The Overwatch League gave fans some much desired information by dropping official 2020 player contract statuses on Friday. Many of the players on the list were listed as either under contract with current teams for the 2020 season, or given a team option, which gives teams a month to negotiate a new contract. However, a handful of the players in the league have already become free agents; these players will be allowed to sign with any team in the league starting Monday, October 7. The Guangzhou Charge has three such players, Joona “fragi” Laine, Aaron “Bischu” Kim and Hongjun “HOTBA” Choi. The first two were late additions to the team, but HOTBA’s status as a free agent may turn some heads.
HOTBA was the only original member of the Charge to play in Season 1 of the Overwatch League. He originally served as a backup off-tank to Gael “Poko” Gouzerch before being picked up very early in the 2018 offseason. He served as a beacon of confidence mentor while many on Guangzhou were initially still adjusting to being on stage. This off-tank also played nearly every game in Season 2, and was one of the most versatile flexes in the league. If Guangzhou are smart, they will try and get him back on the roster as soon as they possibly can. However, if not, here are some other Overwatch League teams HOTBA could potentially land on in the 2020 season.
The Shanghai Dragons made their mark on the Overwatch League by winning the Stage 3 finals this past year. They used a niche triple-DPS strategy in order to take down some of the top teams at the time. However, since that feat, the Dragons have looked rather aimless; with the addition of role lock their stage-winning strat isn’t allowed, and the off-tank position looks rather weak still. Kang-jae “envy” Lee has put up mediocre performances, Youngjin “YOUNGJIN” Jin is better at DPS and Seyeon “Geguri” Kim is still not seeing playtime. HOTBA could come in and fill this role well as one of the best flexes in the league. He made the swap from the triple-DPS meta to role lock fluidly and plays a tank like he would a DPS. Out of any team, Shanghai could benefit the most from his playstyle in that much needed position.
The Defiant have been going through a rough period for a while lately. Since they attempted to become mixed-roster, they fell to the bottom three teams in the league, and have had trouble bridging the language and playstyle gap. It’s likely to see them decide either to go full western or full Korean again, but with HOTBA they may not need to choose. HOTBA has played on two different mixed-rosters now, and has experience communicating in both languages. Daniel “Gods” Graeser still plays for Toronto as their off-tank, but HOTBA may simply be a better fit for the position and start over him. Regardless Toronto needs to make some decisions to create a more cohesive team, and picking up this star player could be one.
Another Chinese team to make the list, the Hangzhou Spark might also have need for a stellar off-tank next year. The current off-tank players for the Spark are Sungwook “Ria” Park and Sanghyun “SASIN” Song; these two are decent players, and Ria in particular has had fairly stellar performances in the last season, yet matching with a star aggressive main tank like Guxue is not an easy task. Once again it’s HOTBA’s playstyle that might serve as the deciding factor in this case. As he is a very confident and aggressive off-tank, he could fit well on this team and improve their tank-line even more.
This one is definitely the least likely of the list, but HOTBA could always return to the Fusion. Jaehyeok “Carpe” Lee and Sumin “Sado” Kim are both listed as free agents, yet there is always the chance Philadelphia decides to keep them and transition to a primarily Korean team. HOTBA has chemistry with almost every current member of the team, including Finley “Kyb” Adisi who also came from Guangzhou. After this year’s performance, Philly might realize they want HOTBA back after all and try to scoop him back up.
There are several other teams HOTBA could sign with; the NYXL and Dallas Fuel both have potential openings of their own in the off-tank role as of today. For any fans of the Charge however, this is painful speculation as giving up one of the team’s best players is nigh unthinkable. Hopefully Guangzhou snags him back, because if not they’d have a hard time finding a flex-tank of this caliber again.
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