Chengdu Hunters, a Chinese Overwatch League squad have announced earlier this Friday they will part ways with DPS Zhihao “YangXiaoLong” Zhang and their main tank Yansong “Jiqiren” Wei ahead of 2020 season of Overwatch League.
Chengdu Hunters announced the departure of YangXiaoLong and Jiqiren from their team via a Twitter post, where they revealed that after a mutual agreement, the contracts with the Chinese duo have been terminated and the YangXiaoLong and Jiqiren won't be representing the team in the third season of Overwatch League.
In the post, the team thanked both for their hard work and contribution to the team on and off the stage, as they said their final goodbye to the Chinese tandem.
YangXiaoLong joined Hunters in late November 2018 as one of the first members of the newly established Overwatch team, while Chengdu Hunters decided to sign Jiqiren later in January 2019. Both proved to be very talented and promising players, however, neither got a chance to play for the Hunters until stage three of 2019 OWL due to their visa issues.
Looking back at 2019 OWL season, Chengdu Hunters failed to find much success with their results, having finished Stage 1 at an underwhelming 16th spot with a 3-4 record. While they managed to improve slightly in Stage 2, Chengdu outfit once again finished with a 3-4 record, which sat them at ninth place, just below the line which would send them into the playoffs.
Stage 3 was no different for Chengdu Hunters, who got denied a chance to win more than three games as they ended the stage at 13th spot, meaning they once more dodged the stage playoffs. The meta shift in stage 4, however, seemingly helped Hunters, who found their stride and finished with a 4-3 record, which sat them at the ninth place on the standings and 12th place in the overall league standings.
Despite their underwhelming results throughout the season, Hunters made little changes to their roster. They did pick up a talented 17-year old DPS Huang “Leave” Xin on July 25, 2019, but due to OWL age restrictions, he was unable to compete with the team at the time. That being said, Leave, who is also a 2018 Overwatch World Cup runner-up, has become of age earlier in October, meaning Hunters will be able to count on him in February when Season 3 of OWL will kick-off.
YiangXiaoLong and Jiqiren will be the first two members to leave Chengdu Hunters, who have never before, since their creation in September 2018, let any of their players go. They did, however, part ways with their Western Media Manager Raegan in August, Head Coach Yingrui “RUI” Wang in mid-November and their Media Manager Everkey on Thursday, who were also the first three members of the organization to leave.
With the departure of Jiqiren from the team, Hunters will be left without a second main tank, which could be a problem they will need to solve in the upcoming weeks as to avoid any surprises once the season starts. As it stands now, there are no official announcements who could replace Jiqiren in the main tank role, however, there were already strong rumours Hunters could be adding Chen “ATing” Shao-Hua to the team.
Those rumours were sparked earlier in December when Chengdu Hunters might have prematurely revealed the new signing with an image post on their official Weibo page. The picture had a caption which read: "all cell phones must be handed in before practice every day," and it revealed eight phones with sticker notes on them. One of the phones had a note which had the name "ATing" written on it, leading the Overwatch community to believe Chengdu Hunters are looking to sign or have already made a deal with the Taiwanese tank to join their team.
Should the rumours prove to be true, ATing would become the second Taiwanese member of the roster besides Tzu-Heng “Baconjack” Lo, who is a former Flash Wolves member and currently a DPS for the Chengdu Hunters. Baconjack also played alongside ATing in the Overwatch World Cup 2019.
ATing would be a great addition to the team as he is a well-established Overwatch player and a very talented tank player. He has previously played for BBONG mE, Hong Kong Attitude, LGE.Huya and Nova Monster Shield. While ATing had never before played in the Overwatch League, he has had plenty of success in the Overwatch Contenders League.
Some of his most notable achievements are third fourth-place finish at Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 1: Pacific and Overwatch Contenders 2019 Season 2: Pacific and a first-place finish at Overwatch Contenders 2018 Season 3: Pacific.
ATing also represented Taiwan at 2018 and 2019 Overwatch World Cup, however, he never made it to the final stage of the event. In October 2019, his nation lost to Denmark (1:3) in the preliminaries, meaning he had to settle with an 11th-20th place finish.
Should ATing join the team, Chengdu Hunters would without a doubt enter 2020 season much stronger, especially in the tank role, where they somewhat lacked consistency last season.
Looking ahead there is a lot of reasons to be optimistic about the Chinese roster. While they did have a less-than-impressive 2019 season, Hunters had some solid individual performances, where they have shown signs of greatness. Most notable being their win over San Francisco Shock mid-way through the season, which leads us to believe the team has a very high ceiling and plenty of potential, yet they need one last push to make them one of the best in the league.