The Paris Eternal are looking to overcome a rocky first season by shaking up their all European roster and adding some top-tier tier two talent. In addition to having to conquer the challenges of being one of the newer expansion teams, Paris are also only one of the two teams based out of Europe. With the 2020 season going to a homestand format, this means that the Eternal will have numerous hurdles to get over in regards to their travel schedule. Overall, however, keeping a decent amount of their players should give Paris a little synergistic boost.
New Team, Who This?
The 2019 season saw the addition of eight new expansion teams, including the Paris Eternal. Determined to highlight and showcase the deep pool of talent throughout Europe, Paris made it clear that all of their players and staff would be from European countries or backgrounds. They even went as far as joking that Assistant Coach Kyle “KyKy” Souder had Irish heritage, despite being an American citizen.
European fans were thrilled to have a team filled to the brim with some of their favorite EU talent, OWL veterans like Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha would be joining Contenders’ staples like Harrison “Kruise” Pond and Roni “LhCloudy” Tiihonen. France were also still riding high following Team France’s dominating performance at the Paris hosted OWWC 2019 group stage and Eagle Gaming’s EU Contenders’ final win at the same event. The GOATs meta was king and the French were proving themselves to be worthy of the throne. As many of the players from both of these teams were added to the Eternal’s impending roster, the team looked like a strong competitor for OWL’s second season.
2019 Season Results
To start their inaugural season, the Paris Eternal saw themselves facing down reigning OWL champions, the London Spitfire. The match was surrounded by obvious hype and some controversy after Kruise made a statement that Paris were “the only European team” in the league. The London native and his teammates took a convincing 3-1 win over the Spitfire, leading fans and analysts to pour on the accolades.
Unfortunately for the Eternal, the rest of their 2019 season wouldn’t be so glorious. They saw mediocre results with a 3-4 record for three of the four stages. Though stage 1 had started off promising with back-to-back wins, the Eternal then faced back-to-back 4-0 losses on top of a three game losing streak. The team’s future looked even more bleak during stage 2 with an abysmal 2-5 record and a four game losing streak, including 2 losses at the Dallas Fuel Homestand. Their record by the end of the season was 11-17, placing them at 14th place overall.
The Paris Eternal released 4 of their 10 players and all of their coaches during the off season, but kept their core of French talent for the 2020 season.
General Manager: Michael “Mex” De Wit
DPS: Terence “SoOn” Tarlier
DPS: Nicolas “NiCOgdh” Moret
Main Tank: Benjamin “BenBest” Dieulafait
Flex Support: Damien “HyP” Souville
Flex Support: Luis “Greyy” Perestrelo
Main Support: Harrison “Kruise” Pond
While some of the Eternal’s releases seemed to make sense due to lackluster performances, the departure of their only off tank, Finnbjörn “Finnsi” Jónasson, was baffling to fans as he was one of their more consistent players. However, by keeping players like DPS legend SoOn and their outspoken main support Kruise, Paris are building their house again on the backs of experienced veterans. SoOn is well known as one of the sneakiest, back capping Tracers, so with her blinking back into the meta, this should bode well for the team.
Kruise can sometimes let his emotions get the better of him and that is often reflected in his playstyle. However, he is also not afraid to speak his mind and take charge of situations. If he can learn to keep a cool head, fans can expect him to take on the role as spokesman and leader for the team. His previous experience on a mixed Korean roster will be another huge benefit for the Eternal.
Returning flex supports Greyy and HyP both have a lot to prove this season. HyP put up some impressive plays as Zenyatta and according to OWL’s website stats, he was in the top 30% in terms of damage output. Despite being benched after stage 1, his performance with Team France at this year’s OWWC indicate that HyP is still in fine fighting form. His flex support counterpart, Greyy, was revered as being one of the most flexible players last season, playing 17 different heroes before the 2-2-2 lock. While his hero pool is now more limited, his aim lends itself well to Baptiste, who is almost a guaranteed pick in the current meta.
Areas for Improvement
The two returning players that will need to make the most improvements are main tank BenBest and left-handed DPS flex, NiCOgdh. BenBest proved during the 2018 OWWC that he is more than capable at holding down the frontline as Reinhardt. However, he was one of the more uninspired main tanks during the 2019 season and had more deaths per 10 minutes than any other player. He will need to shake off the first season jitters and regain the confidence he once had if he hopes to recoup his glory and honor.
Unfortunately for NiCOgdh he was just another casualty of “Brig Jail” in 2019. He is a pure flex player with specialty heroes varying from Genji to D.Va but the meta was not kind to his talents. With recent changes he should be able to play heroes he is more comfortable with and will most likely fill in until Sp9rk1e is able to play. Nevertheless, he will have to put in quite a bit of work to go toe-to-toe with some of the league’s more impressive damage dealers.
Head Coach: Hee-Won “Rush” Yun
Assistant Coach: Jae-Yoon “Aid” Go
Assistant Coach: Chung-Hyeok “Levi” Jeong
General Manager: Bum-Hoon “NineK” Kim
Assistant GM: Kyung-Ey Molly “AVALLA” Kim
Team Manager: Yoon “Yoon” Kim
DPS: Yeong-Han “Sp9rk1e” Kim
DPS: Ki-Hyo “Xzi” Jung
Main Tank: Da-Un “NoSmite” Jeong
Off Tank: Han-Bin “Hanbin” Choi
Off Tank: Eoghan “Smex” O’Neill
Main Support: Brice “FDGoD” Monsçavoir
Breaking away from their European roots, the Paris Eternal have welcomed three players from the prestigious KR Contenders team Element Mystic. The pickup announcements for Sp9rk1e, Xzi and Hanbin came just a week after Element Mystic’s thrilling run at the Contenders’ Gauntlet. Having three highly talented players joining the team as a group brings an obvious advantage in regards to synergy. Together this trio have won a season of KR Contenders, the Pacific Showdown, and the Contenders’ Gauntlet.
One of the Eternal’s main struggles during the 2019 season seemed to be the inconsistency of their tank line. With three new tanks coming in this could either cause further problems or be the fresh change that Paris needs. If the entire tank line can find common ground the results could be earth shattering.
Another factor to consider for a team’s success is the relationship between tanks and supports. For the past three OWWCs, Smex and Kruise have shared the stage on Team U.K. Their strong bond both in game and out of game should bring a valuable element of trust to the table. Additionally, FDGoD is being reunited with fellow countryman and Team France partner, HyP. The pair demonstrated some textbook teamwork during this year’s OWWC showing. If Paris choose to play this tried and true support duo, things could get rough for the opposing team.
Sp9rk1e was one of the most sought after players during the off season and considered by many to be the best new signing throughout the league. An absolute madman on heroes such as Doomfist, his ambition and dedication could be the spark that Paris needs to secure some wins. The caveat is that Sp9rk1e is one of the youngest player in OWL currently and won’t be eligible to play until week 17. He has played exclusively for Element Mystic since his debut in 2017 and has only known first and second place over the course of the last year.
Joining Sp9rk1e on the DPS line is hitscan master Xzi. Although he shares a very similar hero pool to SoOn, Xzi’s expertise on Hanzo could pair well with a variety of other heroes. Should double sniper meta return, him and SoOn could be absolutely murderous. He has also only played for Element Mystic since starting to play competitively in early 2018.
Element Mystic’s former D.Va specialist, Hanbin, is also ineligible to play at the start of the season due to his age. Fortunately though, fans won’t have to wait long, as his 18th birthday occurs right before week 3. While D.Va’s viability is dwindling in the current meta, he has proven himself to be an adept Sigma. Paired with a strong Orisa, he could be the steady shield that Paris have been missing.
NoSmite joins the Eternal after a partial season with the Hangzhou Spark. While he was part of their original starting six, filling in for Reinhardt superstar Qiulin “Guxue” Xu during visa issues, he later transitioned to being a 2-way player for their academy team, Bilibili Gaming. Before he joined OWL, he spent over a year with X6-Gaming, securing a win during KR Contenders 2018 Season 1. He is proficient with all three main tanks, but will most likely be utilized on Orisa.
Another D.Va specialist to join the team this year is Team U.K. mainstay, Smex. Prior to this year’s OWWC, Smex was playing for Toronto Defiant’s academy team, the Montreal Rebellion. His career is speckled with average results, around fifth place for most major tournaments, but he seems to truly shine when alongside Kruise. Though it seems that Hanbin will be starting over him, Smex will have to start until at least week 3. Depending on how the meta shifts over the course of the season, fans could see him used for his strength on Roadhog as well.
The final player to be added to the Eternal’s roster was young French main support, FDGoD. He has played for multiple well-known teams, such as Young and Beautiful, HSL Esports and Shu’s Money Crew. Though he does not have any major wins to his name with any of his former teams, he was one of the standout players during this year’s OWWC. Many of his teammates even credited him for their success over the course of the tournament. He has demonstrated his skills on every main support hero but is best known as a Lucio virtuoso.
Incoming head coach, Rush, brings with him years of knowledge and experience. Up until this point he has spent his career as the head coach for Element Mystic, leading them to four major wins and several more top three finishes. He is held in such high esteem by his players, that it was heavily rumored that Sp9rk1e turned down bigger offers just so that he could play under Rush’s tutelage. Transforming a newly mixed Eternal roster into a winning team will by far be his toughest challenge yet, but if there is any coach that can achieve it, it’s Rush.
Joining Rush in the leadership department is another former Element Mystic coach, Levi. Levi had previously worked beside Rush for over a year before leaving the organization to join the Shanghai Dragons as an assistant coach. With Levi’s guidance, the Dragons were able to finally end their record breaking 42 game losing streak during season 2.
Former Toronto Defiant player, Aid, joins the Eternal for his coaching debut. It can be speculated that he will be primarily focusing on the healers due to his background as a support player. Greyy and Aid are also former teammates, playing together on the Houston Outlaws’ GG Esports Academy (formerly OpTic Academy). As this is his first time coaching, it will be interesting to see what he brings to the team.
Although he has transitioned from a coaching position to a staff role, NineK is a major asset for this team. NineK’s experience with, undoubtedly the most successful mixed roster team, the San Francisco Shock, will be invaluable for Paris. He surprised quite a few people when he stepped back from coaching but remains well respected throughout the community. Fans can rest assured knowing that he will ensure operations are running smoothly behind the scenes.
Another coach turned manager is former Washington Justice assistant coach, AVALLA. A role model to many young, aspiring coaches, AVALLA broke barriers last year when she became the first female coach to be signed to an Overwatch team. Prior to her time in OWL, she also served as a coach for the aforementioned GG Esports Academy, during the same time that Greyy and Aid were players. She is multilingual, fluent in English and Korean, and has a firm grasp on French as well. It is clear how she will be a priceless resource this season.
Team Schedule Analysis
The first six weeks of the season put the Paris Eternal on the East Coast, which should ease some of the travel fatigue. For the first half of the season they will only be playing other Atlantic division teams, including expected heavy hitters like the Atlanta Reign. They also have the honor of playing the first match of the season against the Toronto Defiant in NYC’s illustrious Hammerstein Ballroom.
The second half of the season is where things get a bit dicey for the Eternal, as they will begin bouncing between the East Coast and Europe. Luckily, they have back-to-back bye weeks between week 14 and week 17, when they shuffle from their second homestand in Paris to NYC. Immediately following a double header against the Dallas Fuel and the Vancouver Titans, the team then has to hop back across the pond to London.
The worst of it comes later in the season when the team has to first play Boston in front of their home crowd and then expeditiously make their way to Guangzhou to face the Charge at their penultimate homestand. If they can make it past those two weeks unscathed, they may be able to enjoy their month long stay in China, while playing all of the Pacific East teams.
Their final match is a bit poetic as they end the season the same way they start, playing against the Defiant. The only difference is that this match will be on Toronto’s own turf, which could give them an edge. Toronto’s head coach, Félix “Féfé” Münch also happens to be the Eternal’s former coach. Overall, Paris should have a relatively easy first half of the season before having to tackle all of their cross-continental travel.
Homestand Location and Dates
Paris will host 3 homestands at Le Zenith Paris La Villete:
- April 11-12 vs Atlantic South Division
- vs Atlanta Reign
- vs Philadelphia Fusion
- May 9-10 vs Atlantic North Division
- vs New York Excelsior
- vs Boston Uprising
- June 13-14 vs Pacific West Division
- vs Los Angeles Gladiators
- vs San Francisco Shock
Most Anticipated Game of the Year
The most anticipated game of the year, not just for Paris Eternal fans but for the entire community, should be the May 31 match against the Vancouver Titans. It just happens to conveniently fall on Sp9rk1e’s 18th birthday. Regardless of meta or results up until that point, Sp9rk1e will without a doubt finally make his OWL debut. As the Titans were truly a force of nature last season, the Eternal have never won a match against them. A win here would definitely be the icing on the birthday cake.
Paris also face off against the London Spitfire twice early in the season. Despite London having a completely revamped roster, fans should still be excited to see this budding rivalry deemed the Battle for Europe. Last year both teams secured a win, making them even. Eternal fans are hoping that Paris will repeat their performance and crush the Spitfire in week 1 yet again.
Additionally, there is the Battle of the Birds against the Atlanta Reign. The Reign is the only team to 4-0 the Eternal twice last season, so the Parisians will be looking for a win against them during their first matchup in week 4.
Player to Watch This Season
Sp9rk1e is clearly the player everyone should be watching this season. His debut is quite possibly the most anticipated of any player in league history, right alongside Jay “sinatraa” Won and Se-Yeon “Geguri” Kim. There is a clear-cut reason why such a young player reportedly attracted bids from every team in the league. Sp9rk1e’s game sense, determination, and work ethic speak volumes and are evident whenever he takes the stage. His new teammates haven’t hesitated to gush about him publicly on social media. During their Korean boot camp, players were even squabbling over who would get to duo with him in ranked. Should the Paris Eternal falter up until his birthday, he very well could still turn things around for his team.
Fans should also keep an eye on Greyy as he returns to the back line. Before the 2-2-2 lock, his hasty swaps to DPS heroes, such as Widowmaker and Tracer, quite literally saved several maps and in at least one case won Paris the match. His aim and accuracy is so precise that he even played DPS for Team Portugal at this year’s OWWC. Under new yet familiar leadership, Greyy should be able to flourish into an even better player than he already is. He is currently one of the cleanest Baptistes in the game but his deadly flanking Zenyatta should never be overlooked.
Keys to a Successful Season
The Paris Eternal have multiple keys for success this season they just have to find the corresponding locks. The first massive obstacle to overcome is obviously any existing language barriers. Luckily, many of the returning players have already played on mixed rosters and Kruise even speaks a bit of Korean. With the added bonus of having AVALLA on staff to both teach and translate, this shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
The second road block won’t necessarily be winning matches but winning the mental game after a loss. Paris have shown multiple times that they are an emotional team that wear their hearts on their sleeves. As losses began to pile up last season, their morale tanked along with their performance. This is where Levi will make all the difference, as he had to pull the Dragons out of their funk. If the Eternal can conquer the post loss blues and feelings of dejection, they’ll see a much more fruitful season.
And lastly: Surviving the long wait. Paris have to battle their way through 16 matches without their not-so-secret weapon, Sp9rk1e. If the team can hold down the fort until then, the latter portion of the season should be smooth sailing. Only time will tell how this unexpected roster will do but for now fans remain hopeful and optimistic.
Featured Photo Courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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