If any Overwatch League team embodies the “always a bridesmaid, never a bride” saying, it’s the Philadelphia Fusion. The team has always rallied to the top of the leaderboard, climbing up before inevitably being cut down by a formidable opponent.
After a rough performance in last year’s Grand Finals bracket, the Fusion made some big changes—like moving halfway around the world. With a home base now located in South Korea, Philadelphia will be competing in the East region of the Overwatch League against teams like the Shanghai Dragons and Hangzhou Spark.
Everything looked perfect for the Fusion; they were expected to be a powerhouse in the East region, fighting against Shanghai for the crown. Then COVID-19 variants spread across Europe, trapping nearly half of the team’s mixed roster in their home countries. As a result, Philadelphia has had to take on new players in record time and try to adjust to a constantly-changing atmosphere.
For the past three years, Kim “Mano” Dong-gyu served as the consistent, calm main tank for the New York Excelsior. Now, he’s joined up with the Fusion to start a new adventure amid possibly chaotic DPS and support swaps. If anyone can handle that pressure, it’s Mano. He may not have the flashy Earthshatter statistics of other main tanks, but he knows how to make space for impressive DPS players.
Legendary D.Va expert Gael “Poko” Gouzerch will eventually return for his fourth year on the Fusion roster, but he’s stuck in France’s intense lockdown for the time being. Former teammate Choi “HOTBA” Hong-jun, who was a critical part of Philadelphia’s inaugural season Grand Finals run, has rejoined the team to fill in for Poko. HOTBA is an impressive off-tank in his own right and can easily wrangle a starting spot even after things get back to normal.
Flex support Kim “Alarm” Kyeong-bo nabbed the league’s Rookie of the Year award in 2020 and likely has his sights set on MVP this year. His clutch, DPS-like Zenyatta and Ana play was a treat to watch last year.
Alarm’s playstyle meshed perfectly with main support Daniel “FunnyAstro” Hathaway’s wild Lúcio antics, creating one of the Overwatch League’s most devastating backline duos. For the time being, veteran main support Yang “tobi” Jin-mo will be taking over those duties for the team. Tobi’s passive and consistent style is almost the exact opposite of FunnyAstro’s, which may either be a boon or a bust depending on how the team adjusts.
Few things are ever promised in the Overwatch League. Phenom DPS Lee “Carpe” Jae-hyeok clicking heads is one of those rare, guaranteed outcomes fans can count on. Every year it seems like Carpe tries to clutch his way to an MVP title and 2021 will likely not be any different.
His fellow DPS players, Josue “EQO” Corona and former Vancouver Titans standout Niclas “sHockWave” Jensen, are both stranded in Europe’s visa hell. Enter former San Francisco Shock flex DPS legend Kim “Rascal” Dong-jun looking for a chance to prove himself on a new team. Even if the team synergy isn’t outstanding just yet, a DPS duo of Carpe and Rascal should be terrifying to pretty much everyone.
A full 2021 outlook is difficult to make for the Philadelphia Fusion at the moment. Everything currently rides on the team’s ability to adapt with its new additions, namely those who differ from the Fusion norm, like tobi and Rascal. Despite all of these devastating changes, fans still expect perfection from the Philly squad.
Luckily for them, the Fusion’s management has chosen impressive “substitutes” to step in. While tobi is a much “slower” support in comparison to FunnyAstro, a true veteran of the esport is a good choice to step in and show up when the team needs it. Rascal learned new heroes in record time for the Shock and can likely do the same with whatever Philadelphia requires.
If the Fusion stays afloat without its European core, East region teams should be terrified thinking of what Philadelphia will look like as one cohesive unit.
Philadelphia’s first game of the season is against the Seoul Dynasty at 7am CT on April 17.