Of all the China-based teams in the Overwatch League, the Guangzhou Charge were hit the hardest by canceled matches amid the coronavirus pandemic. Out of the five homestands canceled in China through February and March, a whopping three events were set to be hosted by Guangzhou.
The multinational team was then split across countries and separated due to visa issues. Despite these setbacks, the roster has reunited and they’re finally ready to play their first matches of the year.
Throughout 2019, the Charge seemed to struggle with team coordination in the face of stronger opponents. As the season progressed and the team began to meld, the roster grew in strength, producing unexpected results. With a ninth-place finish in 2019, Guangzhou are looking to maintain their relatively good standing within the Pacific East division.
Guangzhou is running with a bare-bones tank line in 2020. Main tank Oh “Rio” Seung-pyo returns to the team after an impressive showing in 2019. Despite some setbacks due to the Charge’s cohesion, Rio was able to go head to head with some of the best main tanks in the league.
Off-tank Nam “Cr0ng” Ki-cheol is a new addition, coming from Overwatch Contenders Korea team O2 Blast. These two will have to try to cover the entire roster of tank heroes during Hero Pools.
A highlight of the Charge’s 2019 season was the team’s support line. Flex support Kim “Shu” Jin-seo, in particular, garnered much praise from analysts for his aggressive and consistent Ana gameplay. The “Shu Shu Train,” as the analyst desk called it, will keep rolling in 2020. He’ll be backed up by Qi “Wya” Haomiao, a flex support from Guangzhou’s Contenders China academy team.
One of the biggest signings of the offseason was the Charge’s acquisition of former Philadelphia Fusion main support and veteran player Alberto “NeptuNo” Gonzalez. While the Charge’s main support from 2019, Kim “Chara” Jung-yeon, remains on the roster, NeptuNo will likely see more playing time due to his leadership skills and years of experience.
The Charge’s multinational DPS squad returns in 2020. Lee “Happy” Jung-woo stunned fans and analysts last year by matching up with some of the best DPS players in the league. He’ll return alongside Charlie “Nero” Zwarg, who also impressed with his plays last year. Perpetual Team China standout Ou “Eileen” Yiliang, who participated in the 2019 Overwatch World Cup, is on standby as a substitute DPS.
It took Guangzhou a few stages to get rolling in 2019. They won’t have that privilege in 2020, though, since the team is jumping directly into matches with their Chinese counterparts. After months of canceled matches, expectations are high for teams that have had long periods of time to observe Overwatch League games and develop strategies.
While the Charge’s support line will continue to impress, especially with the addition of Wya, the tank line may suffer due to a lack of options between Rio and Cr0ng. The unpredictable nature of Hero Pools makes it more important than ever for teams to have additional substitutes in the wings if a wild meta crops up. But Guangzhou’s DPS line should be able to flex to whatever heroes are necessary and could show the carry potential of the team as a whole.
The Guangzhou Charge play their first match online against the Shanghai Dragons at 3am CT on March 28.