Overwatch League

Everything to know about Fusion, Overwatch League

Photo: Fusion

Everything to know about Fusion, Overwatch League

The Fusion are about to make history.

When the freshly minted club takes its seat at Blizzard Arena Thursday night against the Houston Outlaws, not only will it be the first-ever Overwatch League match for the team, but it will mark the first geo-based team from Philadelphia to play in any competitive esports league.

“Our team, players and staff are very excited for the season to underway," Fusion coach Yann "Kirby" Luu said. "It'll be our first time on stage for an official Overwatch League match, so the players are impatient to show what they can do."

After missing the preseason as a result of a delayed visa process for players, Thursday will be the first time the Fusion will be in public view and in meaningful competition. That’s also what makes the first match such a unique opportunity.

"I don't think we'll be at our peak just yet, but that most likely applies to all teams in the league," Luu said. "Our fans can expect to see our guys ready to play and hungry to compete."

What is the Overwatch League?
Overwatch League is a seasonal esports competition based on the multi-platform video game Overwatch. Think of it like the NHL, and Overwatch, the game, as ice hockey. Overwatch League is in its inaugural season, which begins on Jan. 10 and runs through mid-June.

This season, the league is broken up into the Pacific and Atlantic Divisions, where 12 teams from around the world will compete twice on a weekly basis at Blizzard Arena in Burbank, California. Like hockey, the matches are six-on-six but played exclusively on PC in a LAN setting (they all sit in the same room using the same equipment).

There will be standings, playoffs and roster alterations, just like any other team-based sports league. And if you haven’t followed esports and wonder how a video game league is sustainable, just look at the team ownership: Robert Kraft, Jeff Wilpon and Stan and Josh Kroenke are all well invested.

The season one Overwatch League champion will pocket $1 million.

Who are the Fusion?
The orange-and-black Fusion are an Overwatch League franchise owned by Comcast-Spectacor, which also owns the Flyers. The Fusion are the most international of any team in the league, made up of 12 players from around the world (only six can start) and a full coaching staff.

While the Fusion feature talented and well-known players like Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee, Georgii “Shadowburn” Gushcha, Isaac “Boombox” Charles and Gael “Poko” Gouzerch, they are considered an unknown entity because of a visa procurement slog.

On paper, the Fusion have the required talent to compete. The spine of the club (Carpe, Shadowburn and Joe “Joemeister” Gramano, come directly from FaZe Clan, a successful club team that made the Overwatch Contenders finals last season. Managed by the same people, Contenders predates Overwatch League and will work like the AHL to Overwatch League’s NHL.

But if you were to prematurely grade this team in NBA terms, the Fusion won’t likely be the Warriors, Celtics or Cavaliers this season, but be somewhere between the Timberwolves, Sixers, Bucks and Hornets.

What to expect.
At 7 p.m. Thursday and at 2 p.m. Saturday against the Spitfires, the Fusion will kick off their season at Blizzard Arena. Each human player on the team selecting one of 26 characters with a specific set of skills. Those skills range from DPS (offense), which takes out the opposition, to tanks and support (defense), which keep teammates alive through blocking and healing.

Think of it like basketball: How a power forward, center and point guard all have unique abilities and all work in tandem toward an objective. And in Overwatch League, teams design strategies to fit their situation into the game, and their strengths.

Each match features a four-map set, all predetermined and all with unique objectives (control, escort, assault, hybrid). The team that claims the most objectives will win the map. It’s kind of like tennis, but with each game taking 20-30 minutes. 

Where to watch or see them
Unlike traditional sports, you won’t find Overwatch League on TV. But you can find all of the league’s matches for free online at OverwatchLeague.com or on Twitch at Twitch.tv/overwatchleague.

If you want an in-person experience, you can watch the Fusion’s match with other fans at Wahoo’s Fish Taco in University City Thursday at 5 p.m.

If you’re feeling really adventurous, you can catch the Fusion live from Blizzard Arena in Burbank. Tickets are on sale for about $30.

Carpe, Shadowburn lead Fusion's 2017 Overwatch League roster


Carpe, Shadowburn lead Fusion's 2017 Overwatch League roster

Days after introducing themselves to the world as the Fusion, Philadelphia and Comcast Spectacor’s Overwatch League eSports team has announced its 2017 roster.

And it’s potent.

“We have worked hard to assemble a strong mix of all-star players and hidden gems that are ready to break out and compete with the world’s best,” said Comcast CEO Dave Scott in the club’s official release on Friday.

Of that group, former Faze Clan members and DPS players Jae "Carpe" Hyeok Lee (who is arguably one of the best DPS players in the world) and George “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, are headliners set to propel the Fusion.

Throw in the strategic mind and top Lucio play of former FaZe support Joe “Joemeister” Gramano, and the Philly team has one of the sturdiest foundations of any club in the league.

“Philly’s strengths will be the core of the FaZe lineup,” said Wilson Xu, former Overwatch Contenders Season 0 manager of You Guys Get Paid and current Overwatch editor at Gusu Gamers told NBC Sports Philadelphia. "The DPS duo is probably one of the strongest in Overwatch League and Joemeister should bring a lot of direction to the team.”

With DPS covered, the Fusion picked up premier European flex player, Isaac “Boombox” Charles, and standout tank, Joona "fragi" Laine, who could be the difference-maker. Accomplished flex player Alberto "NeptuNo" Gonzalez Molinillo and Zarya-pro Gael "Poko" Gouzerch round out what should be a competitive group.

“The biggest signing for me is Fragi,” Xu said. “He’s widely considered one of the best tanks in EU.”

Like most teams in Overwatch League, chemistry, not pure talent, could determine the season. Outside of the three FaZe players, the Fusion, who will live together in a gaming house in California, are an unfamiliar group from nine different countries. That could hurt them out of the gate.

“Chemistry will be one of the most important aspects of this team, as language differences will be obvious at the start,” Xu said, “Especially with the addition of Korean players and drawing from so many different countries.”

Collecting former FaZe members wasn’t a bad choice. FaZe, led by Carpe, Joemeister and ShaDowBurn, reached second place (EnVyUs, who are now the Dallas Fuel, took first) in the North American bracket of Overwatch Contenders Season 1 — the preeminent Blizzard-run league prior to Overwatch League, which begins its preseason in December.

“We are proud to feature outstanding players from FaZe Clan,” Scott said. “A top-tier esports organization who has earned prestige in multiple games.”

Here’s a breakdown of the players and positions.

1. DPS:
Jae "Carpe" Hyeok Lee

George "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha

Josue "Eqo" Corona

Simon "Snillo" Ekstrom

Joona "fragi" Laine

Gael "Poko" Gouzarch

Sumin "SADO" Kim

Hong Jun "Hotba" Choi

Jeonghwan "Dayfly" Park

Joe "Joemeister" Gramano

4. FLEX:
Alberto "NeptuNo" Gonzalez Molinillo

Isaac "Boombox" Charles

Head Coach/General Manager: Yann “Kirby” Luu

Assistant Coach: Elliot “Hayes” Hayes

Assistant Coach: Sehuy “NamedHwi” Go

Analytics: Ethan “Beezy” Spector

Comcast Spectacor introduces new eSports brand Philadelphia Fusion


Comcast Spectacor introduces new eSports brand Philadelphia Fusion

Meet the Philadelphia Fusion.

Representing Philadelphia as one of the newest additions to a budding competitive eSports scene, the Fusion, owned by Comcast Spectacor, is the latest brand introduced for the inaugural season of Overwatch League beginning in December.

"We are thrilled to introduce the Philadelphia Fusion brand and team colors as we continue our exciting march toward the start of the season," said Dave Scott, president and CEO of Comcast Spectacor.

Utilizing orange and black, the Fusion will match the Flyers, also owned by Comcast Spectacor, in colors and logo simplicity. 

"Orange and black are colors of passion here in Philadelphia," Scott said. "We are proud to incorporate them as we continue to formulate our coaching staff and roster of players."

As the company explains in its official release, the choice for the name Fusion was inspired by "distinct entities coming together to create a new whole that generates power and heat."

And that might be more than simple graphic design. Facing powerhouse teams such as the Dallas Fuel — made up of one of North America's most potent clubs, EnVyUs, and London Spitfire (which consists of South Korean Overwatch champions GC Busan) — the Fusion will ultimately need chemistry and team dynamic to excel. 

The team, being put together piece-by-piece, is expected to officially introduce its coaching staff and roster in the upcoming weeks.  

The Fusion join the Boston Uprising, Fuel, San Francisco Shock, Seoul Dynasty, Spitfire, New York Excelsior, Los Angeles Valiant and Shanghai Dragons, as the first official brands introduced. The brands for Miami, Houston and a second Los Angeles team have yet to be announced.

Beginning preseason matches on Dec. 6, Overwatch League, which will feature 6-on-6 objective-based team play, officially kicks off its regular season on Jan. 10.

For those unfamiliar, Overwatch League is a geo-based eSports league made up of 12 teams from around the world. Unlike other eSports leagues which are typically made of up independent club teams not bound to a specific location, this one features teams representing particular cities around the globe with league-specific brands. 

It's a new dynamic to mainstream eSports competition.

Overwatch League is also an infant compared to the industry. It's viewed as a long-term investment with extreme growth potential. Ownership groups, made up by the likes of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, New York Mets owner Jeff Wilpon, Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke and more, paid a reported $20 million or more to carve out a spot.