Shining a light on Paris Eternal’s 2020 roster

Paris Eternal recently landed in Korea, the most popular esports destination on the planet this OWL off-season. Bonding over Korean BBQ and shared hotel suites, the roster seems to be coming together pretty nicely.

Now that the 2020 team has been more or less finalized, it’s time to take a closer look at the changes management made to the structure during the off-season, and what those might mean for OWL season 3.

Roster

There was a massive clean-up behind the scenes in Paris – and when the dust settled, not much of the previous season’s original team remained. The coaching staff got gutted, and of the original roster, only the French players and the support line are still standing. The message was pretty clear: Paris wasn’t satisfied by the 14th place finish, and they were taking measures to shake things up and do better.

Everyone was surprised when the first announcement was released: Paris had poached San Francisco Shock’s assistant coach NineK. He’d clearly had a successful experience with a mixed roster – it doesn’t get much better than winning the Grand Finals – but it seemed surprising considering the reputation Paris had built up.

That’s when the bombs dropped: Paris won the highly anticipated bidding war for SP9RK1E, Element Mystic’s prodigy DPS, getting him in a buy-one-get-one-free deal with his coach, Rush. Rumour had it that the latter had refused several offers last season in order to stay alongside his protégé until he turned 18.

Along with the coveted duo, the French team snatched up the core of the Element Mystic roster: HanBin, one of the highest rated off-tanks in Korean Contenders, and Xzi, a talented DPS player who already has synergy with SP9RK1E. Another EM alumnus recruited was Levi, ex-coach for Shanghai Dragons. Rumor has it Rush asked for him specifically, since they’d had previous experience coaching together. Final addition to the coaching staff: Aid, previously a support main on Toronto Defiant.

With the last-minute introduction of NoSmite to the roster, it’s clear that Paris Eternal has decided to go the mixed roster route. BenBest’s performance on Orisa hasn’t quite been up to par, from what we’ve seen so far. Despite that, if the Rein-Orisa meta comes to pass, the main tank duo could become quite interesting to watch.

PB&J or oil & water?

Essentially, this team keeps what worked in the 2019 roster: SoOn and his spectacular reputation, NicoGDH and his role flexibility, a solid support line synergy, Kruise’s leadership and shotcalling… Relying on theses foundations, the new recruits shore up the parts that were criticized last year: the lacklustre tank-line, a reinforced coaching staff, a deeper DPS hero pool.

As a whole, the 2020 roster is ambitious, composed of two cores that have previous synergy with one another. If these two combine properly and grow into a coordinated ensemble, we can expect great things from them. Taking all of this into consideration, it should be a pretty good time to be a Paris Eternal fan.

Controversy

On the contrary… The most astounding thing perhaps, about all these announcements, has been the general public reaction. You’d think that recruiting the most sought-after players on the market, fresh off winning the Gauntlet with a masterful performance would lead to rousing celebrations from the EU audience.

Instead, the loudest voices so far have been embarrassing in the casual racism and ethnocentrism displayed.  Under the pretext of “defending EU players”, so-called fans have unleashed a wave of disgusting comments aimed directly at the players and coaches joining our ranks. Perhaps it’s Kruise that put it best in a Twitter thread he posted a few weeks back:

Paris never promised an “entirely EU” team, nor should they have any obligation to. Most of the anger stems from misunderstood and misinterpreted communication from the team, especially around the launch. The vocabulary used at that time, notably around the reveal, was awkward and did already lead to racist EU-first rhetoric. But that was never the line adopted by the staff itself. Féfé and daemoN merely recognized the complexity of integrating Korean players from a logistics perspective – but didn’t hesitate to insist that Paris would make the necessary accommodations to make it work if they decided to go that route.

If you want to complain about EU players not being recognized, perhaps a more useful target would be the lack of T2 infrastructure and support in the region, and Blizzard’s lack of commitment to enacting any change in that regard.

As far as Paris is concerned, their only mission is to try and field the best roster possible, and aim for the stars. #FiatLux.

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