The transfer market hasn't been very active this season, but many of them are bombshells
As was to be expected from a season with the complications that trades bring during a global pandemic, not many players have been recruited during the regular season. While only about two dozen players have joined their current teams, not least due to the implosion of the Titans, some of the transfers have likely determined the season outcome and the future of their franchises.
In order to rank those pickups, we not only have to consider the quality of the player but also respective needs their teams had for them, as well as their immediate impact if they have already played with their new team. While factors like cost-effectiveness and fan attention could also be factored into the evaluation of a sound pickup, they will not be considered here. We will only try to answer the question: Who will help their team the most in the remaining season and beyond?
Punk’s immediate impact on the Uprising is undeniable but his long term value is not. Yes, his Sigma looked great against the Gladiators but it’s at least questionable whether he will establish himself as a player the Uprising can build their comeback on, whether in this season or in the next. According to coaches in the Australian region, his performances have been too inconsistent to make a clear forecast of his breakthrough.
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It’s hard to evaluate Fielder and full given that he has to play on high ping. Theoretically speaking, picking up a flex support when both other ones have retired would by default add the most value if everyone else on this list has a backup position. Paris Eternal are a team that should form title aspirations with the foundation they have built, if not this season, then in the next, though the sp9rk1e push and a potential comeback of Xzi could certainly put them there. Whether or not Fielder is or can be developed into the calibre of player that this team needs is too early to tell.
On paper, bringing on Twilight when you already have Viol2t as your starting flex support is overkill. The justification of wanting to run two flex supports also doesn’t convince me when Moth has been as much of an integral part of the Shock’s roster as he has been. Hopefully, we will soon see this theory in action but I fear that it will have transformative qualities on the Shock’s style of play, and I’m not sure if it has to necessarily be for the better. The strongest argument for Twilight is that he’s an incredibly smart player who will add to literally every team in the Overwatch League on top of individual skill that is never considerably out of reach of the world’s best flex supports on any hero. The signals this pickup sends are weird, ranging from wanting to have the pieces to switch comms to entirely Korean and building away from Moth to wanting to lock an incredible player from entering a competitor team. Twilight on either Seoul or Paris would’ve rightly given the Shock sleepless nights.
The evaluation of JJANU’s recruitment is highly contextual from which point of view or point in time you evaluate from. In a post-Corey-retirement world, the decision to go full Korean appears sound, as the lack of infrastructure and therefore North American and European talent will be felt across the league. With many teams competing for the top Western players and rookies in the future, it will be hard to attract talent that will justify the commitment to a hybrid roster. A foundation of Corey and ELLIVOTE would’ve been sufficient to remain a hybrid roster. With the North American star player’s departure to VALORANT, a Korean roster looks to be the most feasible solution for the Justice. When going for a full Korean roster, JJANU is a fine choice, though we will come to find out that he won’t be competing for the top offtank positions in the league outside the RunAway structure. ELLIVOTE as such was not an inferior player to JJANU, he simply didn’t fit the plans.
The Defiant have had shotcalling issues for a while, with Surefour stemming a large part of the comms early in the season when the team was playing up to a level to make even the Philadelphia Fusion sweat. Shotcalling from the DPS position, however, is incredibly taxing and the team tried to source shotcalling elsewhere in their backline and in Beast. As apparently neither seemed to work out to a satisfactory level and seeing the Defiant drop in the rankings, a new leader had to be brought in. Kruise fills all the checkmarks as a vocal personality in a position that is made for it. His ranking as a top pickup, therefore, shouldn’t be misunderstood as a statement towards his qualities as a player, but more in the need that the Defiant had and how well he fits the general mould they are going for.
In tandem with Numlocked, who himself is vocal, the team will likely see an uptick in performance, though if the season play-in cutoff remains on the 12th place, they will have a hard time qualifying this year unless they can go deep in either of the two remaining tournaments.
If the Defiant can find an adequate head coach - and these are scarce in the current market - they might have found a player in Kruise which could become instrumental for their continued success. Early signs of that could already be felt in their match against the Shock who they weren’t too far away from beating.
It’s still very possible that Defiant’s approach of going for Western veterans — which has never really worked in the Overwatch League to the extent that Toronto are taking it —
will not be fruitful and that a new General Manager will get away from it. From that point of view, Kruise loses a lot of value.
Libero, WhoRU and Haksal not only on the same team, but still playing mostly the same position. It makes about as much sense as it did in 2017. Unless one of those players outright changes his role, there’s not enough space for them all. Somehow, someway, the recruitment of Haksal still makes perfect sense. With Nenne rejoining the team, the NYXL don’t have to fear a lack of hitscan talent any longer and the primary need for them to pick up an outstanding one is sufficiently satisfied. When going down the list of the roster spots in most need of an additional top tier player, only the main tank position looked to be more troubled than their flex DPS, and that main tank position is still filled by Mano after all. There are two hypotheses as to why NYXL gave as much playtime as they did to WhoRU. Either they wanted to build up the rookie early and develop his explosive qualities so he can be of greater service late in the season, keeping Libero locked and loaded in the meantime, or Libero himself revealed shortcomings in his own play and was unable to find his way into a starting spot position in NYXL’s new philosophy.
Haksal, as we know, is already the complete package. The only question mark is that he never had to do it outside of the RunAway core. It’s not that NYXL are individually any less potent than the old Titans roster, they’re even more stacked now, but great teams have a tendency to elevate the skill of the individual if the concoction is just right. That said, Haksal has a significantly higher chance to remain at the top of his role than JJANU does.
Architect has never quite gotten the respect that he deserves. The inherent talent in this player is special and his only weakness seems to be that he isn’t selfish enough to demand to be played around. We don’t know how severe the changes to the game with Overwatch 2 will be to the competitive game, but if I had to take my pick on one player who will still be around and top tier, it would be Architect. A nigh egoless star player is hard to find and will always be an asset to your team, regardless of what your team may need. When his work ethic then doesn’t even suffer from not having the crass desire to be the best player in the world that so many superstars fuel their career on, he becomes the perfect puzzle piece.
Architect has a hero pool that few can match and very much reminds of Fleta in that regard, though has arguably been more consistent when he was played. There aren’t many players who can go from being one of the best Genjis in the world in one year to being one of the best Widowmakers, while playing several flex DPS in between to a great level.
The team that he’s joining has a solid foundation with a candidate for best tank in 2020 in Guxue, a reignited GodsB and a decent though not great backline. Adora has not been awful on Echo but the upgrade on practically every other hero that he plays should be significant with bringing Architect in. My hope is that the Spark are the team that will give Architect the permanent starting position that he deserves and that they encourage him to take his rightful place. The time might not be sufficient for Mask, U4 and Pajion to turn this team into a dark horse for 2020 but with Architect, they’ve signed a player that fits the energy of their brand perfectly and a smart management that sees the potential in Architect as a franchise player will reap the benefits. The Spark are one or two signings away from being a truly scary team in the Asian division.
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