The holiday season is upon us, and that means people everywhere are fretting over the looming specter of Secret Santa gift exchanges. While you worry about what to get Janice from Accounting, I will don my bright red jacket and furry hat to fill the stockings of the Overwatch League.
The rules are simple. Every team will receive one addition that I believe would improve them the most. For example, if we did this during Season 1, the Houston Outlaws would have been delighted to find Park “Saebyolbe” Jong-ryeol waiting for them under the tree. No player can be used twice (nobody likes a regifter) and no team will give more than two players. With that being said, let’s get in the holiday spirit, starting with the Pacific Division. Each player’s current team is in parentheses.
Chengdu Hunters: Xu “guxue” Qiulin (Haunzhou Spark)
Rightly or not, the Chengdu Hunters have the weight of Chinese Overwatch on their shoulders. The only team with predominantly Chinese talent, their success or failure will surely be seen as representing the entire region. Adding Guxue to this team would go far to assuage some of the doubts going into Season 2. After a breakout performance at Blizzcon, he could could serve as a great focal point for Chengdu and even the playing field against elite main tanks. He is a bona fide star and would slot in nicely next to World Cup teammates Ma “Lateyoung” Tianbin and Li “Yveltal” Xianyao.
Dallas Fuel: Josue “Eqo” Corona (Philadelphia Fusion)
It may seem strange to gift a DPS player to a team that already has four on the roster. The problem is that all four have never shown the ability to play projectile DPS consistently at the highest level. Adding Eqo removes any question about who should pick up that role and ensures we never have to see another aKm Dragonblade again. His ability to play anything and everything would allow the Fuel to get creative with their stable of hitscan talent, creating surprise tactics and letting them focus on specific heroes or maps. More could be traded to fill holes elsewhere or provide depth at other positions. How Dallas handles their DPS situation will be fascinating to watch when the season starts, but Eqo would give clarity.
Guangzhou Charge: Koo “Fate” Pan-seung (Los Angeles Valiant)
To be a contender in the Overwatch League, a team needs elite players at multiple positions. Guangzhou has one surefire star in Lee “Happy” Jung-woo, the hitscan maestro and centerpiece of their 4-man Meta Bellum core. Guangzhou still need another and Fate would give them a proven top-3 main tank. Pair him with Choi “HOTBA” Hong-joon and you have a battle-tested front line to lead the Charge. His veteran leadership would mean a lot to a team of mostly fresh faces.
Hangzhou Spark: Ma “Lateyoung” Tianbin (Chengdu Hunters)
The Spark roster is already loaded front to back with top-shelf talent, so this gift might not get much use. Still, it will put some pressure on Park “Ria” Sung-wook for the flex tank role. Lateyoung’s D.Va play at the World Cup put him on the map. A spot here gives him the chance to prove himself against one of Korea’s best. Plus it will bring more of a Chinese presence to the team, reuniting three of the best performers from China’s World Cup run. He probably would not start immediately, as Hangzhou would likely lean on the X6 Gaming core they built the roster around, but he could definitely force his way into the lineup as the season progresses.
Los Angeles Gladiators: George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha (Paris Eternal)
This is a team without any glaring weaknesses. Even after shipping Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung to the Seoul Dynasty, the Gladiators have found two capable replacements in Gye “rOar” Chang-hoon and Lee “Panker” Byung-ho. They have reinforced the support and DPS lineups as well. One spot with potential for improvement is the flex-DPS position currently held by João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles. ShaDowBurn was relegated to the bench during Season 1. He should be hungry, ready to prove himself again. His patient play style would work well next to Lane “Surefour” Roberts and round out what is already a contender.
Los Angeles Valiant: Kwon “Striker” Nam-joo (San Francisco Shock)
The Valiant bring back the majority of a roster that claimed the Pacific Division crown last year. So why do they feel depleted, lessened so dramatically by the departure of Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and the disappointment of last season’s playoffs? Soon was not the best player on LA, but he felt essential. It’s unclear if Chae “Bunny” Jun-hyeok is an adequate replacement or if they have the right partner to pair with him. Enter Striker. Arguably the best player from the Boston Uprising squad that pulled off an undefeated stage and shocked the world, Striker would instantly give LA one of the scariest lineups in the league. The trio of Striker, Fate and Indy “SPACE” Halpern would be the backbone of an otherworldly dive composition. Plus, Striker’s presence would lift the pressure on whoever grabs the second DPS spot.
San Francisco Shock: Benjamin “BigGoose” Isohanni (Los Angeles Gladiators)
With a Season 2 roster already filled to the max of twelve, San Francisco lacks depth at only one position: main support. BigGoose is a proven commodity who can be expected to perform immediately. He would both challenge Grant “moth” Espe for the starting spot and give this team some playoff experience. Especially with Lucio heavily-used in the current meta, BigGoose would bring a different dimension to the Shock, one that increases their ceiling as they look to replicate their success from the end of Season 1.
Seoul Dynasty: Lee “Stitch” Choong-hui (Vancouver Titans)
Seoul already have one carry DPS on the roster in Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun, so why not add another? With Stitch permanently taking up the hitscan duties, Fleta would be free to flex his muscles on his preferred heroes, Genji and Pharah. They could share Widowmaker duty based on team needs. They can split the burden and give Seoul the firepower it was lacking last year. Combined with the blockbuster trade to acquire Fissure, picking up Stitch would turn Seoul into potential favorites next season, and get them back to their winning ways.
Shanghai Dragons: Gye “rOar” Chang-hoon (Los Angeles Gladiators)
In an attempt to wash off the stink of the 0-40 season, Shanghai parted ways with all but three of their players — Weida “Diya” Lu, Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon and Lee “Fearless” Eui-seok. They now look to build around the 4-man group brought in from Kongdoo Panthera. ROar would add a fifth to that group and ensure that this team avoids the pitfalls from last season — a failure to mesh and communicate from the jump. Fearless is by no means a bad player, but I would be wary of giving any of their returning players an uncontested starting role.
Vancouver Titans: Jung “Anamo” Tae-sung (New York Excelsior)
It seems unlikely that Vancouver would begin the season playing anything other than the Runaway roster. They are capable individually and highly cohesive as a unit. If there is one area with room for improvement it is in the supports. Kim “Rapel” Jung-geun, the only non-Runaway addition to the roster, is there to challenge for the flex support role. Anamo will do the same for the main support spot. Even if he never left the bench, Anamo could provide value to Vancouver. His veteran presence and Overwatch League experience would work wonders for a team leaving Korea for the first time and upping the level of their competition.
Ten presents for ten lucky Overwatch League teams. Tomorrow we will be taking on the Atlantic Division, including the reigning champs, the London Spitfire, so be sure to check back in for more Overwatch League Secret Santa.