The London Spitfire just benched four players: Good move or not?

In a Tuesday afternoon tweet, the London Spitfire announced a move that has shocked fans across the world.

“Effective immediately, the following players are designated as inactive on our roster…”

The names listed were a surprise at first glance, but make perfect sense after giving it a little thought. There were plenty of factors that forced London to this point with their roster, and a lot of it had to do with on-stage performance. Behind a mediocre Stage 3 and a terrible start to Stage 4, though, lie some deeper issues for the Spitfire.

 

Out with the old…

HaGoPeun


Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment 

I hate to say it, but HaGoPeun is a straight step down from Bdosin. This move (and Hooreg’s) made the most sense. Yes, he did get this absolutely ridiculous play that one time, but his consistency just isn’t at the level London needed it to be. In a league full of insanely talented Zen players, you need to bring your best. Jjonak can smell weakness. He can sense fear. His wrath knows no bounds.

In any case, the Spitfire are supremely confident in Bdosin’s ability, and he’s never given them reason to doubt his play. Bdosin may well be the player London builds around, modeling their efforts after NYXL’s Jjonak-centric approach. You can’t say it hasn’t been working, and if you can’t beat ’em, why not join ’em?

Hooreg


Here’s the deal- Stage 3 showed us that Hooreg simply couldn’t hang. Everyone knew that he had less stage time and less mechanical skill than Birdring, and that gave every team going up against the Spitfire an easy in. Put pressure on Hooreg, run heroes that counter what he’s good at, win the game. Easy stuff. While he may have gelled a bit better with his team with more play time in Stage 4, Birdring is where the Spitfire want to invest their time right now. Even in his very rusty state, Birdring has the potential to blow fights wide open and win maps. That’s what the Spitfire needs more than anything right now. Splitting stage hours between the two of them with season playoffs on the way just doesn’t make sense for London, and they knew it. I’m ok with this change.

Woohyal


Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Spitfire’s second string off-tank saw a decent amount of play time, and did fairly well when on stage to boot. In this new Rein/Zarya focused meta, though, even a skilled D.Va player like Woohyal finds himself without a home.

There are plenty of heroes he can learn to flex to in his time off, at least. Off-tanks moving to Brigitte is something we’ve seen a lot of lately, and I think Woohyal has the reflex and game sense to be really, really good with her. If Brigitte isn’t nerfed to the ground within a few patches, being able to play her will be a must for any flexible off-tank player, or any new team looking for an off-tank.

TiZi


My initial reaction to seeing TiZi on this list was one of blind rage. He never even got to play a game on stage! He was our first chance to see a former RunAway player on stage! Runner would have been so proud!!

Looking at it with a little more context, though, the move makes just as much sense as the rest. I’ll let Susie explain:

“Tizi is an amazing Rein player. Like holy moly. But the rest of the team has already adapted to Gesture’s play style and he’s been consistent for us; there really was no space to incorporate Tizi as much as we wanted to. When we picked him up, we thought that we’d be getting a 12th player as well to keep things even but awkwardly ended up being 11.”

That last part is maybe the most important, even past the (totally valid) point about being used to Gesture’s play style. A 12-man roster means you can have one half of your team scrim the other. That means you can keep your secret strategies secret, try out different roster combinations on the fly and increase general efficiency by a lot. An 11-man roster means finding other teams to scrim you, while five of your players ride the bench at a time. There’s a big difference there, and that big difference may have been the deciding factor in all four of these moves.

 

The start of something new?

This move is the first of its kind in Overwatch League history, and its results will likely shape the dynamic of team rosters in a pretty major way. If London can come back to stage champion form with this streamlined roster, other teams going for a deeper playing field might look to trim down themselves. If it turns out this loss of flexibility bites the Spitfire in the butt, well… we’ll all be wiser at London’s expense.

Was this a good decision? Yes and no. Publicly announcing a decrease in roster depth is a major strategic blow to the Spitfire, whose 11-man roster was always a wild card that teams were forced to prepare for. That said, the variability hasn’t exactly been yielding results. Focusing on a small core (one of the strongest in the Overwatch League, no less) will definitely make things easier for London’s coaches. They’ll just have to hope that the efforts to refocus the roster haven’t come too late.

 

 

 

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Aaron “Aero” Atkins is the Dallas Fuel’s New Head Coach

The Dallas Fuel have hired former Fusion University player Aaron “Aero” Atkins as its head coach for the Overwatch League, per a tweet from ESPN writer Jacob Wolf. Aero’s first match as head coach will be on Wednesday against the Shanghai Dragons.

Aero was the former head coach of the Philadelphia Fusion’s Academy team, Fusion University, and lead them through an auspicious Contenders run. His efforts culminated in a 4-1 victory in the grand finals vs. Boston Uprising’s Academy team, Toronto Esports. Prior to his tenure with Fusion University, Aero also coached FNRGFE, whose members (with the exception of Casey “Buds” McIlwaine) were signed to the Houston Outlaws for Season one of the Overwatch League. In total, 12 of Aero’s former players are currently playing in the Overwatch League.

 

“We have a lot of respect for the success Aaron has achieved as a coach in competitive Overwatch. His work this year with Fusion University speaks for itself, putting together an undefeated run with players from across the globe who are playing together for the first time. And when we won Overwatch Contenders in 2017 as Team Envy, I remember being impressed by how focused and prepared Aaron had the FNRGFE team we faced in the playoffs. We’re excited to bring his mentality, track record of winning, and the cerebral way in which he approaches the game to the Dallas Fuel”   -Team owner Mike “hastr0” Rufail, in a statement on the Fuel’s official OWL page

 

2018-04-27 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

As the new Dallas Fuel head coach, Aero will have his work cut out for him. Dallas has been one of the most notoriously unstable teams in the league, far removed from their original expectations as a top seed They currently hold tenth place with a 6-24, -47 record, only four maps ahead of the Florida Mayhem. Their star Tracer player, Hyeon “EFFECT” Hwang, also recently announced via his stream that he would not be playing in stage four at all, citing stress and mental health concerns. Team owner Mike “hastr0” Rufail stated in a tweet that the Fuel’s resources have been deployed in full to assist EFFECT and all the Fuel’s players in managing the rigors of the Overwatch League. With playoffs out of reach, one can only hope that Aero can help the Fuel stabilize in time to make a better showing in season 2.

 

“I want to build teams that are going to be the best in the world. I strive to make sure my players are the best they possibly can be – both in how they prepare and perform in any given week, but also so they are ready down the line, six months or a year from now. Dallas has the components to be great, and I’m thrilled to go to work with the Fuel in the Overwatch League.” -Aaron “Aero” Atkins

The Fuel’s new contract with Aero extends through season two. Interim HC Emanuel “Peak” Uzoni is now resuming his role as assistant coach.

 

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Ryujehong reminds the Overwatch League: Seoul are in it to win it

At first glance, putting support superstar Ryujehong on Winston doesn’t sound like the best idea. In practice, though, it’s proven to be the Seoul Dynasty’s smartest change yet.

How embarrassing


2018-04-26 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Ryujehong, for all his skill on heroes like Ana and Zenyatta, is not a great Winston. He can’t juggle players with Primal Rage like Fissure or xQc. His shield timings could be better. His engagements were often a little too early, or a little too late. With a host of little flaws in a game that has no margin for error, many Seoul fans braced for impact as the horde of Outlaws faithful in the arena prepared for a gleeful slaughter. Seoul’s game against London the day before had shown that Jehong still had a long way to go before he could handle top-tier tanks, and Muma is no slouch, to be sure. In the end, though, the two fan-bases switched demeanor entirely. How could Jehong’s awkward, newly-minted main tank play help his team crush Houston so convincingly?

Let’s coordinate our efforts


The key was, as it so often is in Overwatch, communication. Ryujehong made up for his middling main tank mechanics by having a plan for every push. His communication and decision making are his greatest strengths, beyond all the head clicking and sleep darting, so why not use them?

Playing to those strengths is harder than it sounds in a frenetic game like Overwatch, and it didn’t always work for Seoul. A strict focus on certain strategies often left Jehong & Co. unprepared for Houston’s signature curve balls, but clean comms and insane mechanical play from the Dynasty’s deep roster often compensated for it. Overthinking can often be just as dangerous as under-preparing- you have to have a certain balance of flexibility and structure to really succeed. That balance will take some time for a player learning a new role in a pro setting, to be sure, but it will be so worth it.

 

Houston, uhh, we have a problem


2018-02-10 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Outlaws often made life difficult for Seoul over the course of their four-game series, but there were plenty of times that they made things easy, too. While it’s clear that they’ve worked hard to perfect their strategy of controlled chaos, such methods can quickly go off the rails if they aren’t keeping a good hold of things in game. And things definitely got away from them, as evidenced in the scoreline.

Ultimately, Seoul just caught the Outlaws on a bad day. They looked tired. There were no caffeine-gum speeches from Jake, no coy winks to the camera. Just flat, beleaguered expressions. The stage break is definitely going to help Houston, but I think the Dynasty will benefit plenty, as well. They’ll have lots of extra time to get Ryujehong used to working in his new role, and to develop more of those set strategies that worked so well for them in week five. If they can nail down their new play style, and finally lock in a good roster, we could be seeing a return to force for the Dynasty- and not a moment too soon. Seoul’s still in the playoff hunt, after all.

 

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KSV Rebrands as Gen.G, Prepares to take the Mobile Esports Scene by Storm

KSV IS NOW GEN.G

GLOBAL ESPORTS ORGANIZATION REBRANDS AND EXPANDS

 

Gen.G’s New Clash Royale Team Joins Organization’s Existing Stable of Championship Esports Teams in the Overwatch League, League of Legends, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds

Out with the old, in with the new

Global esports organization and industry leader KSV eSports has officially rebranded to Gen.G, a title that reflects the organization’s elevated focus on establishing a new Gold Standard of excellence in global esports for a new generation.

To accompany this change, the company is unveiling fresh logos, branded jerseys and more. These new benefits apply for current and future Gen.G teams competing in the world’s most popular esports, including Overwatch, League of Legends, and PUBG. The rebrand highlights Gen.G’s focus on setting the gold standard for gaming lifestyle and culture.

“Gen.G fully represents our vision to set the gold standard for the global esports industry,” said Kevin Chou, CEO of Gen.G. “We are bridging the gap between east and west, and ushering in a new generation of esports entertainment for teams and spectators around the world through unrivaled fan engagement, premier athlete development, and strategic business partnerships.

 

staying mobile

As part of the rebrand announcement, Gen.G is also announcing first details for a new esports team in Shanghai playing in Supercell’s China Clash Royale League.

Gen.G’s leadership boasts more than 20 years’ combined experience in mobile gaming. Through the founding and building of Kabam, the mobile game developer behind several blockbuster titles, such as Marvel: Contest of Champions, Gen.G has established itself as a major force in the mobile esports scene. Kabam’s has had great success operating in China for more than 7 years with 400 employees. Backing from major mainland companies, including Alibaba, puts Gen.G in a great position to use their experience to set the gold standard in mobile esports.

“Gen.G’s experience working in China and with mobile games give us invaluable insight to the mobile esports market as we welcome team G.O to our organization in Supercell’s Clash Royale League,” said Kent Wakeford, COO of Gen.G. “Our highly-experienced executive team has a proven track record of success, providing unparalleled insights into best practices for our franchises that allow us to provide world class amenities and support for fans, athletes and brands.”

The Chinese Clash Royale team establishes Gen.G as one of the first organizations to operate in all three of the largest esports markets (S. Korea, United States and China). Tapping into China’s 183 million active mobile gamers affords Gen.G the opportunity to leverage past experience and success to connect esports fans and brands across borders.

 

Don’t forget about us

On top of their new, mobile esports ventures, Gen.G is also making sure its commitment to its other esports teams stays as strong as ever. Their list of accomplishments across franchises is, frankly, hard to ignore.

The Overwatch League’s Seoul Dynasty is a part of Gen.G, with stars like ryujehong and Fleta forming the backbone of a fantastic team. Their League of Legends team won the 2017 LoL World Championship in Beijing. Gen.G’s Heroes of the Storm team went undefeated to become the HotS Global Champions at BlizzCon 2017. Their PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds teams won the inaugural season of the Afreeca PUBG League and currently hold 1st place in both the OGN PUBG Survival Series and APL Season 1. Gen.G’s Clash Royale team is ranked in first place in the China Clash Royale League, as well.

 

For more information on Gen.G:

 

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Brigitte in the Overwatch League: A five word horror story

Plenty of people have critiqued the Overwatch League for limiting balance changes to only take place between stages. I’m one of those people. Five weeks of Mercy dominance was painful, and the discordance between live balance changes and the Overwatch League’s sluggish iterations is jarring, to say the least. With Brigitte in the Overwatch League’s active roster next stage, things are about to get even worse.

 

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Fortnite Scholarship Program One of Many in new Collegiate Esports Push

In almost every conversation that’s ever taken place about the esports industry, there has been one driving concept.

For those invested in the industry, one goal to push towards. For those who were a bit more skeptical, one point of contention. For both, one major focus. Legitimacy.

People in the esports industry, above all else, want their work to be seen as legitimate. Players want to be seen as professionals, skilled laborers with something to contribute to society. Managers and organizers, tech guys and sound guys, writers and content creators (like me!) all want to be seen as more than a bunch of nerds wasting their time on video games.

Many of those people (like me!) are in college. Oftentimes, that makes things even worse. If you’re trying to balance going pro with managing your grades, you’re usually gonna have a bad time. That might be changing soon, though.

Play to Pay

Today, more than ever, colleges are stepping up to support these “nerds” in pursuing their passion. With the rise of professional esports leagues and increased esports visibility, universities across the country have introduced scholarship programs for budding collegiate esports stars. 

Photo Courtesy of UC Berkeley News

UC Berkeley, for instance, recently announced the development of an esports community center in partnership with local franchise NRG Esports. NRG’s Chairman and Founder Andy Miller also owns the Overwatch League’s San Francisco Shock.

In the same press release, Miller explained the logic behind these big moves. “By investing in this esports program, we’re investing in the future: technology, reinvented community, new learning models, and of course, the students.”

“Not only is UC Berkeley one of the most prestigious institutions for higher learning in the world, but it also runs the best collegiate esports program in the country. We look forward to the many things we can do together not just in our Northern California market, but hopefully throughout the esports community as well.”

Always an industry leader, Cal have also announced a partnership with League of Legends developer Riot Games. This agreement paves the way for Berkeley to launch the inaugural League of Legends Intramural Esports League this fall. More importantly, it gives Cal the chance to eventually provide scholarships for these new student-athletes, keeping them afloat as they balance academics and competition.

“We’re pleased to add another dimension through a new intramural league and scholarships,” Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton said. “We’re looking forward to advancing the potential of our students and of collegiate esports with this partnership between Cal and an industry giant like Riot Games.”

Accent on the “U”

Berkeley aren’t the only ones getting in on the collegiate esports scene, though. Ashland University, a comparatively sleepy college of 5700 students in a 20,000 strong Ohio town, are stepping up to match the Golden Bears’ efforts

Graphic Courtesy of Ashland University Esports

They’re offering prospective students up to $4000 a year to play for the school’s Fortnite team, and have programs in other major franchises like Overwatch, CS:GO, and League of Legends. On top of the scholarship, all the players get a full peripheral kit, complete with keyboard, mouse, and headset. With coaches and training centers decked out with the latest equipment, it’s clear that Ashland are in for a penny, in for a pound.

Ashland’s all-in approach has clearly paid off. With articles written by journalistic giants this level of visibility is unprecedented for a school so small. Yet here we are, talking about a school that may very well change the face of collegiate esports forever.

Collegiate esports as a stepping stone

What’s special about these new programs is not their novelty. It’s what their adoption represents in the overall esports picture. Universities big and small see esports as a chance to make money and bring recognition to their own brand. More importantly, they are recognizing esports as a legitimate enterprise for their students to pursue alongside a degree.

Now more than ever, collegiate esports can be used as a stepping stone to greater careers in the industry. Ashland University’s Overwatch team could field the next Overwatch League star. Cal’s intramural leagues could show us the next big League of Legends team, or the next big pickup in CS:GO. With a degree in hand, these new players won’t have to worry about what to do when their esports career is over. Skeptics won’t be able to sneer about their lack of education or life skills, either. They’ll have everything they need to succeed, in and out of the esports industry. I can’t think of anyone who loses in that situation.

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Contenders Finals: Teams you need to know about

If you’ve followed Overwatch before the OWL was a thing, or are interested in the rising stars of the game, you’ve probably been watching Contenders. If you don’t fit any of those labels, though, worry not! Right about now is the perfect time to jump in on the action.

Season 1 of Contenders has been ongoing for some time now, but many regions are quickly approaching their final games of the season. Each region showcases the best of the best in local Overwatch. While there are seven regions in all, today I’ll be going over the biggest names in the scene: the North American semifinalists. Let’s get to it!

The North American Contenders scene is arguably the largest and most popular. NA features plenty of old and well-respected names in the minor-league Overwatch scene, as well as a few new teams and a few more “academy” teams. These teams are developed by existing Overwatch League franchises to train the next generation of OWL stars, and have the extensive resources and training regimens of an Overwatch League franchise at their back. Many even practice with their OWL counterparts, giving them the edge in training and coaching over their smaller-scale opponents.

Seven of the eight teams that made it to the quarterfinals were academy teams, and three of those advanced to the live semifinals in Poland. The fourth team is a particular favorite of mine. Let me introduce you properly…

 

EnVision eSports- McGravy, Jaru, iShiny, Fire, Crimzo, Buds

Image result for fire envision esports

Image Courtesy of EnVision eSports

EnVision started working on their roster in January 2017, and quickly became a staple of the early Contenders era. Their roster had a healthy mix of strategic thinking and raw mechanical skill, and pulled off some impressive tournament wins. Despite their smaller stature when compared to giants like Rogue and EnvyUs, EnVision held their own through Contenders Season 1, falling to Faze Clan in the semifinals. Players from Faze Clan later moved on to the Houston Outlaws (Rawkus, SPREE, FCTFCTN) and the Philadelphia Fusion (ShaDowBurn, Carpe), so a third place finish wasn’t so terrible, really!

After some time off between seasons, EnVision rebuilt their roster and got back into the tournament groove. Second place finishes in the PIT Championship and the BEAT Invitational leave EV with a lot to prove in Contenders, but the team certainly has the experience to give their opponents a run for their money.

 

Toronto Esports- Axxiom, Dalton, Shu, Kruise, nero, Guardian

Image result for fire envision esports

Image Courtesy of Toronto Esports

Toronto Esports is the first of the three academy teams. They’re partnered with the Boston Uprising, though Toronto as a team existed before the Overwatch League did. They rebuilt their roster in early 2018 (much like EnVision), and blazed a trail through the Overwatch Open Division.

Despite the loss of their main support Grant “moth” Espe, who was signed by the San Francisco Shock, Toronto maintained their momentum through the regular season with ease. They signed Harrison “Kruise” Pond, a well-known DPS main turned support star, and kruised all the way to the semifinals. (I am very sorry.)

With their tickets to Poland secured, Toronto are no doubt preparing to face off against EnVision for a spot in the Grand Finals against the next two teams on this list. With a 4-1 record and the greatest map differential in all of Contenders (+14,) they’re a strong candidate to win it all.

 

Fusion University- WhoRU, ZerG, ZachaREEE, crakinlakin, Beasthalo, Alarm, Elk

This team has the most interesting collection of names (and talent) I’ve ever seen. Let me break it down for you.

Image result for fusion university

Image Courtesy of Fusion University

Seung-jun “WhoRU” Lee is a legendary DPS player, who played for Lunatic Hai (now the Seoul Dynasty) when they were slamming all of their APEX opponents into the dirt on their way to a back-to-back championship run. His Genji play is the stuff of dreams, and his game sense is some of the best in the history of Overwatch. And that’s me going easy on the praise, here.

Haydin “ZerG” Gordon is fourteen years old. Yeah. I know. He was so good that he caught the Fusion’s attention without playing in a single tournament. He was so good that Kephrii accused him of hacking, several times. (Wait, he does that with everyone. Forget that part.) What was I saying? Really, REALLY good. Yeah.  

Zachary “ZachaREEE” Lombardo was a mainstay for longstanding minor league team Renegades, who participated in some of the earliest Overwatch tournaments out there. Fun fact- Renegades was founded by MonteCristo, the famous caster and analyst for the Overwatch League. The organization is now owned by Jonas Jerbko, who plays basketball for the Utah Jazz.

For the sake of your attention span, I won’t go over the rest, but Beasthalo, crakinlakin, Elk and Alarm are all absolutely phenomenal talents who work hard and study harder to be the best at what they do. And with an acronym like FU, how can you not root for these guys?

 

OpTic Academy- kellar, RinaVX, SharP, Voll, Kaiser, smurf, Aid, Greyy, Tehpwnzorr

If you’ve followed any other esport, you know the name OpTic. The Green Wall has been a fixture in the competitive DOTA, CS:GO, and Call of Duty circuits, and their ventures into Overwatch (Optic Academy and the Houston Outlaws) have been no less successful. Just like Fusion University, this roster is utterly stacked, and the raw talent contained within the confines of their team house is really something special.

Image Courtesy of OpTic Academy

My personal favorite among them is their main tank- Sang-hoon “Kaiser” Ryu. Kaiser hails from a little Korean team called RunAway, and is responsible for the most impressive Reinhardt play in the history of the game. That is not a statement you can usually make about an Overwatch player. Yet here I stand.

And that’s just one guy!! OpTic has it all, really, and that’s going to make for some impressive Overwatch when they face off against FU in May. For a preview of that action, a regular season match between the two teams is available here. I know what I’ll be watching on repeat for the next two weeks…

 

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The LA Valiant have failed their first test of the stage

The LA Valiant have been the talk of the town in Blizzard Arena, and not without reason. Their roster additions have clicked, their mechanics are sharp. A perfect start to the stage has reflected the immense effort the team has gone through to improve from their so-so start to the season.

The thing is, though, all that success has come against teams that had no right to beat the Valiant. Seoul has fallen from grace this stage. Shanghai and Dallas are… Shanghai and Dallas. The win against San Francisco was probably the most convincing of the bunch, given the Shock’s current 4th place standing, and the 3-2 win against the Gladiators was as even as could be. Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson put it best- the Valiant are a bit overrated right now, especially with a host of other teams giving us strong showings lately.

That point was driven home this week against the London Spitfire. Like the Valiant’s match against the Gladiators, it was a close finish- but all series long, the Spitfire poked and prodded all of the Valiant’s uncomfortable vulnerabilities. It was the Valiant’s first true test- and they failed miserably.

 

a Negative profit margin

2018-02-10 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

A good Tracer player can often turn the tide of a fight, or even an entire series if you let them run free. The LA Valiant know this, and signed Joon-hyuk “Bunny” Chae from the Seoul Dynasty in between stages two and three. He’s been a real highlight player for the Valiant, and his synergy with the rest of his team has been impressive.

You know another Tracer with impressive mechanics and team cohesion? Profit. He’s been playing at a (T-Mobile) MVP level all season long, and made another strong case for himself here against the Valiant. Against Bunny (or anyone else in green,) Profit sliced his way through the noise with efficiency, and escaped situations that would normally leave him dead on the ground. Bunny just couldn’t keep up, and it showed in key 1v1 situations. Even when Profit was taken care of, Bunny could sometimes get a little ahead of himself. He’ll need to sharpen up in the Valiant’s last four games, three of the Valiant’s four opponents have world-class Tracer players (Logix, Snillo/Carpe, and Striker.) If he doesn’t, well… hopefully he likes In N Out.

 

Not So Agile anymore

2018-02-24 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Speaking of In N Out, Agilities had an interesting series here against the Spitfire. I wouldn’t say it was a good interesting, either. His Genji did work, and his Pharah shredded on Nepal, but you could tell that the Spitfire were making the adjustments they needed to handle him. On Oasis, they had his number. A spread out play style and the occasional stray sandal to the face proved to be all it took to keep Agilities from getting much of anything done, and in a key tiebreaker, minimizing one player’s performance is as good as gold.

The Spitfire never even ran a counter Pharah, or a Mccree. A Sombra was enough, and that says a lot about the Spitfire’s strategic thinking. The way they positioned themselves on Oasis kept the Valiant honest, and Sombra’s newly-strengthened EMP is a death knell for Pharah players everywhere. It may be time for the Valiant to take a second look at their playbook on Pharah-focused maps, especially with SoOn proving his mettle as a flexible hitscan specialist. I mean, look at this! How can you see plays like that and sub SoOn out for map five? The Valiant have come a long way in terms of structure and cohesion, but still have some lessons to learn at the strategic level- namely, the value of keeping a player that’s running hot.

 

Still a ways to go

This isn’t all to say that the Valiant are toast, mind you. All missteps aside, the hometown heroes have put up an impressive showing this stage, and have a lot more yet to prove as we approach the stage playoffs once again. They’ll just have to hope that they can fix their mistakes before they have to take on any more big names.

 

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With KyKy Gone, the Head Coach Hunt is on in Dallas

The Dallas Fuel are wasting no time after announcing the release of Head Coach Kyle “KyKy” Souder. The Fuel announced in their April 15th press release that a new coach should be announced within the week, with several candidates on the list in negotiations already.

The coaching pool in the Overwatch League is probably not as deep as the Fuel would like it right now, but there’s no shortage, either. Who will the Fuel deem worthy to take the helm? More importantly, who will be willing to step into the most chaotic franchise in the league?

Ex-OWL coaches, current Contenders coaches, and even certain players may be a good fit for the Fuel. I’ve compiled a short list of potential candidates that Hastr0 and Co. might have their eyes on this week. As always, stay tuned to The Game Haus for more developments as they break.

 

Bishop to DF

Photo courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment

Perhaps the highest profile candidate to consider would be Lee “Bishop” Beom-joon. The London Spitfire’s former Head Coach has a history of success, and despite mentions of interpersonal conflicts within the Spitfire, he maintains that he left the organization on good terms. Bishop also tried out for the Fuel’s Head Coach position in the early phases of the league, though KyKy got the spot in the end. It would make sense for the Fuel to give Bishop a call, and his track record is hard to ignore.

A Korean coach might also be a boon for the Fuel’s lone remaining Korean, Hyeon “EFFECT” Hwang. He recently took to Twitter that he might leave the team altogether if things don’t improve. With a sword like that hanging over the Fuel’s head, Bishop might be their only hope to keep their star Tracer player.

 

Who’s better than MESR

Across Texas, the Fuel could find their next Head Coach in former Team USA star Adam “MESR” De La Torre. He’s made a name for himself as the assistant coach and support coordinator for the Houston Outlaws, and players under his purview have plenty of good things to say. MESR also played with Seagull on Team USA in the first Overwatch World Cup- that goes back a ways, but would be a good stepping off point within the team to help build some synergy early on. For the right price, the Fuel could bring on a sharp mind with the right experience to rally the scattered boys in blue.

 

Actually, This head coach is fine

Dallas could always choose to keep Peak in his new spot, and build around him. Their interim Head Coach has experience with Misfits and Arc6, and could potentially fix a lot of the Fuel’s problems. With Peak at the helm, options to take his old spot would be much more flexible, and probably less expensive.

Daniel “Gods” Graeser, center, sits with Ruben “ryb” Ljungdahl (far left) and Lucas “Mendokusaii” Håkansson (right) in an Apex Season 2 match. Photo courtesy of OGN Apex.

New assistant coaches could focus on player synergies or feedback, and could come from places with more in-game experience than other candidates. Potential tryouts could include NRG flex Daniel “Gods” Graeser, XL2’s Adam “Adam” Eckel, or Orgless and Hungry manager Thomas “Morte” Kerbusch.

Morte is one of the most experienced and level-headed members of the competitive Overwatch community. He would carry a lot of respect in an old-school organization like the Fuel. Adam is a historic player in his own right, and has struggled to find his place in the league itself. His fairly successful tenure within XL2 could dissuade him from abandoning his aspirations as a player, though.

Gods has prior experience with Seagull on NRG and Luminosity, two of his first teams, and has some of the best game-sense in the scene according to BishopThat sort of recommendation could get him a shot in the league at last, even if it isn’t as a player on stage.

 

Think you know who will take the Head Coach spot in Dallas? Follow me on Twitter @thibbledork and let me know!
Questions? Message me on Discord! (thibbledork#0282)

Featured photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

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