Hangzhou Spark Bring on Fresh Talent for 2021 Season
Hangzhou put on a decent performance this year, finishing the season in the middle of the pack in the APAC region with an 18-10 record. In a bid to improve on that 2020 performance, Spark made a number of roster moves ahead of the 2021 season. Thus far in the off-season, the team has released six players and signed six new players to take their place. With the notable departures of starting players like BeBe and Ria, as well as the addition of new talent like Min-soo “SeoMinSoo” Seo and Se-won “BERNAR” Shin, the Hangzhou core lineup is looking very different heading into next season.
Hangzhou kicked off their off-season moves on October 17th, releasing five players. Those five players were:
- Flex DPS player Gihyeon “Ado” Chon
- Flex DPS player Jaehwan “Adora” Kang
- Off Tank player Seong-Wook “Ria” Park
- Flex DPS player Sang-hyeon “SASIN” Song
- Flex Support player Hui-chang “BeBe” Yoon.
Of these players, only BeBe and Ria saw a significant amount of playing time in 2020. BeBe was the starting Flex Support player for Spark for the past two years, during which time he proved himself to be one of the best Zenyatta and Ana players in the world. He has since been signed by the Washington Justice. Ria was the starting Off-Tank player for Spark during the 2019 and part of the 2020 season, but he was eventually benched in June due to a serious wrist injury. It is unclear if his release is due to continued medical issues, or if Spark just wanted to find new talent for their Off-Tank role.
DPS players Ado, Adora, and Sasin received almost no playing time this year, since Spark favored Kyeong-bo “GodsB” Kim and Minho “Architect” Park for their starting DPS players. That being said, Sasin did get the nod to play Zarya a few times during the season after Ria’s injury. These players were presumably cut because their specialities are redundant with other players on the team and Spark wanted to make room for new talent.
Sung-jun “QoQ” Yu also left the team on November 13th. QoQ was signed in June and was formerly a starting member of the Korean Contenders team RunAway. QoQ was brought up midseason to replace Ria, after he went inactive due to his wrist injury.
The first new player Spark signed in the off-season was Zheng “Shy” Yangjie. He was promoted from Spark’s Korean Contenders team Bilibili Gaming. The Chinese Hitscan DPS player has been competing in professional Overwatch since 2016. He has competed with LGD Gaming, X6 Gaming, Bilibili gaming, and was a member of the Chinese Overwatch World Cup team in 2017 and 2018. 2021 will be his first year competing in the Overwatch League, making him a rookie.
On November 16th, Hangzhou picked up Off-Tank player Jia “LiGe” Chengjie. Before being signed by Spark, he competed with Team CC, Shanghai’s Chinese Contenders team. In the past year, LiGe helped team CC win several events and earn second place at the Overwatch Contenders 2020 Season 2: China tournament in early November.Like Shy, LiGe will be an OWL rookie in this upcoming season.
On November 17th, Spark announced the signing of yet another rookie, Flex Support player Jeong-ho “MCD” Lee. MCD formerly competed for Element Mystic player and he specializes in Zenyatta and Ana. He may replace BeBe on the starting roster, though Hangzhou might opt to play Tong “ColdesT” Xiaodong in that role instead.
On November 18th, Spark announced the signing of 17-year-old Main Tank player Young-hyun “Takoyaki” Lee. Despite being young, Takoyaki has been involved in Overwatch since 2018 and has a long resume, competing for Element Mystic, Meta Athena, and most recently Team Diamond. Since he is not yet 18, Takoyaki will not be eligible to play until his birthday on April 18th, 2021.
On November 19th, Hangzhou announced that they had acquired former Spitfire player Se-won “BERNAR” Shin. BERNAR served as the starting Off-Tank player for Spitfire throughout the 2020 season and specializes in Zarya and D.Va. Before joining the Overwatch League, the South Korean player dominated his opposition as a member of Fusion University throughout the 2019 NA Contenders seasons.
Also on November 19th, Spark signed former Vancouver Titans Star DPS player Min-soo “SeoMinSoo” Seo. The South Korean player took the second half of the 2020 season off, after being released by Vancouver Titans in May along with the rest of the roster. He is known as one of the best Flex DPS and he possesses a very deep pool of heroes to draw from. He is a tremendous addition to this Spark Roster.
On the organizational side, Spark will be keeping their coaches and managers. They did, however, make one small change. On October 14th, the team announced that Huang “Xiaogui” Tusung-Yu would be joining the organization as their new Supervisor, while they moved the team’s former supervisor, Longduo, to the BiliBili Gaming’s League of Legends team.
Although Spark made fewer changes than some Overwatch League teams, like Spitfire or Dallas, they still made some significant adjustments to their roster heading into 2021. Time will tell if these changes can help improve their standing in the APAC region.
We will update this article as Hangzhou releases further alterations to their 2021 lineup.