The inaugural season proved itself to be one that the NYXL certainly left their fingerprints on. They ended up placing first overall at the end of the season with 34 maps won and only six losses over the course of all four stages. However, their faltering performance at the end of Stage 4 proves that the NYXL need to come back with a vengeance if they want to regain their status as champions.
SEASON ONE RECAP
The NYXL won both Stages 2 and 3, dominating through most of the season. Their starting support, Seonghyun “Jjonak” Bang, earned the title of T-Mobile MVP at the end of the inaugural season thanks to his aggressive playstyle. Jjonak averaged 13.55 eliminations per ten minutes according to the Overwatch League website, tying for most time played on the team with Tae-Hong “MekO” Kim at 41 hours and 58 minutes.
The team’s strong performance carried themselves through the majority season without many hiccups. However, the team met their downfall during Stage 4, when their once-dominant performance lost its fuel.
After finishing Stage 1 in first place overall with a 9-1 win-loss ratio, the NYXL solidified their place in the playoffs against the Houston Outlaws and the London Spitfire. The Spitfire defeated the Outlaws in a 3-1 series, and earned their spot in the grand finals against the NYXL. After having already defeated the Spitfire in a tight 2-3 series, the Excelsior let their guard down after having won another two matches and ultimately paid the price, losing the grand finals for Stage 1 in a shocking reverse sweep 3-2.
Stage 2 left the NYXL in a familiar spot, ending the series in first place overall with 9 wins and 1 loss. They were poised to go up against the Philadelphia Fusion and the London Spitfire. After a tight series that ended in a 3-2 win for the Fusion against the Spitfire, the NYXL’s fate was looking grim until they pulled off a reverse sweep against the Fusion, winning the Stage 2 grand finals 3-2.
The NYXL dropped to second place overall, being overtaken by the Boston Uprising who had earned a cool 10-0 streak for the stage. The Excelsior, having earned their routine 9-1 ratio, were to go up against the Los Angeles Valliant to battle for the opportunity to defend their championship. They swept the Valliant 3-0, and did the same to the Uprising in a 3-0 series, becoming two-time stage champions.
The Excelsior placed third overall this stage after their shaky and inconsistent playing earned them a 7-3 win-loss ratio. They still had their opportunity to fight for the championship, first being put up against the Dallas Fuel and winning in a narrow 3-2 series. In their final matchup against the Los Angeles Valliant, the NYXL were not able to defend their title and lost in a shocking 3-1 defeat.
SEASON 1 PLAYOFFS
Despite their faltering performance during Stage 4, the NYXL had earned themselves first place overall as division leaders, followed by the Valliant. The Boston Uprising, Los Angeles Gladiators, London Spitfire, and Philadelphia Fusion also earned themselves a spot in the semifinals, but ultimately the NYXL lost to the Philadelphia fusion in a disappointing 2-0 series, losing their place and opportunity to fight for the championship for the inaugural season.
- Head Coach: Hyeon-sang “Pavane” Yu
- Assistant Coach: Se-chul “zet” Son
- DPS: Jong-ryeol “Saebeyolbe” Park
- DPS/Flex: Do Hyeon “Pine” Kim
- DPS/Flex: Haeseong “Libero” Kim
- Tank/Flex: Tae-Hong “MekO” Kim
- Tank: Dong-gyu “Mano” Kim
- Support: Seonghyun “Jjonak” Bang
- Support: Yeonjun “ArK” Hong
- Support: Tae-sung “Anamo” Jung
- General Manager: Yo-han “nuGget” Kim
- Assistant Coach: Yong-cheol “imt” Jeong
- DPS: Yeon-oh “Fl0w3R” Hwang
- DPS: Yeon-kwan “Nenne” Jeong
The NYXL are coming into the second season with the same head coach that lead the team through their dominant season, but also with new face Yong-cheol “imt” Jeong, who was an online Overwatch analyst. He takes the place of Hyeong-seok “WizardHyeong” Kim, who is now the head coach of the Washington Justice. Having two coaches who are already familiar with the team’s vibe and energy should help imt with transitioning into his new role, and with transitioning into the fast-paced world of the Overwatch League as a whole.
The NYXL are poised for a strong return to the Overwatch League with most of their all-star roster returning; star players like Saebeyolbe, Libero, Jjonak, and Pine have made names for themselves in the Overwatch League and beyond, demonstrating intimidating levels of skill and ability within the game in their performances in the Overwatch World Cup and in personal streams. Even just from looking at stats from the inaugural season shows that this team should be feared; the team’s average eliminations per ten minutes in the inaugural season peaks with DPS Saebeyolbe at 18.73.
The two newcomers, Fl0W3r and Nenne, are both familiar faces for those who followed NYXL’s contender’s team, XL2.
CAN’T TOUCH NENNE, CAN’T STOP NENNE! @Nenne_chu
W’re almost out of breath after Lijang Towers, but the map falls into our hands. PHEW 💦 pic.twitter.com/CqUdDk3Xzd
— XL2 Academy (@XL2) August 10, 2018
18-year-old Yeon-oh “Fl0w3R” Hwang gained fame during the 2017 Overwatch World Cup where he played on team South Korea and showed off his talent as a star-quality Widowmaker, but his shaky performance on XL2 has left fans wary of how consistent he will be in the Overwatch League this season. 22-year-old Yeon-kwan “Nenne” Jeong showed off his strong plays in the Contenders bracket. Despite speculation concerning his role in the NYXL as either an Off-Tank or a DPS player, Nenne confirmed that he will be playing DPS come Season 2.
The NYXL’s second season in the Overwatch League begins with a chance for the Boston Uprising to avenge themselves from their 3-0 defeat in Stage 3 of the inaugural season. The teams have historically been able to give each other pretty good fights, so this matchup should prove to be a pretty good way to start out the season.
The match that’ll really be the one to tune into happens on February 22, when the NYXL faces the Valliant, a team that had consistently given them trouble through Season 1. This series will also be a great opportunity to see exactly how much progress both teams have made since fans last saw them in the playoffs.
The Excelsior won’t face off against the reigning champions, the London Spitfire, until June where they are set to battle twice that month. These matches are sure to be worth the wait, however, considering how strong both teams are and XL’s desire to retake the championship and Spitfire’s determination to maintain their title.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Yeon-oh “Fl0w3R” Hwang will definitely be a player to keep an eye on, as questions circle around his inconsistencies in the XL2. Was his shaky performance entirely due to an injury, or did the player peak in 2017 when his Widowmaker plays gained him popularity?
Even so, with his injury, will he be able to shape up to the expectations that are held to him as a member of such an elite team of strong players? The 18-year-old newcomer has a lot to live up to, and his performance is sure to be something to look out for come Season 2.
Because of the NYXL’s shaky end to Season 1, fans are hoping that they’ve learned their lesson and are ready to come back to Season 2 ready to take the grand finals by force. The team has done a great job of psyching up their fans, but it’s all up to them to make sure those promises for Season 2 weren’t empty. With their same all-star roster, along with some newbies, Season 2 is sure to be a strong, dynamic time for the team. NYXL is sure to be that same dominant group of players fans have grown to love.
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Featured Image Courtesy of the NYXL.
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