Texas just became the new home for one of Overwatch’s most anticipated reunions
This past Friday, the Dallas Fuel made three bombshell additions to the franchise, and boldly announced a new direction for the team that no one could have seen coming. For their fourth season in the Overwatch League, Dallas have committed to signing former head coach of the Paris Eternal and Element Mystic, Hee-won "RUSH" Yun, along with an additional two former players from those same teams, Yeong-han "SP9RK1E" Kim and Han-been "Hanbin" Choi. With both former EM player Dong-ha "Doha" Kim and EM coach Yong-jin "Yong" Kim already securing spots on the Fuel since the start of 2020, Dallas was now, suddenly, the home for the reunion of one South Korea’s most profuse and dominant Overwatch teams ever.
While the world focused on the San Francisco Shock’s surge to become the best world in 2019, outside of the Overwatch League, the game’s competition belonged to the next generation of top South Korean talent, Element Mystic. Contenders 2019 Season 1: Korea champions, 2019 Pacific Showdown champions, and Gauntlet champions, last year, EM put on a clinic against almost every team to have one of the most dominant years in recent memory. Across both of the metas that gripped the game that year, GOATS and 2-2-2 Double Shield, EM proved to be completely untouchable by anybody for the majority of it. Whether it was SP9RK1E’s Doomfist or Zarya, Doha’s Sombra or Bastion, Hanbin’s Sigma or Brigitte, Element Mystic was nothing short of a nuclear arsenal. With all of that firepower, EM became the hottest commodity in the world, and seemingly any pickups from this roster would instantaneously give any OWL team an even greater chance at contending with the best of the Overwatch League, or maybe even becoming the top dog themselves.
Looking back on the 2020 season, those expectations for these members more than lived up to the hype. Doha and Yong may have been unfortunate guests to the Dallas Fuel’s Annual Implosion Party, but SP9RK1E, Hanbin, and RUSH all had debut years that only a handful of players and coaches could say they have had. These three pieces all contributed to the Paris Eternal’s standout year in one way or another. Barring any curses that were placed on Texas Overwatch that prevented them from having year-long success, this Element Mystic reunion could suddenly turn the consistently mediocre Dallas Fuel, into an actual team with the fight and passion to challenge the upper echelon of the Overwatch League. Here’s why.
HANBIN – SOLID AS A ROCK
Criminally underrated throughout the season, Hanbin, and especially his Sigma, was key in keeping Paris’s season off the ground and moving higher amongst the rest of North America. He was the consistent and nastily proficient freak of the Eternal that for some incredible reason went eternally underappreciated throughout the regular season. The hype for Hanbin to turn 18 and play was there, but once he did and did his job to match some of the best in the world, there was no cheering to be found from his corner of the ring
By seasons end, statistically, Hanbin was the definitive top dog Sigma, leading his peers in Final Blows, Eliminations, and Hero Damage per ten minutes, and even staying in the top three in those same categories for D.Va and Zarya. Head to the rooftops and yell it to the world, Hanbin was robbed!
Yet, despite a little salt for the lack of Hanbin appreciation on the TL, this young star was going to be a definitive starter and a foundational piece for the Paris Eternal, and if they chose not to keep him he certainly would be for any team that would. Seemingly, if the 2021 season is still played on Overwatch, with no new heroes incoming, Hanbin would have plenty time to master and perfect his craft on the heroes he’s already been incredibly proficient and excellent on. Dallas’s off-tanks in the past certainly were never the issue for their lineups, but nothing can really beat having a world-class player executing the right decisions in your frontline to give your team the control and space they need in a team fight. It’d be a safe bet to say that Hanbin stays as good as he was in 2020, and that even on Dallas, he has a very bright future ahead of him as one of the Overwatch League’s premiere tank players.
SP9RK1E – BEAUTY, GRACE, HE’LL PUNCH YOU IN THE FACE
SP9RK1E on the other hand is basically the opposite of his teammate Hanbin, almost as different as anyone could get. Turning eligible a little over halfway through the season, he's known for his aggressive and explosive playstyle, and a very vibrant personality to boot, and with a name like that, it's bound to turn some heads. SP9RK1E was the bombastic prodigal child that everyone waited to see debut. And what a debut it was, as it was his masterful performance on Genji that pushed his team over the edge to win the Summer Showdown, and gave the viewers one of the most exciting games of Overwatch in its entire history as an esport.
All things considered, realistically we didn’t get to see as much as we may have wanted out of SP9RK1E. His best heroes, Doomfist, Genji, Pharah, they weren’t meta for long or at all, so we only got see the brightest of glimpses into what this player has to offer. But that taste of greatness, that Genji performance, it was one of the most delicious samples of what could be possible with this player in the game. With the best stats on the hero in the whole league, you couldn’t be more hype to see what he can do for Dallas. SP9RK1E has the capacity to perform like an over-aggressive maniac that will completely dismantle a team on his own and laugh maniacally while doing it. He’ll ruin your rotations, he’ll dive straight into your frontline, and he’ll slam a rocket punch straight into your supports. SP9RK1E, a rising star in Overwatch, and what could be a bedrock player for Dallas.
RUSH - EXTREME MAKEOVER: OWL EDITION
RUSH was undoubtedly one of the best head coaches this season, from what it looked like from the outside looking in. His Contenders results were there for all to see, but what he did for Paris as a franchise is almost unheard of. Not since Dae-hee "Crusty" Park’s leadership at the Shock has anyone seen such a forgettable team turned into absolute showstoppers. From the moment they started, RUSH almost instantaneously turned around the careers of almost everyone at the Eternal. What started seemingly, and this may sound brutal, as a group of washed-up rejects still under contract with pieces of Element Mystic bandaged on top, turned into one of the most charming and loveable teams throughout the whole season. RUSH’s system has to be praised for not only including the players who were left from the Paris Eternal’s middling start, but also completely changing the way they played, looked at the game, and performed.
Way back during the New York Homestand in a press conference, flex DPS, Nicolas "NiCOgdh" Moret was very clear as to what Paris’s coaching staff had to offer.
“This coaching staff is the best because they are all so, so fucking smart and so good at the game.”
The NiCO, and former flex support Damien "HyP" Souville, had nothing but praise for their coaches, the ones who completely revitalised their prospects as players. This is a guy people need to look out for, who they need to pay attention to, because even through losses or disappointments, RUSH is always capable of having his team bounce back.
If this tweet is anything to go by, RUSH could essentially usher in the new era of the Dallas Fuel, with Element Mystic as the unofficial pipeline for massive amounts of talent. Think about it, this is a guy who lead a year’s worth of success with the three players confirmed on Dallas and maybe even a couple more. So many players worked under him during different iterations of Element Mystic, some who are even free agents for this off-season right now. A lot of the EM alumni have gone into OWL with varying degrees of success on the many different teams they’ve ventured out to. Maybe under the team environment and system, they used to work in, under the guidance of the man who was able to turn around the careers of players like NiCO and Benjamin "BenBest" Dieulafait, they could have the performances they were expected to.
Hyun-jun "Pokpo" Park is a free agent, Young-hyun "Takoyaki" Lee turns 18 this season, so many options could come under RUSH’s vision for this team. The ball is in his court.
Through a couple of lenses, it seems like the Dallas Fuel’s troubles may be behind them this season. It’s said every year but think about it for just a second. Dallas’s main trouble has always been living in the shadow of their former selves. Keeping the old Envy squad members without ever using them as effectively, coaching troubles stemming from patching up the issues of 2018, but never fully replacing the parts necessary. They’ve signed big names and hyped players only to never been able to figure out how to make them work in the environment they wanted. Now, this is Dallas handing the reigns to a coach who has had success outside of the Overwatch League and in it and giving him the opportunity to turn those prospects around.
Element Mystic, that team that stood at the top of the Contenders world, is reunited again. The Doha+SP9RK1E DPS line is back, a duo that was so incredibly potent and deadly, almost legendary in their firepower. They were oppressive, choke holding teams in GOATS, and especially in a Sombra/Doomfist meta. To see that duo's staggering synergy and ability again, it would be a treat for any fan of Overwatch. Coach Yong returns to the staff to work with RUSH, and who knows what other players or staff members might make their grand entrance onto Dallas, and maybe being served some of that fresh, revitalizing juice that RUSH is concocting in his coaching kitchen. Excellent moves from the Dallas Fuel to secure some very big contracts for their franchise, and all the best to luck for them in this (hopefully) new era.
All images courtesy of Blizzard Entertainment | Dallas Fuel