The off-season has been so ridiculously busy that it’s been hard to keep track of who’s going where. Worry not, though – we made a list. It’s pretty good, if we say so ourselves.
Connor “Avast” Prince- Released
Woo-Yul “Kalios” Shin- Released
Mikias “Snow” Yohannes- Released
Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov- Released
The Uprising moved fast this off-season, releasing Kalios, Avast, and Snow on the 31st before also announcing Mistakes’s release on the 2nd. While the first three players on this list had little in the way of starting playtime, Mistakes was integral to Boston’s undefeated Stage 3, even with minimal scrim time leading up to his unexpected move to the front six. He won’t stay a free agent for long.
Brandon “Seagull” Larned- Retired
Christan “cocco” Jonsson – Moved to Assistant Coaching role
Sebastian “chipshajen” Widlund – Released
Fuel GM Mike “Hastr0” Rufail assured fans on Friday that changes were coming to Dallas, with six players optioned into their second year. He also confirmed the construction of a dedicated, LA-based training facility for the team, which is pretty neat.
The earliest confirmed move in Dallas is old (yet still depressing) news. What followed on Tuesday was slightly more interesting – firstly, the release of founding Fuel support chipshajen.
“We are fortunate to have had a talented player and selfless teammate like Chips represent Team Envy and the Dallas Fuel these last three years,” said Mike Rufail, owner of the Dallas Fuel. “Without Chips, there would have been no Envy Overwatch, no APEX championship, and no Contenders trophy. Chips was an integral part of our team and someone who created amazing memories for our organization and fans. We wish Chips the best wherever he chooses to play next.”
Paired with the announcement of chips’s retirement was cocco’s transfer to the coaching staff in Dallas. He’ll join the stacked staff of Aero, Jayne, Vol’Jin, and Tikatee in an assistant role.
We’re waiting to hear even more from the Fuel (most likely additions to the roster, rather than cuts or trades.) Expect a slightly longer wait time, though. Dallas and the other Season 1 OWL teams have until the 8th to resign their players, after which any leftovers will become free agents. Expansion teams then have an exclusive window from the 9th through October 8th, when all teams are free to grab whoever’s left unsigned. Dallas will be waiting for those deadlines to expand their power.
There was a (briefly accepted) rumor that Caleb “McGravy” McGarvey was set to join the Fuel as well, though he has since formally denied the claim. That sounds like something you’d say if you were trying to quell rumors, though…
Joonas “Zappis” Alakurtti – Released
Andreas “Logix” Berghmans – Released
Aleksi “Zuppeh” Kuntsi – Released
Sebastian “Zebbosai” Olsson – Released
Tim “Manneten” Bylund – Released
Johan “CwoosH” Klingestedt – Released
After staying mostly quiet through the early phases of the off-season, Florida dropped the bomb on Wednesday, releasing six of their nine players. Misfits (and Mayhem) Founder Ben Spoont has teased a big acquisition for Season 2, most likely centered around a Korean roster (or at least a strong core of players to build around.)
Stay tuned @FLMayhem fans. We will have a bunch of roster news to announce this week including re-signings, waivings, as well as a big acquisition. Our team has been hard at work creating the strongest possible team for S2.
— Ben Spoont (@benspoont) September 2, 2018
Speculation has run rampant around the Mayhem’s roster, given their lackluster performance in Season 1. Many called for a complete reconstruction, and it seems they’re getting their wish. Keeping aWesomeguy, Sayaplayer, and TviQ is a good enough starting point in Florida, and a chance to field one of the scariest and most flexible teams in the league.
Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell – Released
Matt “Clockwork” Dias – Moved to staff/coaching role
Lucas “Mendokusaii” Hakansson – Moved to Content Creator role
The Outlaws have a lot going on behind the scenes, but they’re taking their time with the announcements.
After announcing FCTFCTN’s release on the 2nd, Clockwork’s transfer to a staff role was announced the following day, with an ominous heading of “and no, we’re not done yet ” Flame told TGH on Monday that Clockwork’s new role would be a mix of staff & management duties, streaming and coaching assistance.
“If you wanna know why we scattered our announcements,” flame mentioned in a tweet on Monday, “it’s because we wanted [FCTFCTN] to get his own day, so he could get his own set of press and recognition we felt he deserved – especially going into free agency.”
“Not because we’re sadistic. That’s true, but not why ”
They might be sadistic, but flame did fans of his team a major solid with another tweet on Monday.
Also, you can all sleep well tonight, there may be more announcements, but no more freed up slots.
— flame (@flameIRL) September 3, 2018
So at least now we know that everyone left in Houston is staying Houston. Right? Right?
Chang-geun “changgoon” Park – Released from Head Coach
Kwangbok “Coach815” Kim – Signed as Head Coach
The Spitfire haven’t shaken things up too intensely this off-season – and why would they? Winning the Season 1 Grand Finals probably tells you something is going right. The one thing they did need to change was their Head Coach. Not that changgoon did a bad job, by any means – he simply got grabbed by the Dynasty, leaving the spot open in London.
His replacement was probably the flashiest option the Spitfire had access to. Coach815 has an illustrious track record across a variety of esports titles, including Heroes of the Storm, where he led MVP Black to a 41-game winning streak. He’ll definitely be a valuable addition to an already stacked Spitfire team.
If you want to learn more about Coach815’s pedigree, watch this video MonteCristo put together:
Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek – Traded to Seoul
Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa – Released
Joon-seong “Asher” Choi – Released
Ted “silkthread” Wang – Released
Byung-ho “Panker” Lee – To be signed
The Gladiators have made some big moves this off-season, but will need a few more yet. Most importantly – who’s gonna tank for them? With Fissure and iRemiix both gone, many are assuming that Gladiators Legion main tank Panker will be moved up to fill the gap. He’s more than ready, and could be the perfect fit up front with Bischu and Void. There’s no official confirmation of that move (yet,) but most sentiments we’ve seen are hopeful that Panker gets his shot.
The releases of Asher and Silkthread also point towards the Gladiators going for a Spitfire-style roster focus move, where Surefour and Hydration are trusted with the bulk of DPS duties throughout Season 2. That’s definitely not something to complain about!
Seb “numlocked” Barton – Released
Stefano “Verbo” Disalvo – Released
Finnbjörn “Finnsi” Jónasson – Released
Christopher “GrimReality” Schaefer – Released
After a quiet start to the off-season, the Valiant made some big, if not predictable moves.
— Los Angeles Valiant 👼 (@LAValiant) September 7, 2018
Releasing most of their bench is hardly groundbreaking for the Valiant, but it at least clears the air for the new free agents and sets the stage for the coaches to start focusing on set players as we head towards Season 2. That’s not even accounting for any additional signings the Valiant shoot for – not that they need anybody, necessarily.
Jun-Hwa “Janus” Song – Released
Hyeong-seok “WizardHyeong” Kim – Released
NYXL, like the Spitfire, don’t need to change much this off-season. So long as they keep who they have, I see no reason that this team couldn’t continue its regular season dominance a la Season 1. Unless…
WizardHyeong was often cited as a key difference-maker for New York throughout the season. Him leaving was not due to conflicts with the team – he was simply offered a better deal somewhere else. The Excelsior are left with some huge shoes to fill in his role – and if they aren’t filled just right, we could see a pretty big downturn in New York.
No pressure, though.
George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha – Released
Joe “Joemeister” Gramano – Released
Jeong-hwan “DayFly” Park – Released
Most are hoping that this is the extent of the cuts coming from Philly after a harrowing yet satisfying first season. The Fusion seem to have a found a good rhythm with their starters, most notably at DPS, where EQO and Carpe reign supreme.
That leaves Simon “snillo” Ekström in an interesting spot, but so long as that spot involves a contract for Season 2, I don’t think he’ll complain. He proved himself to be one of the most dominant Tracers in the league when she was at peak effectiveness – odds are that the Fusion are saving him for that dark day when her dominance resumes anew.
Also waiting for that day is Joona “fragi” Lane, who took to the bench in the last weeks of Season 1 as Su-min “SADO” Kim came off his 30-game suspension. Fragi is definitely a tank worth keeping in the dugout – but he’s also a tank worth reaching for if you’re a new team that needs a ridiculously strong front liner. We’ll see which of those he ends up in within the next couple weeks.
San Francisco Shock
André “iddqd” Dahlström – Released
Daniel “dhaK” Martínez – Released
David “Nomy” Ramirez – Released
The Shock moved quickly in the off-season, releasing their three least surprising players- IDDQD, who played for all of 90 seconds in a route against the Dragons in game 40; dhaK, who hadn’t played on the starting six since Grant “moth” Espe joined the squad mid-season; and Nomy, who had a similar experience after Matt “super” DeLisi turned 18. Each has the game sense and skill necessary to find a new home in short order. They’ve also had the most time to dig around, and certainly haven’t had anything else taking up their time for the past couple months.
As for any remaining moves, the Shock could keep the train rolling this off-season – Head Coach Crusty mentioned in an interview with TGH in Stage 4 that the team would be boot-camping in Korea, scouting new talent from the competitive ladder and Contenders scenes there. Spoiler: There’s some really good Overwatch players in Korea. Pair them off with Architect and Choihyobin, and put all of them under Crusty’s masterful eye, and you’ve got a scary Shock squad in Season 2.
Jin-woo “Gambler” Heo – Retired/Moved to streaming role
Jin-hyuk “Miro” Gong – Released
Gi-do “Gido” Mun – Released
Seok-woo “Wekeed” Choi – Released
Jae-mo “xepheR” Koo – Traded to the Florida Mayhem
Dae-kuk “Kuki” Kim – Traded to the LA Valiant
Seoul’s roster changes this off-season have been some of the most emotionally poignant. Formed from the core roster of APEX superstars Lunatic Hai, the Dynasty struggled to an 8th place finish in Season 1 – and they’re apparently not afraid to break up the most successful squad in pre-OWL history to improve their prospects in Season 2.
With Miro out in Seoul, one of the game’s most historic figures is in need of a new home – but he and his newly released fellows should have no trouble. Even at their lowest, these players have a fundamental understanding of the game that’s hard to match, and tons of potential to go with it. Expansion teams and franchises with needs at main tank, true flex or projectile specialist positions will gladly grab the Dynasty’s discards. In the right hands, each could be major impact players in Season 2.
Yage “Altering” Cheng – Released
Peixuan “Freefeel” Xu – Released
Zhaoyu “Fiveking” Chen – Released
Wenhao “Roshan” Jing – Released
Junjie “Xushu” Liu – Released
Gi-hyeon “Ado” Chon – Released
He “Sky” Junjian – Released
Dae-min “Daemin” Kim – Released
The only players LEFT in Shanghai – Seyeon “Geguri” Kim, Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee, and Weida “Diya” Lu – have their work cut out for them. In the next 4 months, they’ll have to integrate at least five new players and an all-new coaching staff, who will most likely be a confusing mix of Korean and Chinese. When they finally make it to Season 2, the pressure will be doubled – that first win will have to come soon, right?
If things don’t shape up, the Dragons may be mired in another difficult season, full of roster shuffles and staff rebuilds. If they turn things around now, though, we’re in for quite a story. Everyone wants to believe in the Dragons – they just have to make it worth their fans’ time.
The popular sentiment right now is that they didn’t exactly start things off right by cutting Ado. The former MVP Space star was single-handedly keeping the Dragons in contention in many of their closest matches – so why cut him?
The truth is, we simply don’t know. Rumor has it that he’s being scouted by no less than three separate teams right now- and any of them probably look like a rosier prospect than another season with the Dragons.
There’s a lot to talk about when you look at the six – or is it eight? Or nine? – teams coming to the league in Season 2.
First things first – we don’t really know most of them yet. Paris, Guangzhou, Atlanta, and Toronto are locked in. Potentially joining them – per rumors from a wild variety of sources of varying credibilities – are two more Chinese teams, a team in Washington DC, an additional European team, and an additional Asia/Pacific team, most likely located in Korea or Australia.
In what will supposedly be the final expansion of the 2018 off-season, the Overwatch League is set to add two new teams in Vancouver, B.C. and Chengdu, China. The news comes after a series of rumors alleging the addition of three new Chinese teams, which have now been confirmed with the addition of Chengdu, Guangzhou and Hangzhou.
Kate “Kate” Mitchell – Signed as GM
Hyeong-seok “WizardHyeong” Kim – Signed as Head Coach
Jun-Hwa “Janus” Song – Signed
Kate is building a powerhouse roster, which should be no surprise to anyone. She put together the most successful non-academy team in this past season of NA Contenders, and her talents will serve the Washington team well. The same can be said for WH and Janus, who were key components of NYXL’s Season 1 strategies.
The Vancouver team will be funded by Aquilini Investment Group, owner of Canucks Sports and Entertainment. Rogers Arena, which is owned by Aquilini, recently hosted Dota 2’s The International 2018.
Kyle “KyKy” Souder, Outlaws assistant coach and former Dallas Fuel Head Coach, is rumored to be in talks to take the Vancouver GM position.
The Chengdu team will be operated by Huya, a popular Chinese streaming platform. Tencent, a Chinese corporation with deep esports roots, invested over $460 million in Huyu in March of this year. Huyu is already the Chinese streaming partner for the Overwatch League, and broadcasts a variety of esports events in China.
In Paris, you could easily see an all-French roster signed, which would most likely involve Contenders EU team Eagle Gaming. If they could acquire SoOn, uNKOE, and/or aKm, we might see a French team that hearkens more to 1600s France than mid-1940s France. (That’s the one that did the conquering, rather than the surrendering).
The Parisian team’s investment group, McCourt Global, announced on September 7th that Drew McCourt will own operate the Paris team. Coaching or managerial staff are unknown as of the 10th.
Guangzhou has a wealth of Chinese talent to choose from – much like Shanghai did. The trick will be in the execution. Chinese Overwatch figure Baojie declared in a tweet on the 2nd that at least a portion of Chinese Contenders team LGD Gaming will sign on in Guangzhou, which is a good starting place, at least.
We know little and less about the Toronto squad, beyond its partial ownership by Splyce, who fielded a team for a short time in Overwatch’s pre-OWL competitive scene. Developments have come through in recent days, though, namely the acquisition of former Spitfire Head Coach Bishop and the transition of former Splyce Player Management executive Jaesun Won to GM. Popular speculation around Toronto implies that the team will spare no expense to push for playoffs in Season 2, with a full suite of support staff on deck and eyes set on the best (mostly Korean) players money can buy. A straightforward strategy, to be sure – but will it work?
Atlanta made several staff acquisitions on the 10th, including LNL analyst Silence, One Point Head Coach Casores (who joins Atlanta as Player Development Coach), Angry Titans/Team Canada analyst Danny_OW, and Korean translator dongminrocks.
Keeping you in the Know
This article will update as news breaks, so be sure to check back in periodically for more news on the Overwatch League’s crazy off-season! Thanks for reading!
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