The eight new expansion teams have had people talking since they first announced their addition to the Overwatch League. Since then, anticipation has only built around the rosters they have created. Between World Cup stars, renowned streamers, and the former RunAway roster, expansion teams have searched far and wide for their talent. Some of them have created squads that could already rival their season 1 counterparts.
With that in mind, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one player per team to keep an eye on. Certain players have become some of season 2’s most anticipated. The players mentioned here might not always be as well-known, but their history and skill earns them a closer look.
Atlanta Reign: Dong-hyeong “DACO” Seo
The Reign have pulled in talent from all over the world for their roster, filling each role with notable names from the Contenders scene and beyond. They have a lot of potential, and that’s perhaps most evident in their tank line.
DACO joins Atlanta’s squad following a long, largely successful run with Element Mystic. He has already proven himself as a strong D.Va player, making him invaluable to his new team. With D.Va’s dominant pick rate, the Reign can only benefit from a well-versed specialist on the hero. With DACO, they have found exactly that.
DACO’s main tank partner from Element Mystic, Hyun-jun “Pokpo” Park, will also play on the Reign this season. DACO was a powerful enough pickup on his own, but keeping him and Pokpo together provides the team with an established tank duo right off the bat. The two have a real chance to thrive in this meta, and they could soon become one of the most commanding tank pairs in the league. Combined with two-way player Blake “Gator” Scott, who demonstrated his own skill during his run with ATL Academy, DACO and Pokpo make up one of the strongest tank lines among the expansion teams.
Chengdu Hunters: Ma “LateYoung” Tianbin
Those who follow the Chinese Overwatch scene might be more familiar with LateYoung’s successes than the general Overwatch League fanbase. A renowned Zarya player, LateYoung made a name for himself on Miraculous Youngster, a team that also produced his Chengdu teammates Wei “jiquiren” Yansong and Zhang “YangXiaoLong” Zhihao. More recently, LateYoung played on Team CC, the Shanghai Dragons’ academy team, with fairly average results.
The 2018 Overwatch World Cup gave LateYoung a chance to shine for a new audience. Team China blew expectations out of the water by making it to finals, and their tank line in particular stood out. With his addition to the Hunters, LateYoung has the opportunity to build on the attention he got from a more international crowd. His demonstration at BlizzCon is a sign that, despite most expectations about Chengdu’s performance, he could potentially stand out on his own. With so much to learn about the Hunters’ lineup, keeping an eye on LateYoung is a good place to start.
Guangzhou Charge: Jin-seo “Shu” Kim
The Charge have revealed more about their playstyle than most of the teams covered here. Their showmatch against the Seoul Dynasty served as an unofficial introduction, providing a first look at what to expect from them moving forward.
Throughout the showmatch, support player Shu often stood out among his teammates, largely due to his aggressive Zenyatta play. The Charge as a whole held their own against Seoul, but there is something to be said for a new player who can fearlessly counter the renowned Ryu “ryujehong” Je-hong. Of course, Shu isn’t heading to the Overwatch League without experience; his professional history includes time on Toronto Esports and Meta Athena. However, most observers hadn’t expected much out of Guangzhou in their first match against a returning team, even if it was a showmatch. If Shu’s performance there was any indication, he’ll be a formidable player for the Charge, especially when combined with fellow support Jung-yeon “Chara” Kim.
Hangzhou Spark: Ho-jin “iDK” Park
Most of the discussion surrounding Hangzhou’s roster has focused in on Xu “guxue” Qiulin, who shot into the spotlight for his performance at the World Cup. Though guxue definitely deserves the hype surrounding him, many of his teammates come from equally impressive backgrounds. Support player iDK is best known for his time on Lucky Future Zenith, and has two Contenders championships under his belt from his time with them. He is particularly skilled on Lúcio, a hero that’s currently all too necessary to have a specialist for.
Lucky Future Zenith had plenty of success moving their players into the Overwatch League this season. Including iDK, five of their players earned places on teams. From a storyline perspective, it will be particularly interesting to see iDK face off against his former teammates on the Atlanta Reign, Shanghai Dragons, and Seoul Dynasty. Beyond that, however, iDK’s role as Hangzhou’s main support gives him a chance to demonstrate why he belonged on such a highly regarded Contenders team. The Spark have picked up some big names out of Contenders Korea, and iDK will want to show that he fits right in.
Paris Eternal: Roni “LhCloudy” Tiihonen
LhCloudy hails from Team Gigantti, a Contenders squad known for producing nearly every notable Finnish player in the Overwatch League. He joined them in 2018, following the 2017 roster’s migration to the league, and quickly stepped up to the plate as their main tank. In his last season with Gigantti, the team pulled off an 18-2 map record, the best in European Contenders for that season.
LhCloudy is no stranger to proving himself, and joining the Eternal’s tank line will give him a chance to do so again. Despite a decently experienced roster, Paris remains a team of many unknowns, and many fans expect an unremarkable performance out of them. LhCloudy has the chance to step up once again and bring his work with Team Gigantti to the Overwatch League stage. Joined in the tank line by Benjamin “BenBest” Dieulafait and Finnbjörn “Finnsi” Jónasson, his season ahead is an opportunity to take the forefront in defying expectations for the Eternal.
Toronto Defiant: Joo-seong “RoKy” Park
The Toronto Defiant provides RoKy with a next step in a long and storied Overwatch career. His competitive history includes time on APEX competitor Foxes and Contenders Korea team Seven. Most notably, he played on X6-Gaming, and was part of the squad that won the first season of Korean Contenders. After spending so much time in the professional scene, moving into the Overwatch League is a solid next step.
As a support player for Toronto, RoKy finds himself in a position to step up for his team immediately. Fellow support Se-hyeon “Neko” Park starts off the season serving a three-game suspension, leaving RoKy and Jae-yoon “Aid” Go to fill the role in the meantime. Most fans expect Neko to play as a starter once he can come back to the stage, with RoKy and Aid splitting time as the other half of his support duo. However, if the two shine from the beginning, the three could end up on stage in any variety of combinations. How Toronto adapts to this early suspension could set the stage for their support line through the season, and it will be especially interesting to see how late pickup RoKy fits in.
Vancouver Titans: Sang-beom “Bumper” Park
With a roster as heavily anticipated as Vancouver’s, it’s difficult to single out just one player to highlight. Bumper, however, boasts a flexibility that few in the league can match, and seeing that in action is bound to be a treat. During his time on RunAway, he became proficient in a variety of tank and support heroes, though he committed to a main tank role during Contenders 2018.
Throughout Season 1, many teams struggled to deal with meta changes, largely due to lacking the proper specialists. Bumper’s ability to easily flex could help the Titans through some mid-season changes that trip other teams up. Combined with his aggressive playstyle and built-in synergy with the rest of Vancouver, Bumper could become a star player, even on one of the highest rated expansion teams.
Washington Justice: Riley “Fahzix” Taylor
Fahzix made a name for himself on NRG Esports, a long-lived Overwatch squad currently playing as the San Francisco Shock’s academy team. His teammate Ethan “Stratus” Yankel joins him on the Justice, providing the team with some added synergy once Stratus turns 18. Beyond his Contenders experience, Fahzix has grown his name as an educational streamer. His game sense and skill on Ana have served him well so far, and Washington can only benefit from both.
Fahzix’s knack for analysis could be just what Washington needs to pull through their debut season. The Justice head into season 2 as one of the most unproven expansion teams. If they can get an early grasp of their own strengths and weaknesses, however, they have a chance to prove people wrong. Seeing how Fahzix brings his understanding of the game to the stage could translate into results for Washington, especially when combined with a solid coaching staff.
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Featured image courtesy of the Chengdu Hunters.
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