The holiday season is upon us, and that means people everywhere are fretting over the looming specter of Secret Santa gift exchanges. While you worry about what to get Janice from Accounting, I will don my bright red jacket and furry hat to fill the stockings of the Overwatch League.
The rules are simple. Every team will receive one addition that I believe would improve them the most. For example, if we did this during Season 1, the Houston Outlaws would have been delighted to find Park “Saebyolbe” Jong-ryeol waiting for them under the tree. No player can be used twice (nobody likes a regifter) and no team will give more than two players. Yesterday, I handed out some new toys to the Pacific Division. Today, it’s the Atlantic’s turn. Each player’s current team is in parentheses.
Atlanta Reign: Choi “bdosin” Seung-tae (London Spitfire)
Atlanta comes into the season with an eight man roster of faces fresh to the Overwatch League. They lack depth, and they lack experience at this level. Throw in the wild card that is Daniel “dafran” Francesca, and that will be a volatile concoction. They need a veteran presence to give them a rallying point, and Bdosin fits the bill. He would be a stabilizing force for a team that will have to tackle the challenge of an international roster with little existing synergy. Their future is somewhat murky, but adding Bdosin greatly improves their chances for immediate success.
Boston Uprising: Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun (Seoul Dynasty)
Boston’s offseason has been tumultuous, to put it gently. Internal conflict robbed the team of its star DPS Kwon “Striker” Nam-joo, the most crucial loss among many. The task of replacing him, along with Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov, falls to the new duo of Jeffrey “blasé” Tsang and Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse. Colourhex is the first player from New Zealand to reach the Overwatch League. He is no longer the big fish in a small pond and he will not have the luxury of time to adjust. A veteran who can play nearly any Hero well, Fleta could slot in alongside either of the new additions. He would be a rock — a proven star capable of carrying the burden. Much like Striker before him, Fleta can be the best player on a great team.
Houston Outlaws: Benjamin “uNKOE” Chevasson (Dallas Fuel)
Houston had a single fatal flaw during Season 1. No one on the roster could play Tracer, the Hero they desperately needed. That has been solved by the addition of Dante “Dante” Cruz. This gift is more about inviting some competition and raising the ceiling this team can reach. Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty is capable of winning the flex support job if pitted against uNKOE, but the presence of a threat could spur a jump in performance from last season. Houston will be relying largely on continuity to carry the day in Season 2, but shaking things up could lift them to new heights.
London Spitfire: Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok (Philadelphia Fusion)
If there was one problem for the London Spitfire during their championship campaign, it was the inconsistency of Kim “birdring” Ji-hyeok. He nursed a wrist injury during the season before returning for a solid showing during their playoff run, but Birdring never reached the heights from his days in Korea.
Whether that was due to injury or not, there is opportunity here to replace him with the picture of consistency in Carpe. The DPS duo of Carpe and Park “Profit” Jun-young would be more fearsome than any we have seen in Overwatch. The thought of the highlight reel alone has me salivating. London would be instant favorites to defend their title in 2019.
Florida Mayhem: Choi “jjanu” Hyeon-woo (Vancouver Titans)
Florida returns just three players from a Season 1 that was marred by mismanagement and visa issues. They have retooled with veterans at nearly every spot, so it’s hard to pinpoint a weakness until they see the stage. That being said, Koo “xepher” Jae-moo is coming from a similarly chaotic situation with the Seoul Dynasty. It is unclear how he stack up to OWL talent. Until he proves himself, jjanu provides a strong option and gives the team more depth at the very least.
New York Excelsior: Kim “Wizardhyeong” Hyeong-seok (Washington Justice)
The split between Wizardhyeong and NYXL was supposedly mutual. I can’t help but think, however, that they would welcome his insights on the game when Season 2 starts. No player I could give to NYXL would be likely to find any playing time barring injury, so this gift serves to return a little bit of what made them great during Season 1. They already return arguably the best lineup in OWL, so the focus must now be on team play and tactics. Wizardhyeong is ideally suited to help in that department. Hopefully, he has also learned from their playoff shortcomings and could help New York redeem themselves in Season 2.
Paris Eternal: Lucas ”NotE” Meissner (Boston Uprising)
Paris is another team with no apparent holes in the roster. They do have places where depth could be a priority. Finnbjörn “Finnsi” Jónasson is clearly a talented player. He found his way onto the LA Valiant mid-season, but never got the chance to see the stage. As a result, it’s been almost a year since he saw play time. This is not to say that he will be bad, but rather to say there needs to be depth. NotE provides that while bringing more Overwatch League wisdom to the table. He was a stable presence for the Uprising, even through internal conflict. That will be valuable if Paris takes some time to mesh a new team.
Philadelphia Fusion: Bang “JJoNak” Seong-hyun (New York Excelsior)
What do you get for the person who has everything? In the Fusion’s case, you get them the MVP of the Overwatch League. Philadelphia are loaded at nearly every position, flex support included, so to impact this team you must give them something that fundamentally changes how they play. As he proved in Season 1, JJoNak warrants that. He would require more resources than the team gave to Isaac “Boombox” Charles, but he would raise the ceiling of the team. Alberto “neptuNo” Molinillo would need to reign in his aggressive nature to accommodate the MVP, but the results could be sublime.
Toronto Defiant: Kim “Fury” Jun-ho (London Spitfire)
Toronto is a bit of an enigma. The Contenders players on the roster have had mixed success. Their Overwatch League veterans all lost play time over the course of Season 1. No one stands out as the best player or leader for this team. Fury would clear that up in a heartbeat. He was one of the standouts for the Spitfire last season, especially during a playoff run that saw him take D.Va to new heights. Pairing him with Jo “Yakpung” Gyeong-mu would guarantee Toronto a formidable front line. That will go a long way to ensuring some level of success no matter how the rest of the roster gels.
Washington Justice: Indy “SPACE” Halpern (Los Angeles Valiant)
It is a fitting gift to the team in our nation’s capital. The best American player for the team that has outfitted itself in red, white, and blue. Beyond the sentiment, SPACE also answers one of the biggest question marks for this team. The only flex tank on the roster at the moment, Kim “SanSam” Hyang-ki, is difficult to forecast. He was on the Meta Athena team that fell from Contenders through Trials, so he hasn’t played since June. His inclusion on the team speaks to his individual prowess, but the addition of SPACE would give them another centerpiece to build around. He would join Song “Janus” Jun-hwa in the tank line, forming a duo the team could look to for leadership.
So there it is – twnety gifts to spread cheer throughout the Overwatch League. Teams will have to go without my generosity when the league kicks off on February 14, as the London Spitfire take on the Philadelphia Fusion in a rematch of the Season 1 Finals. If you missed it, be sure to check out yesterday’s article on the Pacific Division.
Follow me on Twitter @shyguyow I would love to hear your thoughts.
Featured Image Courtesy of Bleeding Cool
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