Have The Dallas Fuel Improved Going Into Overwatch 2?
While we hold our breath for more offseason moves and indulge ourselves on the upcoming rookie class, there are few teams that have remained as consistent as the Dallas Fuel. Last year’s western darlings easily recorded their best season to date thanks in part to their Element Mystic battery.
However, with the 2021 Coach of the Year, with a core that has time and time again proved its worth, can this formula be improved? Has the 2022 Dallas Fuel made the right moves this offseason to improve their previous season standing, or was their proactivity even needed?
Fixated on the offseason roster shuffles, fans will likely point towards the Dallas Fuel’s newest members as the thesis for this question. While that undoubtedly carries weight, there are intangible attributes that this roster holds that are likely to change - possibly for the better - with Overwatch’s sequel. And while the gun shy Fuel fan may be concerned with the addition of new faces, we can assure you there is nothing but good things to say about their additions.
Hailing from the rarely rivalled Overwatch Contenders team O2 Blast, main support Han "ChiYo" Hyeon-seok seemed to be on the vast majority of pundits shortlists. With a track record of success dating back to the start of 2020 alongside RunAway, ChiYo was easily a name to bet on coming into 2022. He has been and will continue to be a fantastic support option and is more than capable of filling the shoes of fan favourite Lee "Jecse" Seung-soo.
Sat next to him is an underrated member of GC Busan TDI, Kang "guriyo" Min-seo. Easily the least talked about addition to the Dallas Fuel’s 2022 bid, Guriyo presents Fuel fans with a dark horse opportunity for a high-value option but one that requires a specialised metagame. Featuring a hero pool mostly centred around the likes of Cassidy, Widowmaker, and the occasional Hanzo, guriyo will likely operate in a role akin to someone like Kim "Pine" Do-hyeon was supposed to. While a healthy dose of scepticism, the Fuel’s rookie core might not leap off the page. However, they’re joined by a tenured veteran of the league.
We’ve seen Kim "Edison" Tae-hoon’s skill in seasons past. Featuring the full spectrum of hitscan heroes, both mid-to-long-range and the flanking variety, Edison brings the full package and does it well. Take for example his performance on Tracer for the 2020 Overwatch League season. Ranking third in final blows per ten minutes, fourth in eliminations per ten minutes, fifth in hero damage done per ten minutes, and being within the top ten for solo kills per ten minutes, Edison removes any concerns left at the Tracer position for the Fuel.
Past that, he brings flexibility mid-map and experience within the league. He is a known quantity and adds a litany of depth to a roster that nearly just challenged for the world title.
Many fans will correctly nod to Yun "RUSH" Hee-won’s strategic ability and willingness to invest into his player’s strengths as reasons why this added depth perhaps isn’t inherently needed. Pioneers of the Lucio/Moira composition featured in their May Melee victory, RUSH found ways to mitigate the team’s deficiency and was not only awarded a stage title but was crowned 2021’s Coach of the Year.
Now, while that attribute of strategic creativity is priceless, is that something you want to rest your laurels on coming into a brand-new game or do you cover as many possibilities as you feasibly can to give your team the most flexibility? The latter play feels much safer and while large rosters have been difficult to manage, the Dallas Fuel coaching staff have historically operated with sizable rosters.
Both Go "Aid" Jaeyoon and RUSH’s time with the Paris Eternal in 2020 saw him take part in coaching a ten-man roster. Previous to that, RUSH’s Element Mystic featured eight members during their Net Ease Esports X Tournament victory. And least we forget where Overwatch veteran and newly appointed assistant coach Kim "Rascal" Dong-jun cut his teeth. Dallas fans need not be concerned with the size, but the initial suspicion has some ground in truth but remains entirely positive.
Let’s not mince words: the 2021 Dallas Fuel did depth issues when it came to their tank line. That is inherently mitigated, possibly completely, with Overwatch 2’s shift to a single tank setup. Now before we grab the torches and pitchforks, no one here doubts Lee "Fearless" Eui-Seok’s ability to lead Dive compositions with Winston and Choi "Hanbin" Han-been has been a bulletproof supportive element. With the tank changes coming with Overwatch 2 it is likely we see both players featured quite frequently throughout the next season with Hanbin’s flexibility perhaps taking the lion’s share of the starting time. This fundamental change to the game benefits the Fuel nearly more than any other top team as one of their biggest flaws get smoothed over, and it doesn’t stop there.
Since his days as an amateur star, Kim "SP9RK1E" Yeong-han has always been a playmaker. His aggression is the spearhead to the Dallas Fuel offence, which only gets more potent with the removal of the second tank and with the possible retooling of crowd control effects. These two traits of Overwatch 2 opens up more potential for playmaking from the DPS duo.
As we gather more information about Overwatch 2, we continue to ponder the hypothetical scenario where the Fuel were not nearly as proactive in the offseason. Even without adding any players, you have to consider the Dallas Fuel as improved thanks to Overwatch 2’s system changes. Yes, the exact formula that was used the year prior could have easily just aged like fine wine going into the new year. Add to that their solution and coverage at DPS with the addition of young talent from Overwatch Contenders and you would have to be a fool to not consider this iteration of the Fuel to not be their strongest.
Yes, the 2022 Dallas Fuel are improved. It is safe to say the "cycle of misery" Dallas fans have joked about for years is over. Not only is your team gunning for an early playoff nomination, but multiple-stage titles also seem incredibly possible. After middling in the west for ages, the Fuel are here to stay at the top of the standings.