When I think of Overwatch League, I think of the powerhouse team (and my personal favorite), the New York Excelsior! I have been a fan of the NYXL since the inaugural season. I will never forget my first-time seeing Pine pop off as Mcree on Illios, I will never forget seeing JJonak become inaugural season MVP, and I will never forget watching Saebeyolbe lead his team through good and bad times. Even though their playoff and grand final’s dreams were crushed early in 2018, last year they made it to the top three before getting beat out by the San Francisco Shock. In this offseason, there have been quite a few changes to the NYXL player roster and coaching staff. So, after two years of potential to make it all the way, will this be the year that the NYXL finally makes it to the grand finals?
So, I want to start with the coaching staff changes, since these don’t get quite as much attention as the player switches. First off, the NYXL head coach, Pavane, left to join the London Spitfire as an assistant coach. Pavane has had a decent record with his coaching since 2016 when he led his team to first place in the IEM Gyeonggi Invitational, and when he coached his teams, LuxuryWatch Red and Blue, through several APEX seasons. The place of head coach for the NYXL is now held by IMT, who has been assistant coaching for New York since the inaugural season. I hope to see him really breakthrough this year as head coach since the NYXL Twitter account credits him with a lot of their playoff performance last season. Finally, Excelsior added previous Seoul Dynasty coach, WhyNot, as an assistant coach. WhyNot has not only been a coach or a few years but started out as a support player for MVP Infinity in APEX Challengers Season 4.
This offseason, NYXL has made some surprising cuts, the first of which is Fl0w3R. Fl0w3R joined the Excelsior before the 2019 season, and there was a lot of excitement following his addition. However, the NYXL roster included too many DPS players and he didn’t see much playing time during last season, so he on the market as a free agent for the 2020 season. The team also cut their consistent off-tank, MekO, who has been a part of the roster since the inaugural season. This was one of the biggest surprises for me, I felt in the 2019 season Mano was a bit inconsistent, but I didn’t expect either of them to not be part of the team. They also said goodbye to the big boss himself, Pine. Pine has a rocky history with the OWL after he broke out in 2018, he quickly became a fan favorite. However, the pressure of the league didn’t sit well with Pine as he had to take a break due to his mental health, but after this year he officially retired from the OWL and is going back to streaming.
Even though my heart will never fully recover from Pine’s departure, the NYXL has signed some real talent to get their team into a better spot in the 2020 season. The first person that they signed is HOTBA, who is a familiar face in the OWL. HOTBA played with the Philadelphia Fusion in the inaugural season, where he went to the Grand Finals, and last year he was off tank for the Guangzhou Charge. He not only offers a lot in terms of league familiarity, but he has also played with existing members of the NYXL, such as Nenne. The next player they brought into the Excelsior family as a support player is Mandu. Mandu is new to the OWL, but he was a part of O2 Blast, a team that was runner up in Contenders Season 1. Finally, we have the addition of another off-tank, BiaNcA. BiaNcA has been on the New York academy team for a little over a year but was a part of the successful contender’s team of MVP Space.
I know that without, MekO and Pine, I will feel a little empty watching the NYXL play this year. However, with coaching staff changes and the roster shakeup, I believe that New York will remain the entertaining powerhouse that fans have come to know.