Philadelphia Fusion have selected from a vast range of teams to put together a stacked roster; the one burning question is how they'll slot all these pieces into place. With twelve players, they have every role and hero covered, but since Overwatch is a six-man game, sifting them down into one system will be no mean feat, especially when you take into consideration that only three of these players have played with each other before.
The three aforementioned players are the FaZe Clan trio of Carpe, ShaDowBurn and Joemeister. ShaDowBurn and Carpe form a domineering DPS duo that crushed North America in Contenders Season 1, while the Canadian Lúcio brings the consistent shot-calling that was crucial to FaZe’s success. These three are the only known quantity regarding how the Philadelphia Fusion players will interact.
In addition to the FaZe couple of Carpe and ShaDowBurn, they have also brought in snillo, who was 123’s carry DPS in Contenders Season 1, but will be unavailable until March due to age restrictions. How the Swede fits in with the established pair come March remains to be seen, but as a powerful Tracer and Soldier: 76 player, it opens the door to double hitscan compositions in a way that FaZe never had.
Lastly in the DPS department is Eqo from ZenGaming eSports, who in all likelihood will be playing fourth fiddle behind the other three DPS players. Taking a young player with a lot of potential and putting them in the Overwatch League environment is a great way to generate rapid development, as Eqo has shown ability on all DPS heroes, and will be a player to keep an eye on for the future.
The off-tank roles are filled by HOTBA from LuxuryWarch Red, who is expected to take the bulk of D.Va duty for the team, and Poko from GamersOrigin, who is better known for his Zarya play. While the latter may not see too much playtime in the current meta, he'll be a valuable asset going into future patches.
The tank line for Fusion is perhaps a little more straightforward, following sado’s suspension. fragi from Team Gigantti will be the only starting tank available, but fortunately for the team, he's one of the most formidable Reinhardt’s around, and plays a uniquely aggressive Winston that should mesh well with their DPS players.
While Joemeister plays a more defensive and shot-calling Lúcio, they have also brought in neptuNo from Cloud9 EU, who is much more aggressive, and is adept at Sombra—providing capabilities. Also joining the support field is Boombox from eUnited, who is regarded as one of the most deadly Zenyatta’s in the game. Lastly is Dayfly, who played Ana predominantly in Ardeont and Afreeca Freecs. The support players of Fusion have quite the accomplishments, but as with the entire team, how these elements are combined is the key question.
On paper, Philadelphia Fusion have the potential to rival the top teams; when looking at players like Boombox, fragi, Carpe and ShaDowBurn, it reads like a dream team, and making this dream a reality will be the primary objective for all involved. Additionally, twelve-man rosters come with the benefit of in-house scrims, allowing private refinement and development of strategies. On the other hand, this size of a roster is unheard of for a Western team; with so many highly skilled players who are used to being the star on their former teams, egos will have to be kept in check.
Uncertainty surrounds all Overwatch League rosters formed without taking a pre-existing core, though the firepower Fusion assembled is enough to rival any team in the competition. Their preseason may have been hampered by player logistics, but when Philadelphia Fusion finally take to the stage, their story will be fascinating to watch.
I spoke to assistant coach Hayes for more of an insight into their preparation:
I’d like to start with what is the most pressing question for a lot of fans: how close are you to having all twelve players together in LA and ready to go?
Hayes: We’re very close to having all 12 here; we have a few final hiccups to overcome, but we should have everybody here by Week 2.
I imagine the delays you experienced combined with the festive break has impacted your preparation quite significantly. How much has this set you back and what does your pre-season preparation look like now?
H: Obviously we haven’t had as much practice time as we would have liked, but we still had the opportunity to practice for a few weeks with the EU players, and get some of the players meshed together in preparation for the season. Now that we have the majority of our players in NA, it’s all about preparing for our first opponents: the Houston Outlaws.
I’ve seen some of the photos of the awesome artwork at the Fusion houses. Could you tell me a bit about your accommodation and practice facilities down there?
H: Sure, we have one player house where the players are living and practicing and one coach house.
The player house is awesome, [and] our player manager has done so well making the players feel at home.
Going into the team itself, you have opted to max out the number of players on your roster. Was this something you planned on doing as you entered the building process, or did it happen more naturally?
H: From the start we wanted to for a 12 man roster just because of the practice possibilities that it opened up, aswell as being able to do in-house scrims to conceal information from other OWL teams.
Big picture, looking at your overall goals for Season 1. What would you define as a successful season for you and the team?
H: Personally I would say a successful season for me would to place top 4, Obviously I’d like the game to have great viewership over the course of the season as well.
Some of the players you have selected are what I’d class as obvious choices in some ways. Players like fragi or Boombox that every team probably would have wanted on their team or at least wanted to trial. While in other areas you have selected less well-known players, one I wanted to ask you about in particular was Eqo. Outside of Team Israel and the occasional ZenGaming match, there isn’t much known about him in the public sphere. Could you tell me a bit about him and what made him stand out compared to other options?
H: Eqo was a player I’d noticed was always playing very well even though he was on weaker teams so I was eager to try him out, he’s smart about the game and is always looking to improve; on top of that he has a diverse hero pool and is a talented flex DPS. I think he will surprise a lot of people.
One final question, which is somewhat inevitable for any team with Korean players in the mix. How are the Koreans settling in and how is their English coming along?
H: The Korean players are settling in well; we have an English tutor in place to develop their English, as well as having them play as much as they can to get used to communicating in English.
Thank you very much for your time and best of luck in your opening games.
The Philadelphia Fusion roster is:
- Lee "Carpe" Jae-hyeok (DPS)
- George "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha (DPS)
- Simon "Snillo" Ekström (DPS)
- Josh "Eqo" Corona (DPS)
- Gael "Poko" Gouzerch (Flex)
- Choi "HOTBA" Hong-joon (Flex)
- Joona "Fragi" Laine (Tank)
- Kim "Sado" Sumin (Tank)
- Joe "Joemeister" Gramano (Support)
- Isaac "Boombox" Charles (Support)
- Alberto "neptuNo" González (Support)
- Park "Dayfly" Jeong-hwan (Support)
- Yann "Kirby" Luu (Head Coach)
- Go "NamedHwi" Se-hwi (Assistant Coach)
- Elliot "Hayes" Hayes (Assistant Coach)
- Ethan "Beezy" Spector (Analyst)