The London Spitfire’s ultimate end to the season at the hands of finalists the San Francisco Shock was a disappointing one. With players like Joon-yeong “Profit” Park and Jun-ho “Fury” Kim, nobody can deny that the Spitfire have star power. After the pre-playoffs departure of Kwang-bok “Coach815”, London has gone through three different head coaches. None of them have lasted a full season. London were able to show some of their potential under Chang-geun “changgoon” Park and Beom-joon “Bishop” Lee. However, none of the team’s head coaches have managed to turn the team’s raw talent into consistent performances.
There’s only so much that can be done with roster changes; London’s players are all extremely individually skilled. London’s biggest problems have always come from their mentality and their in-game decision making. Going into 2020, it’s more vital than ever for the Spitfire to find a head coach that can fix these problems to make their roster the worldbeaters they should be. But who should they be looking at to fill Coach815’s shoes?
#5: Ho-jeong “alwaysoov” Chae
Current Team: Meta Athena
In the pre-Overwatch League world of Overwatch esports, Ho-jeong “alwaysoov” Chae lead Lunatic-Hai to two consecutive APEX championships. His Overwatch League debut with the Seoul Dynasty left much to be desired. On the whole, however, alwaysoov’s track record is difficult to ignore.
2018’s Seoul Dynasty struggled with finding a consistent roster and was often accused of playing musical chairs. By contrast, London’s smaller roster and focus on a core group of players might be easier for alwaysoov to manage. As a two-time APEX champion, alwaysoov should be able to command the respect of championship winning players, and actions such as benching star DPS WhoRU on Lunatic-Hai show that he’s not afraid to create a disciplined and structured team culture.
Of course, there are reasons to doubt alwaysoov. He hasn’t coached a team to a championship in nearly two years. His most recent results, with Meta Athena in Contenders Korea, have been lackluster. However, if given the tools and players available to the Spitfire, alwaysoov might prove himself once more.
#4: Jae-dong “nOrU” Kim
Current Team: Runaway
After the Vancouver Titans picked up the original Runaway squad and their head coach Yang-won “Yang1” Kwon for 2019, Jae-dong “nOrU” Kim was chosen to lead a new Runaway team. He had previously worked with players such as Seoul Dynasty’s Dong-eun “FITS” Kim and Element Mystic’s Dong-ha “Doha” Kim on Contenders Trials team Goin Water S.
In 2019, it was on Runaway where nOrU would prove his true talent as a head coach. On Runaway, nOrU was given a team of relative unknowns with far more individual skill than experience. He was able to shape them into a coordinated, cohesive team that swept undefeated through Contenders 2018 Season 3.
Runaway’s current incarnation have gone on to win three more championships between Contenders Korea and NetEase’s NEXT tournament under nOrU. His record is unimpeachable and his success should let him command the respect of London’s players. The only doubt that the Spitfire might want to have about nOrU is his lack of experience at the very top level of Overwatch. However, despite being untested in the Overwatch League, nOrU’s incredible success with Runaway is reason enough to give serious consideration to trying to sign him for 2020.
#3 & #2: Bum-hoon “NineK” Kim and Jae “Junkbuck” Choi
Current Team: San Francisco Shock
Whether the Shock win the upcoming 2019 Grand Finals or not, nobody can argue that they haven’t had an incredible season. With players like Jay “sinatraa” Won and Hyo-bin “Choihyobin” Choi ranking among the very best in their roles, San Francisco, like London, has a plethora of talent. However, it’s San Francisco’s excellent strategy and coaching over the year that should impress any teams that assistant coaches Bum-hoon “NineK” Kim and Jae “Junkbuck” Choi apply for a head coach position going into 2020.
Their experience working under Dae-hee “Crusty” Park, one of the league’s most prestigious coaches, should give Junkbuck and NineK an edge over other potential candidates. NineK is spoken of highly by fellow coaches and players, including the Washington Justice’s Kyoung-ey “AVALLA” Kim and Dante “Danteh” Cruz. Andrej “Babybay” Francisty credited Junkbuck for the Shock’s improvement over the 2018 season.
With high praise from all sides and experience on one of the undisputed best teams in the League, both NineK and Junkbuck should be serious considerations as London looks for someone to fill the head coach position.
#1: Byung-chul “Moon” Moon
Current Team: Team CC
2019 has seen Byung-chul “Moon” Moon part ways with the Los Angeles Valiant amid reports of internal conflicts. The Valiant’s 0-7 record in the first stage of the season was certainly disappointing. However, although Moon wasn’t able to lead the Valiant to victory in 2019, the team’s 2018 season under his direction proves that Moon is capable of coaching a top-tier team.
Moon replaced Henry “Cuddles” Coxall early in the Valiant’s 2018 season. His structure-focused approach turned the Valiant into a well-oiled machine that executed their plays smoothly and cleanly. Under Moon, the Valiant finished 2018 with the second-best record in the regular season. Despite a disappointing 2019, Moon might be able to repeat this turnaround with the Spitfire.
A Match Made in Heaven?
Moon’s approach to coaching has frequently been described as focusing on team culture and the big picture rather than micro-strategy. This makes him the perfect match for the Spitfire; a team of individual talents who need to be able to play as a team.
His authoritative style of coaching should help him control a team of confident young players. He recently led Team CC to a second place finish in Contenders China. This strong result shows that he still has what it takes to lead a team. All in all, Moon might be the best option available to the Spitfire. He will make the team a force to be reckoned with if he can bring the same disciplined consistency to the team that he brought to the Valiant last year.
Whichever option they go with, the coach the Spitfire pick to help them navigate the stormy skies ahead will be the deciding factor in how their 2020 season goes.
A head coach is one thing, but what player pickups might London be looking at going into 2020? The Game Haus took a look at some of their best options here.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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