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Who Won The 2022 Overwatch League Offseason?

Who Won The 2022 Overwatch League Offseason?
Images via Blizzard Entertainment

Written by 

Joseph "Volamel" Franco

Posted 

25th Apr 2022 17:41

Second to the grand final, the most exciting time in any competitive team function is the offseason. The trades, the moves, the dramatic breakup of duos and championship cores - it’s all laid out to bare. With May 5th only weeks away at this point, and while the offseason still has some time to settle out, the vast majority of shimmies and shuffles done to the Overwatch League’s most beloved teams have taken place. Each team has checked off their shortlist, settled on their core, and they’re primed for Overwatch 2. That leaves one question; which team won the offseason? 

A Train Named Playoffs

Every card game fan knows what it’s like to open a pack and pull one of those perfect chase rares. One of those cards that are going to not only be incredibly powerful but appreciate in value. Houston Outlaws’ fans did just that this offseason. 

Acquiring the 2021 Rookie of the Year in Oh "Pelican" Se-hyun was already an incredible task and jettisoned them up the rankings, but it’s the supportive fixtures that truly round out this team. As we learn more and more about the game, we’re starting to see the lines blurred on what it means to be a support. Taking that into context, seeing that Houston landed both Kim "Ir1s" Seung-hyun and Mun "Lastro" Jung-won is already enough to pique your interest. Would we love to see them snag a main support just for the start of the season?

No questions about it, especially with how dominant Lucio has been throughout the history of the game. That said, it is a brand-new title and having, generally speaking, players that are more flexible and are good at Overwatch, no shade to the Lucio mains but your hero pools are looking more like puddles. Past that and they replace their hitscan with promising rookie Choi "MER1T" Tae-min. 

With a history of star calibre performances in Overwatch Contenders, MER1T adds some serious explosivity to the roster as a whole and is someone, if given the proper metagame, can easily take over games which should feel like a familiar element to both the coaching staff and fans alike. 

However, the fact of the matter is that Houston is a little on the lean side with Shin "PIGGY" Min-jun as their sole tank makes them difficult to hand them the title here. That said, people should not be sleeping on the Outlaws’ subtly strong offseason moves. Yes, Pelican is as filthy as a dog running through mud, but it’s the whole package that should push Houston into the 2022 playoffs. 

Reign On Repeat

With a silver medal in hand, looking at the 2021 Atlanta Reign and finding areas of improvement is difficult both in finding holes and having the capital to fill them. However, this year, they’ve shifted focus while still maintaining an incredibly promising roster. 

The talk of the town for teams that were able or willing to sign North American talent was "who gets Benjamin "UltraViolet" David and Christian "Ojee" Han?" Not only was this the worst kept secret, but it was also revealed in an interview with tenured Reign head coach Brad "Sephy" Rajani. He said that the duo were "[...] hotly contested for sure, I think they had at least four competitive offers from some of the best teams in the North American region. The negotiations were not easy as they had a higher offer from a very well respected team. I think in the end they really believed in our vision for 2022, and I’m grateful to have them with us [...]". 

Hearing about their triumphs even as far as trials behind the scenes, UltraViolet and Ojee are an incredible duo that tidies up Atlanta’s backline and then some. However, that isn’t the only former American Tornado player they’ve courted.

Overwatch Contenders North America fans have been waiting for the day that Nicholas "Speedily" Zou is able to grace the stage, and with the age restriction date being pushed back this year due to the later start date for the season, it allows Speedily to just make the cut-off. No, we quite literally mean he just barely makes the cut-off. Per the official Overwatch League roster construction rules, players who were born on or before August 31st are eligible - Speedily’s birthday is August 26th.

Hailed as one of the best Echo players in the world and capable of performing well on other projectile picks, signing Speedily is a move on a macro scale. He likely won’t see a ton of stage time this season, however next year they already have a star calibre DPS ace in their back pocket. 

Past that, you’ve got league veteran Charlie "nero" Zwarg coming in to great effect, while the Reign take a calculated gamble on rookie Tracer specialist Lee "Venom" Dong-keun. All the pieces are here for the Atlanta Reign to continue directly from their save file from last season. And while we suspect that Atlanta should be able to compete at the highest level and have had a whirlwind offseason, there are some minor issues that bumps them down. Their DPS lineup is fairly rigid which may require them to shift gears quite a lot and to top it off, being put into a position to have to choose between Blake "Gator" Scott’s leadership and calling or Xander "Hawk" Domecq raw skill isn’t a small task. 

Shock’s Pocket Aces

Let’s be honest, the San Francisco Shock won the offseason, and it isn’t close, folks.

It was also a rigged race to start so that’s no shame to other teams, but rebuilding your castle with golden bricks is borderline unfair. 

 

To start, they sign veteran North American flex tank Colin "Coluge" Arai as their sole tank heading into Overwatch 2. While Matthew "super" DeLisi’s retirement earlier this year put them in a pinch, they still managed to sign someone with incredible potential. Looking at his resume these last two years, it’s difficult to argue. Continued success year-on-year is not something you can fluke or write off and with teams like Maryville Esports, American Tornado and Bobby Wasabi, Coluge is someone the Shock can trust to fill those all-too-big shoes. 

However, it only gets better from there - and it partially has to do with Overwatch 2.

So, with the alpha embargo lifted; we can confidently say DPS players are, in fact at a premium. Everyone was right, you’re going to have more individual impact and most of that is going to come from your DPS lineup. If it wasn’t obvious before, take a look at every roster within the league this year and just guess at which positions they spent the most money based on the name recognition and amateur success. We’d wager that the majority of the league invested into improving or filling out their DPS stables this year because of how important they would become in Overwatch 2

That said, the Shock have made the move that will net them their third world title in the next two years—you can bet on that.

Taking the best talent from one of the most successful teams coming out of South Korea within the last year in O2 Blast, San Francisco are building a championship team. Hitscan DPS Jung "Kilo" Jin-woo and flex support Oh "FiNN" Se-jin looked like impressive pieces on a star-studded lineup coming out of Overwatch Contenders Korea last year alongside O2 Blast. Consider how impressive that is for a moment; amazing talent from a region spawns success. 

Now consider that the odds on favourite for rookie of the year and someone who is being hailed as one of the most promising rookies ever, Kim "Proper" Dong-hyun, has landed in the Bay Area. Even our own ScrimCoin shill has said as much. To “instantly rival for MVP” is not something people say lightly or even at all. Proper is the real deal. 

That alone is going to win you games. Having someone who has already earned the distinction of “hyper-flex” and hasn’t even debuted in the league almost never happens. Then you remember their coaching staff has reunited with Kim "NineK" Bumhoon, you remember that they also retained Park "Viol2t" Minki, and then you look at the rest of the western division and wonder how they keep up? 

For God’s sake, the Shock even went on to acquire O2 Blast as their official academy team.

How is this fair? Is this even allowed? There has to be some "monopoly of otherworldly talent" clause somewhere or a statute against San Francisco just signing the entire 2022 rookie of the year ballot as their starting roster.

While many teams in the league have upgraded, some more significant than others, the Shock have had a dream offseason. 

You might have to start writing blank cheques to meet this bar, or improve on it, in the future. 

It feels like the Shock are playing in the pocket of the house this year because even you think they’ve been set back, they find ways to impress you. Yes, the 2019-2020 Shock rosters will be forever remembered as some of the best to ever do it, but in this new era, the new-look San Francisco can easily hold a candle if things go according to game script. 

The Shock are out in front of the Overwatch League pack this season and come May 5 when they square up with the Paris Eternal, we all will see the fruit of their offseason labour.

 

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