Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Who’s Next In The Cockpit? A Look At Potential Spitfire Head Coaching Candidates

We're officially into the Overwatch League off season and while the excitement towards games is now due to die down over the next four to five months, we've hit speculation season as to who stays, who goes and who's on the outside looking in. One position that does need filling, is that of the London Spitfire's Head Coach. Despite being without a Head Coach since the firing of Lee "Bishop" Beoum-Jun, in the early part of stage two, the team managed to go on to win the 2018 Season. Now with there being plenty of down time to find the right coach, we will take a look into some of their options. 

While the Spitfire haven’t made clear who their preference at head coach is, we’re going to review five potential candidates that could have an opportunity to make the position their own and continue to pilot the Spitfire in the right direction going into the 2019 season. To make everyone aware, this is simply my opinion of who the best candidates are. I do not know who the team are looking at for the position. That said, with out further ado, lets get into the candidates. 

Cheol-Yong “Agape” Hong – London Spitfire

The man who joined the Spitfire as a full time coach from week two of stage four has everything you’d need and want in a Head Coach. After working with the team remotely from Korea in the preseason, Agape joined Blossom as a coach in Contenders Korea season one. Upon his return to the team, Agape became the teams strategic coach and worked on getting the players on the same page for the last few weeks of the season and ready for the playoffs. His work with the team showed quickly as after a slow start against the Los Angeles Gladiators in game one, they then went on a tear going 10 – 1 match streak against the Gladiators, Los Angeles Valiant and then in the finals against the Philadelphia Fusion. As a coach who wasn’t with the team during the struggles of stage three, Agape has managed to quickly win the trust of the players and got them to play as one team again, as they did during stage one and two.

Outside of helping the Spitfire win the 2018 season of the Overwatch League, Agape does have an impressive coaching history with Luxury Watch Blue and Red. He’s coached and helped some of the players now on the NYXL OWL roster such as Saebyeolbe, Pine, Ark & Mano. He’s also helped the previous LW teams into one of the better and more feared team during the APEX Seasons. With his strategic knowledge and the players trust, Agape does have the coaching experience to make the step up to a Head Coaching role.

Jeong-Min “JFeel” Kim – London Spitfire

The last coach standing out of the three that originally formed the Spitfire coaching staff. JFeel has shown that he's committed to London's cause in winning and then retaining their OWL titles. As the teams positional coach, he works hard to ensure that the players are doing what they should be doing and at the right times. By also being a coach that provides open and honest feedback, he's gained the trust of all the teams players and manages to get the best out of them both in game and in their development. 

JFeel has previous leadership experience, being the old shot caller for MVP's Hero of The Storm team and he's managed to transition this well into his OWL coaching role. He was also the coach who'd known the players the longest, having been a coach at both Kongdoo Panthera and prior to that GC Busan. With his ability to lead by example in both in game and real life situations, JFeel could be ldeal to take the next steps in his progression as a coach.  

Seong-Hwan “BlueHaS” We – Kongdoo Panthera

While Kwon Pyung has been the on/off Head Coach for Kongdoo Panthera in recent times, the real brains behind the organisations good showing in the last Contenders Korea season has been BlueHaS. After the majority of C9KDP left to join the London Spitfire in the Overwatch League, BlueHaS worked hard to rebuild Kongdoo Panthera, so that they could continue to show that they are one of the best tier two teams in the Korean scene. BlueHaS helped in moving DPS Gui-Un “Decay” Jang, Flex DPS Jin-Hyeok “DDing” Yang, Main Tank Chang-Sik “Changsik” Moon and Support Seong-Hyeon “Luffy” Yang from Kongdoo Uncia to the now main team in Panthera. While also acquiring DPS player Yong-Jin “YOUNGJIN” Jin, Main Tank Chang-Hoon “R0ar” Gye and Support player Kyeong-Woo “CoMa” Son from now disbanded Afreeca Freecs, LW Red and Flash Lux respectively.

While their first season in what turned out to be an unexpected first season of Contenders Korea, ended before everyone found their footing in a quarterfinal exit to RunAway .Season Two saw great improvement from the team and showed just how good they are. With star performances from players such as Decay, DDing, YOUNGJIN and Changsik, seemingly happening in rotation on a weekly basis. BlueHaS had built and formed the new KDP to be an almost mirror of the team that had left. Being patient in their build up, but willing to strike as soon as they got the first opening to devastating effect. This led to the new KDP to storm not only their group 4-0 but every team on their way to the final, where they lost 4-3 in an eight game thriller and one that is considered now as one of the best Overwatch games in history.

With the previous links BlueHaS has with the London Spitfire, him making the next step to be reunited with his previous players in Bdosin and Birdring, plus current Spitfire coach JFeel. At the same time as it seems that his version of Kongdoo Panthera are rumoured to be joining Overwatch League teams around the league. It would not only be fitting to see, but a great fit for BlueHaS to take the next step.

Ho-Jeong “Alwaysoov” Chae – Ex Seoul Dynasty & Lunatic-Hai

When you speak about successful coaches within the Overwatch scene, one name that is bound to come up in this discussion is Alwaysoov. As coach of the now infamous and legendary Lunatic-Hai APEX team, Alwaysoov is one of the most successful coaches available right now after winning APEX Season Two & Three. He’s has an abundance of experience in coaching high profile teams, having been with Lunatic-Hai from their inception all the way through to the end of their first season in the Overwatch League as the Seoul Dynasty. Another benefit Alwaysoov has, will be that he’s coached some of the highest profile Korean talent the scene has had. Be it ex-DPS player and now PUBG star in Esca, Seoul’s current support player and leader with the great hair Ryujehong or Winston originator Miro. Alwaysoov has worked with some of the best in their peak and will be able to transfer this to London.

London and Alwaysoov seem a fit for a few other reasons as well. The fact that London have one of the youngest and most talented rosters, mean that Alwaysoov would be able to develop the talent that is already there. To a point that London would have the opportunity to be as dominating in the Overwatch League as Lunatic-Hai were in APEX. He’d also be on the winning side of the GC Busan/London – Lunatic-Hai/Seoul Dynasty rivalry for the very first time. With former Spitfire coach Chang-Geun “Changgoon” Park all but confirmed to be joining the Dynasty, Alwaysoov going in the other direction could add a bit more spice to the rivalry.

In all, the creator of the deathnote (an Excel spreadsheet, that states how many times a player has died in a scrim. As a way to keep the players in check) would be a solid addition to the Spitfire as Head Coach if they decided this was the right flight path for them.

Hee-Won “Rush” Yun – Element Mystic

If there’s anyone who know how to have a consistently good regular season team it’s Hee-Won “Rush” Yun with Element Mystic. Considering that EM weren’t a team prior to Contenders Korea, they have become one of the more dominant rosters in Korea and have also produced OWL level talent with the likes of Fearless now of the Shanghai Dragons. Rush has always been able to piece teams together and find the right people for the needed roles and has experience in developing talent with the likes of DPS player Sp4rkle. 

Being known for generally being a head of the curve when it comes to compositions and set piece strategy, Rush would be a good addition to the Spitfire coaching staff and would likely pair up well behind the scene with both Agape and JFeel. He would also have a good inside track when it comes to the next Korean players to look out for and turn them into stars. 

With teams starting to make roster moves known, it may not be too long before more the bigger announcements come. If there's one thing that will be certain is that when London do announce their second Head Coach, they will be ready and prepared to defend their crown. 

(You can find more Overwatch League and London Spitfire related content on Twitter @haloofthoughts)
(Picture Credit: Blizzard Ent)

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