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The Toronto Defiant have signed assistant coach Yang-won “Yang1” Kwon, formerly assistant coach of the Vancouver Titans and RunAway. As someone who has both managed and coached players, this is an interesting pickup for the staff. After releasing Dennis “Barroi” Matz just the other day, it seems this coach is replacing his role. Yang1 hasn’t coached in a little while, but evidently the Defiant trust him to help them for next season.

Yang1’s past

Ever since late 2017, Yang1 was part of the RunAway team that became super popular. Starting as a manager, he eventually moved on to coaching. He was there when RunAway was upset by X6-Gaming, but was also there when they defeated Kongdoo Panthera in a game for the ages. The latter win led them to their first championship, finally reaching the top with the legendary team. This performance led them to being picked up by the Vancouver Titans, Yang1 included.

Vancouver Titans win Stage 1 finals.
2019-03-24 – Overwatch League 2019 Stage 1 finals. / Photo: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Their first season together was more of the same. Vancouver hit the ground running, winning the stage one finals and placing first in the regular season. However, their Grand Finals performance was a little disappointing, losing to the San Francisco Shock. But that didn’t matter, as they could continue for next season and try again. That’s when the team imploded, and infamously split early on in the 2020 season. This included Yang1, who was released along with the entire roster. He didn’t coach again, but did look for a new team this off-season. The Defiant saw his track record and picked him up.

The Defiant’s coaching changes

To be honest, the release of Barroi seemed a bit cold when announced. It was late in the off-season, and it was clear the coach wanted to stay in the league. Plus, it was shown that Barroi did a lot of the work to help the Defiant for the 2021 season. Trialing new players, giving advice to all of them, setting up conversations, and more. Seeing him leave does seem bad, but this announcement helps. With the experience of Yang1 with Korean rosters, he should work with the roster the team has built. Even with the few non-Korean players on the roster, their experience on mixed rosters will also help. However, the outcome of this season will fall on the staff. Hopefully, Yang1 can handle the pressure.