The Atlanta Reign are one of the two American expansion teams in the second season of the Overwatch League. With their red, black, and white colours that are similar to their cities’ other teams, they hope to make a mark. This team has a clear Korean backbone, but is also relatively diverse. Not to mention, one of the most hyped signings of the entire off-season. But who exactly are all these players and how will the team fare?
Up until February 14th, I’m going to go over each team and what’s changed since the inaugural season. Each team will have it’s own article, going over which players and coaches left, and who has replaced them. After going over the changes and my opinions on them, I’m going to rate them much like I did in my weekly series last season. This rating will be a little more in depth, considering I have more time than a week to look over the teams, especially the new ones.
Let’s look into the roster of the Atlanta Reign.
Damage players (DPS)
The DPS players for the Atlanta Reign are Daniel “Dafran” Francesca, Joon “Erster” Jeong and Ilya “NLaaeR” Koppalov.
First off, let’s focus on the biggest signing of the off-season: Dafran. For those who don’t know, Dafran is a long time Overwatch player and has had previous experience in competitive play. He last played for Selfless Gaming, a now extinct team that got top three finishes in any competition they played in. That roster turned out to have immense talent, with future Overwatch League players such as Daniel “dhaK” Martínez, Jay “sinatraa” Won. It also held popular streamer Jeff “emongg” Anderson, who decided to not play for teams after Selfless shut down. Similarly to Emongg, Dafran also retired, but because of something worse. He held a lot of controversy back then for throwing broadcast games, something he eventually admitted.
Dafran’s skill playing hitscan is undeniable; known as someone with godly aim playing Tracer, Soldier: 76, McCree and more. When he starting hinting that after over a full year of non-competitive play that he was thinking about joining the league, people got excited. Much like his former teammate Emongg, he grew a massive fan-base due to his streams and great play in Overwatch. So when the Atlanta Reign finally announced their full roster and Dafran made a surprise appearance at the end, the news blew up. Even though people still question the controversy behind him and whether he can handle the pressure, the skill he has might be enough.
Next in line is Erster. He is part of that Korean backbone I mentioned earlier, coming from the best team in Chinese Contenders: Lucky Future Zenith. He can play Genji and Pharah, more a projectile than a hitscan player, but still able to flex. Being young and talented is very good for this team, but all these three players have different languages. Being great by yourself is amazing, but it doesn’t win you games. Teamwork is key, and this applies to all three of these players. One or two of them are going to have to learn certain words or phrases or else this might go down fast.
Lastly is NLaaeR, a Russian player formerly of North American Contenders team Last Night’s Leftovers. The signing at first might seem weird until you realize that the Reign bought the team and spot of LNL in Contenders. They ended up branding it into an academy team that just recently reached the finals of Season 3. This did happen almost a month after they announced this acquisition, but that means they clearly had their sights on NLaaeR ahead of that time. He mainly played Tracer, McCree and Widowmaker for LNL, but the team didn’t reach anything notable until just today (January 11), which was without him. To me, I see NLaaeR as someone who can replace Dafran if he can’t play for whatever reason. They share similar hero pools, but Dafran seems like the more skilled player. NLaaeR might be a substitute to start, but it might change quickly.
The tank players for the Atlanta Reign are Hyun-jun “Pokpo” Park, Dong-hyeong “DACO” Seo and Blake “Gator” Scott.
Starting off with the tank duo of Pokpo and Daco, they come as a pair from the Korean Contenders team Element Mystic. Element Mystic was always a team contending against the best teams in the playoffs, but never made it farther than the semifinals in either season. One thing fans of them would agree on is that Pokpo and Daco were great for the team. Pokpo is the main tank, playing Winston, Orisa and Reinhardt while Daco played D.Va. The synergy between them is what Atlanta needs, and hopefully they can work well with their new teammates. Hopefully they can all work their language issues out and get a cohesive team along with the tank-line.
Lastly is Gator, the only American player on the roster along with the only two-way player on the roster. What that means is that he has a contract with both the Reign and their academy team. That essentially means that he can get called up and sent down freely. He’s a main tank player, known for his Reinhardt and help creating the now dominant three tank three support composition. He was coaching and playing for the GOATS team that the composition is named after, and most recently also playing for Last Night’s Leftovers. He currently is playing for Atlanta Academy, helping them reach the finals of Season 3 in their first season in Contenders. I don’t see him replacing Pokpo unless he has to leave for some reason. Alas, he will be very handy as a substitute.
The support players for the Atlanta Reign are Steven “Kodak” Rosenberger and Petja “Masaa” Kantanen.
These signings are both weird but both very good. Starting off with Kodak, he was the bright light on Germany’s 2019 World Cup endeavor. Before that, he played for European Contenders team 6nakes, a mediocre team in that region that disbanded. He is very flexible, playing Zenyatta, Ana, Mercy and even D.Va when needed. His flexibility isn’t the problem, it’s the possible complications with language that I’ve already mentioned. Also, the importance of the coordination with his tanks and his fellow support. Masaa is the only other support player in the team.
Speaking of Masaa, he is a Finnish player who formerly played for the European Contenders team Gigantti. His main hero is Lucio, but can also flex onto Mercy when needed. He was part of that game Gigantti team that dominated European Contenders, but left to join the Reign. Off of what I’ve seen, he deserves a chance to start on a Overwatch League team. But hopefully, his English or Korean is good enough for his team’s sake.
Starting Team and Prediction
The starting roster for the Atlanta Reign should be Dafran and Erster on DPS, Pokpo and Daco on tank, and Kodak and Masaa on support.
The reason I chose this roster is that the Koreans will work well together and the rest are the best for their roles. Another key thing to mention is that the head coach for this team is the one from Last Night’s Leftovers, Brad “Sephy” Rajani. He also used to be the head coach of the San Francisco Shock, so he has experience. But that leads to another issue: no players in this team have previous Overwatch League experience. Most other expansion teams have at least one ex-Overwatch League player. This isn’t crucial, but does make a difference. But how will they fare in their first season in the league?
Continuing with my rating system, I’m using the classic ‘out of 10’ like I used to in my weekly reviews. Here’s a link if you want to read it, but it’s a bit different now that I’m grading teams based on how their team was built without any (or very little) game experience.
I’m giving this team a 7/10. The core of Korean players along with mixed in talent from over the globe seems interesting. Getting Dafran is very nice for popularity and skill. But Dafran is as much a risk as a bonus. Not to mention, the communications will have to work well fast, with their roster having six different languages. This team will have to work well together fast, but their potential is high.
Agree with my opinion? Think I’m completely wrong? Leave a comment with your ideas.