The debut of the New York Excelsior in the Overwatch League pre-season will be a highly anticipated matchup against the Boston Uprising. This will carry forth into the new age of esports a centuries-old rivalry between the two northeast cities.
The New York Excelsior inaugural team is largely composed of players from the South Korean team LuxuryWatch Blue. LW Blue was a top tier team that competed in South Korea’s OGN Overwatch APEX system. Their best placement was third in APEX season two. The entire team withdrew from APEX season four in August to begin preparations for their Overwatch League participation.
The inaugural roster for the New York Excelsior is:
Yeon-joon “ArK” Hong – Support
Tae-hong “Mek0” Kim – Tank
Sung-hyeon “JJoNak” Bang – Support
Joong-hwa “Janus” Song – Tank
Jong-yeol “Saebyeolbe” Park – DPS
Hye-sung “Libero” Kim – DPS/Flex
Dong-gyu “Mano” Kim – Tank
Do-hyeon “Pine” Kim – Support/DPS
Additionally, it has been confirmed that Yeon-oh “Fl0w3R” Hwang, the DPS maven of the Overwatch World Cup Champion Korean National Team, will travel and train with the team but will not compete in season one due to the age restriction. Having been referred to as “one of the best players in the world” by Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty of the Houston Outlaws (and a native New Yorker), his debut in season two will be highly anticipated.
During the inaugural season, the players expected to make the biggest impact are Fl0w3R’s fellow national teammates Mano and Saebyeolbe. Mano is an incredible tank player able to run either Reinhardt or Winston with equal effect. His ability to play a wide range of tanks is a tremendous asset for the team.
Saebyeolbe is known for his outstanding Tracer play, however, he has also illustrated himself as an excellent Widowmaker. Saebyeolbe has performed consistently at a high level in both APEX and the World Cup.
Without Fl0w3R in the mix, it is anticipated that Pine will step in as Widowmaker for the critical opening moments and round out the DPS side for New York Excelsior. Pine is also a very capable support player, so do not expect him to strictly stick to a DPS role.
Other players to watch would be Mek0, Libero, and JJoNak. Mek0’s D.va play was often the center point for LW Blue’s strategies. There is no reason to think we won’t see similar tactics on Control maps in the League. Mek0 also has demonstrated solid play as Roadhog and Zarya so you can expect the choice of tank to be dependent on the situation and balancing out with Mano.
Libero has demonstrated a wide range of capabilities playing different heroes, illustrated by playing 14 different heroes in APEX Season two and being one of the first to utilize Doomfist in a pro match. Libero looks to be the one to play Moira for NYXL, she’s expected to quickly join the meta once that patch hits the pro scene.
JJoNak is a standout on the roster because he joined the LW Blue team in August 2017 prior to their transition to the New York Excelsior. He has not yet played a professional match with the team. He is a popular Korean streamer (with over 30k followers on his Twitch) and has consistently held high places on the Korean leaderboards. Expect him to join Pine in the Flex/Support roles as situations warrant. In an AMA Saebyeolbe also cited JJoNak as a player to watch because “he’s awesome!”
As mentioned at the start of this article, the New York Excelsior debut in pre-season against the Boston Uprising on December 7th at 9:00 pm EST with this regional rivalry sure to set the tone for the season on both sides. The matchup agains the Seoul Dynasty promises to be exciting, though it’s not on the schedule yet. The Dynasty have signed the other half of the Korean national team, making this matchup a budding rivalry.
While that intense matchup may very well be a preview of the Overwatch League’s post-season, there is still a whole season to play and therefore a chance for this team to move ever upward.