As wild as the 2019 Overwatch League season was, the 2020 Overwatch League season is looming on the horizon. With global travel being added to next year's schedule of stressors, the league is in for a huge power shuffle, big enough to change the face of the competition. With moves undoubtedly being made well in excess of a few months prior to the 2019 grand final, here are a handful of my own predictions on what could be coming into season three of the Overwatch League.
Fate to Shanghai
With Noh "Gamsu" Young-jin listed as a free agent, this leaves the Shanghai Dragons without a main tank and with the introduction of head coach Moon "Moon" Byung-chul this signing might be expensive be it should be an easy shout. With how important the main tank role has been historically I believe the Dragons will, at the very least, be making a play for Koo "Fate" Pan-seung.Coach Moon has worked extensively with Florida Mayhem’s current main tank on Mighty AOD and with him on the Los Angeles Valiant. The duo helped lead the aforementioned Valiant to a Stage 4 title over the NYXL and finished the 2018 season with a respectable 3-4th place finish. Another thing to consider is Shanghai’s signing strategy going into 2019. After finishing an abysmal inaugural season, the Dragons’ made a huge splash signing a majority of the South Korean team, KongDoo Panthera. This came directly off the back of KongDoo Panthera’s second-place finish in that year's most recent season of Overwatch’s semi-professional league, Overwatch Contenders. However, they not only signed a majority of this star-studded roster but they also signed coach We "BlueHaS" Seong-hwanas well. The two takeaways being that there is a precedent to show that Shanghai is not afraid of paying buyouts and that they assumedly allow their coaching staff serious control over how the roster is built.
BigGoose, Shaz, Hydration to Washington
With the Los Angeles Gladiators going through internal struggles and having new management arrive, I believe that the identity if the team could be shifting. However, the same goes for the Washington Justice. Coupled with the fact that per the Overwatch League’s 2020 player contract status article, not a single member of the Los Angeles Gladiators roster is “under contract,” this leads me to believe that this team could be restarting from a foundational level.Lest we forget that Head Coach David "dpei" Pei, Assistant Coach Seetoh "JohnGalt" Jian Qing, and the Director of Social Media and Community Analynn “Bawlynn” Dang have all parted ways with the team with the latter two joining the Washington Justice as they rebuild their staff. I believe that both JohnGalt and Bawlynn are pulling to get their former players over to their new venture on the Justice. Now with this in mind, any number of the Gladiators’ alumni might make the jump over, but out of the nine players listed, I suspect the Justice are looking four in particular. I believe the Justice are going after Finnish support duo Benjamin "BigGoose" Isohanni and Jonas "Shaz" Suovaara along with DPS ace João Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles.These three talents put alongside star DPS Corey "Corey" Nigra and Swedish tank duo Lukas "LullSiSH" Wiklund and Elliot "ELLIVOTE" Vaneryd would certainly position them much more favorably compared to their franchise start earlier this year and at the very least, this gives them a great base to build from.
WhoRU to Dallas
I am going to lean into the rumors on this one and say that the Dallas Fuel are going after DPS player, Lee "WhoRU" Seung-jun.Boasting some incredible accolades when put through the lens relative experience and his age, WhoRU has won two OGN APEX titles with Lunatic-Hai. After which he joined current Fuel Head Coach Aaron "Aero" Atkins on the Philadelphia Fusion’s academy team, Fusion University back in 2018. These two helped lead Fusion University to multiple first-place finishes including Overwatch Contenders North America. While still being contracted by the Fusion University, the Genji prodigy has been loaned out to the likes of Meta Athena and Skyfoxes. With the 2-2-2 lock fully in place, DPS talent are going to be at a premium and WhoRU has the potential to not only make the Fuel’s underwhelming offseason much more exciting, but he could add some much-needed firepower to a roster that remains fairly unchanged.
Luddee to Valiant
Ludvig "Luddee" Håkansson has been on the Overwatch League watch list since his debut back in 2016. Now that he is of age and still doing incredibly well, I have reason to believe that the Los Angeles Valiant could be going after the young main support.Luddee is currently signed with the Los Angeles Gladiators’ academy team, Gladiators Legion, and has been with the stable for the majority of this year. However, he spent the previous year with the Overwatch Contenders European team, Angry Titans. The same team that current head coach for the LA Valiant Mike "Packing10" Szklanny also came from. While I’ve been a large proponent of main support and vocal leader of the Valiant’s, Scott "Custa" Kennedy, I believe that fostering talent behind him is going to be paramount. As travel is paramount in the coming season and his front-facing persona continues to grow, Custa will likely see less and less time able to commit to staying at the top of his game. This is where Luddee steps in, fully acclimated to the team’s culture and personalities and can start to migrate into the starting roster.
Zunba to NYXL
With the loss of veteran flex tank Kim "MekO" Tae-hong, the New York Excelsior have some big shoes to fill, but I presume they will be hunting after someone with equal experience and that has been placed on the free-agent market. Kim "zunba" Joon-hyuk is one such a player.Per the Overwatch League’s 2020 player contract status article, Zunba is currently afree agent after leaving the Seoul Dynasty. After a disappointing 2018 season, Zunba was predominantly sidelined with the arrival of rookie flex tank Choi "Michelle" Min-hyuk. Presumably hungry for a starting position and with NYXL having an open spot available, Zunba seems like a great fit. He brings another veteran presence to the table with a fairly wide hero pool. With how much flexibility NYXL has within its ranks, I doubt any hero would be left on the table, but Zunba fills a hole and gives them a solid foundation to build off of going into 2020.Zunba also has ties to NYXL’s General Manager, Kim "nuGget" Yo-han, who was a former coach for the Seoul Dynasty during the inaugural season in 2018. I believe this also increases the chances that other Seoul Dynasty free agents could be making the jump to New York as well, but Zunba feels more concrete than either of his peers. Joseph “Volamel” Franco has followed esports since the MLGs of 2006. He started out primarily following Starcraft 2, Halo 3, and Super Smash Bros. Melee. He has transitioned from viewer to journalist and writes freelance primarily about Overwatch and League of Legends. If you would like to know more or follow his thoughts on esports you can follow him at@Volamel.Images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment.