Guxue, Rise among players to watch in Overwatch League Season 2

Team United Kingdom's Harrison "Kruise" Pond will play support for the Paris Eternal, an expansion team competing in Season 2 of the Overwatch League. He's one of several Overwatch League rookies who could make a splash in their inaugural OWL seasons. Photo by Robert Paul/Provided by Blizzard Entertainment

Season 2 of the Overwatch League is still months away, but the dust has settled, rosters have been announced and eight expansion teams will make their debut on the Blizzard Arena stage in Burbank, California, on Feb. 14. With a new season comes fresh talent from various Contenders leagues around the world. Here are four players you may not have heard of who are poised to dazzle audiences with their play come Season 2.

Xu 'Guxue' Qiulin | Main tank, Hangzhou Spark

The name on everybody's lips is gonna be Guxue. The young man raking in the chips is gonna be Guxue. Since the Overwatch World Cup Bangkok Qualifier, Guxue -- who was long regarded as the best main tank in China by dedicated Overwatch Contenders China fans -- became a household name in Overwatch thanks to his standout performances for Team China. The Guxue fervor only increased when Team China razed through Teams Finland and Canada to face Team South Korea in the finals.

Despite a 4-0 loss, it was clear that Guxue had more than enough talent to be in the Overwatch League and contend with the best main tanks available.

The Spark have another strong main tank -- and Junkrat extraordinaire -- in Jeong "NoSmite" Da-un, formerly of X6-Gaming. Running a roster with players who speak different languages than each other always means that there is a question of communication and synergy, and with Guxue and DPS player Cai "Krystal" Shilong as the team's only Chinese players, Hangzhou could choose to run NoSmite alongside his X6-Gaming teammates and former Seven players for an all-South Korean lineup. But it's difficult to make the case for Guxue to stay on the bench for long given the strength of his abilities.

Guxue has the potential not only to carry his team from the main tank position but to set a standard for all other Overwatch League main tanks to follow. That is the depth of his potential.

Kim 'SLIME' Sung-jun | Support, Vancouver Titans

Early expectations for the Vancouver Titans are higher than any other expansion team save perhaps the Spark, depending on how much one values synergy. Formerly team RunAway and reigning Overwatch Contenders Korea champion -- at least until a new team is crowned in January -- Vancouver is poised to make a strong entrance into the Overwatch League.

Headlining names include main tank Park "Bumper" Sang-beom and the DPS duo of Kim "Haksal" Hyo-jong and Lee "Stitch" Choong-hui, all of whom have been RunAway staples since their impressive play in Overwatch APEX. SLIME, however, is neither a well-known name nor a player on RunAway's original roster. SLIME joined the team in March 2018, just in time to become an integral part of RunAway's first major title after being a runner-up for several seasons.

We still don't know what the meta will be in Season 2, but it's safe to say that backlines will play a significant part in a team's success. So while Stitch and Haksal are popping off or Bumper is in an opponent's backline, spare a look for SLIME. He'll probably be propping up the team in some way, and his skill in that role could take Vancouver from good to great. If Lucio stays in-meta, expect SLIME to contend for the title of best Lucio in the world.

Lee 'Rise' Won-jae | Support, Guangzhou Charge

As a team, the Guangzhou Charge are rated relatively low when compared to the likes of the Vancouver Titans or Hangzhou Spark due to on-paper talent alone. The Charge have built a hybrid roster with six South Korean players, two Chinese players, a lone British player and a lone American. Regardless of performance, the Charge should be an interesting team to watch simply to see how this lineup comes together, if it does at all.

The headlining names for many on the Charge are all DPS players. First, there is LGD Gaming DPS prodigy Ou "Eileen" Yiliang, whom many have been waiting to turn 18 years old so he would be Overwatch League-eligible. The pickup of former Element Mystic/Blossom/Meta DPS player Lee "Happy" Jung-woo also has been much discussed due to his boosting past. Western pickups Finley "Kyb" Adisi (formerly a DPS for British Hurricanes) and Charlie "nero" Zwarg (a Toronto Esports DPS) each come with their own dedicated fan bases, who were pleasantly surprised to see these two picked up for the league.

Meanwhile, Rise, a support whose professional career began in 2017 with Luxury Watch Red, has generally flown under the radar.

The South Korean support player may not burst onto the Overwatch League scene and shock the world, but Rise has plugged away for over a year, waiting for his chance to make it into the league. After most of Luxury Watch Red was picked up by the New York Excelsior, Rise found his way to Bons Spirit Gaming before bouncing around to Simplicity and then Meta Bellum.

With a good team environment, he has the potential to become a strong and successful Overwatch League support.

Harrison 'Kruise' Pond | Support, Paris Eternal

This season's crop of incoming players has a lot of talent at the support slot. Again, we don't yet know what the meta will look like, but Season 1 made it abundantly clear that even if the DPS players make the flashier plays, supports and tanks frequently decide a team's success.

Kruise is no exception and has been a standout Western player since 2016 whether on DPS or as a support. Most know him from his REUNITED and eUnited days in 2016-17 and his multiple appearances on the Team United Kingdom in the Overwatch World Cup from 2016 to '18. Most recently, he was cited as the player who gave Team South Korea the most trouble by Kim "Fury" Jun-ho and Kim "Fleta" Byung-sun; Kruise and Team UK gave South Korea the most trouble in general at BlizzCon, and the surprisingly close match was the highlight of the event.

Kruise nearly made it into the Overwatch League in Season 1 with the Philadelphia Fusion, which is a testament to his ability given the fact that he trialed as a support and went far in trials despite playing DPS more recently. Now as a support for the Paris Eternal, Kruise will play a large role in the team's success. Even if you're not sold on Paris' lineup, you should be sold on Kruise as an Overwatch League-caliber support.