With just over a month until the start of the 2020 Overwatch League season, it’s time for the home stretch of an eventful offseason. After a flurry of trades and free-agent signings, over 100 players have either changed teams or found their first OWL home. On average, each team is welcoming five new faces to its ranks in 2020.
That level of activity has terraformed the league’s landscape dramatically. Stars have joined rival franchises. Legendary personalities have emerged from retirement. Highly touted prospects have inked their rookie contracts. As Valentine’s Day approaches, which teams have made the most of the offseason? Who has improved their prospects more than any other?
The Texas Rebuilds
Both Texas teams are attempting to forge new paths in 2020 and build hope for battered fanbases. For Dallas, that comes in the form of Youngjin “Gamsu” Noh, Gui-un “Decay” Jang and Dong-ha “Doha” Kim. Three new additions might not seem like an overhaul, but these signings are big enough to warrant some hype. Gamsu brings veteran leadership and versatile tank hero pool to the table, along with the strongest PMA in the league. Decay is a bona fide stud at DPS, despite having few opportunities to show it during 2019’s GOATs meta.
The wild card is Doha, the former Element Mystic DPS, fresh off a spectacular 2019 in Contenders. After playing with Yeong-han “Sp9rk1e” Kim, Doha should be fine playing second fiddle, but he’s capable of so much more. If he and Decay can gel, Dallas should be a top-10 team this year.
After more than a year in franchise ownership limbo, Dallas’s rivals to the southeast have finally been able to revamp a roster in desperate need of changes. The arrivals of João “Hydration” Telles and Jeffrey “blasé” Tsang should prove more than capable of filling the hole left by Jake “Jake” Lyon at flex DPS. The real changes, however, come in the tank and support departments.
Tae-Hong “MekO” Kim has been one of the most consistent flex tanks in the league through two seasons and brings a winning mentality from NYXL that Houston was lacking. Jun Keun “Rapel” Kim deserved to do more than warm the bench last year with Vancouver, and now he’ll have his shot to compete for a starting spot. Finally, and perhaps most importantly is SeungSoo “Jecse” Lee. Announced earlier this week, the former Seoul Dynasty main support answers the last question that Houston was facing. If these three can handle the transition into a multilingual roster, the Outlaws can compete for the playoff spot they’ve narrowly missed in each of their first two seasons.
Upgrades in Atlanta
The Reign won’t be the team that improves the most in 2020 – that will likely be the next team on the list – but that says more about their solid 2019 than their offseason pickups. After a stellar playoff performance, Blake “Gator” Scott has been upgraded from a two-way player. He’s joined by ATL Academy teammate Xander “Hawk” Domecq. Together they form a deadly tank duo with continued room for development.
The crown jewels of Atlanta’s offseason are the DPS signings of Hugo “SharP” Sahlberg and Tae-Hoon “Edison” Kim. Both standouts at the Contenders level, the two 18-year-olds are set to make an immediate impact. Both should slot in nicely next to Atlanta’s superstar DPS, Jun “ErsTer” Jeong, giving the Reign one of the scariest DPS units in the entire league. After a stellar second half of the season last year, there’s no reason to think Atlanta won’t be a contender in 2020.
Started From the Bottom
Through two seasons, the Florida Mayhem have been exactly what their name suggests. Disorganization and lack of direction have plagued them en route to the worst combined record in the entire league, tied with the Shanghai Dragons despite their 0-40 record in 2018. Florida, unlike Shanghai, stayed at the bottom of the standings in 2019 as their Korean rebuild failed to cash in on the wealth of talent coming out of Overwatch’s strongest region.
After late-season addition, Beom-jun “Gargoyle” Lee, helped trigger a Stage 4 renaissance, the Mayhem actually have something to build on for the first time in franchise history. Another first has been their ability to lock down highly coveted talent during the offseason. Jun-ki “Yaki” Kim and Nam-jin “Gangnamjin” Gang are the first marquee signings the team has managed in their history. Luring two potential Rookie of the Year candidates, both with name recognition from their time on Runaway, should be seen as a massive win for the beleaguered franchise. It’s the first step to not being a laughingstock.
The Blockbuster Trades
The Seoul Dynasty have been involved in the two biggest trades of the offseason. First, they made the shocking move to bring Junyoung “Profit” Park and Jaehui “Gesture” Hong, two of Korea’s biggest names, to its only OWL team. The trade signaled a new direction for a Seoul team that had underperformed its high expectations through two seasons. They were shelling out for stars and a Korean super team was coalescing. Less than a month later, their other DPS powerhouse, ByungSun “Fleta” Kim, was out the door to Shanghai.
To be clear, getting Profit and Gesture from London is an absolute coup for Seoul. They needed to make big moves to satisfy their fans who were clamoring for a contender. Had they retained Fleta or their academy prospect Gil-seong “Glister” Lim to pair alongside Profit, perhaps the Dynasty could actually claim to have won the offseason. As is, it feels like they blew their entire offseason budget on a single splashy move and were left twiddling their thumbs while the rest of the league improved around them.
On the other side of the Fleta trade is the Shanghai Dragons. Unlike, Seoul they didn’t rest after acquiring their superstar. They filled their biggest hole at flex tank with the underrated signing of Jun Woo “Void” Kang. Then they landed Jae-gon “LeeJaeGon” Lee, a rookie main support with superstar potential. The only question mark comes at main tank. If Ji-won “Stand1” Seo can simply be an average starter at his position, Shanghai could be making a deep run in 2020.
From their massive roster upgrades to the lightning rod that was the Phillip “Chipsa” Graham signing, no team made more waves this offseason than the Philadelphia Fusion. They started by bringing in Dong-gun “KDG” Kim to end their awkward dual-coach situation. On top of that, they added Joni “Seita” Paavola in a strategic role that should suit him perfectly.
The Fusion also took big strides in terms of raw talent. They bolstered an already stellar DPS line with the additions of Hee-Su “Heesu” Jeong and SeungHyun “Ivy” Lee. They found their support duo of the future in Kyungbo “Alarm” Kim and Daniel “FunnyAstro” Hathaway. The biggest move of all was the acquisition of Junho “Fury” Kim from the London Spitfire. Universally considered a top-3 flex tank, Fury gives Philly another superstar on a team chock full of them. If they can put it together, they just might be the most talented team in the entire league.
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment.
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