Over the past few years, there have been several iterations of the London Spitfire, ranging from wildly successful to blatantly mediocre.
After winning the inaugural season championship, something broke in the original Spitfire lineup and the team switched to an all-rookie squad in 2020. The team failed once again and management decided to bring up a part of the organization that knows success: the team’s Overwatch Contenders academy squad, British Hurricane.
To build this year’s Spitfire roster, management basically copy-pasted British Hurricane into the Overwatch League and added a few sprinkles on top. Considering the team went over a year without dropping a Contenders title, it’s certainly not the worst way to assemble a roster.
Main tank Daniel “Hadi” Bleinagel and off-tank Mikkel “Molf1g” Djernes have been ruining dreams as the British Hurricane’s frontline for nearly two years. As they level up to an Overwatch League tank duo, they’ll have to flex harder than ever before, adapting to competitors outside of the usual EU circuit. Cohesion isn’t everything for a team, but the level of synergy they possess will be a huge advantage going into the season.
While most of the London Spitfire roster is likely excited to make it to the Overwatch League, the team’s support duo has a “been here, done that” attitude. Main support Kristian “Kellex” Keller formerly played for the Boston Uprising and Toronto Defiant while flex support Riku “Ripa” Toivanen spent time on the Los Angeles Gladiators.
Ripa has been a core part of the Hurricane since late 2019, so he’s used to most of the roster. Kellex came out of a short-term retirement to join the Contenders team and immediately found success. While both have shown great improvement under the Hurricane banner, there are still valid concerns that they may not stack up to the league’s best support duos.
Unlike the rest of the roster, the Spitfire’s DPS lineup invites a few new faces to join the British Hurricane party. Former Houston Outlaws flex DPS Jeffrey “blasé” Tsang was one of the first players announced for the upgraded London lineup. Blasé has a deep hero pool that was poorly used on his previous teams, so this could be his time to shine.
Contenders staples like Dominic “Hybrid” Grove and William “SparkR” Andersson (who will be eligible to play in the Overwatch League in June) add a level of rookie hunger to the DPS lineup.
While Hybrid is impressive, the Spitfire acquired a last-minute weapon in the form of Johannes “Shax” Nielsen in February. When the Los Angeles Valiant dissolved, the London Spitfire reached out to give Tracer and Sombra expert Shax a new home. He’s already popped off for the team during offseason matches and will continue to be a clutch player heading into 2021.
There’s no denying that this roster, built on the wildly successful foundations of British Hurricane, has the potential to be fantastic. But potential often doesn’t cut it in the Overwatch League.
Picking up a cohesive roster has certain benefits, like built-in synergy and a level of familiarity in playstyles. But there are also downsides. After winning so often for so long in the Contenders circuit, London should be concerned about falling into a rut and playing only what they know will work. This team was trained in the “no fear press forward” gauntlet of European Overwatch and may struggle with patience against more dive-heavy or sneaky teams.
Despite the downsides, London is going into the Overwatch League season with more cohesion and familiarity than most teams have been able to develop over the past few years. If nothing else, this roster knows each other and they know what it takes to keep their spirits high.
The London Spitfire’s first match is against the Los Angeles Gladiators on April 23 at 3:30pm CT.