Over the last three weeks, the 12 teams of the Overwatch League have begun to figure out their strengths and weaknesses, evaluating not only each win and loss, but also other teams’ moves and decisions.
As the quarter-mark of the inaugural season approaches, teams now have an opportunity to bolster their rosters, either through free-agent signings or trades.
Monday, Jan. 22, marked the beginning of the free-agent signing period, during which teams can ink any eligible player not currently signed to an Overwatch League contract. New players may be added to a team’s active roster beginning Feb. 21—aka the start of Stage 2.
The Florida Mayhem have had their eye on this opportunity since they revealed the league’s smallest roster.
"We are happy with our core, but we'd like to add some depth in multiple positions, both as insurance for when a player gets ill and to create some healthy competition,” said Mayhem head coach Vytis "Mineral" Lasaitis. “Everyone is also anticipating a pretty drastic meta shift going into Stage 2, with [changes to] Mercy. It's important for us to stay ahead of the curve and ensure that we're optimally equipped to play any composition imaginable, without having to dilute Hero pools of the players we already have.”
For other teams, like the Shanghai Dragons, the free-agent signing period represents a chance to become stronger overall.
“We have been assessing candidates globally in a meticulous manner, according to the management team’s roster-strengthening plan for the transfer window,” team manager Yang Van said. “We are making good progress on contract negotiations, and further news will be shared as soon as possible.”
Van added that Shanghai is looking for reinforcements at specific positions, with a focus on widening the team’s Hero pool. Other teams might be making smaller adjustments based on their understanding of the meta, which could see a shift with the aforementioned upcoming balance changes to Mercy, as well as Junkrat.
In addition to free agents, teams may take advantage of the trade window starting Feb. 11, the day after the end of Stage 1. Trades haven’t been common in Overwatch esports thus far, so it remains to be seen how active organizations will be in this area, especially considering the secrecy around scrim strategies and emphasis on synergy.
"I think the fact that there are many teams in the league that don't have full rosters [12 players] will ensure a relatively busy signing window,” Mineral said. “Teams that feel they might be underperforming could very well look for answers in free agency or within the existing Overwatch League talent pool. It'll be interesting to follow and evaluate."
Both the free-agent signing period and the trade window will close on April 3, the day before the start of Stage 3, and rosters will lock for the remainder of the season and playoffs. All new signings and trades must be approved by the league office before taking effect.