Like your car keys, these are players you cannot afford to lose.

18:00, 28 Mar 2020

On October 23rd, 2019, it was reported that the Philadelphia Fusion had signed Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok to a three-year contract extension. And as the Overwatch League expanded into home and away games, this move seemed like a harbinger for things to come. I mean, these franchise moves were made elsewhere in esports and with the league positioning itself as analogous to traditional sports, other Overwatch League franchise were sure to follow suit.

TSM has Søren "Bjergsen" Bjerg. T1 has Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok. I have my one favourite brain cell I’ve named “Cheem.” And the Philadelphia Fusion now has Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok. What about the rest of the Overwatch League? Crickets. And this isn’t a drought of talent. There are plenty young, flexible, and frankly, marketable players in the league--just no one, barring the Fusion, have made a move. So, using Carpe as a case study, who else in the Overwatch League could be viewed as a franchise player?

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Now before you ask u/RedditKyle69, yes, a majority of these players are DPS players. 

Hero Pools have made the game skewed more towards having a star DPS players. They’re forced to be more diverse. They can, and often do, take over games. And they’re allowed to thrive in the chaotic and ever-changing environment that Hero Pool brings. You want a DPS player you can rely on that won’t be phased out by one of their heroes being removed.

Speaking of an outside element affecting the game, disregarding where you stand on the topic, the league has shown on a number of occasions that teams are interested in young players. Ignoring my or your stance on this, this is just how the world works currently.

Don’t get me wrong, not every team needs to immediately find their franchise player like they’re an umbrella in a rainstorm, but these are the players on teams that would immediately deflate if their star players left. 

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Only one Libero

People thought Hwang "Fl0w3R" Yeon-oh was going to replace him. Nope. People think that Lee "WhoRU" Seung-jun will top him. Nope. The New York Excelsior’s Kim "Libero" Hae-seong is that good. 

Since his debut, he’s always kept his namesake alive. A “libero” in volleyball is a position that is entirely defensive, someone who cannot serve or spike the ball.  The libero can interchange with the backcourt players to solidify their defence and keep the ball in play. And that is what he does for the New York Excelsior. 

He can play either side of the DPS court, both projectile and hitscan, he can be the carry if you give him the resources, and, in the past, he’s even shown proficiency at playing a completely different role as a tank. He is a true colourless player and is someone that is completely malleable. Libero is a “plug and play” type of player and the backbone to the NYXL’s success. Libero could easily fetch a multi-year deal, no questions asked on a number of different franchises across the league. 

There is still a market for a fully western team and there are few people more capable than the Washington Justice’s ace DPS player, Corey "Corey" Nigra. It feels like yesterday when Corey was just a promising DPS player on the Los Angeles Gladiators academy team, Gladiators Legion. Now he’s leading the Washington Justice to success. Not only that, but he was a large factor in the United States winning gold for the first time at the 2019 Overwatch World Cup. 

This is the stereotypical DPS player that can and will take over your game. Look no further than some of the Washington Justice’s VODs as proof. Corey gets all the resources and is still a thorn in the side of even the toughest opponents. If Washington were to lose Corey, they would lose out on their golden goose and easily become cemented in the bottom five teams. Someone needs to check Corey’s L4 and L5 vertebrae because this kid’s backpack is stuffed to the brim.

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Born in the quake, grown in the Shock

Matthew "super" DeLisi and Jay "sinatraa" Won seem like shoe-ins for this and if I’m being honest, I’m frankly shocked to see that they have not been signed to a multi-year deal. Hell, why stop at years, why not go ownership stock? These are players that will age incredibly well for the game, are great spokespeople for the game, and are incredible brand assets. 

From the Shock’s inception, it has always been about super and sinatraa, why not double-down and commit to these two players? Now the Shock is one of the few teams that doesn’t have to commit. They do have the odds on favorite for the best coach in the world in Park "Crusty" Dae-hee, so they won’t be completely deflated, but the Shock would certainly suffer without these two talented players on their lineup. 

And last but certainly not least, we have the Seoul Dynasty’s Park "Profit" Joon-yeong. Arguably the best player in the world, Profit’s talents could be put on display in any of 20 franchises the Overwatch League houses. This is a player that can pull from a hero ocean. Profit is the closest thing we have to a generational player. This is someone who is a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee. 

Going back to his days on GC Busan, Profit was arguably the top Tracer player that season in OGN’s Overwatch APEX tournament and in the finals he broke out his own Genji, a pick he hadn’t played all season, and topped a team known for their Genji specialist. Profit is a definition of absurd, someone who can seemingly do it all. With that kind of talent, it doesn’t take much more to brute force your way to a championship--which he did with the London Spitfire in 2018. 

These are the players of our future. And it’s time the league takes an interest in what kind of talent they have at their disposal. Because if they don’t, these players are not going to wait around for you to pop the question.

Images via Blizzard Entertainment.

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