Overwatch League’s first season is over. All-Star weekend came and went with a lot of funny moments. While things are slowing down up until the Overwatch World Cup, cogs are still moving in the league. Recently, a bunch of news has come out for every team. This article will go over each team and their activity as of September 1, 2018. This includes coaching staff leaving or getting released along with players, as well as new trades. Let’s go in the order of the standings, so in first place are…
New York Excelsior
The best performing team in the regular season wouldn’t have much to do in the off-season, most people would think. Yet, their post-season form died off at the end of the season with a disappointing loss to the Philadelphia Fusion. Due to this, it seems like the team has found their issues and dealt with them relatively early on in the off-season.
Both transactions done on August 31, the cuts started with their smart yet criticized coach Hyeong-seok “WizardHyeong” Kim, who got released via Twitter. His mindset of ‘moneyball’ tactics had it’s highs and lows. It led to first position in the standings, but also led to a semi-final exit; missing the finals held in their hometown.
Today we say goodbye to coach @WizardHyeong. We could not be more thankful for all his hard work and leadership throughout the team's inaugural season. This was a mutual decision and simply put, @WizardHyeong you will be missed! pic.twitter.com/VsqjXqfxIV
— NYXL (@NYXL) August 31, 2018
Not too long after, on the same day, they released main tank Joon-hwa “Janus” Song. While Janus didn’t play poorly per se, he clearly was much more aggressive than Mano and led to a lot of map losses. This release was less to do with player performance and more to do with synergy, and I know Janus will do great on whichever team he moves to. As long as they accept Janus for who he his, he might live to haunt the New York team. Luckily enough, it seems Janus was understanding of his departure and left with much love from his past teammates and NYXL fans.
Today we have parted ways with Joon-hwa "Janus" Song. It was an incredible year, and we couldn't have done it without you, @januspy_. You've always been a wonderful player and teammate. We wish you the absolute best in your career! pic.twitter.com/HlF8hG7XFN
— NYXL (@NYXL) August 31, 2018
Los Angeles Valiant
The Valiant are one of the quietest on the trade front so far this off-season. The staff didn’t change, and neither did the players. Not only that, but the trade rumours have seem to avoid this team as well. Considering their position and how much they improved over the season, I don’t think their priority is moving coaches or players. But, with their performance in the season playoffs being arguably more disappointing than New York, maybe one or two coaching changes might be coming.
Boston made some roster changes due to their poor end to the season. They released three roster players who all got their own kind messages on Twitter from president of gaming from the Kraft Group, Chris “Huk” Loranger. These three players are Connor “Avast” Prince, Mikias “Snow” Yohannes, and lastly Woo-yeol “Kalios” Shin. Out of the three players, the most impactful loss has to be Kalios, who played almost 9 hours of gameplay in the league in the flex role, helping them reach third in the league.
While these moves don’t seem to be much in terms of helping their issues, it does free up roster spots for future players. This means either players from their Contenders team Toronto Esports, or free agents. Along with every other team, free agency will open on October 8 and will end on December 8, with each team needing at least 8 players. If Boston signs or trades the right players, they have a decent chance to recapture their stage 3 form.
Also, as of September 2, main roster player Stanislav “Mistakes” Danilov was also released from the team.
Los Angeles Gladiators
The Gladiators were more active than their LA counterparts, but not entirely in a good way. Early on into the post-season, before the All-Star weekend, a massive trade occurred with the Seoul Dynasty. As of August 20, MVP candidate main tank Chan-hyung “Fissure” Baek moved from the Gladiators to the Dynasty.
🛡️ THANK YOU, @FISSURE 🛡️
Farewell to our glorious, most handsome main tank.
You have left your mark as a Gladiator in our legacy.
We wish you the best of luck with the @SeoulDynasty.
— Los Angeles Gladiators (@LAGladiators) August 21, 2018
After the fun of the All-Star weekend, the Gladiators continued to lose players, but this time via releasing to free agency. This time it was Luis “iRemiix” Galarza Figueroa, Joon-seong “Asher” Choi, and Ted “silkthread” Wang ending their services with the Gladiators. On August 31, the Gladiators released all three players via Twitter.
They have exemplified what it means to be a Gladiator and will always be remembered in our original legacy. We wish you the best of luck, friends. pic.twitter.com/qMPAkoaRNW
— Los Angeles Gladiators (@LAGladiators) August 31, 2018
While the three more recently released players all had their own playtime in the league, the departure of Fissure must mean a lot to the team. When he was traded from the London Spitfire to the Gladiators, it didn’t seem like much. Little did the league know, Fissure was one of the best main tanks in the league and proceeded to haunt the Spitfire in the season. He made the Gladiators immeasurably better, from mediocre to top tier team. As the season progressed and the Gladiators improved, he kept on showing his skills, but the season ended with a mystery.
As the playoffs rolled around, the general consensus was that the Gladiators had the advantage over the lower seeded London Spitfire. Fissure was still known as a weakness that London hasn’t overcome. Alas, to everyone’s surprise, Fissure was left out of the starting roster in both games. Even though the Spitfire lost the first match, they ended up winning the series and eliminating the Gladiators. Most people recognized how big of a loss Fissure was for the Gladiators instantly, but maybe they had a main tank in mind during free agency to replace him. One that I imagine that would work would be Janus from NYXL, another Korean main tank with good offensive upside.
The inaugural season champions have been resting on their grand final win this off-season. Much like the Valiant, their team seems to be in great shape right now, with their main roster being proven to be top tier. But, much like I said in my Stage 4 weekly recaps, the Spitfire has a lack of depth right now. This was shown in Stage 4 when star player Birdring was resting a wrist injury, leading to a poor stage.
I can imagine that the Spitfire aren’t too picky on free agents, so they’ll probably wait until they find good depth a few weeks into free agency. Besides that, their coaching and players need improvements but not replacements.
Want to hear the trade action involving the rest of the teams in the league? Click here to read part two of this article.