This article is part of our Overwatch series.
With the first season of the inaugural Overwatch League almost upon us, it's time to break out the power rankings heading into Week 1. Be sure to check back every week to see where your favorite team ranks! Without further ado, let's dive right in.
1. Seoul Dynasty
This should come as no surprise, but the best team in the Overwatch world (Lunatic-Hai) will probably continue to dominate on the global stage. There isn’t much to say about this team that hasn’t already been said: how the potent tank/support lineup from LH performed well in the preseason, how Je-Hong “ryujehong” Ryu’s flexibility and sheer skill gives Lunatic-Hai options that other teams simply do not have, how new DPS Byung-Sun “FLETA” Kim has shined with a strong team around him, the list goes on. It’s an easy prediction to say that Seoul will make the playoffs, if not the finals, and they are clearly a front-runner for the first ever OWL title. All hail the kings, may the Dynasty live forever.
2. London Spitfire
While this squad is comprised of two elite Korean teams, neither of them are named Lunatic-Hai, so this team can only go so far as second. The Kongdoo side of this team (Cloud9 Panthera? Kongdoo9?) seems to be the stronger of the two right now, with stalwarts like Ji-Kyeok “birdring” Kim and Dong-Jun “Rascal” Kim leading the way, but we’ve already seen some crossover between this side and the GC Busan half of the team with flex support Hyeon-Woo “HaGoPeun” Jo starting with the rest of K9P. In a world in which the Dynasty didn’t exist, London would certainly be the clear candidate for the title of best team in the OWL.
3. Dallas Fuel
Dallas didn’t have the dominating preseason performance that some would’ve liked, but Coach Kyky’s squad showed that it was the same team that was the best Overwatch squad in the West prior to the inception of the OWL, now with a few key additions. Brandon “Seagull” Larned fills the gaps in Dallas’ hero pool, a problem that has plagued the side since APEX Season 1, Scott “Custa” Kennedy provides leadership and structure for an unruly mass of talent, and Félix “xQc” Lengyel provides an aggressive main tank as opposed to Christian “cocco” Jonsson’s passive play, allowing the Fuel to switch styles mid-series. Don’t underestimate this team, as Dallas has the potential to win any series on any given day, depending on which version of DPS star Timo “Taimou” Kettunen shows up.
4. Los Angeles Valiant
The LAV have a good formula for success on paper: take the workable core of one of the better teams in North America (Immortals), add in some imported Korean talent, and then throw in 1/3rd of Rogue in Benjamin “Unkoe” Chevasson and Terence “Soon” Tarlier, and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. After going 2-0 in the preseason, all signs point to good things for the Valiant, but their start is marred by some asterisks. They barely went the distance against the San Francisco Shock, scraping out a 3-2 win, and the potential language problems this team faces are still as present as ever, especially since different pockets of the starting roster speak three separate languages between them. While it may be good for Valiant fans to temper their expectations early, rest assured that the team is poised to do well in the inaugural season.
5. New York Excelsior
The 3rd best Korean team, the Excelsior, has shown that they will dumpster any of the non-elite teams, as they were demolished by Seoul but easily took out the Boston Uprising. Jong-Ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park and co. are realistically the gatekeepers into the upper echelon of pro play, as teams looking to rise above the middle of the pack will have to take down the NYXL to do it. They don’t look too proactive against a team that can match their mechanical prowess but should be able to mechanically bully most teams below them.
6. Houston Outlaws
Good news: Jake “Jake” Lyon might have the best Junkrat that we saw in the preseason, Matt “Coolmatt” Iorio is still a D.Va god, and Jiri “Linkzr” Masalin can make nutty plays early in matches to give Houston an edge. Bad news: Linkzr occasionally goes silent in matches, relying on Jake to carry the load. The support core of Shane “Rawkus” Flaherty and Christopher “Bani” Benell didn’t look that impressive, and the Outlaws couldn’t seem to pull itself together long enough to take wins over top teams like Seoul and Dallas. Despite not picking up wins, solid showings against those two teams in the preseason is nothing scoff at. Coming into Week 1, Houston will certainly have many eyes on it, as time will tell if it can beat teams that are seen as worse than them.
7. Philadelphia Fusion
Not much can be said about the Fusion at this time since the team didn’t attend the preseason. That being said, they do have some more recognized names: Jae-Hyeok “Carpe” Lee, Georgii “ShaDowBurn” Gushcha, and Isaac “Boombox” Charles. With one of the best previously established DPS cores of ShaDowBurn and Carpe linking up with world class tanks and supports, it’s safe to assume this team will be able to beat most other teams, if Philly can get itself together after a preseason marred with hiccups and controversies, that is.
8. Boston Uprising
Boston drew some criticism in early team building with a lack of star power on the roster, especially considering the available free agents that are still without a team. During the preseason, though, Boston proved its players were more than capable of competing at a world-class level. Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez and Namju “STRIKER” Gwon are a solid DPS core, and captain YoungJin “Gamsu” Noh brings a clear head to the table to keep some of the Uprising rookies grounded. Unfortunately, while there is mechanical talent present, Boston seems to struggle when teams countered the lone playstyle they’re comfortable playing in, and their supports leave much to be desired. If this team can figure out more strategies and put their DPS in better positions to carry, though, they should be able to box above their weight.
9. Los Angeles Gladiators
The LAG boys took down a team nobody expected them to beat in the London Spitfire, but then proceeded to be summarily picked apart by their cross-town rivals when the Valiant smacked them around to the tune of a 3-1 series. That leaves the status of this team in question, but it’s fair to assume that the Spitfire weren’t fully feeling themselves when the Gladiators faced them. LAG has some recognizable names in Lane “Surefour” Roberts, Aaron “Bischu” Kim (for all you League of Legends fans out there) and Joao Pedro “Hydration” Veloso de Goes Telles, but they seem to struggle to find a starting lineup that allows their carries to shine. In addition, while support Jonas “Shaz” Samuel Suovaara played well, LA’s Mercy player, Benjaming Ville “BigGoose” Aapeli Isohanni, got caught out at the beginning of fights with frightening consistency, leaving big question marks around this team. The Gladiators should be able to put up a fight against almost every team in the league, but a lack of star power will hurt it down the stretch, especially with only one substitute to play around with.
10. San Francisco Shock
Put down your pitchforks, people, I’m not saying I wasn’t impressed with the Shock’s preseason performance with this ranking. Andrej “BAYBAY” Francisty looked great, Nikola “sleepy” Andrews looked pretty decent in his LAN debut. So why, you ask, are they ranked 10th on this list? Quite simply, I’m not impressed with how they won games. Relying on Babybay to pop off isn’t a routine win condition, as if he has a bad day, where do they find momentum? Too many playmakers from the DPS position, not enough from the tanks and supports. In addition, as was shown in its match against London, the Shock don’t have the best strategies in the league, as London routinely manipulated the Shock into doing whatever it wanted, leaving San Francisco crushed. An emotional team with few playmakers outside of the DPS role isn’t reliable, and teams will learn to counter the Shock’s PogChamp strategies. It’s not even a guarantee that this will change when Jay “sinatraa” Won joins the squad but, for now, the Shock need to show they aren’t a one-dimensional team.
11. Florida Mayhem
The Mayhem had a pretty disappointing run in the preseason, especially considering that it was such a close-knit team. Despite being the only team with 6 players who were all together before OWL started, their teamfighting and game sense seemed to be missing. While it’s understandable that they lost to Dallas Fuel, with that team picking up the formidable EnVyUs roster, the loss to San Francisco Shock is less so. Going forward they need to start making more of an impact across the team or be doomed to the bottom of the pack.
12. Shanghai Dragons
One of the more surprising teams to be found so far down the list. Chinese esports teams tend to be known for their aggressive playstyle used to overpower the competition. Unfortunately, we didn’t see this from the Shanghai Dragon during the preseason at all. It is important to point out that they didn’t get much practice time in the US before the preseason started, making this slow start somewhat excusable. With all of the behind-the-scenes drama plaguing this team, however, it’s hard to find any positives about Shanghai, other than Weida “Diya” Lu who, for all his incredible prowess on hitscan characters, couldn’t carry Shanghai to a win vs Seoul or Boston.