After years of relative mediocrity in the Overwatch League, the Houston Outlaws had enough. Thanks to a massive offseason roster reconstruction by way of former player and current general manager Matt “Coolmatt” Iorio, the team is looking better than ever.
The Outlaws leaned into a mixed roster model, bringing in talent from the Overwatch Contenders scene and focusing on flexibility over intense specialization. New management and players may finally be the change that drags the team away from stubborn ideas, compositions, and mindsets that have held Houston in the lower half of the leaderboard.
Anything would be better than the Outlaws’ 2020 plan of slapping a DPS player on main tank, but the team massively upgraded in that department. Houston recruited off-tank Shin “PIGGY” Min-jun and main tank Cho “JJANGGU” Myung-heum from Talon Esports, a successful organization from Contenders Korea.
Despite the Outlaws’ Western-heavy roster, having a tank line with built-in synergy and a shared language opens up the possibility for a level of coordination the team hasn’t had since season one.
Flex support William “Crimzo” Hernandez is now a Texas traitor, moving from the Dallas Fuel to the Houston roster this season. Underused on the Fuel, this season is Crimzo’s chance to show fans what he can do with a better-organized team.
He’ll be joined by main support Enrique “Joobi” Triana, the first collegiate player to go directly to the Overwatch League. Though he’s young, Joobi has more Overwatch Contenders experience behind him than many of his peers.
Concerns about a lack of flexibility and no backup players are warranted here, but rumors are that player-coach and former caster Jake Lyon may make an appearance as a substitute healer despite his DPS background.
Last year’s DPS line was plagued by constant player and role swaps. But now, flex DPS staples like João Pedro “Hydration” Goes Telles are back where they belong. Kyle “KSF” Frandanisa, formerly of the Los Angeles Valiant, will join Hydration in the flex role. Combined, they have a hero pool with some serious depth.
Former Guangzhou Charge player Lee “Happy” Jung-woo has also joined Houston to offer his hitscan expertise. Happy may click heads well, but all eyes will likely be on perpetual carry Dante “Danteh” Cruz. He’s proven that he’s dangerous when unsupported in enemy backlines. Imagine how much damage Danteh can do with a full team behind him.
This myriad of roster changes has made the Houston Outlaws a better, more flexible team heading into 2021. With a Western rush meta likely, dependent on aggression and quick decisions, Houston appears set to have a successful start to the season.
In the past, the Outlaws have ruined favorable starts in stages and games by falling prey to hubris. They must be careful to not fly too close to the sun if the meta benefits them. The addition of players like PIGGY, JJANGGU, and KSF will likely give the Outlaws enough flexibility to truly adjust to new metas if the team can be humble enough to learn and adapt.
The Houston Outlaws will open the Overwatch League season with a Battle for Texas showdown against the Dallas Fuel at 2pm CT on April 16.