Shanghai Dragons enter the Overwatch League shrouded in mystery to much of the Western audience. Many will have heard of Miraculous Youngster and how they pushed Lunatic-Hai to a fifth map, and even more will have seen China battle France at the World Cup 2017. None of the players from those teams made it into the Shanghai Dragon roster, a move that has been met with significant criticism. Instead, the Dragons have delved deeper into the Chinese talent pool, with head coach u4—formerly of LGD Gaming —putting together a mix of players from the teams underneath Miraculous Youngster.
Like many other coaches, u4 has taken several players from his former team with him into the holy land of Overwatch League Season 1. The first of which is altering (formerly 130), a Lucio player who was with LGD for almost a year and a mainstay through lots of their success.
Competing with him for a spot with be FiveKing, who came to the fore with Invictus Gaming Ice before moving onto Team CC where his achievements were more limited. Despite his team’s failings FiveKing has always looked a more than capable Lucio and his experience will be key in what could be a rocky opening season for Shanghai.
Joining them at the back is Freefeel (formerly B612), who will take care of the flex support duties. Freefeel was a member of the FTD Club team that struggled for consistency but has caused several notable upsets in China. Shanghai Dragons will be hoping to capture some of that upset magic as they take on the best the rest of the world has to offer.
The tank line features Freefall’s comrade from FTD Club, Roshan. The adept Winston shares a history with Freefall, experiencing both the highs and lows of FTD Club throughout the last year. Backing up Roshan will be mg, who is also a former LGD member—playing the more traditional offtank role, primarily on D.Va.
Xushu (formerly Luca) is also listed as a flex player but has been known more for his flex support and Pharah play. He is certainly a versatile player, but his exact role within the team won’t be known until the season kicks off.
The final LGD player, and perhaps the best known of the team, is uNdeAD, a hitscan giant who has gone toe-to-toe with the best in the world. During his time with LGD they dedicated the vast amount of their resources to empowering uNdeAD, commonly running a pocket Mercy for him. This allowed uNdeAD to carry LGD through several successful periods, though the team had issues in high-profile matches. Later in his career, he also showed some capability on Tracer, though his DPS partner Diya will more likely be filling that role in the Dragons.
Diya is much more of a Tracer specialist but will have to be at the top of his game to keep pace with the Overwatch League standard, given the large quantity of star Tracers the league possesses. Diya has helped ViCi Gaming to some of their more recent success and will form a fatal combo with uNdeAD. This does leave Shanghai Dragons noticeably short of a projectile specialist. They will be able to avoid this need in the current meta, but with six months worth of games and metas, they may be found short in the later stages.
Shanghai Dragons are a substantial unknown coming into this season, a mix team of lesser-known Chinese players with some notable gaps in hero pools. One would lean towards dismissing them, but their DPS combo is good enough to win games. Combined with the reckless, aggressive style of Chinese teams that may catch their opponents off guard, they may cause some upsets.
The limited information surrounding them and their players may also give them an early advantage as teams try to figure them out. So, while a lot of signs point to a brutal first season for the Shanghai Dragons, it has been demonstrated before that China’s best can compete with both Western and Korean teams. Clouded in uncertainty, and unknown potential, it may not be wise to bet against the Dragons just yet.
The Shanghai Dragons roster is: