The Toronto Defiant, following the initial reveal of their branding, has announced six of the players that will be competing under their banner in the second season of the Overwatch League:
Offtank Kang-jae “Envy” Lee
Off-healer Se-hyeon “Neko” Park
DPS Lee “Ivy” Seung-hyunAdvertisement
DPS Lee “Stellar” Do-hyung
Main tank Jo “Yakpung” Gyeong-mu
Main support Go “Aid” Jae-yoon
The team will be coached by ex-Spitfire coach Beom-joon “Bishop” Lee. Both Envy and Neko competed in the Overwatch League’s inaugural season for the Los Angeles Valiant and the Boston Uprising, respectively; while Neko served as a starter on Boston until the end of the season, Envy was released from his contract in the middle of the season (despite his excellent play, it was rumored that his attitude was quite the opposite). Aid played for the ill-fated GGEA, the Houston Outlaws’ academy squad, which became the subject of major controversy following reports of serious mismanagement within the organization.
Ivy, Stellar, and Yakpung, unlike these prior three, have no connection with any Overwatch League team; rather, they played for O2 Team in Korean Contenders Seasons 1 and 2. After a second-place finish in Season 1, the group fell to a 5/8th-place finish in Season 2. The team’s DPS duo appears to follow opposite poles of the hero pool spectrum: Ivy has been renowned for his ability to flex to nearly all heroes, while Stellar’s talent lies almost solely in his Tracer play.
The Defiant are now the fourth team in the Overwatch League with a full Korean roster, joining the Seoul Dynasty, the New York Excelsior, and the inaugural season victors, the London Spitfire. They are also the third expansion team to announce their main roster alongside the Paris Eternal and the Atlanta Reign.
Despite the dominance of Korean rosters in the League, the Defiant roster, untested as it is at the moment, is a mesh of known and unknown quantities that may or may not develop into a team that can challenge the likes of the Excelsior. While Neko and Envy have proven themselves to be more than capable of serving a starting role on mid-level teams in the past, Aid has only seen serious exposure in North American Contenders on a team that was only seriously competitive against bottom-of-the-barrel teams in their group. While the ex-O2 players yielded good results during their run in Korean Contenders, they were competing against teams that no longer had the same appeal as Korean rosters in the past: with no Lunatic-Hai’s in the pool, their abilities against Overwatch League players seem to be fairly limited. Time will tell whether their prowess can hold up to the skills of players selected for the first season of the League.
Considering the trend displayed in the selection of Korean players over the off-season, it is interesting to see the pecking order for each team’s signings: Toronto picked up players from the fifth-place team in Korean Contenders, Atlanta from third-place Element Mystic, Shanghai from second-place KongDoo Panthera, and, supposedly, Vancouver from first-place RunAway; fourth-place MVP Space has seen no acquisitions made from their roster. If one was to construct a timeline for signings, it could easily be concluded that Overwatch League teams made selections based on each Korean team’s placement in Contenders, setting an order of Vancouver, Shanghai, Atlanta, and finally Toronto. While this theory is consistent with Contenders placements, it would disregard the role of coaches as scouts; thus, while it is likely that League teams made selections with such placements in mind, there was almost certainly more than a simple-minded moneyball approach utilized when building rosters.
The Defiant also teased the addition of more players in the future, but as it stands, the six aforementioned players will be representing the city of Toronto for the foreseeable future. The Overwatch League’s second season kicks off in February; only then will fans know the full extent of the roster’s capabilities.