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Among the exclusive club of publisher-operated esports circuits, Overwatch is easily the most ambitious. Its franchised circuit was launched within just a year of the game – itself a wholly new IP in a genre outside of Blizzard’s comfort zone – and its Season 2 expansion adding over eight whole teams to an already packed field of regional representatives. 

Naturally, that means a hell of a lot more names and reputations to remember come the new season – and this on top of roster changes among the Season 1 generation too. 

But that’s what all this below is for. It’s much easier, after all, if you break it down by regions – China showing up with three new teams (as befitting the largest and most energetic esports market anywhere), and Canada making their debut with Toronto and Vancouver leading the way. And while it’s disappointing that Europe only gets one new slot to represent the old country, who better than Paris to shine a light on the continent’s behalf?

Granted, that’s still up to nine to 10 players per team that you have to try and remember all the faces for. Maybe if you delete some of the storage space you allocated for soccer players…

At any rate: the Overwatch League Season 2 expansion brings over 73 players on 8 teams to ramp up the competitive drama. Here they are – and why you should watch them.

China

Chengdu Hunters

Chengdu Hunters
  • Kong “Kyo” Chunting
  • Guan “Garry” Li 
  • Li “Yveltal” Xianyao 
  • Luo “Elsa” Wenjie 
  • Ma “LateYoung” Tianbin 
  • Ding “Ameng” Menghan 
  • Lo “Baconjack” Tzu-Heng
  • Yi “JinMu” Hu
  • Zhang “YangXiaoLong” Zhihao
  • Wei “Jiqiren” Yansong

As the clear winners of the League Expansion’s best new logo, the grumpy pandas of Chengdu are operated by Royal Never Give Up – best known for their recent history-making victory as the 2018 League of Legends champions. That puts a certain weight upon their panda brethren’s gold-and-black, naturally – and much of the attention on the team will also be focused on their damage dealers. Projectile specialist Yi “JinMu” Hu and hitscan specialist Zhang “YangXiaoLong” ZhiHao will likely be at the forefront of Chengdu’s efforts, and especially YXL’s Reaper in light of the most recent meta updates.

Guangzhou Charge

Guangzhou Charge
  • Hong-jun “HOTBA” Choi 
  • Ou “Eileen” Yiliang 
  • Lee “Happy” Jung-woo
  • Finley “Kyb” Adisi
  • Charlie “nero” Zwarg
  • Oh “Rio” Seung-pyo
  • Kim “Chara” Jung-yeon
  • Chen “OnlyWish” Lizhen
  • Kim “Shu” Jin-seo
  • Lee “Rise” Won-jae

In stark contrast to the Chengdu Hunters, Guanzhou’s 10-person lineup has a notably international flair, boasting primarily South Korean talent alongside a couple notable Western talents: Finley “Kyb” Adisi, for instance, is a direct product of the Contenders talent development system. But though they’re outnumbered by their international teammates, the bravado coming out of locals like Ou “Eileen” Yiliang speaks for itself – he considers himself one of the top five Genji players in the world, and the Season 2 Expansion has at last given him a platform to prove himself true to his word. 

Hangzhou Spark

Hangzhou Spark
  • Xu “guxue” Qiulin
  • Jeong “NoSmite” Da-un
  • Kang “Adora” Jae-hwan
  • Park “Ria” Sung-wook
  • Park “Bazzi” Jun-ki
  • Kim “GodsB” Kyueong-bo
  • Park “iDK” Ho-jin
  • An “Revenge” Hyeong-gueun
  • Cai “Krystal” Shilong
  • Yoon “Bebe” Hui-chang

The Sparks’ pink-and-blue fingerguns will at least be completely mistakable amid the rainbow of team colors in Season 2 – and their talent pool isn’t anything to scoff at either. They are largely an amalgamation of proven South Korean Contenders talent – notably, with GodsB, NoSmite, Bebe, and Ria all from X6-Gaming, who secured the Contenders Korea Season 1 championship. But local player Xu “Guxue” Qiulin will likely carry the mantle of hometown favorite, thanks to a splashy debut as a key tank talent during the most recent Overwatch World Cup.

North America

Atlanta Reign

Atlanta Reign
  • Daniel “dafran” Francesca
  • Jeong “Erster” Joon
  • Ilya “NlaaeR” Koppalov
  • Seo “DACO” Dong-hyeong
  • Blake “Gator” Scott
  • Park “Pokpo” Hyun-jun
  • Steven “Kodak” Rosenberger
  • Petja “Masaa” Kantanen

This is going to sound a bit bad, but the reason to watch the Atlanta Reign has more to do with drama than skill. That’s not to say that Daniel “dafran” Francesca isn’t famous for his skill in Overwatch, but his extremely public ragequit from the team last November – and subsequent retraction – follows suite on his history as a streamer geared primarily towards audience entertainment, and raises questions about how well he can transition over to the relentless scrutiny of professional play. More conventionally, Steven “Kodak” Rosenberger, previously of the Overwatch World Cup’s Team Germany, is an assassin on Zenyatta – yes, the support character – and his silent nonexistent footsteps will likely catch a lot of enemy players off-guard.

Toronto Defiant

Toronto Defiant
  • Lee “envy” Kang-jae
  • Park “Neko” Se-hyeon
  • Lee “Ivy” Seung-hyun
  • Lee “Stellar” Do-hyung
  • Jo “Yakpung “Gyeong-mu
  • Go “Aid” Jae-yoon
  • Choi “Asher” Jun-sung
  • Park “RoKy” Joo-seung

As one of the first two Canadian teams to enter the Overwatch League, the eye-catching red-and-black of the Defiants leads the way for an esports fandom region often overlooked by the attention-hogging of their southern neighbors. For a western organization, however, the Defiants are notably lacking in western talents – their all-Korean roster features Season 1 veterans like Lee “envy” Kang-jae (formerly LA Valiants) and Park “Neko” Se-hyeon (formerly Boston Uprising). But the real attention should be on the rookie stars, recruited from Contenders organization O2 Blast (formerly O2 Ardeont). Four of their recruits are from the organization, and the teamwork they fostered previously will be the foundation of the Defiants’ success. 

Vancouver Titans

Vancouver Titans
  • Kim “Haksal” Hyo-jong
  • Lee “Hooreg” Dong-eun
  • Seo “SeoMinSoo” Min-soo
  • Lee “Stitch” Choong-hui
  • Choi “JJANU” Hyeon-woo
  • Park “Bumper” Sang-beom
  • Kim “Rapel” Jung-geun
  • Kim “SLIME” Sung-jun
  • Lee “Twilight” Ju-seok

Like with their peers on the Toronto Defiants, the Vancouver Titans are also an all-Korean team – and whereas the Defiants drew heavily from O2 Blast, the Titans are basically the RunAways rebranded, with a whopping 9/10 of their players previously from the streamer-operated organization. In fact, theirs is something of a success story – the RunAways were operated by community figures instead of a formal esports organization, and ran up a solid list of gold medals throughout 2018 – Contenders 2018 Season 2 and Season 3 in Korea and the summer run of the NetEase Esports X Tournament. The question then becomes less of any key ace player, and more if that RunAway magic can be duplicated under a new brand, for a new region, and with a new name.

Washington Justice

Washington Justice
  • Song “Janus” Jun-hwa
  • Corey Nigra
  • Ethan “Stratus” Yankel
  • Kim “Sansam” Hyang-ki
  • Chon “Ado” Gi-hyeon
  • Riley “Fahzix” Taylor
  • Mun “Gido” Gi-do
  • Cho “Hyeonu” Hyeon-woo

The red-white-and-blue shield of the Washington Justice is inevitably going to get memed to hell and back (expect a ton of MURICA spam on Twitch chat whenever they make a play), but that’s not all that you should be watching for. South Korean player Janus’s aggressive tank play alongside flex DPS rookie ace Stratus will play a critical role in setting up the tempo for the team’s push against their international peers.

Europe

Paris Eternal

Paris Eternal
  • Terence “Soon” Tarlier
  • George “Shadowburn” Gushcha
  • Nicolas “Nicogdh” Moret
  • Karol “Danye” Szczesniak
  • Finnbjorn “Finnsi” Jonasson
  • Roni “Lhcloudy” Tiihonen
  • Benjamin “Benbest” Dieulafait
  • Damien “Hyp” Souville
  • Harrison “Kruise” Pond
  • Luis “Greyy” Perestrelo

As the only new European addition to the Overwatch League, and the first representatives of the proud Gallic player base, much rests on Eternal’s shoulders – and if their signed players are any indication, they have the capability to shoulder that burden. Russian ace George Gushcha alone is worth the interest, given his reputation as one of the most dangerous projectile DPS players in the scene, especially on fan favorite Genji. Harrison “Kruise” Pond is set to back him up, with a reputation as one of the best in-game leaders not yet actually in the OWL, having missed out due to unfortunate complications with a role switch before Season 1 started.

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