Yesterday marked two weeks out. The off-season felt (and was) extremely long, but that’s all over now. We made it. We’re finally here. So what should we expect come season kick-off on Valentine’s Day?
The discussion has to begin with the NYXL. New York’s Overwatch team dominated throughout the inaugural season, but looked like a completely different team in the playoffs. Many contributed this to LW Blue’s history of choking, but more likely it was the meta change which surged Brigitte to the forefront of team compositions that brought about the downfall of the NYXL.
So what does that say about the NYXL? Was it a meta not suited to their strengths? Do they not adapt to change as quickly as other teams? Are they simply just choke artists?
These questions will be answered in Stage 1. While initially the GOATS comp will be prevalent, the composition was recently weakened with the latest patch and teams will eventually adjust. How the NYXL respond to later meta changes could be the most important story of the season.
http://prepshipglobal.com/our-experts-will-consult-with-you/ Expansion Teams
One of the most anticipated events for fans in the upcoming season is seeing how the new expansion teams perform together for the first time. Honestly, it’s impossible to predict how each team will fare with so many unknown variables, but we can take some educated guesses.
The Atlanta Reign will have a large following thanks to fan-favorite and Overwatch prodigal son Dafran. But with their current roster and coaching, their potential ceiling appears to be just mid-tier on paper. How much playing time Dafran gets and how he handles the grind of the OWL season is a crucial plot point for the Reign.
The Hunters of Chengdu have given OWL analysts Shanghai flashbacks with a mostly unproven and untested roster of Chinese Overwatch players. Their logo and color scheme is neat, but it would be a shock if this team is anywhere besides the bottom of the table.
Guangzhou is the Overwatch League’s melting pot with players from South Korea, China, America and the UK. Head coach J1N has quite the task putting all these pieces together to form a cohesive unit. That process will take some time, and the Charge could fall behind as they work out the kinks.
I’ve seen the Hangzhou Spark relegated to the bottom of a lot of power rankings, but I think most are ResidentSLEEPING on this squad. They have the talent, they have the color scheme and they have the memes. This squad is a major Season 2 dark horse.
Paris is going to be a fun squad that is loaded with player talent. I think they’re going to start out hot and will have less of a learning curve than other expansion teams due to their players’ LAN experience. Whether they have the ability to still be a contender in Stage 4 remains to be seen. But if any Season 2 expansion team makes the OWL playoff, it’ll be the Eternal.
With the signings of Bishop, Neko and Envy, some are calling the Toronto Defiant the all-toxic squad. T dot has a clean look and boasts some raw talent, but looks to just be another team trapped in the mid-tier.
The Vancouver Titans brought in the RunAway team over from Korea and will at the very least have a team chemistry that many expansion teams will initially lack. Overwatch fans have wanted to see RunAway vs the West for years, but the outcome is anyone’s guess. The Titans are the biggest expansion team question mark.
Boy oh boy, this last one could get ugly. The Washington Justice, on paper, have the worst team in the Overwatch League. What they do have is former NYXL coach WizardHyeong and he’ll have to literally be a wizard to get a decent season out of this squad.
Old Teams, New Faces
As for OWL’s Season 1 franchises, some had plenty of turnover and some look nearly identical to Year 1.
The Shanghai Dragons received plenty of attention last year, but for all the wrong reasons. Their 0-40 season is among the worst seasons by any team in any type of sports competition ever. Thankfully, the 2019 Dragons will feature mostly new faces and I can boldly predict that this Shanghai team will actually win a game this season. But despite the fresh faces, I think Shanghai will still be bottom-tier in Season 2.
The Seoul Dynasty added a few pieces in free agency and will look to new acquisition Fissure to right the wrongs of their inaugural season. Personally, I think a few of the Dynasty’s core pieces will be washed come Season 2 and I don’t trust Fissure to make it through whole season without some sort of internal mishap. To the disappointment of their fans, Seoul will finish right around the same spot they did last season.
The Shock threw some many around during the break and had the best off-season of any Overwatch League team. They added Striker and Rascal to a DPS lineup that already featured Architect, Sinatraa and Babybay. This team with Crusty at the helm is absolutely loaded with talent and potential. Nothing short of a championship should be the goal for the San Francisco Shock. But we haven’t seen this team turn the corner yet, their new Korean players will have to make a significant difference.
One of the teams that was virtually inactive in free agency was the Los Angeles Valiant. They will move KariV back to DPS after losing SoOn this off-season, but they made no other notable changes besides acquiring a reserve main tank. Sure, the Valiant were winners of the Pacific Division last season, but the playoffs made it obvious the Valiant need some more juice. They’ve already lost the title of #1 team in LA over the break and I’m afraid they’ll lose even more in the coming months. Expect a serious sophomore slump from the LA Valiant.
If the Shock had the #1 off-season the Gladiators weren’t far behind them. The Gladiators played consistent and with intelligence all Season 1, but the one thing I believed they lacked was raw skill and talent. With new additions Decay and r0ar, they won’t be missing that anymore. Look for the Los Angeles Gladiators to be one of the elite teams in Season 2.
Another puzzling off-season came from the Houston Outlaws. The Outlaws desperately needed a Tracer player in Season 1, and decided to wait until the off-season to acquire one. Danteh is a very good jack-of-all-trades player that can fit the Tracer role. However, Tracer is actually the opposite of the meta right now and drastic changes would have to be implemented to see her played like she was last season. This team didn’t make the playoff cut last season yet basically passed on free agency. I’m predicting Flame to be the first GM fired this year.
Last year, the Florida Mayhem sucked. It was that cut and dry. Their Scandinavian roster is all but gone now besides TviQ, who’s hanging on by a thread, and were replaced with nearly all Korean players. On paper, a good move. Will the new Mayhem additions fare any better than last year’s squad? Nah, not really. Sayaplayer is basically OWL’s Anthony Davis.
Much like their Texas foe, the Fuel had a disappointing off-season. It started with Seagull’s retirement. Then the Aero-led Team USA had a poor performance in the World Cup. The Fuel, with plenty of brand recognition and lots of EnVyUs money were primed for a big free agency. The result? Closer, rCk and ZachaREEE. It’s a meh from me. The Fuel’s season will rely heavily on Effect. And as we’ve seen in the past, things could go sour quickly for the Fuel. Expect a major mid-season trade from the Fuel to help Effect out at the DPS spot.
So, Boston is probably gonna be trash. Most said the same last year, so maybe they’ll prove us wrong all over again. But with probably the worst DPS core in the Overwatch League, a good 2019 Boston team would be an even bigger surprise than last year.
Fusion & Sptifire
The final two teams I wanted to preview were the two that faced off for the inaugural OWL Championship last season. Their rematch will kick of the 2019 season on Valentine’s Day.
Each of these teams’ starting lineups will look very similar to the ones they had last season, as both signed for depth in the free agency. How will the two 2018 contenders fare in 2019?
Personally, I think Carpe is the best Overwatch player in the world. Any OWL team with him on it will be a contender. It also helps they’ve got a deep and talented roster to help him. I really like their addition of Elk, but wish they added one more flex player to help out Boombox in the role. Regardless, I expect the Fusion to have another strong season.
I think the Spitfire will have another up-and-down season. Sometimes they’ll look like the best team in Overwatch and sometimes they’ll look like the worst. Except this time, I don’t believe a magical playoff run will happen and they will suffer an early exit. The talent has always been there, but something has always been missing from the London Spitfire.
2019 Season Predictions
Ok, this is the part you all can save and look back on later to point out how wrong I was. It’ll be surprising if I even get one of these right, but predictions are fun and people want to see them so ya gotta do it.
Preseason Power Rankings
Playoffs MVP: Decay
Dennis Hawelka Award: Geguri
- Dallas Fuel
- Hangzhou Spark
- London Spitfire
- Los Angeles Gladiators
- New York Excelsior
- Paris Eternal
- Philadelphia Fusion
- San Francisco Shock
New York Excelsior def. San Francisco Shock
Los Angeles Gladiators def. Philadelphia Fusion
New York Excelsior def. Los Angeles Gladiators 3-1