The last week has seen some North American teams make major changes to their rosters. Now, with the rosters for today's first qualifier for the NA Summer Regional locked in, there are plenty more changes to process.
Putting the front-runners aside for a moment, the qualifier is bringing back a lot of teams and players that haven't seen much action for a while. Teams like Panda Global and Gale Force eSports will be fielding overhauled rosters, and in what's become a HotS tradition, new teams will be reviving some of the most memetic team names of yore in their attempt to break onto the pro scene.
Raise the Blaze
After Team Blaze lost Sammuel "bigempct" Hua to Team Naventic, they needed a replacement to move forward. Based on their registered roster, it looks like they've lined up two new candidates to fill the hole:
- Jason "Jason" Mei
- Eugene "Yuuj" Tseng
- Richard "Kladeous" Tran
- Josh "bkid" Choi (Panda Global, Pool Plato Some Tangos)
- David "DXN" Nguyen (UT Arlington)
- Paul "Apauloh" Oh (Pool Plato Some Tangos, Boston College)
DXN played with Yuuj and Kladeous as part of UT Arlington's Dark Blaze, and Apauloh has played with bkid. However, DXN has also registered with another team, called 323, for the event.
With a six-player roster it's unclear who will start and who will sub for Blaze. Both replacements could be very interesting, and fans of the team should be watching the draft screens closely during their games.
Gale Force eSports: The wind in Udall's hair
Gale Force eSports has an almost completely new roster, with the addition on former Panda Global and Team Blaze players.
- Mike "MichaelUdall" Udall (Panda Global, ASU, Kappa Wolves)
- Stefen "akaface" Anderson (Panda Global, ASU, Kappa Wolves)
- David "Roflcopter" Young (Team Blaze)
- Khalif "Khroen" Hashim (2ARC Gaming)
- Manny "Fury" Medina (Resurgence, Murloc Geniuses)
This roster is an all-around threat and should be an absolute treat to watch. Udall and akaface have a long legacy of playing together, while Khroen has been an exciting player for a while — albeit one that hasn't had the supporting crew to really be unleashed. Roflcopter flew under the radar at times on Team Blaze, but has shown solid assassin play that will bolster this team's fortunes. Fury has not tasted success recently, but was a top-tier NA warrior player last summer.
While either Udall or Khroen could play at the melee/flex position, expect Khroen to get the nod — Udall has worked on diversifying his game over the past few months, while Khroen has been known as a fearsome Illidan, who's back in full force this patch.
Plus, with Udall's sick flow, Khroen's volume and Roflcopter's careful grooming, this team indisputably has the best hair in NA.
Panda Global claws back
The former Panda Global roster is no more. Keeping only Harrison "Psalm" Chang, the new PG squad features former members of COGnitive Gaming and 2ARC. PG has yet to make an announcement about their roster, but this is what they've got on the registration page:
- Orie "YoDa" Guo (Stellar Lotus)
- Antherus "xcyteZ" Ha (COGnitive Gaming, Team eLevate)
- Donald "Scylol" Dobbin (COGnitive Gaming)
- Zach "insomnia" Hacker (2ARC Gaming)
- Harrison "Psalm" Chang (Panda Global, Team Blaze)
We've seen little recent competitive play from YoDa, xcyteZ and Scylol, so it's difficult to know what to expect from this team. Still, there's a fair amount of experience here, and that's difficult to discount.
Pool Plato Yet More Tangoes
A new Pool Plato Some Tangoes has emerged, bringing back Jeffrey "KingPlato" Yi and Kyle "Prismaticism" Belaiche. But they've brought in some interesting additions, including a recent free agent.
- Quinn "Srey" Fischer (Tempo Storm, Stellar Lotus)
- Francis "MATRE" Gilbert-Brodeur (Luminosity Gaming, Goon Squad)
- Dan "danleefor3" Lee (UConn Tricky Turtles, Team Blank)
- Jeffrey "KingPlato" Yi (Boston College, PPST)
- Kyle "Prismaticism" Belaiche (PPST)
This team is a potential dark horse. They probably won't qualify in the first or even the second qualifier. But if they can stick together until the final, it's not hard to see this roster grabbing a spot at DreamHack Austin.
The return of the PLEYZ
The team known as The PLEYZ has reunited most of their original members for the regional qualifiers. The team's registered roster is as follows:
- Todd "LexUther" Stevenson (The PLEYZ, Panda Global, Team oVo)
- Alexandre "PyratRum" Goncalves (The PLEYZ, Panda Global)
- Aaron "Evandrinde" Trevette (The PLEYZ, Panda Global)
- Adam "Zoos" Stupavsky (The PLEYZ, Panda Global)
- Tatspol "Duckscanfly" Janejarassakul (Thai Iced Tea)
- Mauricio "Marche" Miranda (Team dISSENt)
- Aaron "iVSlime" Prentice (COGnitive Gaming)
The PLEYZ were the first Heroes roster Panda Global picked up last summer. Four members of PLEYZ/PG have returned, with only Long "Daihuu" Wang absent from that team. However with seven players on this new roster, it's not clear who will play.
Team Banana isn't low-hanging fruit
Another six-player roster, Team Banana will field a bunch of competitive veterans alongside some players who are less well-known, or have yet to see competitive success.
- Chris "Chrisylo" Lopez (Arcane eSports, PsiStorm Gaming)
- Jordan "SkullKid" Hanth (Wild Growth, aka Jordo)
- Ed "TigerJK" Hong (compLexity Gaming, Squirtle Squad)
- Hyun "haeun" Seok Jeong (Gale Force eSports)
- Jun "Jun" Jang (Team eLevate)
- Long "Daihuu" Wang (The PLEYZ, Panda Global, Team Blank)
TigerJK and Daihuu have been around a while. Jun had a short stint with eLevate, and has been praised for his attitude as well as his mechanics. SkullKid and Chrisylo have been on smaller teams but have yet to taste competitive success at the highest levels. haeun is fresh off a trial with Gale Force, and has been streaming for some time.
Other squads of note
- Good Game University formed Monday evening. The team's lineup is composed of former members of Gale Force eSports.
- Funyun Recovery Task Force features former Luminosity Gaming members Nelson "GOAT" Le and Raphael "Hosty" Tsantili along with former COGnitive Gaming support Ryan "Protoges" Griswold.
- Gust or Bust have signed up with their newest member, Jon "Equinox" Peterson.
- The roster of Tailwind eSports features 2ARC alumnus Jake "QuibsY" Martisek.
- Deadlyice features Team Nom members Cody "Deadlyice" Engesser and Merek "zugrug" Kangas.
Josh "Gauntlet" Bury is a wookiee whisperer. You can find him on Twitter.