This article is part of our Overwatch series.
It's no secret that the Dallas Fuel are currently an unmitigated disaster of an Overwatch League team. Since January, the team has endured multiple player suspensions, released two players and a head coach, added players like they are the Cleveland Browns searching for a quarterback and have bungled pretty much every single PR opportunity possible in Season 1. Despite all of this, the Dallas Fuel still has one of, if not the, largest fan base in Overwatch League, but it's getting harder and harder to root for a team that cant help but take one step forward and two steps back, so here are 4 things that the Dallas Fuel should do before Season 2:
1. Do whatever it takes to retain EFFECT
It’s pretty obvious that Hyeon “EFFECT” Hwang is the only thing keeping the Dallas Fuel from drowning in a sea of its own bad decisions. Despite only having won six games so far this season, EFFECT has still managed to be in the top-five for the Season 1 MVP vote because if we're being honest, the man probably had to win those six games by himself. We really don’t know how free agency will work at the end of the season yet. The players could be all unrestricted free agents with the freedom to sign anywhere their heart desires, and if that’s the case, Dallas better make EFFECT the highest paid player in the OWL or he will be off to greener pastures in a hurry. On the other hand, the process could have all of the players as restricted free agents, giving their current team the right to match any offer another suitor might make in order to retain their player for a price. We also don’t know if the OWL will be like the NFL in implementing a one year franchise tag to keep players at a price the league deems fair so that they can hopefully work out a long term deal, but rest assured if there is a franchise tag EFFECT ought to be the first player who gets hit with it.
2. Clean house and start fresh
The Dallas Fuel are one of the few teams in this league who could probably do with a full rebuild. I'm not advocating for bulldozing the house into rubble but rather making some major changes while being mindful of the pieces that are keeping the house upright. The team has admitted to entering into the Overwatch League ill-prepared on both the player and management side of the organization. Dallas has tried to patch up the holes by adding players throughout the trade window but its problems proved to be far more dire than any one player could truly fix. The Fuel need to create a team with a winning mindset, centered around EFFECT and anybody who is inflexible or “set in their ways” should get the boot. Continuing to tinker with the roster as they have is only going to waste the time of the players and hinder the team further, rebuilds are painful but necessary.
3. Build a real tank line
The Dallas Fuel had Felix “xQc” Lengyel and Christian “Cocco” Jonsson on the roster to start the season in the main tank role, but apparently viewed Cocco as more of a project than an actual starter, making things horribly awkward when xQc was released. Dallas did and still does only have one true off-tank in Pongphop "Mickie" Rattanasangchod and have relied on Flex DPS players to fill the roles of both main tank and off-tank at various points throughout the season.
It seems well proven that main tank is both the most important and scarcest position in the Overwatch League. The addition of Baek “Fissure” Chan-hyung took the Gladiators from a middle of the road team to a perennial contender, Boston with Noh “Gamsu” Young-jin and Boston without Gamsu are two entirely different teams. The list goes on and on. If Dallas doesn’t feel that Cocco can play a part in OWL success, he needs to be moved to a Contenders team. Dallas does have Son “OGE” Min-seok but by the time he entered the League for Dallas, it was already too late, so it’s hard to know what he really brings to the table.
Still, a main tank with some OWL experience is better than no main tank at all and Dallas shouldn’t be looking to get rid of him but rather find him a suitable partner and more main tank players to compete with for the starting spot. As mentioned previously, we don’t know how the offseason transfer period is going to work, but if Dallas gets the opportunity to go after some players that could be on the chopping block or want more playing time they should. Song “Janus” Joong-hwa from the New York Excelsior plays second fiddle to Kim “Mano” Dong-gyu and Kim “Bischu” Hyung-seok of the Los Angeles Gladiators could find himself spending more time on the bench with the signing of Void to the roster, both would be excellent additions for the Fuel. Dallas could even head down to the farm teams for players such as Ryu “Kaiser” Sang-hoon at Optic Academy, Jeong “NoSmite” Da-un from X6 Gaming or Sin “Alpha” Jae-hyeon from RunAway.
4. Form or acquire an academy team
We talked about Dallas possibly looking for players on Overwatch League Academy teams in the previous point, and the reason we didn’t talk about any Dallas Fuel prospects being brought up to the main roster is because Dallas Fuel is one of only three Overwatch League teams that doesn’t have an academy team, the other two being the Los Angeles Valiant and the Seoul Dynasty. This is a problem that Dallas needs to rectify immediately. Teams like the Philadelphia Fusion and the New York Excelsior are stockpiling talented young players for the future to either use or trade. Though the fruit that the academy teams will bear has yet to be harvested, make no mistake that teams are far better off with one than without. If Dallas had an academy team, they could have had Cocco actively playing there until he was ready to start rather than riding the bench. The team might have also found an immediate answer to its problems at the main tank position if it had an academy team before releasing xQc. While focusing on winning right now is always a good, focusing on winning in the future is just as important.