In the first big move of the off-season, the London Spitfire have dropped their star DPS Ji-hyeok “Birdring” Kim. Additionally, they’ve parted ways with Hee-dong “Guard” Lee, Jong-seok “NUS” Kim, and their coach Jeong-min “Jfeel” Kim.
Birdring’s departure is particularly notable, as he is one of two remaining original members of Cloud9 KongDoo’s former roster on the Spitfire. Cloud9 Kongdoo was the core of London’s roster going into the beginning of the inaugural season. Flex support Seung-tae “Bdosin” Choi, is the only thread of C9 that has yet to be cut.
With a veteran DPS talent like Birdring entering free agency, and many flagging teams looking to adjust rosters amid the myriad contract expirations, he is sure to be a hot commodity this off-season.
Flight to the Fuel
The Dallas Fuel are the first team to come to mind. The young American DPS Zachary “ZachaREEE” Lombardo had a lot of success on Fusion University throughout 2018. The Fuel signed ZachaREEE after he suffered an upset to the United Kingdom in the 2018 Overwatch World Cup. Unfortunately his Overwatch League play matched the tenor of that loss rather than his multiple championships in Contenders.
Birdring could bring his veteran experience and flexibility to Dallas’ struggling roster. While they currently have three DPS players signed, it’s safe to expect that the Fuel will make some wholesale changes after getting only one victory in the entire latter half of the season. Birdring could be an integral piece of the new Dallas Fuel in 2020.
Building Around Birdring’s Brand
Dallas isn’t the only Texas team that had very little success this season. The Houston Outlaws will also likely be going through major shifts in strategy and the makeup of their roster.
San Francisco’s mixed-language roster had incredible success this season. In order to stay competitive, the historically English-speaking Outlaws may consider picking up more non-English talent.
While the Outlaws have always been a fan-favorite team, they will need to maintain that image despite dropping many of their players. As Birdring is very popular amongst fans of the Korean scene, he would be a natural fit for maintaining their brand.
Another Jewel In Seoul’s Cap
Another fan-favorite team, the Seoul Dynasty, would be enhanced by Birdring’s presence. Dong-eon “FITS” Kim’s meteoric rise through Open Division and Trials and continued success on the main stage was a testament to the Dynasty’s scouting. Therefore, it’s safe to assume FITS will see play next season.
This year the San Francisco Shock cycled between the DPS pairs of Sinatraa/Striker and Rascal/Architect. Having another quality veteran player, alongside Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim, to round out Seoul’s DPS lineup could help them with adapting the Shock’s strategy of having more than one DPS duo on retainer.
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