Among all the minor roster changes in the 2020 postseason, the Shanghai Dragons have made the most drastic one of all.
The Shanghai Dragons have announced that five of its players will not have their contracts renewed for the 2021 season. The players are Lu “Diya” Weida, Bae “Diem” Min-Seong, Yang “DDing” Jin-hyeok, Kim “Geguri” Se-Yeon, and Yang “Luffy” Seong-Hyeon. This only leaves seven players on the roster after what seemed like a promising year for the Dragons. It is not as surprising to see Geguri and Diya go as it is to see Diem and DDing leaving the team. Luffy, DDing, and Diem all joined the Shanghai Dragons in 2018 as a move from the organization to revamp their roster.
A letter from our GM Van pic.twitter.com/4MygEC8SMo
— Shanghai Dragons (@ShanghaiDragons) October 26, 2020
A Troubled History
No other team in the Overwatch League has had a run so bittersweet as the Shanghai Dragons. Their first season they made history by going on a 40 game losing streak, unable to claim victory for an entire year. The year 2018 was a rollercoaster for the Dragons, picking up Geguri and making history while still unable to find victory in the League. She was a player surrounded by controversy but proved herself against all of the odds and adversity. Later in the year, they cleared house, leaving only three players on their roster during a portion of the offseason. Diya and Geguri were among the three who remained with the team including Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee who left the team in April of 2019.
Towards the end of 2018, the Dragons needed new blood and so they signed a fresh batch of players and prepared them for the big leaues. On October 22nd, they acquired Diem, DDing, YOUNGJIN, Luffy, Kyung-woo “CoMa” Son, and Joon-hwan “GuardiaN” Cho bringing the squad to a sturdy nine players. The acquisitions didn't bolster the team's performance by much for the 2019 season, partially since it took the Dragons months to adapt to GOATS.
The individual skill of the Shanghai Dragons was strong, but together the team could not find consistency. Their first win was in February against the Boston Uprising, and the Dragons put up a convincing 3-1 victory. Despite this momentous win, the team only won 13 of their matches during the 2019 season and ended up 11th overall. When the season ended the Shanghai Dragons lost more players and made changes that would influence the 2020 season.
2019 Off-season Roster Changes
October 23rd – Young-Jin “YOUNGJIN” Jin leaves the team.
November 4th – Young-jin “Gamsu” Noh leaves the team.
November 8th – Kyung-woo “CoMa” Son leaves the team. Weida “Diya” Lu signs to Team CC as a Two-way player.
November 13th – Byung-sun “Fleta” Kim joins the team from the Seoul Dynasty.
November 25th – Ji-won “Stand1” Seo, Jun-woo “Void” Kang, Jae-gon “LeeJaeGon” Lee, and Jae-won “LIP” Lee join the team.
November was a month of acquisitions that paid off for the team in the long run. Fleta is a world-class DPS player and his addition was the first step in pushing the Dragons in a new direction. At this point, nearly all of the players who had endured the inaugural year had left the team, and with it, the weight of those losses. The 2020 season was a new breed of dragon, and even though they faced the same six teams for the majority of the year.
The Shanghai Dragons made it to the Grand Finals all while exerting absolute dominance over the rest of their region. In an unexpected turn during the Losers’ finals, the Dragons fell to the Seoul Dynasty who stepped their game up significantly. The Dragons are now sitting at only seven players once again, but this is a solid lineup that can take them far. Instead of focusing on acquiring new players and adhering to western metas, Shanghai needs to focus on playing at their pace. When the Dragons can control the pacing of a match, Fleta effortlessly eliminates anyone who steps in his way. Going into 2021, the Shanghai Dragons may be able to finally take home an Overwatch League Championship title, completing their Rocky redemption arc.