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.
Vancouver Titans: A-
For a team with as much success as the Titans had last season, not many changes would be expected in the following offseason, giving the team an overall excellent grade. Losing Harsha Bandi was likely inevitable, so there is little blame to be cast on the Titans in that move. Since last reaching out to the Titans, there was no free agency news to be announced, so expect them to remain just as quiet as the offseason continues, perhaps signing one or two coaches to replace Harsha.
Again, the first half of the offseason is naturally going to be about simply releasing players for several teams, so teams with success in 2019 are understandably silent thus far.
San Francisco Shock: A-
This is very much a broken record of what was just said about the Titans, subbing Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson in for Harsha. The Shock have otherwise stayed mostly intact, with core elements of the team sticking around for the foreseeable future. Outside of getting depth at Tank and Support, there is little fans should expect of the reigning champions heading into 2020.
Hangzhou Spark: B
The Game Haus recently reached out to Hangzhou to discuss issues unrelated to this rating and they implied that announcements may be coming this week, although nothing is confirmed. As Mr. X alluded to in the OWL’s article about player contracts, the Spark need a big-time damage dealer to come in and be a difference-maker, filling the shoes of Shilong “Krystal” Cai (who may still be on the roster?). Otherwise, almost all of the players seem to have re-negotiated their contracts already, which means the Spark fully intend to run it back in 2020.
Los Angeles Gladiators: A+
So far, the Gladiators are one of the few true winners of the offseason. First, they locked down their solid support line for 2020, with proven synergy and marketability. Second, they re-signed their coach (and now GM), David “Dpei” Pei. Third, they officially grabbed their rivals’ star player and arguably the best Western offtank in the league, Indy “SPACE” Halpern.
Although those are the only officially confirmed moves thus far, The Game Haus has also first reported that the Gladiators have acquired Min-Seok “OGE” Son from the Dallas Fuel. This means that, before Blizzcon, the Glads have locked down their Support line and Tank line for 2020. Although they still need to acquire a few DPS players, there is still plenty of time remaining in the offseason to make those moves. For now, they appear to be headed in just the right direction.
Seoul Dynasty: A
Speaking of offseason winners, the Seoul Dynasty are also among the top movers this offseason. Their notable acquisitions of the London Spitfire’s Joon-yeong “Profit” Park and Jae-hee “Gesture” Hong indicate that this team is looking like they may really be the South Korean powerhouse fans anticipated they might be in 2020.
One thing they will need to address post-Blizzcon is the potential loss of their tenured support duo. If they can either re-sign both players or fill in with some young talent, Seoul should be ready to dominate in 2020.
Guangzhou Charge: B-
Outside of announcing a couple of players (who were already under contract) staying on for 2020, the Charge have been silent this offseason, aside from the occasional meme. This team is packed with players on option, meaning that their future is truly one that is unknown at the current moment. With a strong finish after a relatively slow start in 2019, the Charge may have what it takes to simply run it back.
Due to the lack of any “LFT” posts from their players, expect this team to stay largely intact going into 2020, potentially barring a few current free agents like Hong-Jun “HOTBA” Choi, Joona “Fragi” Laine and Aaron “Bischu” Kim. With the potential to lose those players, the Charge still need to make some moves heading into 2020, even if they are relatively small. Expect these to come post-Blizzcon.
Shanghai Dragons: C-
Based on reports thus far, the Dragons have had a fairly rough start to the offseason, losing several players that were key to their 2019 success. Most notably is the reported loss of Noh “Gamsu” Young-Jin to the Dallas Fuel, although this has not yet been officially announced. Additionally, the team has lost Young-Jin “Youngjin” Jin to retirement along with a couple of coaches.
This team needed to make some changes this offseason, but these may not have been the ones to make. But, with lots of time still left, there is still a chance the Dragons turn this offseason into a good one.
Chengdu Hunters: C
The Hunters have been absolutely silent throughout this offseason and that might not be a good thing. This team didn’t make any major waves last season as far as winning is concerned, so some changes for 2020 would be expected. However, they also seem intent on sticking with a Chinese roster, so their options are sorely limited. Because every player is currently under contract, don’t expect much from Chengdu this offseason.
Los Angeles Valiant: D
Things are definitely not going the best for a team when they feel the need to put out a letter to their fanbase explaining what is going on inside the franchise. In short, the Valiant have been under scrutiny after they lost just about every core part of their roster this offseason, outside of their promising new head coach Mike “Packing10” Szklanny and their marketable main support Scott “Custa” Kennedy.
The team is reportedly operating on a tight budget, attempting to build a roster of players signing close to the league minimum. This explains their inability to afford several players formerly on the roster, but does not bode well for their projected success through the remainder of the offseason. There is still certainly a chance this team will field a strong, young roster in 2020, but they will be rebuilding their identity and much of their brand as a result of the reportedly tighter budget.
Dallas Fuel: C-
The Fuel are a tough team to grade thus far, considering their less-than-desirable current nine players under contract. However, the team is making strides towards other talented players in the league, reportedly acquiring Gamsu from the Dragons and potentially even Gui-Un “Decay” Jang from the Gladiators.
If the Fuel are done building, this offseason will be forgettable for them. If, on the other hand, they continue to make moves and are willing to buy out their own players in order to make space for more promising talent, the Fuel have potential to have a strong roster in 2020. Because none of this can be confirmed yet, their offseason success is still largely in question.
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