Friday, 14 September 2018

One Notable Release From Each Overwatch League Team


It’s official, the 2018 season of the Overwatch League is in the book, with the Grand Finals being won by London Spitfire and the Atlantic winning the All-Star week end. All games have been played on stage and now a new more strategic one is about to begin. The league has entered it’s off-season and while most players will be able to get some rest and enjoy their off-season outside of the Overwatch World Cup, those made players made free agents will now be looking to find new teams to call home and new cities to represent. These matches now are going to be played by the backroom staff, not only of the original twelve teams that started in the league. But with eight new teams in Atlanta, Chengdu, Paris, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington D.C, that brings the leagues total amount of teams to twenty.

With the expansion teams getting a month long exclusivity period when it comes to signing free agents from 9th September – 5th October. They will be looking to capitalise on this by getting a mixture of the best and the most OWL experienced players that they can. With the OWL team releases adding to this pool, we will look at the most notable release from each of the twelve teams and look at potential landing spots. I want to clearly state that these are my own opinions and nothing further!

Boston Uprising – Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov – DPS Option: Atlanta, Toronto, Vancouver or Washington

If there’s one player who used the 2018 season to propel himself into recognition it was Mistakes. As the first player signed to the Boston Uprising roster, his original role was to be a supportive DPS specialist from the bench. However, due to circumstances outside of both his and Boston’s control, Mistakes was promoted to the first team and didn’t look back from there. Pairing up with DPS partner Striker, Mistakes was influential in helping Boston achieve the first and only perfect regular stage in OWL history. With a preference to play hitscan DPS heroes, Mistakes would be an ideal supportive DPS player to pair up with a carry DPS who’s able to take control of a game with Widowmaker.

If one of the new North American expansion teams want a reliable #2 DPS player then Mistakes is their man. He’s proven to be reliable and deserves to be given that shot elsewhere. A very reliable Tracer player, Mistakes ability to play Sombra will be a bonus if her current play style stays the way it is plus, S76 and if required Widowmaker and Genji. Once settled in Mistakes excels at enabling his DPS partner and would be a good building block use going forward. This is obviously not going to happen if one of these teams picks up a Korean roster. 

Dallas Fuel - Sebastian "Chipshajen" Widlund - Main Support - Options: Florida Mayhem

While the Dallas Fuel's biggest new came when they announced that star DPS player Effect had re-signed with the team, neither Chips or Coco were a surprise when it came to their releases. However, with Coco moving to a coaching role we focus on Chipshajen. Despite coming in being known for his Ana and Mercy, he didn't look comfortable when he was in game and with Custa's ability to shot call being a key asset to the team. It resulted in him becoming the back up player even when the team traded Custa to the Los Angeles Valiant for Unkoe.

With the Mayhem having a complete overhaul outside of Sayaplaya, TviQ and AwesomeGuy, Florida could well be in need of a support player that can provide a veteran presence and that is something that Chipshajem could provide. With the change in meta moving back towards Ana, it could mean that the 2019 season would start off in his favour unlike the 2018 season.

Florida Mayhem – Tim “Manneten” Bylund Off- Tank - Options: Los Angeles Gladiators

While Logix is likely to be the player released that will have everybody talking, the most surprising release was that of Manneten. Despite the Mayhem going 7-33 for the season, Manneten for the first three stages was Florida’s best and most consistent player. Prior to the team acquiring Sayaplayer. He came into the season behind some well-known D.Va play and was a constant threat going forward. He was released after the Mayhem had an 50 man open trials for positions and hasn’t really been able to show off his Zarya so far.

LAG are currently in an interesting position. After the Fissure experiment failed, the team have cut their other main tank and release DPS player Asher to free agency. This leaves just English/Korean speaking Off-Tank Bischu and Korean D.Va god Void. If the Gladiators want to move towards a EU/NA roster then expect Void to be traded and Manneten to be looked at for a good option.

Houston Outlaws: Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell – Main Tank - Options: Academy Teams

While Houston made three moves to their roster, by moving DPS players Matthew “Clockwork” Dias to a coaching position after his retirement and Lucas “Mendokusaii” Hakansson moving to a content creator for the Outlaws, FCTFCTN was the only player to be released from the team. While he was brought in as a back-up for Houston’s only All-Star player Austin “Muma” Wilmots during the mid-season signing window, FCTFCTN didn’t really get a chance to show the reason he was picked as the Main Tank for the USA’s Overwatch World Cup team. 

While some of these moves were expected, Houston did keep a couple of players that many thought would be released and this is the real talking point for the teams changes so far. The main focus is based on support duo “Bani” and “Boink” who faded throughout the season despite the teams strong start. With the level of talent that is available in the first off season free agency period, it was a surprise for Flame to so far stick with the Support Duo over players like Team Gigganti’s Masaa & Ripa.

It’s been almost an entire year now since we last saw FCTFCTN play at the top level and with that the competition around him was stepping up at the main tank role, it’s going to lead to him needing to prove he can hang with the best of them. He’s a lead from the front player with good game sense, that should lead to teams at the Contenders level wanting to pick him up sharply. If he can have a good performance in Contenders Season Three then there may a chance that he can make his way but up. FCTFCTN would also be an ideal candidate for the leagues new Two-Way rules that’s being introduced at the start of the 2019 season

London Spitfire – Seung-Hyun "WooHyaL" Sung – Off-Tank - Options: Dallas or Washington

The London Spitfire have had a very quiet and relaxed re-signing period, due to the fact that the four players on their roster that were designated for release had this at the end of stage four. While on the face of it, it may have been the right move, the most surprising release was that of Off-Tank WooHyaL. WooHyaL was a fan favourite during his time with the Spitfire and was statically a top 5 D.Va in the league (According to Winstons Lab). However, he was splitting time with the best Off-Tank in the league in Fury and as the season went on he found playing time harder and harder to come by before his release and then signing to XL Academy with Main Tank Tizi.

If there's one thing that WooHyal is well known for as an Off-Tank, it's that he plays aggressive and tries to set the tempo. Which is why Dallas would be such a good fit for him with Main Tank Min-Seok "Oge" Son having a very similar play style and he would be a great replacement for retired Brandon "Seagull" Larned. His ability on D.Va can't be underestimated and with the ability to play Zarya when needed, means that WooHyaL could be a valuable piece to the Dallas rebuild.

The second option would be for the Washington expansion franchise to pick him up and go with an all Korean Tank line. With Washington selecting a mix roster, pairing up Janus and WooHyaL would not only make sense with their similar styles but with Janus being fluent in English and WooHyaL's improving enough to be good enough for calling in game. There wouldn't be too much of a language barrier and they could have the potential to be one of the better lines in the league.

Los Angeles Valiant: Finnbjorn "Finnsi" Jonasson – Off Tank - Options: Paris or Contenders

While both Numlock and Verbo were expected release’s from the Valiant, Finnsi to me is a little more surprising. Having come in at the Mid-Season signing window as the teams back up from Orgless & Hungry, Finnsi didn’t get the opportunity to showcase himself on the biggest stage. As one of the better EU Contender Off-Tanks in season one, Finnsi’s D.Va was one of the main vocal points in O&H giving the British Hurricane their only loss that season. With Space coming of age and the Valiant not having an academy team, Finnsi can probably feel a little hard done by in being made a free agent.

I feel that the two best options for Finnsi comes in the form of the Paris expansion franchise or EU/NA Contenders. If Paris go with an EU lineup he would be one of the better D.Va players around and should be in contention with Hafficool and RCK. However, the likely next step is for him to return to Contenders and make another team realise that he was on the fringe in LA but now ready to make the next steps.

Los Angeles Gladiators: Chan-Hyung "Fissure" Baek – Main Tank. (New Team Seoul Dynasty)

When Fissure was traded by London to the Los Angeles Gladiators, it seemed that one of the best Main Tanks in the world was placed on a mid to low table team and into a long grind of a season. What actually happened was that Fissure not only made them a contender by putting the team on his back and allowing DPS player Surefour the space he needed to put in work, but he played to such a level that it resulted in him becoming the MVP runner up. Despite this, them over achieving all expectations and making the playoffs, Fissure and the management team had an irreparable falling out the week of the first Playoff series and it resulted in Fissure being benched and LA Glads being dumped out of the post season playoffs. 

While the Fissure vs Slasher saga ensued, the Gladiators sent out feelers to gain interest and ended up having his contract traded to the Dynasty. Seoul provide both the all Korean speaking team that Fissure prefers but also have a tighter team policy about players speaking out about things. This could either 100% work and Fissure keeps in line or we’re about to see the Overwatch League’s version of Terrell Owens in Philly.

New York Excelsior – Joon-Hwa "Janus" Song – Main Tank (New Team: Washington)

As the only player that the New York Excelsior released, the ideas around where Janus would land was one of the more interesting this offseason. As the season progressed, Janus looked like he was uncomfortable with the style of play that NYXL seemed to be trying to force against the meta. So while it was rumoured that he was leaving I was still surprised when it happened. This is due to him being highly rated for his in-game calling and ability to play all the tank heroes. 

Along with his ability to speak in both English and Korean fluently and his ability to play all the games tank heroes to a very high level, meant that Janus was actually the #1 player on my FA market board. Washington, a team that want to select a mixed Korean/Non-Korean roster have picked up the best available player for this alongside new Head Coach Hyeong-Seok “Wizardhyeong” Kim to be the foundation blocks that help them become a competitive team instantly.

Philadelphia Fusion: Joe "Joemeister" Gramano – Main Support (Options: Atlanta & Houston)

If you’re looking to find the unluckiest player signed to an Overwatch League roster, then you probably can’t look any further than Joemeister. Brought in to play as the teams Main Support after a great performance at the 2017 Overwatch World Cup, Joemeester ended up not playing a single game for the Fusion. This was due to the unexpected rise from the teams other Main Support Neptuno, who became statistically one of the better Lucio’s in the league through his aggressive play style but also how quickly and effectively he learnt Mercy during the first two stages.

I feel that for Joe, his best options would be to potentially be signed by a North American team looking at a mixed roster. His play leading up to and during the last World Cup was impeccable and even through Canada’s team trials, he made the final twelve despite not playing a game in seven months. In the current meta, Lucio is a permanent fixture and teams should be on the lookout to pick these specialist ups. Atlanta would be perfect due to his maturity and the leadership he would bring alongside a well-known Lucio, whereas Houston’s weakest area is it’s support duo and in my opinion Joemeister would be an upgrade there.

Shanghai Dragons – Gi-Hyeon “Ado” Chon – DPS - Option: Seoul or Florida

While it was expected that the majority of the Shanghai Dragons Chinese players and Korean DPS Daemin would be released from the team, what wasn’t expected was that Ado would also be joining them. Ado came in during the mid-season signing window alongside fellow Korean players Daemin, Fearless and Geguri, where alongside Chinese DPS player Diya tried to claw out a win for a team that lack real coaching. While the team struggled as a unit, Ado was one of the bright spots on the team and he quickly became known for having a very effective Genji/Tracer. His pool however, at times was limited and this meant that there were certain situations where Ado would be quite in the Dragons time of need.

Ado was a fan favourite during his time with the Dragons, not only for his play but his hard work, dedication and positive attitude despite the teams run of results. Seoul would be the perfect fit for Ado to further develop from his hero pool and see if he can make the flashes of brilliance he showed for Shanghai, a regular occurrence with Seoul. With the release of Wekeed, the spot has all but been set up for Ado to take the position and while Fleta has a similar pool. The signing of Ado to Seoul would allow Fleta to focus on just his own carry playstyle and now have Seoul rely on him to pull off his famous deadlift.

Florida would be an interesting landing zone for Ado. With the ongoing restructure behind the scene and with Florida saying that they are looking at a mixed EU/NA/KR roster, pairing Ado with Saya could be a good fit. Saya is a Carry DPS that’s not know for an effective Genji or Tracer so Ado would be an upgrade over Saya and Tviq in terms of consistency. Also with TviQ in as the third DPS and has the ability to play Pharah, there wouldn’t be a need currently for Ado to learn her as TviQ would be the better option. Meaning for the time being, Ado could focus on more pressing heroes to learn.

San Francisco Shock - Daniel "DhaK" Martinez - Main Support - Options: Academy

Lets be 100% honest in this evaluation here because if there's one player who was totally screwed over with the pre-season meta change from Lucio to Mercy, it was very clearly DhaK. Having been apart of a fairly successful Selfess Gaming team that were are the top of the NA scene, until they fell apart near the end. DhaK came in with a reputation of being one of the best Lucio players in North America. However, when it came to transitioning on to Mercy at Main Support, to say that DhaK struggled was an understatement and he was very quickly benched upon the arrival of Moth from Toronto Esports. While DhaK's release wasn't a surprise to anyone, he still has value in any meta involving Lucio. 

Academy teams who want both an experienced player and a reliable Lucio, should look no further that DhaK. Having already come out saying that he doesn't want retire as a player and go into coaching. The Overwatch World Cup group stage in Bangkok and Contenders season three/four may be his last two chances to show that he's able to compete at the higher levels.     

Seoul Dynasty – Jin-Hyuk "Miro" Gong – Main Tank - Options: Los Angeles Gladiators

One of if not the pioneer for how Winston is played today, Miro has been a part of the Seoul Dynasty all the way back to the beginnings of the teams days as Lunatic-Hai. While his performance last season wasn’t up to the level that we all know Miro can produce and with Fissure joining the team after Seoul bought out his contract. It was still a surprise to see the Dynasty release Miro rather than either put him on the trade block to get some value out of him. His play dropped off quite a bit during the 2019 season, to the point that captain and Flex Support Jehong was moved to the Main Tank position in stage three. While some of this would have been related to the ongoing dynamic behind the scenes with the coaches, Miro himself is likely to admit that he didn’t have the best season.

This one may have people thinking but hear me out. LAG have just had the MVP runner up leave the team and are in need of a world class Main Tank, while at the time of writing they still own the rights for Void and have Bischu at the Off-Tank role. I’m not 100% committed to say that last year is how we’re now going to see Miro play and want to give him the benefit of the doubt, so for me the Gladiators are the perfect spot for this. While the Legion have Panker, their Main Tank protege waiting in the wings. It would be the perfect time for Panker to play and learn off Miro, who will be in a mentor role in this situation whilst also being on a two way contact and being able to play to give him more experience. It’s a one two punch that could work really well. This is of course if Miro decides to return to a professional career after recently announcing he was going to start a career streaming.

So that's my most noticeable player released from each team. While some will likely return to the highest level's, some may not. The F5 season is a crazy place and it's going to be interesting to see who end's up moving to new teams and if some new rivalries are born.

(If you want to read more Overwatch League related content, make sure you follow me on Twitter @haloofthoughts)
(Picture Credit: Blizzard Ent)
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