After a tumultuous start to the offseason for the Shanghai Dragons, with the entire player roster and coaching staff leaving while concerns about the Overwatch League’s future in China arose, the season four champions have brought at least one familiar face back for 2023.
The team announced today that it has re-signed coach Moon Byung-chul, an established coach who’s held the head coach position in Shanghai for the 2020, 2021, and 2022 seasons. Moon coached the team through a resurgent 2020 season for the Dragons and through their absolutely dominant 2021 season that resulted in an OWL championship.
But Shanghai’s plans of repeating fell apart in 2022, posting an average regular season record far below the expectations of a reigning champion and a quick exit in the playoffs, despite retaining a vast majority of its championship roster from the year before.
The entire roster itself for Shanghai in 2023 remains to be determined still. Earlier in November, the team parted ways with most of the starting roster, including some big names like Fleta, Fate, and Void. The team appeared at first to be retaining DPS player LIP and legendary support duo Iazyaki and LeeJaeGon, but less than two weeks later, LIP left for Atlanta Reign, while the two support players signed with a stacked Boston Uprising team.
The team also announced it is hosting “open trials” for its roster.
The Overwatch League’s presence in China itself is currently in a state of flux following the expiration of 15-year-old licensing agreements between Blizzard and Chinese PC and mobile gaming company NetEase last month. The deal expiring resulted in the “suspension” of games in China and was followed by the league’s decision to delay the start of the free agency period, which upset some teams.
The free agency deadline is still set for March 13, 2023.