Kim “Doha” Dong-ha told himself he wouldn’t play in the Dallas Fuel’s next match if they lost to the Toronto Defiant. The Fuel crushed the Defiant 3-0 Friday evening, flexing the depth of their DPS lineup for the first time after an offseason spent bolstering the damage roster.
“Since I won, I guess I’m going to play,” Kim said via interpreter.
The Fuel (3-1), who play again at 3:30 pm CST Sunday against the Paris Eternal (0-3), entered the 200-plus day offseason with a clear goal: add depth and build on lesser-known talent.
The Fuel picked up two new damage players. Ex-Atlanta Reign player Kim “Edison” Tae-hun was a high-profile pickup and Kang “guriyo” Min-seo was a Korean Contenders player with a high ceiling but limited professional experience.
The Fuel utilized both in a statement win over the Defiant (2-2), which skyrocketed Dallas up to third place in the West standings.
Kang had a huge grin on his face as Kim rubbed his shoulders after his OWL debut and first win. Kim lost his own OWL debut in 2021, and wanted to congratulate his 18-year-old teammate.
Fuel head coach Yun “RUSH” Hee-won thought it was pivotal to get the rookie some early experience.
,Given that we won together, it’s very convenient for us because we were able to create an environment where (guriyo) could win,” Yun said via interpreter. That’s why he’s naturally very happy.
“The first win is always a cool experience and I think that is very important in terms of growing as a player. I hope this is a start of his immense growth.”
Doha made his season debut Friday as well. It was Kim “Sp9rk1e” Yeong-han who started in the Fuel’s three prior matches. Kim was vocal about his struggles, especially after the Fuel’s 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Gladiators (2-1).
Doha, traditionally a flex-DPS player, patiently practiced Soldier: 76 from the bench.
“The decision of who is going to start for the day is really dependent on the comp and the macro we are trying to go for,” Yun said. “Going down the list, I decided Doha would be the better fit today.”
“Yeah, it will definitely set a fire under Sp9rk1e, just as much as Doha as well. It will provide some sort of motivation for both of them.”
The Fuel have more options than ever before. In previous seasons which Dallas had a large roster, it was because of players on guaranteed contracts. This season, there’s value to everyone involved.
Yun said there were challenges with that. Staying organized and being focused with practice was important, but difficult. The Fuel don’t cover every hero or composition in the game.
But they do have plenty to cause problems for their opponents. It didn’t matter who the Fuel were using against the Defiant. Dallas was the better team start to finish. None of the maps were particularly close. Outside a few blunders of their own, the Fuel capitalized on the Defiant’s mistakes and forced their Zarya-Reaper composition.
Edison caused problems for the Defiant throughout the match, especially on Reaper and Tracer. Choi “Hanbin” Han-been was arguably the best player in the match for the third consecutive match and Han “ChiYo” Hyeon-seok earned his first OWL player of the match award.
Dallas is rolling. The development of its depth only just started.
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