Even though it has just begun, the OWL offseason heading into the 2020 season has already started off with a bang for several teams across the league. For many, this first part of the offseason has been about making all of the desired cuts, giving the teams time to trial and analyze talent pre-Blizzcon. For others, it’s been time to either completely rebuild or stay relatively quiet.
Considering what each team has done thus far and what moves potentially needed to happen coming into the offseason, The Game Haus has come up with offseason grades for each OWL team leading up to this point just before Blizzcon. Since grades have already been posted for the Pacific Division, the Atlantic Division is up on deck next.
New York Excelsior: B-
So far, New York’s offseason has gone as most would have expected it to, outside of the departure of their Head Coach, Hyeon-sang “Pavane” Yu and the loss of their star offtank, Tae-hong “MekO” Kim. Each of these two moves comes as a big surprise considering NYXL’s success with each of them on board. But, even though New York has lost a couple of big pieces, they managed to keep their core mostly intact.
Another reason things aren’t too desperate is because the market is surprisingly flooded with top-tier Korean offtanks at the moment, with both Jun-woo “Void” Kang and Jun-ho “Fury” Kim potentially looking to move teams. If New York can pick up either of these or a strong option from KR Contenders, alongside a new Head Coach, they should be well on their way to a successful 2020 season.
Atlanta Reign: C
The Reign are another team that has been all but silent this offseason, with only the unconfirmed departure of Daniel “Funnyastro” Hathaway and the loss of a coach reported so far. This means that, for all intents and purposes, it appears the Reign will be mostly running it back in 2020, or they just have yet to announce free agents.
This is a less than ideal move for a team that, although they peaked well towards the end of the season, had an otherwise less than amazing 2019. The Reign need to make a few moves in the latter part of the offseason and until they do, this will be considered a very average offseason.
London Spitfire: D+
London brought on some coaches, sure, but have otherwise had a remarkably poor offseason, losing two of their best and most marketable players. With only Jun-Ho “Fury” Kim left to truly build around and rumors swirling that he is on the move, things are looking rough for London thus far.
One positive, however, is the wealth of KR Contenders talent still out there. Several players from Element Mystic, RunAway and O2 Blast are still on the market and could make for a strong, young roster in 2020. But, even with those prospects, things remain uncertain for the Spitfire at this point.
Philadelphia Fusion: B+
The Fusion have had an interesting offseason so far, with several positives and negatives. First, it is clear that the Fusion are committed to Jae-hyeok “Carpe” Lee, as they reportedly signed the star DPS player to a three-year deal. Other than this, the Fusion have also reportedly signed Daniel “Funnyastro” Hathaway from the Atlanta Reign, which would explain why Alberto “neptuNo” González was not re-signed.
Otherwise, the Fusion did not re-sign Josue “EQO” Corona, along with two other members of the 2019 roster. This sets them up to go after some big targets in the remainder of the offseason, likely including Kyungbo “Alarm” Kim from Fusion University and another DPS player. Overall, outside of losing EQO, things are looking about as good as they could be for Philly heading into the post-Blizzcon offseason.
— Paris Eternal (@ParisEternal) October 24, 2019
Paris Eternal: A-
Paris have had perhaps the most surprising offseason of any of the 20 OWL franchises, pivoting to a mixed Korean and French roster. This led to the Eternal releasing four players and several coaches, picking up four Korean coaches in their place along with three talented KR Contenders players. Among these is Yeong-han “Sp9rk1e” Kim, one of the most coveted DPS free agents of the offseason, who the Eternal likely intend to build their Korean core around.
However shiny these new Korean players and coaches may be, the Eternal still have plenty of work to do heading into 2020, especially considering that all three new Korean players are currently 17-years-old. But, they still have plenty of time to make some other moves before 2020.
Houston Outlaws: C
Houston have started this offseason about as oddly as expected, signing a couple of American DPS players and getting a new Head Coach in Harsha Bandi. The Outlaws, however, have not yet addressed their other shortcomings or have shown any indication that they will make any other substantial changes to their roster. If they stall out in the latter half of the offseason, things may look very similar in 2020 as they did in 2019, however, expect Houston to continue making cuts and signings in the near future.
Toronto Defiant: A
The Defiant have had one of the busiest offseasons of any of the 20 OWL teams and also one of the most successful. Thus far, it’s been reported here at The Game Haus that the Defiant have picked up the following players for their 2020 roster: Lane “Surefour” Roberts, Brady “Agilities” Girardi and Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson. Along with these three major signings, the Defiant have also officially picked up Young-seo “KariV” Park from the Valiant. This, as a part of a reported package deal for both KariV and Agilities that came in at well under the expected cost for both.
All in all, the Defiant have made the cuts they needed to and have had immense success in free agency getting good players that they want. Overall, they still likely have moves to make, but they have started about as good as fans could ask for thus far.
Washington Justice: B+
The Justice, all in all, have had a really good start to the offseason. They’ve cleaned house as far as staff and many of the players are concerned, only officially keeping four core members of the 2019 roster. In addition, the Justice have brought on two talented Korean players in Ho-Sung “TTuba” Lee and Chang-hoon “rOar” Gye as well as proven staff members like Analynn “Bawlynn” Dang and Seetoh “JohnGalt” Jian Qing.
Moving forward, the Justice need to continue to solidify an identity of sorts and continue to fill out their support line. If they can do that well and support a mixed-language roster, they look to be a scary team in 2020.
Boston Uprising: B-
The Uprising have had an interesting start to the offseason, to say the least. First, they did what most expected they would do and began the process of rebuilding, cutting most of their roster and coaching staff, with only three of the players from 2019 remaining. Then, just recently, it was announced that they would officially be signing Sang-min “Myunbong” Seo and Tae-hee “Jerry Min, reportedly getting Myunbong directly from O2 Blast, potentially without even trialing him first.
These players, along with new coaching acquisitions, are each a good starting point for Boston, but still leaves plenty of questions on the table for the remainder of the offseason heading into 2020.
Florida Mayhem: B
There have been several rumors that the Florida Mayhem are currently in talks with KR Contenders team, RunAway, attempting to acquire several players and coaches. Outside of these rumors, the Mayhem have been quiet this offseason in terms of picking up talent, but have made several expected cuts to both the staff and roster.
Considering there is still plenty of time for Florida to continue making moves, this offseason still has plenty of potential. The important thing for them was making plenty of cuts, which has already been mostly accomplished. Because of that, Florida is looking good heading into Blizzcon.
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