The Overwatch League team in Paris is representing French fans and they’re carrying the torch for Europe. While most other teams have dipped into the immensely deep Korean talent pool to bolster their rosters for 2019, Julien “Daemon” Ducros has scouted nearer to home to create the most European team in the Overwatch League. Often overlooked as a region, this is a chance for EU to prove themselves on the world stage.

When building the Paris roster, Daemon said he was looking for potential above all else, whether that means in skill, discipline, or development.

“Even the gems that aren’t polished yet—by bringing them into a high-level league, and with actual good coaching, these raw gems will shine,” he said. “I think that I’ve got every piece that I feel were the most interesting ones in Europe. All of the players have great potential, great leadership skills, they have the kit that I want a player to have.

“I think we’re coming as underdogs,” he added. “It’s going to be a really tough season and I need [the players] to not focus too much on victory or defeat, or being a sub or a starter, but focus on training as the most important thing to achieve those results.”

Head Coach

Paris is the brainchild of head coach Daemon, the young and thoughtful analyst who helped lead the Los Angeles Valiant to a second-place finish in the Overwatch League’s inaugural season. While working with Team France at the 2018 Overwatch World Cup, Daemon has scouted four promising French players to build a foundation for Paris. With his excellent brain for the game and firsthand experience with a highly successful coaching structure in the Overwatch League, Daemon will be looking for success on his own terms this time around. Vive la France!

DPS

Terence “Soon” Tarlier is the most experienced player on the team, having been at the forefront of the French scene since Overwatch began. He worked with Daemon last season on the Valiant and believed in his vision enough to follow him to Paris; that rapport should help solidify Paris’ new DPS trio. Soon is likely to be a mainstay on hitscan heroes—though his versatility should not be discounted—and will use his focus and work ethic to dominate.

Georgi “Shadowburn” Gushcha, formerly of the Philadelphia Fusion, was one of the most popular players going into the Overwatch League, known for his incredible Genji and Pharah play in particular. His safe playstyle kept him on the bench for a majority of the season for Philadelphia after Josue “Eqo” Corona took over, but don’t think for a moment that the rust has set in. Shadowburn is still a monstrous player and will be a dangerous asset for Paris.

Unlike his two experienced DPS partners, Karol “Danye” Szczesniak is a Contenders player with little success to his name. Only when watching him play is it evident that Danye frequently stands out over his teammates in Contenders. Most recently, fans may know him as the DPS carry for Team Poland at the Overwatch World Cup, where their best result was a 2-3 loss to Germany. Nevertheless, Daemon has identified “huge talent” in Danye and speaks highly of his ability to play a huge range of heroes, a skill which will help Paris navigate the many meta shifts of Overwatch.

Nicolas “Nicogdh” Moret is another highly flexible player for Paris. He has consistently featured on the best French teams in Overwatch since the start of 2017, finding success alongside many of his Paris teammates at various times in his career. Nicogdh is usually seen on Genji and D.Va, allowing him to fill in the DPS or flex tank position as required. With all four of these DPS-capable players on Paris’ roster, they are well prepared for any shift to a DPS- or tank-centric meta.

Tanks

Finnbjorn “Finnsi” Jonasson is the second player from the Valiant to join Daemon on his Parisian venture. He was stuck in Indy “Space” Halpern’s shadow last season, so fans may be unaware of the powerful Zarya that Finnsi is hiding along with a capable D.Va. He is expected to be sharing flex tank duties with Nicogdh or Danye depending on the meta—for example picking up Zarya with Nicogdh’s D.Va in a triple-tank composition—and in theory this rotation should never leave Paris without an answer when the patch changes. In more standard metas, however, Finnsi is likely going solo against the best flex tanks in the world, and he must demonstrate the talent that Daemon clearly sees in him.

Both main tanks for Paris have a lot of potential locked away. Benjamin “Benbest” Dieulafait was one of the most improved Contenders players in the last year, refining his Reinhardt, in particular, until he could be considered the best main tank in France. Likewise, young Finn Roni “LhCloudy” Tiihonen has slowly gained respect in Europe with Team Gigantti, making the playoffs in each season of Contenders; his main tank play and leadership was central to that success. Daemon will try to take arguably the best two main tanks from Contenders EU and turn them into Overwatch League crushers, but there is a huge difference between Contenders and the best players in the world. There will be immediate pressure to perform when either one takes the stage.

On that front, Daemon said, “I brought these two players because they have value and unique qualities that are different from one to another. Benbest is one of the best Reinhardts I’ve seen, even in the Overwatch League, and LhCloudy has a really good Winston as well as a good Orisa because he has a smart mind for the game. Both of them have [good] qualities and weaknesses as well—and I have in mind to destroy those weaknesses by giving them the chance to work together.”

Supports

The fourth French player scouted for Paris, Damien “Hyp” Souville has extensive experience playing with main tank Benbest and DPS Nicogdh on Eagle Gaming, the recent winners of Contenders EU Season Two. When World Cup teams scrimmaged against Eagle, it was claimed publicly that they were the best team in the world at triple-triple compositions, and an unsung hero in that setup was Hyp. His thoughtful positioning and individual skill on Moira, Ana, and Zenyatta allowed Eagle to switch seamlessly between different styles of play, supporting their tank line defensively in one fight and applying overwhelming pressure in the next. With no replacement on the roster, Hyp will be expected to deliver quietly excellent performances in every match.

Since his return to the support role, Harrison “Kruise” Pond has been jogging his way back down the path to pro. He qualified for Contenders EU Season One, then hopped over to North America to help Toronto Esports make the final and then the quarterfinals in two successive seasons, both times stopped by the eventual champions. Kruise is known for his leadership and mechanical ability; he will be a strong voice in the backline to guide the team and demand results.

Gameplay

Daemon has built a team that he can mold to play a disciplined, cerebral style. Though there are many players taking the Overwatch League stage for the first time, Paris is sprinkled with sensible veterans, and the team should be highly motivated to prove their worth.

On paper, Paris seems to be DPS-heavy, and that’s where their star power lies. Soon, Nicogdh, and Shadowburn have played both hyper-aggressive styles and more defensive strategies, and it will be interesting to see whether Daemon leans into the raw power he has on the DPS side. Will he style Paris more similarly to the Fusion’s all-out aggression or the Valiant’s choking map control?

Those decisions may depend on the tank and support lines, where star power has been rejected in favor of coachability and potential. So much depends on that crucial flex tank position, assuming D.Va remains in the meta as it has since release, and either Finnsi or Nicogdh will be tasked with keeping the main tank and backline alive. Flexibility can be a double-edged sword—if this position falls through without a dedicated starter, then Paris will be in trouble.

Without any inside knowledge, I would expect Paris to begin by fielding Frenchmen Soon, Nicogdh, and Hyp alongside Shadowburn and Kruise as the primary lineup, hoping to build on existing synergy. These players can be relied on to perform, but Paris’ playoff chances really hinge on Daemon’s ability to craft Benbest, LhCloudy, Finnsi, and Danye into powerhouse players by the midseason. If that can be done, I see Paris as a playoff contender for the 2019 season.