The 2020 Overwatch League season is fast approaching and with it comes an opportunity for a new generation of stars to take the league by storm. Thanks to names like Kim “Alarm” Kyungbo and Kim “SP9RK1E” Young-han, this year’s rookie class is getting a lot of deserved buzz. But what if the next big thing isn’t a new face at all? What if they are hiding in plain sight?
Last season’s MVP, Jay “sinatraa” Won, didn’t make the grandest entrance on the OWL Stage during his 2018 rookie campaign. He suffered through growing pains along with the rest of the young Shock roster, before setting the league on fire throughout their dominant championship season. Which players, if any, are capable of making a sinatraa-esque leap in 2020? Here are a few who could see their stock rise quickly.
Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson, Tank, Toronto Defiant
First up is sinatraa’s old San Francisco Shock teammate. All last season, bits and pieces filtered out from the Shock that Nevix wasn’t a typical bench player. He was supposedly invaluable behind the scenes. His Sigma was supposed to be insane. If he ever got the chance, he would make everyone see how great he was. His legend grew, all while he waited.
Of course, he never got that opportunity. The man starting at his position, Hyobin “Choihyobin” Choi, developed into one of the best players in the league. Nevix sat on the sidelines while ChoiHyoBin took home the Grand Finals MVP award.
Now Nevix will have the chance to prove himself once again. He joins the new-look Toronto Defiant as one of the league’s true enigmas. Was he truly a hidden gem, stuck behind a brilliant teammate? If the answer is yes, he could lift Toronto from plucky fan-favorites to a serious playoff threat.
Beom-jun “Gargoyle” Lee, Tank, Florida Mayhem
Another flex tank with untapped potential, Gargoyle enters 2020 with real expectations on his shoulders. His introduction into the lineup in Stage 4 last year coincided with a mini-renaissance for the league’s worst team. They won four of their final five matches, albeit against flailing competition.
Gargoyle was a big part of that upturn, and Mayhem fans have been pointing to him as a potential star for a team that desperately needs them. Florida made just two offseason additions – not exactly the full rebuild expected from a team with just 13 wins through two seasons. The Mayhem are proceeding without a backup flex tank, suggesting real confidence in his abilities. If he can deliver on that potential, expect Florida to distance themselves from their abysmal history.
Jun Keun “Rapel” Kim, Support, Houston Outlaws
Gauging the value of a player who has been relegated to the bench is virtually impossible from the outside. Luckily for the Outlaws, both head coach Harsha “Harsha” Bandi and assistant Dong-eun “Hooreg” Lee have firsthand experience when it comes to Rapel. All three come from the Vancouver Titans, where Rapel had the misfortune of backing up arguably the best support in the league last year, Juseok “Twilight” Lee.
Now, the former Element Mystic standout has the potential to upgrade a position of need for Houston. Flex support is the most stacked role in the league, and Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty has been a liability through two seasons. Rapel is the type of player who can keep pace with the best in the OWL. If Houston’s new mixed roster clicks in 2020, Rapel will be a big reason why.
Blake “Gator” Scott, Tank, Atlanta Reign
In less than a year, Gator went from playing for an unsigned Open Division team to starting in the Overwatch League playoffs as his Atlanta Reign took down the eventual champs, the San Francisco Shock. A two-way player who barely saw the stage for the Reign during the regular season, Gator became a crucial piece during the postseason double-shield meta. A month later he would go on to help lead ATL Academy to a second-place finish at the Contenders Gauntlet.
Now, he’s been promoted to the OWL roster full-time and he’s ready to make his mark on the league. Assuming the Orissa-Sigma tank line dominates the meta to start the season, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Gator and Hyeonjun “Pokpo” Park team up once again. The Reign could also just roll with their proven duo and pair Gator with ATL Academy teammate Xander “Hawk” Domecq. Either way, Gator should be front and center for a Reign squad with championship aspirations this time around.
Gui-un “Decay” Jang, DPS, Dallas Fuel
2019 was not exactly kind to Decay’s reputation. His hefty price tag branded “Mr. 300K” with gargantuan expectations and a nickname to match. Then, like so many other DPS talents, he was forced by the meta to play a role that didn’t suit him. As Zarya, his aim and mechanical skill took a back seat to decision making and team play. That’s not to say he was bad – he most definitely was not – but his talents weren’t on display like they had been in the past.
The new year brings a new paradigm, the first full season under the 2-2-2 role lock. No longer will Decay be forced onto a tank character. In 2020, he can finally get back to what made him the league’s most coveted rookie last year. As long as Dallas doesn’t implode, Decay will be a star again.
Minseok “OGE” Son, Tank, Los Angeles Gladiators
On the flip side of the deal that brought Decay to Dallas is OGE. One of the Fuel’s few bright spots last year, he may be the beneficiary of a simple change of scenery. Going from the chaos and incompetence of Dallas to the stability of Los Angeles could be what unlocks his tremendous potential.
With a stellar support line to back him up and a reliable tank partner in Indy “SPACE” Halpern, OGE can finally be one of many stars rather than the lone carry. With a better team around him. Opponents will be less able to focus on him. OGE could be unleashed, and that is a scary prospect for the rest of the league.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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