The Pacific Division teams weren’t the only ones making moves during the signing window. Four of the six Atlantic Division teams made roster changes or additions within the past few weeks, and that’s gonna mean some big changes for stage 3 and beyond. I took a look at some of the biggest changes below.
5. ArHaN- Houston Outlaws
Now don’t get too mad at me for putting Won-hyeop “ArHaN” Jeong here. The acclaimed Genji star probably won’t be joining the boys in black ’til stage 4, but his starpower is just too good to ignore.
ArHaN has been a big name in Overwatch for a long time. He hails from APEX circuit teams Afreeca Freecs Blue and Meta Athena, early stomping grounds for notable OWL pros like Hae-Seong “Libero” Kim, Dong-Gyu “Mano” Kim, and WooYul “Kalios” Shin. ArHaN made a name for himself off the back of some fantastic DPS play, as well as some not-so-great Dragonblades. If you thought Twitch chat spamming “J LUL K E” was bad… just wait til Air-han makes his return to the stage. This is coming.
That’s not to say we can only expect meme plays from the guy, mind you. ArHaN was an integral part of South Korea’s first Overwatch World Cup championship team, and something tells me he hasn’t lost his edge since. It’ll be up to head coach Tae-yeong “TaiRong” Kim to fit him into the Outlaws’ notably Western play style, though, and he’ll have to brush up on his English while he’s at it. Plenty of pros have made the transition, and I’m not worried about ArHaN doing the same.
What I am worried about is where exactly ArHaN is going to fit in this roster. Perhaps this addition signals that Houston wants to let their DPS act as specialists on smaller sets of heroes, like Linkzr with Widowmaker and Hanzo, or Jake on Junkrat and Pharah. With Tracer savant Mendokusaii coming in any day now, they’ll certainly be able to play things that way if they wanted to. Will it be the right move for the Outlaws, though?
4. TiZi- London Spitfire
You know what the team with the best main tank in the league needs? That’s right! Another main tank!
This move might make more sense than you’d think at first glance. Jae-Hui “Gesture” Hong is, as I said, the best tank in the league. But he’s only one man. In Overwatch, flexibility is the name of the game, and that’s exactly what the former Runaway star Janghyun “TiZi” Wang would bring to the table. He’s no Kaiser, sure, but maybe that’s not what the Spitfire needs right now. Maybe they have that already.
Gesture can definitely hammer down with the best of them, and his Winston is nothing to sneeze at, either. What TiZi brings is aggressive, intelligent Winston play, with sharp reflexes and great game sense- not unlike Fissure, the guy he’s replacing as backup main tank. Having a player with that sort of power in his pocket is an absolute necessity for playoff-hopeful teams like London.
3. aWesomeguy- Florida Mayhem
Sung-hoon “aWesomeGuy” Kim is one of a few additions made to the Florida Mayhem, and one of the most interesting. Known for his Winston and Zarya play, he’ll be right at home in Florida, who use both heroes liberally in their tank-heavy lineups. Like ArHaN, aWesomeguy played for Meta Athena before being picked up by an Overwatch League team. There must be something in the water…
It remains to be seen if aWesomeguy will be taking over the main tank role entirely from long-standing frontliner Johan “CWoosH” Klingestedt, but if he does, we could see CWoosH return to his roots as a Genji specialist- something I’d definitely be down to see. Even if he doesn’t, the Incheon native will add depth to an increasingly stacked roster as we enter into stage 3. With the addition of flex player Joonas “zappis” Alakurtti and the next person on this list, the Mayhem are looking downright dangerous.
2. Sayaplayer- Florida Mayhem
The other guy Florida has added is even more impressive than the other two, in my mind. Sure, zappis fits right in with the EU boys, and aWesomeguy is an awesome guy (sorry, sorry,) but Sayaplayer… man. Sayaplayer is something else.
When you look at the Florida Mayhem’s DPS core, you see two things: Kevin “TviQ” Lindström, the flex god, and Andreas “Logix” Berghmans, the Tracer/Widowmaker specialist. They’re both really good. And in the last weeks of stage 2, each played a pretty integral role in Florida’s surge in the standings.
Sayaplayer will take the Mayhem’s performance at DPS even further beyond. Like aWesomeguy and ArHaN, Jung-woo Ha was plucked from the fertile grounds of Meta Athena. Unlike aWesomeguy and ArHaN, Sayaplayer had been on the MA roster since 2016, sticking it out through the team’s extensive roster makeovers as they chased greatness in the APEX circuit.
All good things must come to an end, though, and Meta Athena’s oldest son has left the nest in a big way. His move across the Pacific will bring a host of new opportunities for the seasoned veteran, as well as his new team. And while Sayaplayer and TviQ have some overlap in their hero pools, but there’s nothing saying the two can’t specialize on certain maps, or get play against certain opponents as needed. We’ll have to wait and see how flexible Florida gets, but something tells me they’ll keep things loosey-goosey.
1. FCTFCTN- Houston Outlaws
A majestic eagle soars through the air, its screeching cry signalling the advance of Freedom from sea to shining sea… as FCTFCTN takes the stage for the Houston Outlaws. It’s a (partial) reunion of last year’s Team USA, and I couldn’t be happier- well, except right around here.
You could say Houston didn’t need Russel “FCTFCTN” Campbell. Austin “Muma” Wilmot is a phenomenal main tank, one of the best in the league, and he’s been rock-solid all season long. He gels well with Shane “Rawkus” O’Flaherty and Jacob “Jake” Lyon, and the fans love him, too.
But was Muma on stage in Santa Monica, flying around like a bat out of hell, swatting supports out of the sky? You bet your V-12 diesel pickup truck he wasn’t, brother. He was in Ohio, probably, because that’s where he’s from. And he was probably watching his future teammates rain fire from the heavens, the American way.
Another person watching was Outlaws GM to-be, Matt “Flame” Rodriguez. Flame wanted a roster with talent, charisma, and conscience above all- and he saw all of those qualities in team USA. Rawkus, Jake, and Matt “Coolmatt” Iorio were an easy fit in his vision, and the rest of the Houston Outlaws fell into place- minus a couple players, like Jay “sinatraa” Won of the San Francisco Shock, or XL2 support main Adam “Adam” Eckel. What is it with these guys and using their normal names?
FCTFCTN’s absence from the initial roster was a point of contention for fans, but Flame knew he wouldn’t be out of the lineup for long. The team announced the Mississipi native’s signing in mid-February, and now we’ll (hopefully) see another piece fall into place for the Outlaws. And I’ll be there with this guy.
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Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul and Blizzard Entertainment