To help get you ready for the 2019 Overwatch League season, we’ve assembled previews for all 20 teams competing for the championship. First up, one of the eight new expansion teams.
Joined Overwatch League: September 2018
Home and Away Jerseys:
MEET THE DEFIANT
We asked Toronto general manager Jaesun Won to tell us more about the team:
What makes your team stand out from other sports/esports teams in your market?
Like all teams, we put in the work. But we’d never say, “We put in more time or work harder than anybody else,” which is something you’ll hear a lot of other teams say. We don’t underestimate our competition. We think they’re training just as hard. Instead, we try to identify areas where we can innovate and lead the pack. Areas that other teams look at us and say, “Hey, that’s a great idea, we should do that, too!” In this way, those other teams will always be lagging behind us. They’ll be learning how to implement those systems and regimens while we’ve already mastered them.
What will your team do that’s special or original in order to connect with, build, and reach fans in your home market?
The Defiant have a deep bench of experienced community builders from both games and traditional sports who know how to run the kinds of engagement programs necessary to hyper-catalyze local evangelists. Whether that’s targeted meetups around local events, viewing parties, or networking with universities and clubs—there are many opportunities to pursue in building that local fanbase. We’re looking at them all!
What was the philosophy in constructing the team’s roster?
Head coach Beom-Joon “Bishop” Lee and I wanted to look for players with three key assets: mechanical ability, team synergy, and coachability. We first conducted several online trials, where we could discover the best mechanical players. Then those that made it through online trials joined us at a boot camp where we wanted to see how they would do in a team environment. Some mechanically great players didn't make it on the team because of their lack of team synergy with the other players. Finally, we wanted players who were receptive to the suggestions and input from the coaching staff. It was a long process, but I hope that our hard work pays off.
What are the specific expectations and goals for the team in the 2019 season?
We want to win it all, of course, and expect we’ll do very well. If you’re reading Reddit, you’ll see the Defiant fans think we have a high-performance squad, while others have mixed feelings. It will all come down to how well we adapt as a team—a new team that hasn’t played together as a unit before. We’re doing all the right things to maximize that transition and win.
Find out what our team thinks about the Defiant’s lineup.
More: 2019 Roster
KEYS TO SUCCESS
Overwatch League analyst Josh “Sideshow” Wilkinson offers his thoughts on what Toronto needs to focus on this season:
- Toronto is the dark-horse team this season. Their core players are relatively unknown to the public, and even the most experienced among them were overlooked in 2018, but this was exactly the plan for the Defiant’s scouts. Head coach Bishop, along with his knowledgeable Korean assistant coaches, brought in Dennis “Barroi” Matz, founder of Winston’s Lab, to identify rising talent for Toronto. With Barroi’s stats-based scouting and fantastic awareness of upcoming talent, the coaches have been able to implement their philosophy for how top teams should be formed. Polishing these gems is their primary key to success; the Defiant will live or die by their scouting.
- Chief among these rising stars are Seung-Hyun “Ivy” Lee and Kyeong-Mu “Yakpung” Cho, the flex DPS and main tank for the Toronto Defiant. Ivy is an extremely flexible rookie with high mechanical skill and sound decision-making, and should be considered one of the top three DPS players coming into the league in 2019. Ivy’s heights could match the best in the Overwatch League with a strong team behind him. As for Yakpung, the Defiant’s coaching staff believes he was the best available Winston in 2019—intelligent with his engagement but fiercely aggressive with excellent Primal Rage skill. His playstyle fits the main-tank carry style that the Defiant were looking for.
- To balance the inexperience of their rookie players, Toronto signed Se-Hyun “Neko” Park and 21-year-old team captain Kang-Jae “Envy” Lee, both of whom played on top teams during the 2018 Overwatch League season. Both players are solid choices for the roster; Envy should have good chemistry with an aggressive and decisive main tank, and Neko was a top-three Zenyatta player in 2018. Perhaps their most important role, however, is ensuring that a positive team culture is passed down from the coaches to the rookies, preventing burnout and interpersonal issues from developing in a long and sometimes grueling season.
- Unfortunately, the Defiant won’t have Neko while he serves a three-game suspension to start the season. Toronto’s best chance at success relies on catching teams early on while the competition is unprepared for their strength—similar to what the Boston Uprising did last season. Neko's absence against the Houston Outlaws, Atlanta Reign, and Los Angeles Valiant—three winnable games—is a major challenge. Toronto does not have another Zenyatta, so it’s up to Jae-Yoon “Aid” Ko or Joo-Sung “Roky” Park to step up and play the role.
Catch the Toronto Defiant in action in their season opener against the Houston Outlaws on Friday, February 15, at 4 p.m. PST. All 2019 season matches will be available live and on demand on overwatchleague.com, the Overwatch League app, our Twitch channel, MLG.com, and the MLG app.
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