Chomping At The Bit - Grading Philadelphia Fusion’s 2020 Offseason
After being the sole absence from the inaugural preseason, after coming so close to capturing history during that year’s grand finals, and moseying through the 2019 season, the Philadelphia Fusion have spared no expense in creating a title-contending roster for the upcoming 2020 season of the Overwatch League. They’ve seen the finish line and are chomping at the bit to return to their 2018 dreams and make them a reality in 2020.
As reported by ESPN, Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok’s three-year extension makes him the focal point of the franchise and for good reason. He’s easily one of the most talented DPS players in the league and his flexibility makes him worth his weight in gold.
Alongside Carpe now rests ex-London Spitfire flex tank, Kim "Fury" Jun-ho. World-class in his own right, Fury severely improves the tank line for this team. London would have not had the success they did without workhorses like Fury acting as a backbone for the team during some tumultuous times.
I think many people are sleeping on Lee "Ivy" Seung-hyun. After being stuck in a tank heavy metagame for most of 2019, Ivy now gets to show why he was so hyped up coming into Overwatch League Season 2. Depending on the metagame, I’d imagine he’ll be sharing time with the likes of fellow flex DPS, Josh "Eqo" Corona.
And rounding out the Fusion’s support line they’ve promoted from their academy team, flex support star, Kim "Alarm" Kyungbo, and acquired Atlanta Reign’s promising main support, Daniel "FunnyAstro" Hathaway. These two are going to be the biggest improvement to this team. As a whole, the Philadelphia Fusion didn’t have issues with their support picks, but it’d be hard to say that at any one given time both their support would be world-class. Now they can boast that nearly any point in any given metagame. In terms of improvement from seasons past, FunnyAstro and Alarm make the single biggest improvement to the roster, bar none.
One of the most mysterious players in the league, Kim "SADO" Su-min, still is the Fusion’s only hope when it comes to leading the team into battle at main tank. After being on of the only players to have truly gone from the ladder to the Overwatch League, after being suspended for the first 30 games in 2018 and lasting through the team’s disappointing run through 2019, we must have no idea what SADO is capable of.
However, when is enough, enough? The team and the coaching staff obviously know something or see something the public doesn’t. I think toward the mid-season tournament we should have an idea if SADO is just a sunk cost or if there really is merit to his continuation with the Fusion. But I really would like to see a substitute added before this title-contending team is limited, what seems to be, a middle-of-the-pack main tank that has a strong Winston.
Like him or not but the Fusion’s acquisition of Overwatch streamer, Philip "ChipSa" Graham, dominated the headlines for weeks after his announcement. The presumed PR stunt electrified the Overwatch ecosystem and I’m guessing that the Fusion are hoping that some of that residual static lingers until their homestands. And before you even start to pose the question to yourself, there is almost no chance that ChipSa sees genuine playtime. If there happens to be another heavy Doomfist metagame, there could be a fraction of a possibility, but I really question if none of their other stellar DPS players could catch up to him, to a certain degree, in time—especially when you look at their coaches.
Standing under the obnoxiously large shadow of their roster moves sits their newly retooled support staff that people have neglected. The Philadelphia Fusion have welcomed newly appointed head coach, Kim "KDG" Dong-gun; assistant coach, Sim "Mobydik" Seung-Bo; and analyst, Joni "Seita" Paavola to the fold.
KDG comes in from the Seoul Dynasty and a previous background as a professional Starcraft: Brood War player. This will undoubtedly help to manage the many personalities on the roster while also giving him plenty of knowledge about in-game strategies. His previous experience in the league will be invaluable to the Fusion and his time outside of Overwatch might be used as an edge when it comes to strategic development.
I think, along with Ivy, Mobydik has been sold short by his time with the Toronto Defiant in 2019. My understanding is that Mobydik is well respected and is a very good coach. And standing alongside him is the Finish enigma, Seita, someone who has a stellar track record coaching teams like Ninja’s in Pyjamas and Team Gigantti. Seita has also been apart of Team Finland’s Overwatch World Cup runs since 2018. Seita is easily the most respected European coach in the Overwatch League era and will be a massive tool in strategic consultation as the Fusion prepares for the 2020 season.
This is an offseason other teams should look when making moves. Yes, the Philadelphia Fusion seems to be working with some serious cash on their hands, but they’ve identified a core through their first two seasons and have added talent accordingly. They’ve also cultivated and scouted talent through their academy team! Alarm has been sitting in their academy since early 2018. Many teams seemed to have drawn back their budget and have gone with rookies to cut costs, and that’s fair, but for those who have not--you’re now where I placed the Fusion when evaluating them in 2019.
Your team is behind the eight ball and teams like Philadelphia have passed you up.
Now, before I sell you a bill of false goods, let’s quantify something here: great players don’t inherently make a great team. There is another side to the Fusion that I don’t think many people are talking about when it comes to their overall power. Yes, this roster is good, but on its face, it has some of the makings of a near-super team. Again, this is just grading their offseason, but I feel like it’s important to note that with this many star players, I do have to question if the Philadelphia Fusion will reach their massive potential in 2020.
This is a team with an impossible ceiling and an average floor.
They may fall symptom to a similar fate of a familiar opponent, the 2018 London Spitfire. I often refer to this team and use them as an example of a smattering of amazing talent that might not be the best team, but can rise to the occasion and become very punchy. It’s an early diagnosis for sure, but the Fusion have all the markers of a team that might not reach the expectations put on them.
For their efforts, the Philadelphia Fusion receives an A and my vote for the best moves this offseason. What kept them from a perfect score is the fact that they haven’t, as of December 30th, 2019, signed any form of substitute main tank to play second fiddle to Sado. I do trust that they have a plan in place for him or feel comfortable enough to keep him as the sole main tank, but I’ve been a big proponent of building out a main tank bullpen and either developing young talent or keeping more specialized players warm for a possible new metagame.
As long as the stress of constant travel does not stir up the many strong personalities on this roster and SADO doesn’t completely bottom out, I would not be surprised to see the Philadelphia Fusion become the first team in Overwatch League history to reach the grand finale twice.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment