The London Spitfire have taken two of the best Korean teams and meshed them together into one superpowered roster, full to the brim with talent in every role. By combining the best of Cloud9 Kongdoo and GC Busan, the franchise has secured a reputation as one of the favorites to claim the inaugural Overwatch League championship.
One half of the London Spitfire is the C9 Kongdoo powerhouse that rose to the top of the Korean scene by gathering star players in every position and overwhelming opponents, racking up high placing finishes in the two most recent APEX seasons. The other half are the royal roaders, GC Busan, who took Korean Overwatch by storm following a first place finish in APEX Challengers Season 4. The team secured victories over Lunatic-Hai, C9 Kongdoo, then Lunatic-Hai again without dropping a single map. Capping off this run was a hard-fought battle that secured the team the APEX Season 4 title over RunAway. If you can’t beat them, sign them. This phrase represents the ideal behind what looks to be one of the most formidable rosters in Overwatch's history.
Starting from the backline, the Spitfire have every role covered. Closer showed off some of the best movement the Overwatch community has seen from a Lucio last season, forming a formidable duo with his support partner HaGoPeun, who played a bloodthirsty Zenyatta. Whilst many of the Overwatch League's Zenyattas are known for their fragging abilites, what sets HaGoPeun apart from the pack is his perfectly timed ultimates.
To complement GC Busan’s deadly duo they have Bdosin, who is adept at all Flex-Support heroes and was a mainstay of C9 Kongdoo’s APEX Season 4 campaign. To round off their Supports they included NUS, the Ana expert from Meta Athena. It is safe to say that all bases are covered by this impressive supporting cast, providing a great foundation for the rest of the team to play off. Exactly how they choose to combine these talented pieces is a challenge that lays ahead for the franchise.
Next is the deadliest part of the roster, the DPS lineup. The Spitfire have two hitscan specialists in Hooreg and birdring, known for their prolific performances on Tracer and Soldier 76. Covering the projectile side of things is Rascal. While he is better known for his Genji, Rascal can play a wide range of heroes and has filled in on hitscan when needed.
Sitting somewhere in between is Profit. The young Korean made a name for himself as the standout Tracer of APEX Season 4 during the group stages before bringing out an equally lethal Genji during the playoffs. There seems to be no end to his hero pool, even playing Zarya to a high level in the Grand Finals. Any combination of these four players could make up a top Overwatch DPS duo in what is possibly the most meta-proof DPS squad ever assembled. The only problem, they can’t all play at the same time.
Unfortunately for the rest of the Overwatch League teams, the talent does not end there. Filling the Main Tank role is Fissure, widely regarded as one of the best tanks in Korea. He has previously reigned supreme as Reinhardt and dominated as Winston, a known veteran of the game that will spearhead the Spitfire's attacks. As an alternative, they brought in Gesture, who was part of the championship-winning GC Busan roster. Best known for his Winston, Gesture branched out in the OGN Super Cup, playing Reinhardt and Roadhog. The pair gives the London Spitfire plenty of options to choose from up front.
Perhaps the weakest part of the roster on paper are the Flex-Tanks. WOOHYAL hails from GC Busan as well, playing D.Va for the majority of APEX Season 4, during which he demonstrated sound mechanical skill and decision making. WOOHYAL filled a crucial role in GC Busan’s play style, shutting down opponents and countering their key players. However, he played almost exclusively D.Va, so there are some queries over the depth of his hero pool.
Backing him up is Fury, who played Flex-Tank for Team Liquid during their peak. Fury is the least experienced member of the group but did showcase significant potential during his time in America and will have the ideal learning environment, as he is surrounded by a wealth of experience.
In terms of raw talent and skill, there is no better roster assembled, and there is no doubting each individual’s ability. The London Spitfire’s performance in Season 1 centers around how they mesh these talented players together. The majority of their roster comes from a GC Busan team whose success revolved around their ability to adapt and counter their opposition, while four of the players come from a C9 Kongdoo team that overran their opponents with their superior skill.
These resources, if moulded well, should mean the difference between glory and failure for the London Spitfire. Korean coaching teams are used to dealing with larger rosters but never before one so full of talent, navigating the right balance when managing this team will be no easy task. I spoke to Head Coach Bishop to find out more about the team and how the Spitfire plan to manage this star-studded roster:
Has everyone arrived in LA now? How are you and the team settling into your new home?
Bishop: Unfortunately, everyone with the exception of Seungtae “Bdosin” Choi who is scheduled to arrive on the 8th, has arrived. Other than that, the team is settling in great and everyday is a new experience for the players, especially with the food!
What is your setup like in terms of accommodation and practice facilities?
B: We only practice at the Blizzard studio to play on the LAN client and keep things as consistent as possible.
With 12 Korean players and coaching staff, are you taking any extra steps to help them get used to living in LA for six months?
B: We are currently providing English classes and doing everything we can to make a second home for our players.
You have one of the most talented teams in Overwatch League Season 1. With all of GC Busan and a large part of Kongdoo, how do you go about mixing so many talented players and creating a unified team?
B: We are currently planning on maintaining the old rosters before we consider moving forward with merging the two teams. Generally speaking, GC Busan has been a team play oriented synergy powerhouse, whereas C9Kongdoo has been an oppression focused team backed by superior individual mechanics. Merging is a delicate process, and we would like to take all necessary precautions in order to ensure a strong roster.
With such a skilful roster and coaching team, you are one of the favourites to win Season 1 already before anyone has played. Does that add pressure to you and the team to perform?
B: Not at all. We do what we do, and that is playing with the singular purpose of winning.
Given a lot of the hype surrounding your team, what kind of success do you expect from Season 1?
B: Given that the hype surrounding our team was generated based on everyone’s success and their abilities, I think it’s very well deserved and fitting of our team’s caliber. While it will be a challenge to meet the overwhelming hype, we aim to exceed these expectations and make London proud by winning.
What does it mean to you and the players to represent London and the only European franchise at this point?
B: It’s an honor. We’re a group that came together with one thing in mind, which is to win. If we get to do it under the banner of the London franchise, all the better. It’s incredibly humbling for the players that they’ll be able to represent the city of London, and as the first European franchise in the inaugural season of the Overwatch League. We have the next year to really plant our flag and hopefully even set the standard of excellence so that more European city franchises will be able to join for the next season and create that inter-regional rivalry that the global league is all about. At the end of the day, we’re playing for the city of London, and we strive to do nothing less of making the citizens of the city proud to call us their team.
The London Spitfire roster is:
- Park "Profit" Joon-Yeong (DPS)
- Lee "Hooreg" Dong-Eun (DPS)
- Kim "Birdring" Ji-hyuk (DPS)
- Kin "Rascal" Dong-jun (DPS)
- Kim "Fury" Jun-Ho (Flex)
- Baek "Fissure" Chan-hyung (Tank)
- Hong "Gesture" Jae-Hee (Tank)
- Sung "WOOHYAL" Seung-Hyun (Tank)
- Jo "HaGoPeun" Hyeon-Woo (Support)
- Jung "CLOSER" Won-Sink (Support)
- Seung "Bdosin" Choi-tae (Support)
- Jong-Seok "NUS" Kim (Support)