Esports Overwatch

Overwatch League Season 2 Preview: Philadelphia Fusion

Last season, the Philadelphia Fusion became one of the most entertaining teams to watch in the Overwatch League. Their aggressive playstyle often kept fans on the edges of their seats as they took their opponents to countless map five matches. With players from nine different countries, the Philadelphia Fusion have the most diverse roster in the league. Where most mixed teams tend to struggle with language barriers and cultural differences, the Philadelphia Fusion have created something magical within their core team. At this point, people say the Fusion are more like a family than a team. Together, the team overcame many obstacles during their first season. They are looking to come back into the Overwatch League stronger than ever and ready to show the world what they’re truly made of.

ROSTER

Philadelphia Fusion
Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Fusion

A TALE OF UNDERDOGS

The Philadelphia Fusion faced an uphill climb last season. With the suspension of SADO before the season began, the Fusion had to think quickly. Instead of SADO and HOTBA taking the main stage, the Fusion put in fragi and Poko to start things off. Both tanks did well, with Poko making a name for himself with every flashy self-destruct he dropped. Once SADO was able to play for the Fusion, fans were upset to see Poko and fragi take the bench. Their tank line looked messy for a while, but towards the end of the season, Poko and SADO found great synergy with one another and managed to turn things around.

Philadelphia Fusion, EQO
Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Fusion

Along with SADO’s suspension, the team also had trouble with visa issues. These visa issues did not let Eqo join the team until midway through the season. Eqo’s late arrival to the party cast out ShaDowBurn, who has a more subdued playstyle in comparison to his former teammates. The Fusion faced some difficulty with their DPS lineup as they tried to figure out who worked better with who. With four DPS players, all with different playstyles, it was tricky. In the end, it would be Eqo and Carpe who would become the Fusion’s core DPS duo.

INCONSISTENCY

These outlying factors played a big role in the Fusion’s inconsistency throughout season one. Their inconsistency is the one thing that people tend to remember most about their inaugural season. Viewers believe that the Fusion will be just as inconsistent going into season 2 but assistant coach ChrisTFer thinks otherwise.

During a recent AMA with the Philadelphia Fusion’s coaches, ChrisTFer answered a question regarding Philly’s inconsistencies. “I think people overlook how big a deal the Visa/suspension situation places on a team,” said ChrisTFer, “A lot of the reasons the team was inconsistent last season [were] outside factors. This season I’d expect our team to have a much more consistent core and everyone is available from day 1. I don’t think you will see the same inconsistencies this season.”

ROSTER CHANGES

Sado
Philadelphia Fusion by Robert Paul and Blizzard

The Philadelphia Fusion did a massive rehaul of their roster during the offseason. They let go four of their players: Jeong-hwan “DayFly” Park, Joe “Joemeister” Gramano, Hong-jun “Hotba” Choi, and Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Guschcha. Joemeister retired from playing professionally and is now the head coach for Harrison University Storm, a collegiate esports team. Both Hotba and ShaDowBurn have moved on to different teams: the Guangzhou Charge and Paris Eternal respectively.

Focusing on tightening their core team, the Philadelphia Fusion only made one new addition to their roster. Elk is a support player fresh off of Fusion University. Along with Elk, Snillo is the second member of the Philadelphia Fusion with a two-way contract. Both Snillo and Elk have been thriving while playing for Fusion University. Depending on how things go for Fusion University, fans might not see either play on the main stage that often. However, they are still great players who fill out the Fusion’s roster perfectly should the Fusion ever need to sub them in.

STAFF CHANGES

HAYES AND HWI

During the offseason, the Philadelphia Fusion also made some major changes to their staff. One of the biggest changes was the promotion of former head coach Yann “Kirby” Luu to Director of Overwatch Operations.

Fusion
Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Fusion

Taking Kirby’s place will be co-head coaches Hayes and Hwi. Hayes was the head coach of Team UK during the 2018 World Cup. Team UK exceeded most viewer’s expectations when they defeated Team USA during the quarterfinals. Hayes has gained a reputation as an excellent head coach over the past couple of years. He has worked closely with many European players in the League and will be able to use his knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses to the Fusion’s advantage.

Hwi was the head coach for BK Starz before they disbanded in 2017. Hwi went on to coach for Laser Kittenz and FaZe Clan before joining the Philadelphia Fusion. Hwi has tons of experience under his belt; his

CHRISTFER

Philadelphia Fusion, Christfer
Image courtesy of the Philadelphia Fusion

Last week, the Philadelphia Fusion announced the addition of ChrisTFer to their coaching staff. ChrisTFer is a former British player who stepped down to become a full-time coach last fall. ChrisTFer is best known for his time on Mosaic gaming and for playing for Team UK during the 2017 and 2018 World Cups.

His experience playing as a main tank will be extremely beneficial to the Fusion’s tank lineup. Going into season 2 there have been many questions regarding who the starting tank lineup will be. Last season, the Fusion stubbornly stuck to their starters, barely subbing in other players even when things were looking grim. With ChrisTFer on the team, the Fusion should hopefully see a more natural rotation between its three tank players.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

NEPTUNO

Philadelphia Fusion, Neptuno
Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Fusion

Without a doubt, NeptuNo is one of the best Mercy players in the Overwatch League. His risky rezzes and aggressive playstyle caught the eyes of many fans last season. His dedication to the game is incredible; during playoffs for the Grand Finals, he subbed himself in while being ill and suffering through a kidney stone. His determination is admirable but it did cause him to suffer from player burnout, especially after the Fusion lost to the London Spitfire.

During the offseason, NeptuNo took a brief break from the game. He opted out of playing for Team Spain during the World Cup to focus on rediscovering his love for the game. He streamed more often, giving tips and tricks to his viewers as he practiced other healers such as Ana and Lucio. NeptuNo worked incredibly hard during the offseason and that effort showed during the Fusion’s show match against the New York Excelsior. While the Fusion did not win, the team looks much more cohesive and NeptuNo is a big part of that.

CARPE AND EQO

Philadelphia Fusion, Carpe, Eqo
Photo courtesy of VGR

Last season, Carpe was one of the more consistent players on the Fusion’s roster. His calm demeanor really plays up to his assassin-like playstyle. Clicking headshot after headshot, Carpe wowed audiences with his mechanical skill. However, with GOATS being the current meta, DPS players have been struggling. Hopefully, the Overwatch League won’t see another Mercy-meta type situation where viewers are stuck watching it for months on end. If it does last, Carpe probably will not see that much playtime in favor of Snillo who has more experience playing Brigitte thanks to his time playing for Fusion University.

EQO’s aggression makes him more viable during the current meta. GOATS is an aggressive composition and his playstyle fits perfectly. He also has experience on Brigitte and other projectile heroes like Mei, who can be subbed in for a variation of GOATS. Both Carpe and Eqo are incredible players but the current meta might cause some trouble for the Fusion’s DPS this season. Despite this, they are still two players to keep an eye on.

STAGE ONE SCHEDULE

Stage one is going to be filled with rival matchups for the Philadelphia Fusion. Teams like the London Spitfire, Atlanta Reign, and Paris Eternal are going to give the Fusion a run for their money and it’s going to be exciting to watch.

LONDON SPITFIRE

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

What better way to start the second season of the Overwatch League than with a good old fashioned revenge match? The Philadelphia Fusion faced a crushing loss to the London Spitfire during Grand Finals. This is probably the most important game of the Philadelphia Fusion’s season.

This game is important on both sides. The Fusion are going to be coming into this matchup with a major chip on their shoulders. They want to prove that they deserved their spot in the Grand Finals, despite their loss. On the other side, the Spitfire will be looking to hold their title as champions. Both teams have a lot to lose in this matchup, as it will determine how both teams will look for the remainder of the first stage.

ATLANTA REIGN

On paper, the Atlanta Reign have many similarities to the Philadelphia Fusion that make them appear to be like the Fusion’s newest rival. They have one of the more diverse rosters in the league, with players hailing from Denmark, Germany, Korea, and the United States. There’s a lot of individual talent on the team, but it is unknown how they will play together. However, we have seen some incredible plays from two-way player Blake “Gator” Scott during his time on Atlanta Academy. The Reign’s tank lineup, also featuring Hyun-jun “Pokpo” Park and Dong-hyeong “DACO” Seo, looks incredibly strong.

The Reign also have found steller support in Steven “Kodak” Rosenberger. Kodak popped off multiple times while playing for Team Germany during the Paris Qualifiers. The only player who might be hit or miss is Daniel “dafran” Francesca. Dafran has an interesting history with professional Overwatch. He is known for previously throwing ranked matches while playing for Selfless Gaming. Keeping that in mind, alongside a brief moment where it appeared like Dafran had quit the team during the offseason, fans of Atlanta don’t quite know where to place him. His unknown status might prove to be a challenge, but the Reign should not give the Fusion too much trouble during this first match.

FLORIDA MAYHEM

Florida MayhemWhile the Florida Mayhem might have won the walk-in game, the team did poorly during their first season of the Overwatch League. They finished in 11th place last season, only having done slightly better than the 0-40 Shanghai Dragons.

For most viewers, they are projected to be even worse this season because of the bizarre changes the Florida Mayhem have made during their offseason. With the exception of Kevyn “TviQ” Londström, the Florida Mayhem are unrecognizable going into season 2. The team looks disjointed and their management seems to be in shambles. This should be an easy victory for the Philadelphia Fusion.

DALLAS FUEL

2018-03-02 / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

The Dallas Fuel had a turbulent first season. They had many more downs than ups while facing against other teams in the league. After the Fuel signed on coach Aaron “Aero” Atkins, things started to look up. During stage 4, the Dallas Fuel started to have an incredible comeback. Nearly making it into stage 4 finals, viewers began to see a glimmer of something special forming before the season ended.

With Brandon “Seagull” Larned announcing his retirement to focus on streaming, the Dallas Fuel also parted ways with Sebastion “chipshajen” Widlund. Christian “cocco” Jonsson was kept on as an assistant coach. Along with these changes, the Fuel brought in Won-sik “Closer” Jung and Zachary “ZachaREEE” Lombardo. They managed to maintain the integrity of their core roster from last season so they have had a full year to refocus as a team. The Fuel will more than likely present a challenge to the Philadelphia Fusion going into this matchup.

WASHINGTON JUSTICE

Much like the match against the Florida Mayhem, this match should be a no-brainer in terms of who will take the victory. The Washington Justice are one of the more unpolished expansion teams. Many originally praised the Justice in terms of their pickups in head coach Hyeong-seok “WizardHyeong” Kim and Joon-hwa “Janus” Song. However, the drama surrounding General Manager Kate Mitchell and former San Francisco Shock analyst Harsha Bandi had soured fans by the time the official roster was announced. In comparison to the other expansion teams, the Justice’s roster is the weakest. While anything is possible when it comes to competitive Overwatch, it does not seem likely that the Justice will shine much during stage one.

LOS ANGELES VALIANT

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

Since the announcement of Terence “SoOn” Tarlier’s departure from the Los Angeles Valiant, many have doubts with how they will do this season. This mentality is a great disservice to the Valiant. They had a strong first season during the Overwatch League. They overcame many obstacles before finally winning stage 4.

While SoOn is a great DPS player, the Valiant have many strong players on their roster. With players such as Indy “SPACE” Halpern, Brady “Agilities” Girardi, and Young-soo “KariV” Park still on their roster, the Valiant will be one of the Fusion’s tougher opponents this season.

PARIS ETERNAL

Out of all expansion teams, the Paris Eternal are looking to be one of the most organized. With the addition of former Fusion player Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha to their roster, this might be a tough match for the Fusion. Both ShaDowBurn and the Fusion have inner knowledge about each other’s playstyles that they can use to their advantage. The Eternal also have a lot of talent on their team in players such as SoOn and Benjamin “BenBest” Dieulafait. The Eternal’s coaching staff are also one of the best in the league. While many seem to doubt the Eternal’s capabilities, they will probably prove to be one of the Fusion’s strongest competitors just based on the raw talent the team has available.

WILL THE FUSION MAKE THE PLAYOFFS?

The Philadelphia Fusion should definitely earn another spot in the playoffs this season. They have worked incredibly hard on their communication skills, their team synergy, and overall mentality. By focusing on strengthening their core roster during the offseason, the Philadelphia Fusion are looking to come back stronger than ever. While many seem to believe that their inconsistency issues will still be a problem this upcoming season, that simply isn’t the case.

After all, it’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward.

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