Two weeks in and we’re already seeing a divide between the Korean teams and the rest of the Overwatch League competition. It was clear after just two matches that the Los Angeles Valiant were miles ahead of other Western teams like the Fuel and Outlaws, leaving many to believe that if any side was capable of leveling the playing field with the Korean teams at this early stage, it would be them.
The second week of OWL served as a litmus test of sorts with the Los Angeles Valiant going up against not one but two Korean rosters in the New York Excelsior and London Spitfire. And despite dropping both, the Valiant did manage to reveal London’s mortality in pushing the Spitfire to a fifth map before falling short on Lijiang Tower.
Week Three promises to be OWL’s best yet as we finally get to see Seoul Dynasty square off with New York Excelsior on Friday. The Dynasty managed to defeat NYXL in the preseason, but you can make the case that no team has shown as much improvement over that time as New York. We’ll also get to see the first official “Battle for Los Angeles” when hometown sides Gladiators and Valiant clash in front of what projects to be a packed house in Burbank.
After a disappointing start to the opening stage, the Dallas Fuel will be looking to right the course of their season in Week Three when they go up against the San Francisco Shock and Boston Uprising — two teams that no one expected would stand a chance against Dallas before the season began. Now, the Fuel are facing two must-win contests if they still have hopes of fighting for a playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
The Fuel won’t be the only side looking to move up in the Pacific ranks in Week Three. After rebounding in Week Two, the Houston Outlaws have an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and fellow playoff hopefuls Los Angeles Gladiators when the two teams meet to close out Saturday. If the Gladiators fall to the Valiant and Houston manages to avoid a major upset at the hands of the Mayhem on Thursday, the Green Wall could find themselves with an important two-match lead in the standings by the end of the week.
This list is an honest attempt at assigning ordinal ranks to the league’s 12 teams based on their recent string of performances. As the season moves forward, a team’s overall record or division rank will not factor into the power rankings as much because they do not necessarily capture the recent form of a team and may not be as useful in predicting short-term performance. All stats are provided courtesy of Winston’s Lab.
1. Seoul Dynasty | 4-0 | ⇔
The Dynasty continue to hold onto the top spot in our rankings after rolling past the Mayhem and Uprising with a pair of 4-0 sweeps. The Excelsior came away from Week 2 with arguably the most impressive pair of wins overall, but you can’t fault Seoul for simply taking care of business. Coming into the season, I thought that Seoul – a proven commodity – would be the clear-cut top team. But the Spitfire and Excelsior have impressed early on and will only get better as their players continue to adjust to their new teammates. So the real question becomes: Have the Dynasty hit their ceiling, or can this tested roster show that they themselves are also capable of improving? Perhaps their eagerly anticipated showdown with New York on Friday will shed some light on the answer.
Week 3 Opponents: Dragons, Excelsior
2. New York Excelsior | 4-0 | ⇑ 2
Anyone looking to make the argument that New York is deserving of the top overall spot would be more than justified in doing so considering how convincingly they dispatched of two quality opponents in the Valiant and Gladiators this past week. A win over Seoul on Friday, however, would remove any doubt as to which team is deserving of the top spot at this early juncture. Perhaps most reassuring for New York fans is the fact that, regardless of outcome, the season is young and New York still has plenty of room to grow. Personally, I just can’t wait for Fleta v. Pine.
Week 3 Opponents: Fusion, Dynasty
3. London Spitfire | 4-0 | ⇓ 1
The Spitfire took down two talented sides in the Valiant and Fuel in Week Two, so how did they fall below the Excelsior? New York dispatched of two quality opponents in far more convincing fashion while London let Dallas and Los Angeles hang around and threaten to reverse sweep. The sharp contrast between these recent performances and their Week 1 drubbing of the Mayhem and Fusion shows that London has the individual quality to overwhelm lesser opponents but are still in the process of integrating their two rosters. And while the Spitfire may be just behind fellow Korean sides Seoul and New York at this point, I don’t think anyone would be surprised if the lone European OWL representatives were the ones left standing when the dust clears at season’s end.
Week 3 Opponents: Shock, Uprising
4. Los Angeles Valiant | 2-2 | ⇓ 1
Despite the two-loss week, I don’t think there is any doubt as to who the best mostly Western team in Overwatch League is. Valiant’s biggest strength right now is the growing synergy between Soon, Fate, and Envy. In their match with the Spitfire, I thought that they were particularly effective in punishing their opponents’ anti-dive comps – especially on Eichenwalde. Last week I mentioned that Valiant really needed to start seeing more consistent performances out of their second DPS, and they finally got one from Agilities in that match. And despite not looking as good going up against New York, it became pretty clear that the Valiant have moved into a unique position in the league where they may not necessarily be at the level of the three Korean teams ahead of them, but they are most certainly outperforming the remaining sides by a considerable margin.
Week 3 Opponents: Gladiators, Mayhem
5. Houston Outlaws | 2-2 | ⇑ 3
What a difference one week makes. The Outlaws emerged from Week Two with a huge victory over the rival Fuel and got it in dominating fashion. It was very reassuring to see Jake play well on Genji after facing early criticism for lackluster performances on non-Junkrat heroes. Muma and Rawkus also came back to life in a big way in Week 2, while Linkzr continued to show why many consider him one of the best long-range hitscan players in OWL. Linkzr also had a great showing on Tracer against the Fuel after struggling on the hero in Week 1. The biggest unknown for Houston at this point has to be whether they can continue to find success running less mobile comps against teams like the Dynasty, Excelsior, Spitfire, and Valiant – all of whom run full-dive comps effectively. Houston did find some success running dive against the Fuel on Oasis last week, but it still remains to be seen if they can make it a viable option against the league’s top tier.
Week 3 Opponents: Mayhem, Gladiators
6. Los Angeles Gladiators | 2-2 | ⇔
The Gladiators and Fusion have created a bubble of sorts in the middle of the rankings where it feels like they have considerably distanced themselves from the teams below them. At the same time, neither the Gladiators nor Fusion have done anything to show us that they can run with the big dogs at the top of the table. They DO have one of the best support pairings in BigGoose and Shaz going for them. And unlike the Mayhem, the Gladiators have some surprising versatility despite their limited roster size. Surefour, Hydration, and Asher provide considerable flexibility with their hero pools leading to unique and less predictable compositions, but I wouldn’t say that any one of them falls into the “world-beater” category on any individual hero. The top teams in the league all have the luxury of at times being able to lean on top-tier DPS talent like Profit, Fleta, Birdring, Soon, Linkzr, Saebyeolbe, etc. who are always in the conversation for being “the best on Hero X,” but the Gladiators are more reliant on team synergy and coordination than solo DPS carries. If the Gladiators could somehow find a way to add a top-tier DPS star to their roster in the player add period, they could potentially size up with the Valiant and Outlaws.
Week 3 Opponents: Valiant, Outlaws
7. Philadelphia Fusion | 2-2 | ⇔
The Fusion were a map win away from ending the week 3-1, but the Gladiators came roaring back to secure Overwatch League’s first reverse sweep. As long as the meta stays where it is, I don’t see too many lower-level teams leap-frogging Philly on this list. They are capable of playing a very aggressive dive style – something that I haven’t seen from any of the lower teams with the exception of Boston. Shadowburn and Carpe have also proven to be the best DPS duo in this half of the standings, but you have to wonder how Philly would be affected by a potential shift in the meta. If Mercy and Junkrat receive makeovers and fall out of favor, one would think Tracer will become more viable and that works in Philly’s favor. However, several pros have also suggested that triple (and maybe even quad) tank could enter the fray with Junkrat’s shield-busting damage out of the mix. A slower tank-heavy meta is almost guaranteed to hurt the Fusion whereas teams like the Shock and Fuel would become stronger.
Week 3 Opponents: Excelsior, Dragons
8. San Francisco Shock | 2-2 | ⇑ 2
The San Francisco Shock are toeing a line between playoff contender and pretender right now thanks to a particularly weak schedule to start off the season. The Shock have yet to play any of the three Korean sides while recording wins over the lowly Dragons and Uprising so a regression is likely. On the bright side, Babybay continues to prove he’s more than just a preseason flash in the pan and is clearly the star of this team. Unfortunately for the Shock, they aren’t getting too many contributions from elsewhere on their roster: Dante has not been carrying his weight as a second DPS, Dhak looks to be a little out of his comfort zone on the Mercy, and Sleepy is being headhunted and allows himself to get out of position far too often. A win over the Fuel this week would be huge for San Francisco but it’s going to take a superhuman performance out of Danteh on Genji and Tracer to make that a reality.
Week 3 Opponents: Spitfire, Fuel
9. Boston Uprising | 1-3 | ⇓ 1
Boston was oh-so-close to evening up their record at 2-2, but dropped a five-map thriller to the Shock in the final match of Week Two. One of the early criticisms of this young roster has been their reliance on running a standard dive composition. Although players like Dreamkazper have shown the ability to flex off of their primary heroes, the team’s overall approach to each map point almost never changes. I think we’re going to learn a lot about this team when they go up against Dallas this week. Given how weak Dallas has looked trying to counter dive compositions, one would think the Uprising have an edge heading into the match. At the same time, Dallas has also shown a willingness to run unconventional compositions that could catch Boston off-guard. And with two teams that are looking to get their seasons back on track, this game could be pivotal in setting the course for each of their seasons going forward.
Week 3 Opponents: Spitfire, Fuel
10. Dallas Fuel | 0-4 | ⇓ 5
Let’s get the bad out of the way first: The Dallas Fuel are winless; Their best Winston player has been suspended for the remainder of Stage One; They can’t play full-dive compositions, and; They can’t counter full-dive compositions. But there IS good news. The Fuel had a very difficult schedule to start the season, with all four matches coming against teams in the Top 5 rankings. Dallas will have the opportunity to climb back toward .500 over the next two weeks when they go up against Florida, San Fran, and Boston. The Fuel looked much better managing ultimates and communicating enemy ultimates in their match with London – especially with Harryhook on Zen and Chips on Mercy. Perhaps sticking to the core lineup with Seagull subbing in as a specialist will continue to be the answer?
Week 3 Opponents: Shock, Uprising
11. Florida Mayhem | 1-3 | ⇔
The Mayhem got stomped by Seoul in Week Two, but at least their fans can rest knowing they aren’t in danger of dropping below the Dragons anytime soon. The Mayhem took a huge risk in signing only six players to start the season, but I don’t think the decision to proceed with a limited roster was as ludicrous as some are suggesting in hindsight. Before OWL, there was little to no evidence of a team using substitutions to make impactful contributions in high-level competition. In fact, I can recall several instances in Apex wherein teams made a substitution that ultimately hurt their side’s performance. Dallas and Houston have already shown us that cutting down roster rotations and prioritizing consistency may work for certain teams so I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to point to Florida’s roster size and say, “Yep, that’s the problem.” The individual player choices, however, are an entirely different story. Florida has one of the weaker support pairings in the league, and Tviq and Logix are not performing anywhere near the level we’ve come to expect from them. The team would probably benefit more from a straight-up fire sale than it would an overhaul to their strategic or tactical approach.
Week 3 Opponents: Outlaws, Valiant
12. Shanghai Dragons | 0-4 | ⇔
Wine rack. Workout bench. Creaky wooden stairs. The Shanghai Dragons.
What are: Things found in a cellar?
As much as I jest, I really do feel bad for the Shanghai players. It’s no fun being last, but it’s even worse when your team is incapable of being competitive and has become the punchline of the league. The organization didn’t do itself any favors putting this lineup together, so it would be nice if they could add some talent in the upcoming free-agent window.
Week 3 Opponents: Dynasty, Fusion