In the pursuit of transparency during the offseason, the Overwatch League always releases a list of current contract status updates for every player in the league. And today, the league revealed the 2021 contract update. Fans everywhere now have something to either celebrate or panic about, depending on the player in question.
The list divides players into two basic categories. Players who are “under contract” or have had their “2021 option exercised” by a team will be returning to that team for the 2021 Overwatch League season.
Free agents are also listed along with certain parameters. To become a free agent, a player has to either have a 2021 contract option declined or a current contract expiring. They are then allowed to explore opportunities with other teams in the Overwatch League.
The contract list gives a lot of information to digest at once, so we’ve highlighted a few of the most important details and biggest surprises from this year’s update.
Free agent reveals
Many players in the league have already announced their free-agent status, but the 2021 contract update includes some high-profile reveals.
Well-performing damage dealers like Lee “BQB” Sang-bum of the Florida Mayhem, Lee “Happy” Jeong-Woo of the Guangzhou Charge, and Lee “Ivy” Seung-Hyun of the Philadelphia Fusion are listed as free agents due to expiring contracts. While they may very well return to their home team, other Overwatch League teams could snap them up in the interim.
There seems to be a trend of support players opting for the free agent lifestyle in 2021. Yang “Tobi” Jin-mo, a veteran member of the Seoul Dynasty and a key part of the team’s 2020 Grand Finals run, has declined a 2021 option to rejoin the team. So have Choi “Bdosin” Seung-Tae and Kim “Slime” Seong-Jun, leaving the Dynasty with a barebones support line.
Standout flex support Kwon “Fielder” Jun of the Paris Eternal, referred to as the “ping king” since he played from South Korea during the entire season, is also a free agent due to an expiring contract.
While free agency doesn’t necessarily mean a departure from a team, three more members of the San Francisco Shock could be fielding offers before 2021. Main tank Matthew “Super” DeLisi and flex support Park “Viol2t” Min-ki, standouts of the team’s 2019 and 2020 Grand Finals championship runs, are free agents due to contract expiration. DPS Kim “Rascal” Dong-Jun joins them alongside Grant “Moth” Espe, who already announced his free agency.
Toronto Defiant free agents
The biggest reveal on a team-wide scale has to be that of the Toronto Defiant. The team doesn’t have a roster right now, according to the 2021 contract update. Every single member of the team is a free agent.
Star players like DPS Brady “Agilities” Girardi, DPS Lane “Surefour” Roberts, and flex support Park “Kariv” Young-seo have all had their 2021 options declined. The contract status sheet doesn’t reveal whether the player or the team declined the contract extension, but it’s still telling.
Seven players on the Defiant roster have declined the 2021 option and four have an expiring contract. While nothing is set in stone, it seems that Toronto may be looking at a full-scale rebuild for the 2021 Overwatch League season. They’d join teams like the Houston Outlaws and Dallas Fuel, who appear to be gutting their rosters before the next season begins.
It’s not all doom and gloom, Overwatch League fans. The contract status update also includes the reveal of many high-profile players who will be rejoining their teams for the 2021 season.
Most successful teams from the 2020 season seem to be keeping a majority of their roster intact for 2021. The Philadelphia Fusion has opted to retain DPS standout Jeong “Heesu” Hee-su and main support Daniel “FunnyAstro” Hathaway alongside Lee “Carpe” Jae-Hyeok, who has a three-year contract with the team.
The Shanghai Dragons aren’t letting go of 2020 MVP Kim “Fleta” Byung-sun, but the team has also extended the contracts of steadfast main tank Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok and flex support Kim “Izayaki” Min-chul. Seoul Dynasty veterans Hong “Gesture” Jae-Hui and Park “Profit” Jun-young will also be returning to their team in the 2021 Overwatch League season.
After the team announced the return of four players yesterday, many Boston Uprising fans were concerned about the suspicious absence of a community favorite. Don’t worry, though. Boston is keeping DPS Min “Jerry” Tae-Hee for another year.
Mark your calendars
While the player contract update reveals a lot about where most teams are going during the offseason, the real date to watch is Nov. 13.
Many players in the league remain in stasis since teams can exercise the option to extend their contracts until Nov. 13. After this date, all unsigned players become free agents by default. We’ll have to wait another few weeks to see the true scale of free agency during the 2021 Overwatch League season.