OWL team uses loophole to sign 'best genji in the world' only days before playoffs
The Florida Mayhem have signed Genji legend Lee "WhoRU" Seung-jun to their Overwatch League team a mere 10 days before the start of the season playoffs.
General Manager Albert "yeHHH" explained the signing as a way for the team to prepare for a potential Genji-centric meta during the final stages of Overwatch League season 6.
Fans were flabbergasted that this move was even allowed given the caliber of the player and the nature of the late signing.
For the last several years in the Overwatch League, the signing window had closed at a pre-defined date several weeks before each respective post-season to ensure competitive integrity and forbid stacking of top-tier talent on playoff teams.
One notable exception had been the signing of Jang "Decay" Guiwoon for the Washington Justice in season 3, whose recruitment shortly before the playoffs completely shifted the tone of the team and allowed to franchise a deep playoff run despite an underwhelming regular season.
The signing was seen by some as a "loophole," exploiting a contingency rule the League had installed to allow teams to sign players who would be unable to travel to a potential offline event during the global pandemic, COVID-19.
For season 6, the Overwatch League had closed the signing window for August 20, crucially only for signings of players that had an active OWL contract at the aforementioned date.
While the APAC region had introduced Overwatch Contenders teams into their regular season and knockout stage play for season 6, those players are not classified as Overwatch League players or Overwatch League contract holders.
Given that WhoRU had played for South Korean Contenders team O2 Blast, he did not have an active PSA while the OWL player signing window closed and was therefore allowed to sign with the Mayhem.
Other teams could be taking advantage too
According to rumours posted by Overwatch League leaker hh_varuna, the Houston Outlaws are expected to sign former Hangzhou Spark tank Shin "BERNAR" Se-won to fill a potential hole in their frontline specifically for the offtank position.
Moreover, top-tier flex DPS and former Guangzhou Charge player Choi "ChoiSehwan" Se-hwan is also likely eligible. While he had played for the Charge at a prior point this season, he parted ways with a team amidst a full-Chinese rebuild of the roster prior to the August 20 deadline.
For the Overwatch League playoffs, the League had chosen to upgrade to the newest live patch which saw significant balance changes come to the game.
According to insiders from the directly qualified North American teams who have been practising on the new version even prior to the start of the Play-Ins on September 9, the meta had moved to a more Zarya and Genji-centric composition.
yeHHH clarified in a follow-up tweet to the signing that the team had brought on WhoRU to specifically prepare for this potential meta iteration, stating that "with a potential Genji meta for playoffs, and the best Genji in the world available this was a no-brainer."
Despite his young age of 22, WhoRU is one of the most veteran competitors in the Overwatch League, having played and won trophies already for South Korean legendary organisation Lunatic Hai during OGN’s APEX season 2 and season 3.
Moving between Overwatch League teams, WhoRU won the Overwatch League with the Shanghai Dragons in season 4. Most recently, he got to the finals of one of the Summer Stage Knockout groups with O2 Blast, losing against the Seoul Dynasty in the finals and narrowly missing out on Overwatch League season playoff qualification.
The Overwatch League playoffs kick off in Toronto, Canada on September 28 at the Mattamy Atheltic Centre with the Grand Finals champion being crowned on October 1.