Coming off one of the best seasons in Overwatch history, it makes sense to keep the Shock squad intact as much as possible. With a golden Stage 2, Stage 2 Championship, and Grand Finals Title, the team only saw a few changes headed into 2020. Though the Shock’s offseason roster moves could be called into question, the core starters all remain. Thus, San Fran should still be a top team once Season 3 begins.
There is not a lot to say here. Dae-hee “Crusty” Park is one of the best, if not the best coach in the entire league. Working to flawlessly weave players in-and-out of the starting lineup yet still have chemistry is amazing. Plus, it always keeps the opponents guessing as to what playstyle or compositions the Shock will use on each map. Under his continued guidance, the team should continue to prosper.
There was one departure and one addition to the coaching department. On October 18 the Paris Eternal announced they had acquired Beom-hoon “NineK” Kim. He had been an assistant coach for the Shock after being brought up as head coach of their academy team, NRG Esports. Though he will be missed, a month later the Shock signed Ji-won “Arachne” Lee. Arachne had been the head coach of Talon Esports. Under his leadership, Talon placed first in Season 2 of the 2018 Contenders Pacific region, and Seasons 1 and 2 of the 2019 Contenders Pacific region. In the 2019 Contenders Gauntlet, Talon held their own against fierce competition but were eliminated by Gen.G. He should prove to be a more than capable assistant coach and keep the Shock in the upper echelon.
Similarly, there have only been two slight changes to the roster in the Shock’s offseason. The first was the choice to not re-sign off-tank player Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson. Nevix was subsequently picked up by the Toronto Defiant. While this loss does not seem to impact the team since he hardly played in Season 2, he was still an incredible player. Additionally, this leaves the team with no backup for Hyo-bin “Choihyobin” Choi. With increased fear of player burnout due to travel, this could potentially be a problem in the longer scheme of things. But for now, Choihyobin is looking like the best off-tank in the world with no signs of slowing down.
Their single addition to the roster was the addition of Seon-chang “ANS” Lee in late December. This pickup is a bit confusing as it brings their DPS roster to five players. The four before ANS already had the whole hero pool covered and ANS specialized on Widowmaker in particular. While his sniper play wowed the team while they were bootcamping in Korea, the meta will need to shift to fit his niche.
The most concerning part about the Shock’s roster going into the 2020 season is the fact that they only have two support players on the team. Although they are incredibly talented, it brings back up the issue of burnout. That could be devastating since there are no back-up support players on the team, save for when Dong-jun “Rascal” Kim flexes to that role. One would think they would have tried to add at least one more support to alleviate pressure on Grant “Moth” Espe and Min-ki “Viol2t” Park. So it adds another layer of confusion around the signing of ANS.
With the recent change of venue for the first homestand, the Shock should have two incredible weekends in the 2020 season. Moving the First Arrival Shockfest to the campus of UC Berkeley is a brilliant move and one they had hoped for in the beginning. The campus culture and connection to the collegiate esports teams and facilities should go a long way for the future of the team. Plus the atmosphere will be vibrant in the Zellerbach Hall as the team brings the trophy home for the first time and receives their rings. This will take place on March 28-29.
The second homestand is July 18-19 at the San Jose Civic Center. On the south side of the Bay, this location was chosen to tie into the Silicon Valley culture. Trying to tie gaming into startups and bring it more to the mainstream is an important step in the permanence of the team and league. Plus it allows more innovations, so there will be augmented reality and VR booths at the homestand to realize some of the applications of various technologies.
All in all, the already championship-caliber Shock have managed to still improve over the offseason. With slight changes, they have brought in a proven Contenders coach as an assistant coach, and added an incredibly talented yet niche DPS player into an already deep DPS lineup. One may have qualms about the toll localization and burnout will have on this team with relatively few backups in the support and tank roles. But the energy and importance in the homestands will hopefully revitalize waning players and show the world what the best in the business looks like.
Featured image courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.
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