the league are the heavy-Korean teams such as the Seoul Dynasty, London Spitfire, and New York Excelsior. All of whom ended the first week at 2-0. The other undefeated team is the one surprise from this week, the Los Angeles Valiant sweept their matches ending the week up 7-0 in games.

Who was the week one MVP?

After the dust settled, four players stood out among the rest of the player pool. The first player to be mentioned is Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun for the Seoul Dynasty. Unlike any other player this weekend, Fleta went above and beyond with his hero pool. Seven unique characters all combining to do massive amounts of damage and help carry the Dynasty to a 6-1 weekend.

Pine signing autographs after the win. Photo via the Overwatch League

As for the unsung heroes of the opening week, how about Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and the Valiant taking the league by storm? Led by SoOn and his backline Tracer play the Valiant rolled through the San Francisco Shock and came out victorious even though they were the underdog against the Dallas Fuel. SoOn’s presence made the difference with his constant pressure that worked wonders alongside Valiant’s dive composition.

Looking at the New York Excelsior roster, there are a few names that took a big step this weekend. Kim “Pine” Do-hyeon’s flashiness on the Widowmaker and McCree or Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol rolling on Tracer made it a tough decision to make. One Excelsior separated himself from some of the other support mains in the league

Bang “Jjonak” Sung-hyeon was responsible for huge picks, a great deal of healing, fight winning transcendents, and a ridiculous amount of healing on Zenyatta. It truly was an all-around great performance. In terms of best Mercy play, one half of the Dynasty dynamic support-duo, Jin-mo “tobi” Yang, was nasty with Valkyrie, moving in-and-out of danger in a flash.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of the London Spitfire roster considering that roster still feels very much in the air. Keep an eye on the Spitfire to have a more fluid starting roster in the future.

Drumroll Please

As for the best of the weekend, it’s quite simple, Fleta was the workhorse for the Seoul Dynasty. Anytime the Dynasty needed a hero switch and a big push, Fleta would switch and the Dynasty would win. It’s nice to see a wide variety of top-end talents at multiple heroes and position making a name for themselves. Now let’s see if they do it again in week two.

 

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Featured photo via Overwatch League

Players to Watch on Every Overwatch League Team

The era of franchised esports leagues begins with the opening of the Overwatch League at Blizzard’s Arena in Burbank, California. The team-based, first-person shooter, with millions of players and fans worldwide, throws its hat into the competitive arena, but I’m not here to talk the business side anymore.

It’s finally time for the players to suit up and actually find out who the best is on the battlefield. 120 of the top Overwatch players from across the globe are competing for that title at the end of the season. Each team is crammed with firepower, but here are THE players to watch on each Overwatch team.

Shanghai Dragons: Diya, Hitscan main

Lu “Diya” Weida, a Chinese DPS-main, took the preseason by storm. The Dragons, while talented, had a relatively unknown roster for Western Overwatch fans heading into season one. Diya quickly made an impression with incredible precision on McCree. On a Dragons team lacking solid supports, Diya will have to carry the offense. He’s certainly talented enough to do so.

Boston Uprising: Gamsu, Tank

See? It’s not all damage-mains. The bulk of talent actually seems to bleed into the tank line. Yeong-jin “Gamsu” Noh, the famous League of Legends player, now headlines on the Uprising as their consistent tank. In the preseason, Gamsu played a major role in the attack. He sets up for the Uprising damage-duo to do work on the backend.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

San Francisco Shock: Babybay, Hitscan/Flex

The Shock will be getting much-needed reinforcements with Jay “Sinatraa” Won, but in the meantime, Andrej “Babybay” Francisty will be carrying the Shock offense. This is similar to what he had to do in the preseason. A strong force as a hitscan player that can also flex onto tank roles. Babybay’s damage output could decide games.

Florida Mayhem: Manneten, Tank

Throwing out a curveball here. Everyone knows Kevyn “TviQ” Lindstrom can ball, but analyzing this team, Tim “Manneten” Bylund comes away as the most important player on the roster. In a rather lackluster preseason showing from the Mayhem, Manneten was the only player putting up any sort of fight. His hero pool, as a tank main, is more versatile than most.

Houston Outlaws: LiNkzr, Damage

The Outlaws are a team stacked with DPS-depth, but one player looks on the verge of a breakthrough: Jiri “LiNkzr” Masalin. Sure, Matt “Coolmatt” Lorio might set the tone for this team, but LiNkzr is the player who’s going to separate the Outlaws. If Widowmaker is as popular in the meta as it was in the preseason, LiNkzr could be even more dangerous.

London Spitfire: Fissure, Tank

The most stupidly, ridiculously stacked team in the Overwatch League is the combination of two of the best Korean teams. Every position is filled with 2-3 players that would be possibly the best player on another team. So, who stands above as the essential personnel? Well, that would be arguably the best tank main in Korea, Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung. He will spearhead the entire Spitfire attack.

New York Excelsior: Saebyeolbe, Hitscan

Possibly the most exciting team to watch in the preseason, a combination of explosiveness and solid team-fighting. Until Hwang “Flow3r” Yeon-oh arrives, Park “Saebyeolbe” Jong-yeol will have to carry the reigns of this spectacular DPS-duo. His Tracer play is near the top for one of the most talented characters in all of Overwatch.

Dallas Fuel: Taimou, Damage/Flex

It’s simple for the Dallas Fuel, get Timo “Taimou”  Kettunen sightlines or pave the way for this player. Yes, Félix “xQc Lengyel and Christian “Cocco” Jonsson are a phenomenal tank-line, but Taimou will make or break maps. In terms of aim, Taimou can destroy pushes with Widowmaker. His hero pool allows plenty of versatility as well, I mean did you see that Roadhog?

Los Angeles Gladiators: Shaz, Support

A support main? What?

Yes, Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara will be the key to the Gladiators success this season. Only a few other players impressed me more in the preseason than Shaz. He was involved in every situation and worked in tandem with Benjamin “iBigG00se” Isohanni. Shaz finds a way to stay alive and gives the Gladiators DPS-mains the push needed to take points. The support main to watch this season? Shaz.

Los Angeles Valiant: uNKoe, Flex-Support

Benjamin “uNKoe” Chevasson isn’t the most talented player on this team, but a player who can switch off Ana, Zenyatta, and Mercy is invaluable in any meta-game. Valiant have a load of work to do before this team is a real contender, based on the preseason, uNKoe will be one of the few consistencies on this team. The French player has the most experience on this team.

Photo Courtesy of Overwatch League

Seoul Dynasty: Zunba, Flex-Tank

For my money, Kim “Zunba” Joon-hyuk is going to be the player that pushes this team over the top. The Dynasty have 10 players to keep an eye on, but it feels as if their biggest advantage is in the Flex-Tank spot, and Zunba being a versatile and strong option in that regard.

Philadelphia Fusion: Carpe, Damage

The remains of the FaZe clan team of Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok, George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, and Joe “Joemeister” Gramano will be the core of the Fusion. The experience from these three will be important, but the dynamic DPS-duo of Carpe and Shadowburn will be what this team will lean on.

With the Overwatch League going on this week you can decide who you think the player to watch on each team will be. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

 

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Overwatch League Roster Breakdown: Los Angeles Gladiators

In this edition of roster breakdown, the Los Angeles Gladiators get the spotlight. One of two Los Angeles, California based teams sporting the flashy purple and white jersey’s for the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. The talented Gladiators squad will house players from all across the globe, and will focus on two things in this upcoming season: having fun and playing aggressive, according to Rob Moore of Kroenke Sports and Entertainment (KSE).

Ownership
Stan Kroenke, owner of the newly acquired Los Angeles Gladiators, is constantly being discussed in sports media. He recently moved the St. Louis Rams franchise out of Missouri and back to Los Angeles where the franchise previously resided in the 1980’s. It’s been a point of contention around NFL circles, and since then the Kroenke name has been vilified by the people of St. Louis.

Regardless of the public perception of Kroenke, one thing’s clear and that’s the fact that he understands how to run a franchise. Consider this, Stan Kroenke owns KSE, a parent company for all his sports holdings. That same company has become a multi-media conglomerate with television and radio stations. On top of that, KSE expanded its holdings to five different franchises major sport franchises (MLB, NBA, MLS, NHL, and NFL) and finally seized the opportunity in the esports space.

Now, along with Boston Uprising owner Robert Kraft, Stan Kroenke adds legitimacy and national media attention to a new, burgeoning league. As someone actively cheering for the Overwatch League to succeed, it can’t go understated how important it is to have the backing of names like the Kroenke’s. KSE is planning to build an arena for the Gladiators, and could be big players in free agency.

Coaching
Team Kungarna was one of the surprising North America teams throughout the last year of Overwatch. The Kungarana roster had talented pieces, but the interchanging roster made it difficult to obtain any team synergy. Current Gladiators’ head coach and former Kungarna coach, David “dpei” Pei, was a big reason for Kungarna’s Overwatch Contenders run and meshing a moving roster. His coaching was key in bringing together a jumbled group of players and making them into one of the best North American teams.

Players

Photo via LA Gladiators Twitter

The LA Gladiators are one the few daring teams to only stick with seven players on the roster. The one backup spot will most likely be filled by one of the teams three-DPS (damage per second) mains. Gladiators decision to stick with seven players limits their ability to counter certain match ups. It puts extra pressure on the tank and support line.

Looking at how this roster was constructed, it’s not trying anything innovative or new, like San Francisco Shock essentially going with a team filled with DPS/Flex players. Gladiators roster will be more straight forward: 3 DPS, 1 Flex, 1 Tank, and 2 support.

Lane “Surefour” Roberts
Role: DPS/Hit-scan
Region: North America (Canada)
Former teams: Cloud 9
Favorite Heroes: Soldier 76, McCree

Surefour, as I’m sure this is the case with most people, was the first player to ever grab my attention in high-level Overwatch. Arguably the best North American Overwatch player, and one of the premier hit-scan players in the world. If there was a player to build around on this team, Surefour would be that player.

Recently, we saw Surefour and the talented Canadian team push Korea in the World Cup final. A strong showing showcased that he’s still improving. He’s certainly good enough to compete with the best players in the OWL, and should be a star in the making in Los Angeles. One of the most accurate players in Overwatch.

Jung Sung “Asher” Choi
Role: DPS/hit-scan
Region: South Korea
Former teams: CONBOX Spirit
Favorite Heroes: Tracer, McCree

Asher is a rather interesting name. Obviously starting off in Korea and getting plenty of Apex experience gives him a leg up, but there’s still some questions regarding his effectiveness heading into this season. His play was often overshadowed by former teammate Park “Architect” Min-ho, and he’s not considered one of the best Korean Tracer’s.

As a Tracer main, his duty will be to be disrupt the enemy back line, but his aggressive play can put himself into bad situations. Luckily, Asher will be playing alongside Surefour which will open up lanes for Tracer. Asher’s Tracer heavy play can be substituted for Hydration’s projectile focus on Genji and Pharah. Asher provides explosiveness, experience, and will be a key starting piece for the Gladiators in season one.

Joao Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles
Role: DPS/Projectile
Region: South America (Brazil)
Former Teams: CLG
Favorite Heroes: Genji, Pharah

Hydration is going to be the first player off the bench. He’s known for his Pharah, but Hydration has a good enough hero pool to go Junkrat or switch onto Genji when needed. He’s one of the few Brazilian born players in the OWL.

 

Gladiators cheering for Surefour. Photo via LA Gladiators twitter

 

Tanks

Aaron “Bischu” Kim
Role: Flex
Region: South Korea
Former teams: Kungarna, Team SoloMid, Ronin
Favorite Heroes: D.va, Zarya

Bischu is a must-watch player and a fantastic pickup for a team looking to play aggressively. The former League of Legends star now switches his focus to Overwatch, and he’s proved in a short amount of time that his Zarya is one of the best.

On top of his efficient play in the flex slot, he brings continuity with his head coach and former Kungarana teammate iRemix. The fact that the Gladiators tank line will have some synergy coming in is a big advantage and is the reason these three guys were brought in over potentially more skilled players. It’s possible this is one of the better tank lines in season one.

Luis Galarza “iRemix” Figueroa
Role: Tank
Region: Puerto Rico
Former Teams: Kungarana, Splyce
Favorite Heroes: Winston, Reinhardt

iRemix’s tank play in Overwatch Contenders was always extremely impressive. His Reinhardt during season two was one of my favorites in North America, and he’s made the necessary adjustments when Reinhardt with Winston when Reinhardt was fazed out of the meta. In his role, iRemix might be the most important player on the team. He’ll be the defensive linchpin.

Supportsional
Jonas “Shaz” Suovaara

Role: Support/Flex
Region: Finland
Former teams: Reason Gaming, Hammers Esports, Team Gigantti
Favorite Heroes: Ana, Zenyatta, Sombra

It’s apparent that Kevin “Kez” Jeon, the Gladiators manager, did his homework. While the decision to go with Asher and Hydration as their DPS-mains is somewhat questionable, bringing in the two Finns is no mistake. Gigantti, which both Shaz and BigGoose played for, overwhelmingly over-succeeded and it’s the play of these two that sprung that success.

Shaz can plug and play any number of heroes, but his primary role in season one will be on Mercy. Look for this team to switch Shaz to get advantageous composition. There’s a reason why they didn’t bring in any other support mains. It’s because this duo is versatile and skilled.

Benjamin “BigG00se” Isohanni
Role
: Support
Region: Europe (Finland)
Former Teams: Rest in Pajamas, Team Gigantti
Favorite Heroes: Lucio

Similarly to the tank line, the Gladiators supports will have plenty of familiarity of how they want to play. It’s a great move to target players that have experience playing with each other. On top of all this, BigGoose’s Lucio is ridiculously good and will play into how this team wants to play on paper.

Expectations?

When I first glanced at the roster, I gave a loud sigh. Another team missing out on Carpe, Saebyeol, and Stitch. After examining it further, this could be a surprise team this season. Yes, they’re lacking the Korean talent, but outside of Miami, Seoul, and London, this is probably the most familiar team in the OWL. A team built around familiarity with each other.

However, it’s tough seeing this squad make a push for the postseason. While Surefour is a game-changer, the two other DPS-mains don’t stack up as well on paper. This team will need more firepower to come out on top.

 

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A look at the teams not in the NBA 2K League

17 teams are entering the NBA 2K League. That is more than half of the 30 teams in the NBA participating in the 2K League’s inaugural season. While a few teams such as the Los Angeles Lakers have deeper roots in esports than others, there are 13 teams waiting for their opportunity to enter the scene.

Eventually the NBA would want every team to join the NBA 2K League. I’m optimistic that it’s not a matter of if they’ll join, it’s a matter of when they’ll join. The NBA 2K League will thrive with more competition synonymous to the NBA. As a result it will present excellent opportunities for the community as well.

Who are these teams?

  1. Atlanta Hawks
  2. Brooklyn Nets
  3. Charlotte Hornets
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Denver Nuggets
  6. Houston Rockets
  7. LA Clippers
  8. Los Angeles Lakers
  9. Minnesota Timberwolves
  10. New Orleans Pelicans
  11. Oklahoma City Thunder
  12. Phoenix Suns
  13. San Antonio Spurs

Business as usual

While a number of teams don’t have any reported esports experience, they have the business experience to make the NBA 2K League a success. In a marriage between esports and traditional sports, it’s a transition that’ll help grow both industries for the world to see.

There are three teams that have their feet wet in the esports landscape and have created successful moves. But because these teams have esports experience doesn’t necessarily mean they’re locked in for season two nor does it mean that the other 10 teams are less likely to join either.

Denver Nuggets

One of the two Los Angeles teams in the Overwatch League. Courtesy of LA Gladiators via Twitter.

Josh Kroenke, Nuggets President, and his father Stan Kroenke co-own the Los Angeles Gladiators after securing a league spot in the Overwatch League. Blizzard set a $20 million fee to own a regional franchise in the Overwatch League and the Kroenke’s can pay the bill.

Kroenke Sports & Entertainment is a sports and entertainment holding company based in Denver with control over five professional sports franchises. The Kroenke’s own numerous Colorado sports franchises including the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, Colorado Rapids and the Colorado Mammoth.

With the Los Angeles Gladiators as their first venture into the esports landscape, the Denver Nuggets joining the NBA 2K League next season is a possibility.

Houston Rockets

Clutch Gaming has a spot in the NA LCS. Courtesy of Clutch Gaming via Twitter.

Tilman Fertitta, Rockets Owner, owns Clutch Gaming after securing a league spot in the North American League of Legends Championship Series. The Clutch Gaming brand coincidentally inspired from the nickname given to the Houston Rockets, Clutch City.

It also helps that Daryl Morey, Rockets General Manager, is an avid supporter of esports and joined the MLG Board of Directors back in 2013. In an interview with ESPN, he spoke esports as “[t]he 1950s basketball right now, where there’s that kind of opportunity.”

 

 

There’s enough esports involvement to believe the Houston Rockets will eventually make their way into the NBA 2K League sooner rather than later.

Los Angeles Lakers

Shaquille O’Neal and Magic Johnson. Courtesy of Fox Sports.

Magic Johnson, Lakers President of Basketball Operations, is an investor for aXiomatic which has an ownership in Team Liquid. Johnson is no stranger to business and Team Liquid may be his first stop among many in his esports career.

Other traditional sports figures include former Lakers, Rick Fox and Shaquille O’Neal, who are making waves of their own. Both Echo Fox and NRG are continuing to grow and recruit the best talent in their respected esports.

Meanwhile both Northern California teams, the Warriors and Kings, are in the NBA 2K League this year. There’s a lot of opportunity in a large market like Los Angeles and we hope to see the Lakers and Clippers soon.

 

Featured image courtesy of Tito Sar.

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Overwatch League Roster Breakdown: San Francisco Shock

Starting over to the pacific league, the San Francisco Shock, owned by NRG Esports owner Andy Miller, will sport one of the few non-Korean teams in the Overwatch League. The Shock virtually have a North American all star team with the addition of two talented Swedish players.

SF Shock in a limo. Photo courtesy of Nomy

The decision to keep only seven players on the roster with Jay “sinatraa” Won and Matthew “Super“ DeLisi inactive due to age constraints, could be detrimental. Most of the teams in the Overwatch League are keeping eight or nine players, and although it’s a talented North American roster, there’s no clear superstar.

In terms of perception, the Shock will undoubtedly be an underdog in year one. South Korea is the central Overwatch hub of the world, and building a team that consist entirely of Korean foreigners is a gamble. It’s not a bad idea in theory. Trying to grab all the talent outside Korea could payoff, as most teams will focus their energy and money on Korean players.

The few teams in the Overwatch League who built their roster similarly to the Shock will be an interesting experience. Seoul Dynasty’s head coach, Lee “Hocury” Ho-cheol, believes the non-Korean teams are underrated, according to an interview with ESPN Esport. Shanghai Dragons, Florida Mayhem, Dallas Fuel and San Francisco Shock will go down this path.

Here’s the San Francisco Shock organization:

Ownership
NRG Esports is a prominent organization within esports that has had success in many different popular titles: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends, and Rocket League. Andy Miller, NRG’s CEO, and Brett Lautenbach, NRG president, Bowl throw their hat into the Overwatch League and will bring some ownership experience to the OWL.

Management
Andrew “Zwei” Baker takes on the responsibility of building the Shock roster, and on top of bringing on a team of non-Korean players, he signed on Brad Rajani and Dillion “LegitRc” Odeneal to be coaches. Two American born coaches that have familiarity with the players on the roster, and come in with plenty of coaching experience.

However, the front office had some turnover recently when former manager Maxwell “Hoturaz” Bateman was fired for sexual assault allegations. The organization quickly brought in LegitRc to help bring stability to the front office.

Roster
In the hope that the talented Shock roster will individually improve during the season, and surprise the Overwatch world while going through  a more strict training and practice regiment. It’s imperative that this team focuses less on winning and more on improving their game.

Unfortunately, two of the more talented players on the roster (Sinatraa and Super) will be inactive. As Overwatch fans saw at Blizzcon, Sinatraa is clearly the key piece to this franchise. Nurture his ability now and he could be a star down the line. The outlook for this team to contend for a title is to focus on winning in year two.

Photo via San Francisco Shock will

Andre “iddqd” Dahlstrom, DPS/Hit-scan
Favorite heroes:
McCree, Tracer, Soldier: 76
Iddqd, the 25-year old, Swedish born, hit-scan main, has proved over and over he’s one of the best McCree’s in the world. His 40% accuracy and damage output is the third highest of any other player on the team.

Furthermore, his aggressive play style and big play potential pairs perfectly with how the rest of the roster looks to play. Iddqd is a lock to be a starter this season. He will more than likely play the long range hit-scan role.

Andrej “Baybay” Francisty, Flex/DPS/ Hit-scan
Favorite heroes:
Soldier: 76, Genji, McCree
Baybay was always a player I believed to have the talent to contend with Koreans. While on Kungarna, Baybay was a major part of their success in the Winter Premiere and other major events. Dogman, Baybay’s former teammate agreed

“Baybay was really aggressive, and Kungarna was a team built around Baybay,” Dogman, on the Overwatch podcast.

In any case, Baybay showed plenty of promise, but getting the chance to face the world’s best competition should continue to improve his impressive gameplay. Baybay maintains the most damage on the team, and the second best accuracy. He’s the Shock’s bet Soldier: 76.

David “Nomy” Ramirez, Tank
Favorite Heroes:
Reinhardt, Winston
Nomy has consistently been one of North America’s best tanks throughout all of 2017. Nomy was instrumental behind some of the most memorable Immortals run. During the time when triple-Tank was popular, Nomy essentially carried Immortals to many Immortal victories, as the best North American team.

For this reason, Nomy should be one of the leaders of this team and a member of the Shock’s player core moving forward. On top of excellent blocking and positioning, his ultimate effectiveness is incredible. His success rate with earth shatter and ability to turn entire fights is unreal. His bet trait is his survivability with primal rage. Even at a number disadvantage, Nomy consistently keep fight alive with his ultimates.

Daniel “dhaK” Martinez, Support
Favorite Heroes:
Lucio
On the negative side, the Shock will run with only two true support mains. Both supports are also hero specialist, and there’s no Mercy-main. dhaK almost exclusively plays Lucio and will be the most crucial player on the backline got San Francisco.

Keep in mind, dhaK is a nice fit alongside a squad that likes to push forward. His Lucio is known to keep the speed boost up while having some of the best wall skating abilities of any Lucio-main. The decision to not run with a consistent Mercy, at this juncture, seems as if it’s a big mistake. Luckily, the two supports might be the perfect match for the tanks and DPS.

Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson, Flex
Favorite Heroes:
Genji, Soldier: 76, Ana
Generally speaking, Nevix was always a secret weapon for Misfits. Yes, it helps playing alongside Tviq, but Nevix was the player that pushed them over the top. The potential for triple-DPS compositions with Iddqd, Baybay, and Nevix on the backend could be deadly.

In terms of experience, no other player matches the number of high-level matches played than Nevix. He’s won the most money playing Overwatch on the team, and will be big part of this team’s success heading forward. He will fill into the open flex spot.

Sleepy’s Jersey. Photo courtesy of the San Francisco Shock

Nikola “Sleepy” Andrews, Support
Favorite Heroes
: Zenyatta
Sleepy is somewhat of a mystery. He has little to no major experience and is basically exclusively a Zenyatta main. Based on stats, he has low healing and low damage output as well. If there’s one player who could be considered a liability, it’s Sleepy.

Dante “Danteh” Cruz, DPS/Flex
Favorite Heroes
: Tracer, Sombra, Genji
The 18-year old, American born Danteh is an intriguing prospect. It’s clear he has talent, but is commitment going to be an issue? No, it’s not, Danteh is focused on Overwatch and becoming the best player possible. Even off the bench, he can have a major impact as a backline disruptor.

As a Tracer, Sombra, and Genji main, he’ll play a big role in changing the momentum of matches. Off the bench, Danteh can make it more difficult on a teams supports and give tanks troubles from behind enemy lines. This will be Danteh’s role this season.

Outlook on the season
It’s a developmental year for the San Francisco Shock. No Sinatraa or Super will force them to focus their contention intentions on season two. The key is develop players like Iddqd, Baybay, and Nomy. It’s important those guys catch up to the Korean level quickly.

After analyzing the roster, it’s clear there’s potential to have a surprise season, but at this juncture it seems unlikely. Players who have never carried teams are now placed into that position. The supports of danK and Sleepy also feel under-researched as the Shock will head I to season one with the worst supports on paper.

Finally, playoffs are in all likelihood out of the question. It has the look of one of the worst roster in the OWL, but don’t be discouraged because certain players could develop into stars. It’s a process and one the fans of San Francisco have to embrace.

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Featured image courtesy of the San Francisco Shock

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