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Philadelphia Fusion 2020 Season Preview

The Philadelphia Fusion are ranked pretty high in everyone’s power rankings, and they’ve got the roster to back it up. The Fusion had some of the best signings this offseason, including rockstar main tank Junho “Fury” Kim, and supports Daniel “FunnyAstro” Hathaway and KyeongBo “Alarm” Kim. Combined with the talent the Fusion kept, and the new coaching staff, expect the Fusion to be a force this season.

The Fusion Roster

Fusion Roster
Courtesy of Blizzard
Returning Veteran Players:
  • Isaac “Boombox” Charles, Support
  • JaeHyeok “Carpe” Lee, DPS
  • Gael “Poko” Gouzerch, Tank
  • Josh “EQO” Carona, DPS
  • Sumin “SADO” Kim

With the potential for 12 players on any OWL roster, the Fusion kept just under half. Boombox and SADO are in their second year of a two-year contract this 2020 season. Carpe signed a three-year contract starting this year. The retention of Carpe and Poko came with accolades, as they bring a sense of leadership to the team.

EQO threw everyone for a loop with his departure, only to be added back during the team’s roster reveal. Although recently inconsistent, perhaps due to meta, EQO brings clutch plays in times when the team really needs them.

New Additions:
  • SeungHyun “Ivy” Lee, DPS
  • KyeongBo “Alarm” Kim, Support
  • Heesu “Heesu” Jeong, DPS
  • Junho “Fury” Kim, Tank
  • Daniel “FunnyAstro” Hathaway, Support
  • Philip “ChipSa” Graham, DPS

Ivy comes to the Fusion from the Toronto Defiant, and will add to the team’s talented depth when it comes to situational maps that require a flex DPS player. Alarm brings his experience from the Fusion Contenders team, Fusion University. He is a highly anticipated support player that has a great track record for bringing in victories.

Heesu isn’t old enough yet to start playing on stage but come March he’ll be ready to join his team on the stage. He competed for Runaway in Contenders Korea and is usually found playing hitscan heroes. FunnyAstro is another highly anticipated support player who brings a top-tier Lucio into the mix.

Fans are most excited for Fury, arguably the best signing of the OWL offseason. Fury was picked up from the London Spitfire, and fans are excited to have the all-star tank added to the line-up. The two supports area also a huge boon to the team, adding two talented players to the support pool.

A Surprising Addition

Fusion ChipSa
Courtesy of Philadelphia Fusion

What fans were not expecting was the signing of “ChipSa”. The announcement sent the community into a tizzy. Fans, critics and journalists went wild with speculation about whether the signing is linked to assistant coach Christopher “CrisTFer” Graham, ChipSa’s brother. 

Twitter went rampant with upset fans almost instantly. The move made zero sense to just about everyone who followed the Fusion. While many could appreciate the fan base ChipSa would bring, others wondered what other value he’d bring. Considering they were, and still are, hurting for a main tank to back up SADO.

Fusion CEO Tucker Roberts, went to Twitter to defend the signing. “I knew there would be complaints of us signing Chipsa given we have Chris as our coach.  But it wouldn’t be fair to Chipsa to keep him off the team because of that. We wanted him on the roster, and ultimately I made the call. If you have an issue with the decision @me not Chris.”

The explanations didn’t quell the fan base. It wasn’t just the Fusion fans that were angry, it was the OWL fanbase as a whole. Many people were miffed that the organization went with someone already successful, already popular, who had a massive following, instead of a tier two player who is trying to make their way up through the self-proclaimed “Path-to-Pro” in Contenders League.  

The SADO Discussion

The vast majority of Fusion fans will tell anyone that they are concerned with the incredibly important role of main tank resting solely on SADO’s shoulders.

The Fusion acquired SADO in the first season, but he couldn’t play for the first three stages of the inaugural season because of punishment as a result of boosting. Still, fans were excited to see him start, and when he did, they were left scratching their heads.

The second season didn’t hold much more for SADO. It brought meta-issues for the entire team, and SADO was inconsistent. Winston is arguably where he shines, but fans aren’t convinced that he can be top-tier on other heroes.

On the podcast Tactical Crouch, coach “ChrisTFer” defended the choice to keep SADO as the sole main tank. He blamed a lot of the SADO hate on mean Reddit users and the hive mind. He also chalked up his mistakes to missing a few years of competitive play.

With the meta leaning towards Rein/Dva going into 2020, fans are still unsure about him, and are wondering what happens if he gets sick?

Change in Coaching Staff

Philadelphia Fusion coaches
Graphic courtesy of the Philadelphia Fusion

Gone are the days of two coaches, and instead the Fusion have one Head Coach this season, Kim “KDG” Dong-gun. He brings experience from a very successful season with the Seoul Dynasty, who reached playoffs last season. The Fusion staff have also brought on assistant coach “Seung-Bo “Mobydik” Sim and strategic analyst Joni “Seita” Paavola.

Assistant Coach ChrisTFer is the only coach returning this year, and on Tactical Crouch he says that the change in coaches may re-motivate the team. “We made a lot of mistakes, we realized certain things about the way we ran the day-to-day [were] too late to fix.” he said of last year’s coaching decisions.

Travel Schedule

Starting at their home venue in week two, the Fusion have home advantage. They have one of the best schedules in the league, meaning far less travel time, more home games, and closer away games.

Week 10 is the first week where the Fusion are set to travel internationally. The weeks before that they barely even leave the east coast of the United States. Having an easy travel schedule is a huge advantage over teams who are required to travel more. It means more practice time, more time spent at their home base, a more routine schedule, and less stress.

Mental health is often talked about in the OWL, and this season is a true test as to what the travel schedule will do to a players’ attitude and well being. The Fusion having an easier schedule makes it more likely that they will act as a cohesive team.

Homestead locations and dates
Fusion homestands
Graphic courtesy of phillyfusiontix.com

The Battle of Brotherly Love: February 15-16 The Met Philadelphia

Hometown Heroes: May 23-24 The Met Philadelphia

Boardwalk Brawl: June 6-7 Boardwalk Hall Atlantic City, NJ

Most Anticipated Games of the Year

Heesu turns 18 on March 25, so it’s no surprise that people will be waiting to see if he makes it to the stage on April 4 against the Toronto Defiant. Fans will be watching to see if Heesu gets playtime during the first match that he is eligible to play.

Fan favorite and former Fusion star Hong-joon “HOTBA” Choi is now on the New York Excelsior, and they go head to head in the third match in the Fusion schedule. The New York/Philadelphia rivalry has been a long-seeded staple in traditional sports history, and it doesn’t stop in esports. Fans will be both excited to see their former player on the stage, but also root against the city they love to hate.

Player to Watch
fury
Image courtesy of Blizzard

One of the most talked about and anticipated pick-ups this year is Fury. ChrisTFer said in the Tactical Crouch Podcast, when the opportunity presents itself, “you have to take it”. The Fusion have a great off-tank in Poko, but the Fusion picked up Fury anyway. Many fans are wondering what’s going to happen to this tank duo, but many are speculating that Poko may move into the main tank category while Fury fills the off-tank position.

Keys to a Successful Season

The Fusion have a stellar lineup this year, and it’s no wonder that a lot of people have them ranked in the top five. Their additions this offseason have been interesting, to say the least, but the Fusion need to come up with a starting six that comes out the gate swinging. Fans are hoping that the coaching staff can identify and fix mistakes earlier than last year, and use the depth on their bench to cater more to situations such as where a one-trick Doomfist may be ideal.

 

Need More?

Follow @JessicaScharnagle on Twitter for all things Fusion related.

Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.

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