One of, if not, the most sought after free agent in Overwatch League history is about to be on the market. Kyungbo “Alarm” Kim, a South Korean flex support player currently playing for Fusion University is set to turn 18 on July 21, according to Liquipedia. This would mean he would be OWL-eligible four days before the start of Stage 4. The question then is: where will OWL’s next Sung-hyeon “JJoNak” Bang end up?
The Shoe Needs to Fit, First and Foremost
There are a few different kinds of OWL teams that would make sense for Alarm. Most reasonably, would be a team that is building for the 2020 season. That would seemingly be the most logical. That sort of team could pick up Alarm when he is eligible, or in the coming off-season, and have plenty of time to get him integrated into the roster for 2020. In fact, he would likely become the centerpiece in which that particular team is building around.
Another sort of team could be one that is on the verge of making a late-season run for the playoffs but perhaps just needs that one missing link. The largest anticipated issue in this scenario, however, is the anticipated cost of Alarm – not only his buyout from Fusion University (assuming he does not sign with Fusion) but also in his salary. A team who is close to playoffs likely already has a pretty tight payroll and may not be in the best position to fork over an estimated minimum of $125K for Alarm. But if they can make it work and they are in need of an upgrade at flex support, there is no better candidate available right now.
Given what little information is available concerning OWL team’s finances, it’s difficult to speculate which teams could afford Alarm at the given time. So, the primary metrics used to determine these frontrunners are the need for a flex support upgrade, the sense that the given team is building for 2020 and the general fit of Alarm on the team (i.e. mixed-nationality roster or full-Korean). Given these standards, here are the top three places (in no particular order) that Alarm may end up when it’s all said and done.
The Spark currently have a primarily Korean roster and sit at 8th in the overall standings at 8-6. Assuming Stage 3 goes somewhat the same as Stages 1 and 2, the Spark will likely end it on the bubble for the playoffs. Their current flex support’s are former X6-Gaming player, Hui-chang “BeBe” Yoon, who has done fairly well all season long and Hyeong-Geun “Revenge” An, who has mostly backed up BeBe.
While adding Alarm would give the Spark three flex supports, it is the one spot on the roster that they could reasonably upgrade. The biggest concern for the Spark would be funding. Alarm, if signed, would be the 12th player on the roster and would likely be the highest paid player on the team. If the Spark were able to add him, they would go from a mid-table Cinderella story to a Grand Finals contender overnight.
This one is as painful to write as it likely is to read. But, the Seoul Dynasty may very well be looking for an upgrade at flex support going into next season. One of the league’s all-time greats and perhaps one of the greatest support players of all time, Jehong “ryujehong” Ryu, may be nearing the end of his career. At the age of 27, he is likely not the player that Seoul hopes to build around, due to the length of careers typical to esports.
The only mystery here is the March signing of Sung-hyeok “Highly” Lee, formerly with O2 Blast. Highly is only 19, so perhaps the Dynasty believe they already have their future in him. Yet, Alarm’s presence may be enough to simply demand that they reconsider that, in the face of an opportunity to get a proven superstar.
The Dynasty currently sit at 7-7 which has them at only one loss away from being out of the playoffs entirely, due to the tightly contested nature of the mid-tier teams. Making room for Alarm this season may put them over the edge to get in. If not, this may be a move that comes in the off-season as the Dynasty look to retool and land a more consistent roster for 2020. It may finally be time for a changing of the guard in Seoul and Alarm would be just the man to move on to.
This one may seem like a no-brainer because of Philly’s investment in Alarm up until this point. They are also the only team that would not have to deal with a buyout in picking him up. Additionally, the Fusion currently only have one flex support in Isaac “Boombox” Charles. Boombox has been serviceable at flex support this season but has definitely not been among the top of the league at his position.
Philly will have to make a decision on when they want or, when they are able, to sign Alarm. If a situation arises where they cannot afford to sign him before the season ends or even until later in the off-season, there is certainly potential for other teams to make offers, forcing the Fusion’s hand one way or the other. For their sake, they’d better hope they can afford him when that time comes.
Two other teams that came to mind but may not be top contenders are the Los Angeles Valiant and the Washington Justice. In the end, the Valiant didn’t make the cut because it seems that they are moving to a more Western-centered roster, which may not be the best suited for Alarm. If they decide to stay more mixed, Alarm would remain an incredible pickup for the Valiant moving into the 2020 season.
The Justice didn’t make the final cut because of their recent signings. Having just brought in so much new talent, including talent at flex support in Nikola “sleepy” Andrews, may indicate that the Justice are already set at that position. However, with a new GM likely to be with the team as soon as Monday, according to Grant Paranjape in this interview with TGH, the roster may be moving in an entirely new direction for 2020. If that’s the case, Alarm would be a great centerpiece for a rebuild.
Wherever Alarm ends up, fans of all teams ought to be excited to see his talent on display in 2020. Players like Alarm represent a new wave of talent that will continue coming into the league for the next several years. This wave is likely to include players that will one day rise to be league MVPs and the faces of franchises. One thing is for certain, this is going to be an exciting Stage 4 and subsequent off-season in the OWL.
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