The Overwatch offseason has seen many tumultuous moves from nearly every team in the league. With geolocation as well as an ever-increasing skill ceiling, teams can’t afford to be complacent. And one team most of all had to change. That being the Toronto Defiant.
The Defiant finished their inaugural season in 17th place with an 8-20 record. Though the team had their moments, it was clear that they needed a reset. And reset they have. By only keeping one original member as a two way player for their academy team, the Defiant have signed an all-new squad for the 2020 season. So how does this new roster look? Is this a squad that can stick together and defy expectations?
2019 Season Review
A Break-Even Start
It’s safe to say that the Defiant had one of, if not the most turbulent seasons last year. Starting the season off as a collection of unknowns (with the exception of Sehyeon “Neko” Park, Kangjae “envy” Lee and Junsung “Asher” Choi), the Defiant would come out of the gate swinging. They beat the likes of the Hangzhou Spark, Houston Outlaws and Philadelphia Fusion to obtain a 5-2 record and a spot for the Stage 1 playoffs. Though they would ultimately lose to the now awakened San Francisco Shock 3-0, many saw the Defiant as a potential dark horse for the season playoffs.
However, just as momentum was building for the Defiant, Do-hyung “Stellar” Lee announced he would be retiring from the team due to stress and anxiety. This left the Defiant with a hole in their starting roster that needed to be filled quick. Due to complications with getting a new player a Visa, the Defiant would have to look locally and find a player that could speak Korean and already had a Visa.
The team would ultimately settle on Jin-ui “im37” Hong, a player now known for his “speed-running” the Path to Pro after being on Second Wind an astonishingly short amount of time. He also duo’d with Félix “xQc” Lengyel showing off impressive DPS ability. Fans would enjoy memeing about soon to be “League Commissioner37” but would quickly forget as the team would only manage to secure two wins for Stage 2. The team now sat at 7-7 and would have to shake things up if they wanted to keep the postseason dream alive.
Journey to The West
In a surprising twist, the Defiant had signed Normunds “sharyk” Faterins, Daniel “Gods” Graeser, Liam “Mangachu” Campbell and Andreas “Logix” Berghmans during the mid-season break. This would be the first time an OWL team had gone from an all Korean speaking roster to a mixed roster. The move was received positively, and many were looking forward to the Defiant getting back on stage. Unfortunately, the team would be facing their hardest Stage yet on top of having to travel to Atlanta for the second-ever Homestand.
There isn’t much to be said about the Defiant after this point. They would be joining the exclusive 0-7 club after Stage 3 and would only acquire one more win during the season against the Shanghai Dragons. Despite some close matchups and moments of pride, the Defiant would finish the 2019 season in 17th place alongside the Washington Justice. Things would need to change.
An All New Defiant
And changed they have. The Defiant were one of the few teams to nearly completely reset their roster after the 2019 season. The entire inaugural roster has been dropped as well as most of the midseason pickups. In their stead, the Toronto Defiant have opted to go from relative unknown potential dark horses to full-on fan service. If anything, the Defiant can expect to see an increase in merchandise sales with this new star-studded roster. But can this roster prove the haters wrong and be more than pretty faces and edgy promotion?
Andreas “Logix” Berghmans
Liam “Mangachu” Campbell (Two-Way)
Brady “Agilities” Girardi
Lane “Surefour” Roberts
Nobody saw this coming, right? We're so excited to announce that @Surefour will be joining the Defiant for Season 3! Our GM and HC personally wanted Tisumi, but he'll do. Oh, and wish him a Happy Birthday too! #RiseTogether pic.twitter.com/LZaAiqNGPx
— Toronto Defiant (@TorontoDefiant) November 4, 2019
Starting off with the largest role within roster, the Defiant are bringing four DPS into the 2020 season. Those being two returning players in Andreas “Logix” Berghmans and Liam “Mangachu” Campbell who has been moved to a two-way contract. In addition, the Defiant have brought in Lane “Surefour” Roberts after time on the L.A. Gladiators and acquired Brady “Agilities” Girardi from the L.A. Valiant. Between all three roles, it’s safe to say that the DPS is the strongest portion of the Defiant and the biggest draw for fans. Logix, Surefour and Agilities are all players that have been in the league since the inaugural season and are constant performers whenever they touch the stage. These players alone hold more highlight moments than most teams in the League. Surefour and Logix cover practically every hitscan DPS and Agilities keeps flex DPS heroes like Genji, Doomfist and Pharah in check.
Between the three, Surefour will most likely see the most consistent playing time due to his accolades coming onto the team. This will also mean that Surefour will have to bear the responsibilities of being an in-game leader. As one will see further down, the Defiant don’t have a standout leadership figure like Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park for the NYXL or Dusttin “Dogman” Bowerman for the Atlanta Reign. With how long Surefour has been in the competitive Overwatch scene, he should be able to take the mantle of leader no problem and take the Defiant to greater heights.
Jooseong “RoKy” Park (Two-Way)
Kristian “Kellex” Keller
Young-seo “KariV” Park
Moving on to the Supports, Toronto have decided to move Jooseong “RoKy” Park to a Two-way contract with their academy team the Montreal Rebellion. RoKy did not see much playtime during the Defiant’s latter half of the season due to the switch in comms from Korean to English. He has been a fan favorite personality for the team, so keeping him within the system was a good move.
Speaking of good moves, the Defiant have acquired, as part of a package deal with Agilities, Young-seo “KariV” Park from the L.A. Valiant. KariV saw tremendous growth throughout season 2 and was a key player for the Valiant’s return to form. Additionally, KariV has come from a mixed roster where he not only survived but thrived; so language barriers won’t be an issue. Even further, KariV’s placement on this team allows them the flexibility to pick up Korean talent if they chose to do so. Though his hype has been questioned, especially after winning a 2019 Role Star accolade over other notable flex supports, he is still easily an above-average flex support that will be more boon than bane for the Defiant.
Joining KariV on the main support position is Kristian “Kellex” Keller from the Boston Uprising. Kellex was the last remaining member of the original Boston Uprising and has now followed in the path of his former teammate Neko. Kellex has never been a standout player, but he has never been actively bad either. In terms of Player Impact Ratings, Kellex lands right around the middle. He has also been a staple representative for Team Denmark for the Overwatch World Cup ever since 2017 and had a particularly great performance in 2019. Kellex is not a top-five player by any means, but he is also far from the bottom. Any struggles the Boston Uprising faced with him in the roster have to have stemmed from a holistic view of the team and not the individuals. It will be interesting to see how Kellex performs in a new environment.
Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson
Adam “Beast” Denton
As far as players go, the new tank line for the Defiant leaves the most question marks. At the time of writing, the Defiant have only signed one Main Tank in Adam “Beast” Denton and one Off Tank in Andreas “Nevix” Karlsson. Nevix comes to the team from the 2019 Grand Finals Champions San Francisco Shock. He did not see much playtime throughout the season. However, he is sited as being an integral part to Hyo-bin “ChoiHyoBin” Choi’s growth in becoming the 2019 Grand Finals MVP. Having worked under Dae-hee “Crusty” Park, it’s reasonable to assume that Nevix will bring a championship mentality to the new Toronto squad and will be an essential piece to the team. His biggest challenge will be living up to the hype that has been surrounding him all season long.
Moving on from established talent, Beast joins the Toronto Defiant as the lone rookie. It is worth noting that this might not have been the case if he had signed with the Chengdu Hunters last season. For details on that situation, as well as other details of Beast’s journey, check out this article on the Overwatch League website. Regardless, Beast raises a lot of question marks surrounding him from both fans and analysts. He did come from an absolutely dominant Fusion University, but would be benched for Moon “Changsik” Chang-sik after the team moved to South Korea. In other words, Beast hasn’t seen professional playtime in nearly a year.
Dennis “Barroi” Matz, an analyst for the Defiant, has gone on record during an episode of Tactical Crouch talking about how vocal and willing to learn Beast has been. He’s also apparently been comfortable shot calling for a team full of veteran talent. It is tough to guess how Beast will perform until the Overwatch League starts again, but with plenty of experienced players to play alongside with, he has the potential to become a breakout star on this roster.
When the Defiant began their Overwatch League journey, they were one of the most, if not the most, obscure team in the League. Now, the team is full of well liked and well established players that are sure to, if nothing else, sell plenty of merchandise. But the team also has the talent to potentially compete for a spot in the Play-ins. The road will be rough. According to an article from Intel by Sascha “Yiska” Heinisch, the Defiant will have the 5th toughest travel schedule in the entire league. On top of that, the Defiant play both the Philadelphia Fusion as well as the Atlanta Reign in weeks 3 and 4 respectively; two teams that have consistently ranked high with most in their power rankings. Toronto won’t have a “easy game” until roughly week 8 when they square up against the Boston Uprising.
Coach Félix “Féfé” Münch has a lot of work to do to shape up this lean roster of underdogs in order to make the Play-In Tournament. The 2020 season starts soon, and the Defiant are poised to take an aggressive start against the Paris Eternal. The Defiant’s first game will kick the League off in New York City February 8th at the Manhattan Center Hammerstein Ballroom. Click here for ticket details.
Follow Brad on Twitter @BradKillion for the latest opinions and musing in the world of esports.
Featured image courtesy of Toronto Defiant
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