Since the end of an abysmal inaugural season, the Shanghai Dragons have cleaned house with most of their organization. There were several areas that were addressed not only in the middle of the 2018 season, but also in the offseason leading up to stage 1. With new players and staff, Shanghai could end season 2 with a completely opposite result.
Only a small handful of inaugural Shanghai members remain on the roster, but the ones who have stayed are the pieces that are needed to fit this puzzle.
Assistant Coach: Xiao “creed” Yan
Manager: Yang Van
Operations Specialist/Interpreter: Aaron Xiang
Operations Director: Michael Sun
DPS: Weida “Diya” Lu
Flex Tank: Se-yeon “Geguri” Kim
Main Tank: Eui-seok “Fearless” Lee
Although there were not many bright spots in season 1, the leadership that these members bring back will be crucial in adjusting the plethora of new members to the Overwatch League. Still a teenager (age 19), Geguri has proved time and time again that adversity will eventually be overcome (aimbot accusations on team Dizziness, the first OWL female player). Being a fan favorite, a 2018 Pacific All-Star, and having six new teammates, Geguri will need to instill a winning culture in Shanghai in game 1 vs Hangzhou.
The list of players who were let go is a long list, since Shanghai decided to revamp their roster for season 2. Players who are currently not on teams include Korean DPS Dae-min “Daemin” Kim, Chinese Tank Wenhao “Roshan” Jing, and Jujuan “Sky” He. Flex player Junjie “Xushu” Liu now competes for Legend Young Beyond, a Chinese streaming clan, while Support Peixuan “Freefeel” Xu currently competes on Young Kaiser Gaming. Three former Dragons are present in the Chinese Contenders scene; including Yage “Altering” Cheng (Flag Gaming), Dongjian “MG” Wu (Big Time Regal Gaming) and Zhaoyu “Fiveking” Chen (Team CC, Shanghai’s academy team). The only former Dragon in the OWL for season 2 is Gi-hyeon “Ado” Chon, who will be performing for the Washington Justice.
DPS: Min-seong “diem” Bae
DPS: Jin-hyeok “DDing” Yang
DPS: Yong-Jin “YOUNGJIN” Jin
Flex Tank: Joon-hwan “GuardiaN” Cho
Main Support: Seong-hyeon “Luffy” Yang
Off Support: Son “CoMa” Kyung Woo
Head Coach: Seong-hwan “BlueHaS” We
Assistant Coach: Chung-Hyeok “Levi” Jeong
Players Manager: Yue “Bear Chen” Chen
Operations Specialist/Translator: Haotian Piao
Operations Specialist: Zheng Yang
Staff Member/Translator: Zheran Zhang
Chief Hypeman: Huang “Xiaose” Xudong
With a revitalization in the organization, it would be ignorant to say that Shanghai’s new roster isn’t an improvement to last season. The new additions to the roster have battled with the best in their respected Contenders regions. Although diem is the only new Shanghai player that has experience in winning Contenders titles, the placing of Toronto Esports and KongDoo Panthera shouldn’t be undervalued.
While GuardiaN was with Toronto Esports on NA Contenders seasons 1 and 2, both years they lost to the eventual champions, Fusion University. Back in season 1 of NA Contenders, Toronto held the best regular-season record in the region. Their ride was short and bittersweet, as they lost to Fusion University in the Grand Finals. The team featured some now-OWL members, including Elijah Hudson “Elk“ Gallagher and Zachary “ZachaREEE“ Lombardo.
Shanghai signed four different players from KongDoo Panthera (YOUNGJIN, DDing, CoMa and Luffy) along with head coach BlueHaS. Although season 1 in the 2018 Korea Contenders was not where KongDoo Panthera wanted to place, they showed signs of promise. KongDoo Panthera met the dynasty RunAway in the first round of the playoffs and forced the match-up into five maps. KongDoo eventually took the loss, but not without a close fight.
Team KongDoo Panthera spent the offseason preparing for season 2, and they came out on fire. With YOUNGJIN, DDing, CoMa, Luffy and BlueHaS still in the organization, they rallied for the second-best record in the region. Obliterating opponents 6-1 in the playoffs before the Grand Finals where they met RunAway to face off once again. They proved to be RunAway’s best competitor, forcing an eight-match series. Although KongDoo Panthera lost in the final map to place second, coach BlueHaS and the four players have proved that they can make drastic improvements in a competitive league in a short time.
Having no current timetable of return for Fearless puts a dent into Shanghai’s hopes, but doesn’t put them out of the count. Hangzhou is considered to be one of the stronger expansion teams in season 2, and DPS player Kyeong-bo “GodsB“ Kim may provide problems on his ability to destroy with hitscan heroes. Shilong “Krystal” Cai for the Spark will be suspended for account boosting in this matchup, so this may be enough to slide a win with the DPS player. Vancouver will be an even tougher matchup week 1, as the Titans already look like a playoff team. The Boston Uprising surprised many last season, and new signee tank players Park “Axxiom” Min-seob and Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth have a chance to disrupt the Shanghai’s weakened front line.
Chengdu should come as a nice break for Shanghai, as their lineup is depleted of experience and DPS talent. Dallas will be an interesting matchup, and the two straight games against them will determine stage 1 as a success or deja vu. Shanghai will run against Dallas as the most improved team in season 2, but look for them to at least secure one win. London will be the toughest of the weekend, losing no key stars and adding DPS player Hee-dong “Guard” Lee.
Week 1 could easily be Shanghai’s toughest week of the entire season. Playing against two top-five teams in the first week in the Los Angeles Gladiators and NYXL will not be enjoyable for Shanghai fans. Facing off against Chengdu again in week 2 will hopefully place the Dragons back to winning. They’ll face the Mayhem and the Outlaws soon after, which Houston should give them a struggle.
The Dragons will obtain a bye week and avoid matches in week 4 during the Dallas Fuel weekend. Coming into week 5, a matchup versus the Washington Justice could provide a warmup for their next match against the Shock. With San Francisco’s strong support lineup, Shanghai will count on their mix of DPS players to tear down the healing.
The Valiant will be a David and Goliath story, despite LA losing Terence “So0n” Tarlier to Paris. In addition to questions still filling the Valiant’s DPS and support spots still open, their choices up to this point will create the gameplan to win. The next matchup versus the Atlanta Reign will depend on keeping Shanghai’s support staff alive. Main tank Hyun-jun “Pokpo“ Park and DPS Daniel “dafran“ Francesca will look to create havoc for Shanghai.
The matchups in week 3 don’t look pretty, with games versus the LA Valiant and the Gladiators. Those two matches will make week 4 versus the Charge even more critical, as it will be a must-win to stay relevant. In an exhibition match against Seoul earlier this offseason, the Charge seemed to play perfectly in almost every facet. If a win doesn’t come then, it would (hopefully) come in week 5 in their matchup in Atlanta. The Fusion will be Shanghai’s last stage 3 matchup, and they will be looking to give the Dragons their own version of the ‘Philly Special.’
With two matchups in week 1 against Vancouver and Seoul, Shanghai should be thrilled to snag even one win. Despite Seoul’s underwhelming season 1, Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung is a main tank that is arguably the best in the league. With maybe a slow start for Toronto in season 2, a wonky composition and scheme can throw off Shanghai. The Dragons will need to prepare for anything and everything to escape Toronto with a victory. This could hopefully give them the confidence to take over their week 3 matchup versus the San Francisco Shock.
Opening week 4 versus the Dynasty will provide difficulties again for Shanghai, but hopefully week 1’s game could provide some openings to scheme against. Shanghai must not take the Paris Eternal lightly though, as Terence “SoOn“ Tarlier can easily change the course within seconds. In the final match of the regular season, the Dragons will face off against the Spark once again. Whoever lost the first match in stage 1 week 1 will be looking for revenge, as it prevented either team from their first OWL victory.
Most Anticipated Matchup
Without question, the very first matchup against the Hangzhou Spark is the most anticipated matchup for the Dragons this season. As mentioned previously, this game decides who gains their first victory in the Overwatch League. Shanghai’s revamped roster, will be versus a squad that may not have figured out their communication yet.
Da-un “NoSmite” Jeong may be the wildcard for the Spark in this matchup. NoSmite’s playstyle on Reinhardt is unique with his ability to flank with the main tank. That isn’t all he can do though, as the former X6-Gaming players starred on his role as Junkrat in APEX Season 3, a match featuring several current starters for the Dallas Fuel. Being able to contain NoSmite in whatever he throws at the Dragons will be crucial in determining the victory.
Player to Watch
With Fearless taking time off in order to become medically healthy, GuardiaN is going to be the pivotal piece to move this Shanghai Dragons team to the top of the season 2 standings. The 20 year-old South Korean may be asked to flex off of his main (D. Va) and must be willing to slide into a role as Winston.
Putting GuardiaN into this position could bring the possibility to run a dive composition with Geguri and Diya alongside him. There has been plenty speculation that the GOATs meta might not be around throughout the entire season. This could provide enough opportunity to start strong in stage 1 without the notion of deja vu.
With head coach BlueHaS being able to make changes relatively quickly, there shouldn’t be much doubt that GuardiaN will struggle in stage 1 but get it together later should Fearless be out longer than expected. The team has had around four months to prepare as an entire squad, and will be hungry for sweet victory.
It may seem near-impossible for the Dragons to make the playoffs in season 2, but it’s never over until the final map. Just like season 1, teams can either surprise or disappoint. The Dragons may need a team or two to disappoint.
This season, the Pacific Division title spot is essentially out-of-reach (with LA Valiant and Gladiators in the division). The next four spots could be snagged by any of the powerful teams in the Atlantic (NYXL, London, Philadelphia). The only way the Dragons can sneak in the season 2 playoffs will need to be through the play-in games. Shanghai will need to end the regular season above .500, and their best odds will be taking the wins against this year’s expansion teams.
As Fearless is out for an unknown amount of time, many questions still loom for the Shanghai Dragons lineup. How will the team fare with two off tank players? Will the team run all of their former KongDoo Panthera players, or will they mix? Can Geguri lead this team to a winning season? Week 1 will tell if the Dragons will #BreakThrough the league.
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