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The Spark Release Four Players, Plus Another Piece Of Their Coaching Staff

Spark Four Players

Free-agent season is back in full swing in the Overwatch League and with it comes the inevitable roster moves for the Hangzhou Spark. Late Sunday evening, the team announced that they would be parting ways with five members of the organization including assistant coach Congshan “U4” Chen and fan-favourite DPS player Min-soo “SeoMinSoo” Seo. This announcement now numbers the Spark’s 2021 releases at seven out of the original twelve players the team committed to for the 2021 season.

[Related: Spark My Love: The Aesthetics Of (What Would Have Been) The Final 2021 OWL Homestand]

SeoMinSoo

Spark Four Players
Photo: Hangzhou Spark/Twitter

Unfortunately, SeoMinSoo didn’t get exactly what his allegiance with the Spark entailed at the beginning of the season. The Korean DPS had the potential to be a reliable, fall-back flex specialist for Hangzhou, but due to how the team was gelling – or lack thereof – SeoMinSoo’s skills were less utilized down the stretch.

SeoMinSoo still has plenty to offer to a team in need of the talent of such like a former RunAway product. Here’s hoping the well-liked fragger finds his third shot at the league in the Overwatch 2 era of the Overwatch League.


ColdEst & M1ka

M1ka and ColdEst
Photo: Hangzhou Spark/Twitter

Perhaps the most surprising on the list, the duo of Tong “ColdEst” Xiaodong and Liu “M1ka” Jiming were as promising as Spark prospects got. Originally signed together in 2019 to Hangzhou’s farm team, Bilibili Gaming, the pair were the first players to climb up the ranks of the Spark organization to starting positions by the end of the 2021 season. 

The team almost relied entirely on the duo of Ho-jin “iDK” Park and Jeong-ho “MCD” Lee for the majority of the season. But following MCD’s leave, the Spark gave ColdEst and M1ka to take the reins. Unfortunately, the duo was not able to help the team past the first round of play-ins and therefore Hangzhou has decided to move on going into the 2022 season. The Chinese support line could easily find a spot on a young, rebuilding roster – if a team is willing to take the pair together as a package, as they have been for a majority of their professional careers.


iDK

Spark Four Players
Photo: Hangzhou Spark/Twitter

iDK has been Hangzhou’s Main Support mainstay since the inaugural season of the Spark. Known for his stability as a healer, iDK was an integral part of the Spark’s early success. 

Unfortunately, iDK would never be able to carry the Spark like so many elite Main Supports have proven to do in the last couple of seasons in the OWL. iDK would be perfect for a team needing a strong leader with a respectable track record on support.


U4

Another synonymous name with the Spark has been U4. While not necessarily at the forefront of the “faces of the Spark”, U4 has been with the team for the past 3 years serving as an assistant coach. In fact, the coach was one of the first extra additions in 2019 to Hangzhou’s original coaching staff. 

He leaves the team ambiguously, but perhaps a different Chinese-based team in need of a loyal leader may hire U4 in the foreseeable future.


What’s Next For The Spark?

Spark 2021 Play-ins
Photo: Hangzhou Spark/Twitter

Following these changes, the Spark are down to a single coach: Assistant Coach Chen “OnlyWish” Lizhen. If the team is to find a new head coach, then perhaps that is the next course of action from here. 

In terms of players, the remaining five players on the main roster create the nucleus of the Spark 2022 roster. Xu “Guxue” Qiulin and Se-won “BERNAR” Shin were one of the league’s best dive duos. Tank is now a singular position, so Hangzhou’s decision to keep their best Main Tank player and Off-tank player for flexibility-sake makes sense. 

There is also another wrinkle to the tank situation, however. Two-way player Jia “LiGe” Chengjie could be seen as the future of the Spark tank lineup barring more seasoning in Contenders. A contingency plan such as this is smart for a roster still trying to find its identity.

The final two players on the list are the team’s bread and butter: the crafty veteran Minho “Architect” Park and his DPS partner the young, hit-scan king Zheng “Shy” Yangjie. The Spark organization made a mistake during the 2020 offseason by adding too many numbers to an already convoluted roster for “numbers sake”. 

This offseason looks different

The team has stripped itself to just its core to specifically sign players around this fundamental group. Once the team finds a head coach and supplemental staff, it will be up to them to decide what the best way to complement these core players are for the five-manned compositions moving forward in Overwatch 2.


Stay Connected

Follow Jordy on Twitter: @JRDNGRCA for everything Hangzhou Spark and more like this roster piece.

Featured Image Courtesy of the Overwatch League.

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Spark Release Four Players

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