The absence of various pro Overwatch players from the highest tier of competition, the Overwatch League, is the subject of endless debate as fans and pros alike lament the exclusion of one player and the inclusion of another. Various pro players have undoubtedly been snubbed in the signing of League rosters, most commonly due to contract complications or a lack of exposure and opportunity during the signing period. Furthermore, the League itself is relatively small scale and has a definitive lack of teams based in Europe and Asia; Season 2 will undoubtedly see an expansion.
The OWL Pellets challenge, issued by Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson, asks writers to assemble a hypothetical thirteenth Overwatch League team comprised of the remaining LFT pros and argue for its viability based on teamwork and individual talent. Players must be eligible for OWL Season 1 and not a member of RunAway, as they are the current gold standard outside of the League.
To make this competition more interesting for myself — and perhaps for you — my roster is comprised solely of Western talent; a “Western Frankenstein” team, as Sideshow so eloquently put it. Additionally, I limited my roster to nine players in an attempt to (a) remain in line with the average per League team and (b) account for the expense and difficulty of managing a 12-man roster.
Although you cannot legitimately argue for the triumph of a hypothetical, unseen roster over established championship teams like Dallas Fuel, Seoul Dynasty, New York Excelsior, and the London Spitfires, you can argue for their relative potential and overall profitability, which is what I intend to do.
Without further ado, I present to you: the Amsterdam Blaze.
- Tuomo "Davin" Leppänen (DPS)
- Dylan "aKm" Bignet (DPS)
- Mads "fischer" Jehg (Flex DPS)
- Nicolas "NiCO" Moret (Flex)
- Joonas "zappis" Alakurtti (Flex Tank)
- Russell "FCTFCTN" Campbell (Tank)
- Adam "Adam" Eckel (Support)
- Randal "Roolf" Stark (Flex Support)
- Luis "Greyy" Perestrelo (Substitute Flex Support)
The roster above was chosen based on (a) established player relationships; (b) experience and accomplishments; and, (c) relative popularity, or marketability. Adam has history playing with both FCTFCTN and Roolf, while NiCO and aKm have spent most of their Overwatch careers on the same team. zappis and Davin competed together on Team Gigantti, and although Greyy and fischer are pulled from separate teams, the familiarity amongst the aforementioned players is a foundation on which to build.
Next, the majority of these players have proven themselves in competition, both online and at the few LAN opportunities afforded in the last year. The accomplishments of aKm and NiCO extensive; Rogue has first place finishes in APAC (2016), the PIT Championship, the Overwatch Rumble, and TaKeOver 2 under their belt. They also competed in APEX Season 3.
Similarly, FCTFCTN took second place at both MLG Vegas and Overwatch Contenders (NA), and recently competed in the Overwatch World Cup. Adam was also a part of Team USA, and has competed extensively with Cloud9 since the first post-launch LAN, Agents Rising. Roolf has a competitive history similar to Adam’s, with the bonus of having taken second place at the World Cup this November. Lastly, zappis and Davin most notably placed first in European Contenders Season 1.
In short, these players have proven themselves capable of performing on LAN and against tough competition, and most have been doing so since launch. There is no reason to think they could not do it again.
Finally, this team is relatively popular and profitable. Its players include members of Team USA, Team Canada, and Rogue, and the winners of European Contenders. aKm alone has a commendable following in all regions. Furthermore, Blaze would be one of two teams based in Europe and the only to include European players. Its home city of Amsterdam is a popular, relatively neutral European city that is perfect to house a melting pot of European and American talent. The hashtags, chants, and rallying cries practically write themselves.
To begin, Russell “FCTFCTN” Campbell, Joonas “zappis” Alakurtti, and Nicolas “NiCO” Moret will serve as tank and flex. An experienced tank who can set the pace of the game and facilitate kills is paramount to any team’s success, and FCTFCTN has proven himself the best for that job. He is remarkably consistent and cannot often be found making significant mistakes. He is one of the few remaining main tanks who has maintained a stellar Reinhardt throughout months of necessitated Winston play, and the initial transition from Reinhardt to Winston all those months ago was smooth.
Furthermore, he was among the first to recognize Orisa’s potential and invest time into the hero. He is capable of adapting to new heroes or meta changes, and has the foresight and dedication to do so. For the time being, his Winston has proven impressive and reliable.
FCTFCTN has competed with FaZe Clan for well over a year, which is a noteworthy feat given the esport’s (and the organization’s) characteristic roster instability. As a member of the 2017 USA World Cup team, he meshed easily with a brand new roster and was instrumental to their success despite limited time together. Both experiences speak to FCTFCTN’s skill; his peers’ confidence in his skill; and, his reliability and worthiness as a teammate. His absence from the League is merely a testament to FaZe’s mismanagement.
Next, zappis seems an obvious choice for flex tank. He is a Finnish player formerly of Ninjas in Pyjamas and, most recently, Team Gigantti. The latter defeated Misfits (i.e. Florida Mayhem), long regarded as the best in the region, in the European Contenders Season 1 finals after a dominant 6–1 group stage match record. zappis is famed for his aggressive Zarya play, and though his Zarya outshines his D.Va, zappis proved its viability in Contenders.
Overall, zappis’ career has been lengthy and diverse. When NiP first became a dominant force he was their Ana player, then moved back to showcase expertise on a myriad of DPS heroes before flexing his Zarya skills and finally settling into his most recent gig as a Contenders-winning D.Va main. He is one of the few players to have truly embraced and remained competitive across the diversity of roles and heroes Overwatch offers, and his experience makes him all the more valuable to a team.
Finally, NiCO concludes the flex/tank role. He is among the most experienced in and accomplished with triple DPS compositions, and his mastery of both D.Va and Genji will facilitate unique, versatile compositions.
NiCO and aKm shake hands with fans at the 2017 Overwatch World Cup
Adam “Adam” Eckel and Randal “Roolf” Stark will act as primary support and flex support, respectively, with Luís “Greyy” Perestrelo as an available substitute and Sombra specialist.
The number of European Lucio players alone excluded from Season 1 is staggering, but American Adam nabs the position on Blaze because of his flexibility and communication. Adam’s Lucio is competitive and worthy of the Overwatch League, but more importantly, if Lucio’s usage continues to diminish as the meta shifts (especially following the release of Moira), then Adam’s versatility will shine. His Mercy has always been among the best in the world, and he originally played flex support for Cloud9 and has reprised the role on occasion.
Furthermore, Adam has become an increasingly vocal player throughout his Overwatch career and the value of accurate, consistent macro-calling cannot be understated. Similarly to FCTFCTN, Adam has proven his worthiness as a teammate and competency as a player since beta. His lengthy competitive career and relatively extensive LAN experience, within this esport and others, will make him a leader on any team.
As for Roolf, the prowess of his Zenyatta lies in the shadow of legendary supports like Chipshajen and uNKOE, but he had his time in the sun at the 2017 World Cup. Team Canada’s miraculous journey to a 4–1 stomp by Team South Korea in the finals was by no means smooth sailing; they had to reverse sweep Team Australia to get there, and then 3–2 Team Sweden in quick succession.
Roolf performed exceptionally in each game, whether his team was unexpectedly floundering against Australia or showing up for their showdown with Sweden. His ultimate usage is smart and he consistently contests the best of the best Tracers. His Ana is no slouch either. If afforded the opportunity to play on a stable roster with a healthy team environment, Roolf will easily make a name for himself.
Greyy rounds out the support role as a comparable flex support. Both his Zenyatta and Ana are well-respected, but his true claim to fame lies in his Sombra play. He is perhaps one of the most well-known and well-respected Sombras in both the East and West, and although the hacker’s pick rate has diminished in recent months, no team could deny the value of a Sombra specialist in their back pocket.
Lastly, Tuomo “Davin” Leppänen, Dylan “aKm” Bignet, and Mads “fischer” Jehg will fill the role of DPS. Davin and aKm will satisfy the team’s hit-scan requirements, while fischer will provide Genji, Doomfist, and Junkrat as needed.
zappis and Davin pose with Team Gigantti after the Contenders Season 1 finals
Davin, formerly of Team Gigantti, seemed an obvious choice for this roster. His Tracer skills were relatively overlooked until he joined Gigantti, and so it was a pleasure to see him excel with the team. He was integral to the roster’s success, as Tracers tend to occupy a most impactful role, and there is no doubt he could put on a repeat performance with a League team. Anyone who can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Logix, snillo, and vallutaja and emerge victorious is OWL worthy.
aKm’s inclusion requires little explanation: as a part of Rogue, he proved himself time and time again as a world-class player who is capable of winning tournament after tournament, both online and at LAN. When it comes to unadulterated aim, aKm is superior; his Soldier:76, Reaper, McCree, and Pharah have all proven competitive. Having spent the better part of 2017 as a third of Rogue’s infamous triple DPS dive composition, there is need for improvement in the flexibility of aKm’s play style, but his individual potential is astronomical nonetheless.
fischer, formerly of Team Singularity, is an ideal candidate for flex or projectile DPS. He offers the roster a second Genji (NiCO being the first), as well as a Doomfist and Junkrat. The latter seems a permanent fixture in the competitive scene following buffs to his remote mines and Rip-Tire, and the former is likely to return despite recently having fallen out of favor. A flexible DPS who can pick up new heroes as necessary while maintaining a fundamental pick (i.e. Genji) is vital for any roster.
This Frankenstein is assembled with some of the best the West has to offer. Each player on is experienced, flexible, and hungry to prove himself. For most, their absence from the League's inaguaral season is not only disappointing, but indicative of the system's failure to recognize and reward talent, dedication, and results. Regardless of this competition, these players are likely to be picked up in mid-season signings or otherwise prove themselves again in Contenders Season 2.