Never mind Tinder, let’s play Overwatch League matchmaker.
It is a shame that the Overwatch League has an apparent allergy to trades. Obviously, there are extracurricular things that hamper the volume of trades during the offseason; however, that doesn’t remove the excitement around them when they do happen. Not only do they shift potential around the league, but they themselves become talking points, and seeing as we sit in a league that could both use more talking points as well as active mid-season moves, it is time talk shop. However, first, we have to set some ground rules.
Outside of common sense, there are only two criteria that we’ve set as hard and fast. Both sides in these strictly hypothetical trades receive some form of positive benefit, either focused on the short term or the long term on either the individual or the team. Trading for trading sake is manufactured and removes any neighbouring benefits of adding narratives or actually improving the quality of teams.
We’re also operating under the precedent set by the May 10 trade between the Los Angeles Valiant and the Florida Mayhem. This opened up the possibility that academy players can be included in the trade for players on a franchise's main roster. On top of that, many teams have been perfectly fine with allowing a player who may not be eligible to play, sit on the bench or play in Overwatch Contenders.
With that out of the way, here are five trades that could easily make the 2021 Overwatch League season that much spicier.
Doha for Erster
Through their performance at the NetEase Esports X Tournament (NeXT) - The Nexus, the Dallas Fuel has shown some signs that they are in need of a strong Tracer player, but don’t have space to completely subtract from their flexibility. On the flipside, Moon "Moon" Byung-chul’s Shanghai Dragons have always had the underpinning of maintaining a wide breadth of talent to pull from at all times. In that sense trading Kim "Doha" Dong-ha for Jeong "Erster" Joon feels like it makes sense from both of those angles.
The Fuel gains someone flexible, but who can also pilot the hero they feel the most discounted in while the Dragons gain another tool to add to their arsenal. This also benefits the Dragons, seeing how Lee "LIP" Jae-won did have an uncharacteristic underperformance during The Nexus as well. Doha brings Shanghai another world-class Sombra player who can also pivot to other heroes if the need were to arise. For Erster’s case, it would be difficult to see him starting over someone like 2020 MVP Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun, so perhaps gaining more of a starting spot on the Fuel might be viewed as beneficial.
GodsB for Stalk3r
While there are upsides to signing Park "Saebyeolbe" Jong-ryeol, the Seoul Dynasty DPS lineup is looking strong, but tall. On the other hand, they do have a DPS ace waiting in the wings that other franchises might be interested in as a developmental talent. Throughout Gen.G Esports’ performance during Overwatch Contenders: The Gauntlet this year, Jeong "Stalk3r" Hak-yong will be a rookie to watch in 2022. Trading him for Kim "GodsB" Kyeong-bo does mean they probably lose on a young and talented player in the long run, but it does give them a dedicated mid-to-long-range hitscan presence in the short term.
As for the Hangzhou Spark, they have an abundance of talent but have also shown a play like this isn’t all that out of their wheelhouse. Zheng "Shy" Yangjie was kept warm in the academy circuit long before he was eligible for play and Stalk3r could be that same project they take up in during the 2021 mid-season. This gives GodsB a clear path to the stage on a roster that could use his talents to battle for a title. Spark, with one of the biggest rosters in the league, continues to plan for the future nabbing a promising rookie prospect. Win-win all around.
Logix For Happy
Now hold on, before you get your trousers in a twist, hear us out. Andreas "Logix" Berghmans has spent four years, since his days on Movistar Riders, quietly proving that he can be a star player. On Tracer, his statistics seemed otherworldly, and we all know what he can do on heroes like Widowmaker. Contrasting that with the roster he is on, and it is a tough ask to see him flourish on the Toronto Defiant. He’s always felt like someone stuck to the roster rather than someone who is genuinely a part of the team strategically. Putting him next to the coaching staff that the Houston Outlaws has built might be the way to flip the script for him as an individual. Not only is he their long-range hitscan specialist, but, if for instance, the current metagame continues and Tracer paired with Sombra is something the Outlaws want to run, Logix looks quite nice next to someone like Outlaws star Dante "Danteh" Cruz.
Lee "Happy" Jung-woo gives the Defiant exactly what they’re losing, but also reunites him with a former DPS partner. If we go back to Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 2, Happy played alongside Lee "Na1st" Ho-sung on Meta Bellum. They alone covered most DPS bases incredibly well. Now consider they still have someone like Jeong "Heesu" Hee-su waiting in the wings and the picture starts to become more clear. Giving Happy someone who he’s familiar with This trade is about taking similar players and putting them into positions to flourish to benefit each team as a whole. Houston and Toronto don’t lose either role, but they gain a higher potential upside.
Ivy For Jerry
Lee "Ivy" Seung-hyun has proven to be a flexible threat on every roster he has been apart of in the Overwatch League. After a breakout season with the Boston Uprising in 2020, Min "Jerry” Tae-hee, quickly made a name for himself as a consistent threat when it comes to hitscan heroes. So where exactly do they intersect when it comes to their teams?
The New York Excelsior has undergone a roster rebuild after what feels like performance stagnation. Their style was hardwired into them, and playing aggressively just didn’t seem to fit. As such, many of their old stars have rotated out for new and frankly promising rookie players. Ivy’s talents overlap in ways with one of their newest stars, Lee "FEATH5R" Seung-woo. Moving him to Washington greatly improves their consistent flex DPS role, something that still feels unanswered by acting member Lee "TTuba" Ho-sung. On the other hand, New York gains a tried a tested weapon in a role that has historically been incredibly important, while carrying with him a strong fanbase. Throughout 2020 hitscan both flanking and long-range were vital in teams success, and taking a risk on rookie players is not a safe bet, especially in a region as stacked as Asia.
LiGe for Ameng
While the Hangzhou Spark have a massive roster, the offseason has unveiled a potential for Wrecking Ball to see a lot of play. What could happen is that the Spark takes a note out of the Guangzhou Charge’s book and make a play for someone who is a specialist at that hero. Now, when it comes to the Chengdu Hunters, they also boast a large roster with some space to add depth in.
Ding "Ameng" Menghan has been the stalwart main tank for the Hunters for two seasons now but their newest addition, Qiu "GA9A" Jiaxin, puts him in a strange position. As a Wrecking Ball specialist without much strength in other areas, GA9A does his job and is more flexible when it comes to other tank heroes. However, his toolset is exactly what the Spark are looking for to answer any possible questions when it comes to Wrecking Ball if it were to pop back up later this year.
What Chengdu get in return is one of the brightest rookies coming out of the Chinese region in Chengjie "LiGe" Jia. The difficulty LiGe faces on the Spark is that he’d have to battle Shin "BERNAR" Se-won for starting time. A move to Chengdu gives LiGe a much more clear path to the starting roster while making their tank line bulletproof. This furthers Chengdu’s position as the only fully Chinese team in the league, but it makes them a very real threat internationally as well.
Images via Blizzard Entertainment