At this point in time, the 2019 Season has nearly come to a close. The final two teams left standing, the San Francisco Shock and the Vancouver Titans, are now prepping up for their final battle in Philadelphia in just two short weeks. However, for the 18 other teams in the league, their 2019 OWL stories have come to an end. One of this bunch is the Chinese-based team, the Guangzhou Charge. They certainly had a mixed year, full of ups and downs. Now that it’s all in the past, it’s time to evaluate how the Charge did in their first Overwatch League season, and how they can improve for the one coming ahead.
Before taking a look at 2020, it’s important to get a general sense of how the Charge performed in their first year. In terms of both the regular season and playoffs, the Charge finished in 9th place overall. For a team that had a 23 map loss streak and lost seven games in a row, coming back that far in the second half is a pretty solid feat. Stage 4 in particular was huge, as they only suffered one loss in that entire stage.
As one of eight expansion teams, comparing Guangzhou to the rest of them also provides a fairly solid metric of where the Charge stood. In the end, they placed 4th out of that group, with only the Reign, Spark, and of course Titans coming ahead of them. What this should theoretically show is that the Charge were a strong middle of the road team for the duration of the season; in reality however, they only hit their surge at the end, which actually reduces the number of changes they might need to make. Here is where some potential changes could be made however.
The Charge made two game-changing adaptations in the second half of the prior season. These were the addition of Charlie “nero” Zwarg, and the acquisition of Joona “fragi” Laine and Aaron “Bischu” Kim. The Charge currently sits with an 11-man roster, one of the largest ones in the league. Due to the additions late in the season, and Guangzhou’s overall development of young talent, it seems very unlikely that the team will make many changes to their roster in the off-season.
The main possible changes could involve releasing two of their benched members, Wonjae “Rise” lee, and Lizhen “OnlyWish” Chen, if they want to save money or pick up other players and do not foresee the two getting much playtime in the future. This was what occurred with Finley “Kyb” Adisi, who was traded to the Philadelphia Fusion after sitting on Guangzhou’s bench. After spending money on Bischu and potentially Fragi, it seems unlikely Guangzhou would spend too more on new players; they would also be remiss to sell any of their big stars after this year when so many could gain more potential.
The Charge also have a new resource at their disposal: T1W.GZA. While the academy team has only been working with the Guangzhou Charge for around two months, there is plenty of chance for potential pickups. The team is made up of all Chinese players, and with the Charge playing in Guangzhou five times in 2020, more Chinese players could radically help the team. With only two Chinese players currently on the Charge, this could be a big chance to add more.
The coaching team of the Charge has a similar potential problem to the roster with having too many cooks in the kitchen. They still have Hyojin “J1N” Cho as main coach, with Seungmin “Tydolla” Jung and Sungwoo “Sungwoo” Hong assisting all season. They also acquired big name Rohit “CurryShot” Nathani from Revival. It remains to be seen if all four will stay on board, especially with the Charge’s increasing success near the end. Out of them all, it’s hard to guess which will stay and who might end up leaving. Considering the bond these players have with their coaches however, especially the first three, if the Charge has the money to keep all four, they should certainly try.
Check out this epic Comms Check from our reverse sweep against @SeoulDynasty the last time we met them!
We’re coming for another W tonight, friendos. Good luck.https://t.co/p8R1OZUrZZ
— Guangzhou Charge (@GZCharge) August 31, 2019
The Charge have had a rough go of marketing in the West overall. Strides have begun to be made, with a new social media head, Kevin Hovdestad, and a greater focus on Western branding. The additions of Fragi and Bischu have also helped with the marketing to western countries. However, within China the Charge are much more popular, and playing home games in Guangzhou should be a huge boon for the team. As mentioned in the Academy section, they may appeal even more to this demographic by taking on more Chinese players, cementing a good representation from Korea, China and the west. However, considering the Charge still has one of the smallest western fanbases, changes certainly need to be made to keep up the hype.
The Charge have already started to make most of their 2020 changes preemptively, which has helped them thus far. Many individuals were considering them a Top 5 team by Stage 4 and considered them a dark horse to win it all. However, the Charge were unable to make it, and thus ended that run early. The question remaining is, how many changes need to still be made? Overall, rather few it seems. Many of the Charge’s roster is young talent, similar to the Shock in the Inaugural Season, and the Shock now stand as the number two team in the league. Few tweaks to roster and coaching staff may be needed, but the Charge should be on their way to entering as a heavy powerhouse in the 2020 Season.
“From Our Haus to Yours”