With the Overwatch League’s inaugural Preseason coming to a close, it feels like just as good a time as any to reflect on each teams’ performances and take inventory on where everyone stands going into the regular season. I’ll be releasing a new set of Power Rankings every Sunday afternoon following that week’s games so bookmark The Benchmob and follow along.
1. Seoul Dynasty
Last Week: SHA (W, 4-0); HOU (W, 2-1); NY (W, 3-1)
Fans and pundits alike have made Seoul their near unanimous selection as OWL’s top team coming into the preseason, and the Dynasty’s 3-0 showing did little to make them shy away from those predictions. What’s most troubling for the rest of the league is Seoul’s lack of any real weaknesses. Between Fleta, Bunny, Munchkin, and Wekeed, I don’t know of any team that could put forth a more devastating DPS combination. Ryujehong and Tobi’s support credentials speak for themselves. And only Muma and Coolmatt of the Houston Outlaws, in my opinion, can make the argument of measuring up to the quality of Seoul’s tank play, courtesy of Miro and Zunba. I must admit that many teams who I had considered to be bottom of the league table coming into preseason caught me off-guard with their performances, so maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to crown the champions before the start of the season.
2. London Spitfire
Last Week: LAG (L, 2-3); SF (W, 4-0)
London’s weekend got off to a rather inauspicious start when they were upset by the Gladiators, but their 4-0 drubbing of the Shock saw the Spitfire’s preseason end in a far more predictable manner. The biggest takeaway for me was the clear difference in quality between the two rosters that London marched out over the weekend. The C9-Kongdoo half of the roster led by names like Birdring and Rascal was clearly the better option for the Spitfire throughout the weekend, winning all five maps they played on. The GC Busan roster was far less impressive against the Gladiators, which is perplexing given their recent form in winning the APEX Season 4 Title in late October. Perhaps splitting the rosters like this was the easiest way to make use of the limited time before preseason, but the month-long break between preseason and opening weekend in January should be enough time for the Spitfire coaching staff to right GC’s ship.
3. Dallas Fuel
Last Week: HOU (W, 3-2); FLA (W, 3-1)
On one hand, the Dallas Fuel were somewhat underwhelming throughout their preseason campaign. Houston’s two map wins were hardly even contests, whereas it felt like Dallas had to fight much harder to edge the Outlaws across their three wins. Florida also rolled the Fuel on Junkertown before the Boys in Blue really upped their play to turn things around for a more convincing 3-1 victory. But if you look at it another way, Dallas finished the preseason going 2-0 in matches where they looked to be so far away from their ceiling so it’s reasonable to expect them to improve vastly. Dallas had some very strange lineups and hero picks as well, including Cocco on Roadhog, Taimou on Winston, and Mickie on Orisa, which makes me wonder whether team coach KyKy was looking to have a little bit of fun while keeping the Fuel’s true tactics in his back pocket until the regular season next month.
Bonus: View DALLAS FUEL Player Grades vs. Houston Outlaws here.
4. New York Excelsior
Last Week: BOS (W, 3-1); SEO (L, 1-3)
Pine. On Junkertown. I mean, right? New York’s last point hold against Seoul on Junkertown was one of the most exciting sequences we saw during opening weekend. On a whole, it was a respectable performance for Excelsior given the circumstances. I will be curious to see what happens once the team has had time to scrim with Jjonak and how they will utilize him going forward. Libero was fine in a support role but I really would have liked to see more of him on Pharah and Genji without having to sacrifice even more firepower by regulating Pine to play Lucio. And although triple-DPS is not a staple of most Korean teams, I pray that we get a chance to see the combination of Saebyeolbe, Libero, and Pine running attacking heroes together at some point this season.
5. Los Angeles Valiant
Last Week: SF (W, 3-2); LAG (W, 3-1)
The biggest question mark coming into OWL for the Valiant was undoubtedly its tank lineup, especially after the play of Immortals’ player Envy throughout Contenders Season One. But it was in fact the play of both Envy and Fate who impressed me the most for the Valiant throughout their preseason run. Whether it was disrupting enemy McCrees and Soldiers on the high-ground, or creating chaos in the enemy backline to create space for Silkthread, LA’s tanks erased any preconceptions I had about how high they could climb during the first season.
Bonus: View LA VALIANT Player Grades vs. LA Gladiators here.
6. Houston Outlaws
Last Week: DAL (L, 2-3); SEO (L, 1-2)
Houston may have come away from the preseason without a win, but there’s little reason to be anything other than optimistic after they took both the Fuel and Dynasty to the brink over the weekend. They even looked like the better side throughout most of their match with Dallas while securing convincing wins on Dorado and Eichenwald. Houston has one of the most balanced lineups, which features what most would agree to be OWL’s best tank pairing in Muma and Coolmatt. And if Jake and LiNkzer can continue to outperform early expectations of them, there is no reason to think that Houston can’t make a claim for the top tier.
7. Los Angeles Gladiators
Last Week: LON (W, 3-2); LAV (L, 1-3)
The Gladiators came away from the preseason with what most would agree was the biggest upset over the four-day event when they took down London 3-2. But days later, the Gladiators looked far more pedestrian against their crosstown rival Valiant. The Gladiators were particularly dangerous with their triple-DPS comps (especially on control point maps with Surefour on Widow/Soldier, Asher on Tracer, and Hydration on Pharah) but the Valiant also made it clear that teams who are willing to commit to running full-dive against them could stymie this look rather easily. Their 2/2/2 comps were also fairly effective, but they required Bischu subbing in for Hydration on the Dva role. If the Gladiators are going to continue to run their triple-DPS comps, they are going to have to figure out a way to move Hydration on to a serviceable tank for when they get countered. Otherwise, you can expect well-practiced teams to run full-dive against them as long as Hydration is on stage.
8. San Francisco Shock
Last Week: FLA (W, 3-1); LAV (L, 2-3); LON (L, 0-4)
The Shock are not devoid of household names by any stretch as nearly every member of its nine-man roster is a well-known streamer or previously played professionally for a major organization. And while most Shock fans are counting the days until the arrival of fragger Sinatra, it will be the addition of Super, in my opinion, that will have the biggest impact. In watching the Shock’s preseason matches, it became apparent that their tank play needs the most work. The trio of Babybay, IDDQD, and Danteh were more than adequate in attacking roles and complement each other’s hero pools well. But it was the Shock’s tank department that I felt let the team down most often, especially in their match against the Valiant when Envy and Fate were the clear aggressors throughout.
9. Florida Mayhem
Last Week: SF (L, 1-3); DAL (L, 1-3)
With a roster of only six players after the free agency period, the Florida Mayhem seemed to be of the mindset that proven talent and consistency would win out over depth and malleability. Perhaps they were worried that roster swaps between maps would interrupt any positive momentum their team had accumulated to that point. But the preseason was anything but promising for this six-stack. And while I can’t say that a lack of roster depth was behind their poor showing, it certainly didn’t help.
10. Boston Uprising
Last Week: NY (L, 1-3); SHA (W, 3-2)
It’s been quite a rollercoaster ride for these boys and we’re still weeks away from the start of the regular season. I can’t imagine that it was easy having to listen to early criticisms of their roster quality, but I for one was impressed with the Uprising’s preseason showing. We’d been hearing rumblings of Striker impressing the other teams in scrims, but Boston was an otherwise unknown commodity. Striker more than lived up to that name over his team’s two matches, and between himself and DreamKazper, Boston’s DPS has a noticeably deep hero pool. Gamsu was another who I thought played particularly well. With a series win over Shanghai and an impressive showing against New York, however, Boston did more than enough to silence the critics and showcase the true parity of OWL.
11. Shanghai Dragons
Last Week: SEO (L, 0-4); BOS (L, 2-3)
It feels only right I throw out the caveat that Shanghai had very little time to prep and scrim before the start of the preseason, with several players arriving in LA just days before the first match. That said, it was still a rather unceremonious start from the Dragons that included losses to both Seoul and Boston. The attacking duo of Diya and Undead worked well together, and Roshan had quite a few promising spells against Boston too. But the biggest problem in the Shanghai camp is clearly its support play. For starters, it’s a little concerning that a team with three support players has virtually no Zenyatta or Mercy specialist in this meta. Between Freefeel, Fiveking, and Altering, there is no history of any Zenyatta play and Altering has only limited time spent on Mercy. The inexperience was clear throughout the opening two matches, so this squad has a lot of catching up to do before the regular season starts.
12. Philadelphia Fusion
Last Week: N/A
There were a lot of question marks on this Fusion roster coming out of the free agency period, and without getting an opportunity to see them in action during the preseason, I have a hard time ending this list with anyone other than Philadelphia. In the case of Boston, early pessimism was born mostly out of a lack of familiarity with the roster. But we know most of the players on this roster and, apart from Carpe and Boombox, I don’t know that I can point to anyone else who I feel matches the quality of their counterparts on other teams. Strong teamwork and a cohesive unit can certainly overcome an otherwise lack of quality, but it’s impossible to give the Fusion the benefit of the doubt without any evidence on record to go by.
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