The Overwatch League will finally return this week. Twenty teams are set to take the field and determine who is the best at playing Overwatch. It has been a long offseason and many, including myself, have been keeping track of all the roster changes and other events. So now, let’s take a brief look at each team and see what their main storyline for the season will be.
Atlanta Reign: Can Dafran not implode?
Atlanta is pinning most of their hopes on the volatile streamer, reportedly bringing in sports psychologists for preparation in case Dafran starts losing himself again. The Reign have plenty of talented players, including the recently promoted Dogman on support, but if Dafran falters, Atlanta will falter as well.
Boston Uprising: Can Boston make a team out of its disparate parts?
The Uprising picked up players from New Zealand, Brazil and the United Kingdom at the expense of letting some of their top players like Striker, Neko, and Mistakes go. Those far-reaching acquisitions certainly brought Boston attention, but it will be for naught if they can not replicate their past successes.
Chengdu Hunters: Can the Chinese community redeem itself?
Chengdu’s all-Chinese roster has garnered criticism for similar reasons as the 2018 Dragons. Players are past their prime; they have not played pro Overwatch in over a year. RUI is a lousy coach. For me, the team will only be as bad as the Dragons if RUI did not learn from his mistakes. If he has, then at least Chinese Overwatch fans can have a team to be proud of.
Dallas Fuel: Can Aero’s strategies work for a whole season?
The Fuel’s new head coach, Aero, gave the team some saving graces in the later parts of the 2018 season. Now, with a whole season ahead and having made pickups to solidify the DPS and tank lineups, can he make the Fuel a force to be reckoned with for more than one stage?
Florida Mayhem: Will the rework be worth it?
Florida has now become a majority Korean team, dumping their Misfits players and only having Tviq and Apply to represent the Western Hemisphere. Add the coaching changes, and it is not certain whether Florida is in a better state now than before.
Guangzhou Charge: Will communication issues be the Charge’s downfall?
The Charge has the most bizarrely diverse roster in the league, having Korean, Chinese and English speakers. For that reason, many analysts have Guangzhou in the lower tiers of teams. But if the Charge can overcome any issues stemming from the language barrier, they can be better than most people give them credit for.
Hangzhou Spark: How good can Guxue be?
This Chinese expansion team was built around their star main tank, with the rest of the majority-Korean team expected to lift him up. The X6 core of Hangzhou are talented in their own right, and Krystal is a quality DPS. But Guxue was the Chinese star from the World Cup for a reason. Whether he can carry the Spark on his back will be the true test.
Houston Outlaws: Will continuity be good enough?
The Outlaws hardly made a splash in the offseason, only picking up Danteh. Management has confidence in their players; otherwise, more moves would have happened. But if the Outlaws are not winning this season, the team’s status quo will be to blame.
London Spitfire: Can the League champions be good all season?
The Spitfire was one of the last teams to make it to the overall playoffs, having a poor stage 4 performance. They managed to win in the playoffs. Now that the core of the team is firmly in place, the Spitfire should have a target on their backs.
Los Angeles Gladiators: Can the Gladiators claim LA as their own?
The Gladiators became one of the league’s most feared teams as 2018 wore on, and look like one of the league’s best teams even after Fissure left. With r0ar and Ripa expected to blend into a solid core seamlessly, the Gladiators may overtake the Valiant as LA’s best team.
Los Angeles Valiant: How competitive can the Valiant be?
The offseason was not kind to the Valiant, as they lost a fair number of players and coaches to other teams or retirement. The players the Valiant still were a significant part of their successes, but without the consistent star power Soon brought to the side, KSF, Kariv, and Bunny need to get their act together quickly as Agilities’ DPS partners to remain competitive.
New York Excelsior: Can the Excelsior avoid choking when it matters?
The league’s best team got outplayed in a tank-driven meta that did not suit their playing style. But now that pure DPS characters are getting playtime again, New York’s lineup of Libero, Pine, Fl0w3r, Saebeyeolbe, and Nenne will have a field day. And when the playoffs come around, both stage and overall, New York needs to not choke.
Paris Eternal: Can Europe prove itself?
Paris is billing itself as Europe’s team, with players from seven European countries represented. Whether this philosophy can transfer to lasting success remains to be seen, since the unproven quantities will be in for a real test.
Philadelphia Fusion: Which Fusion will we see this season?
The Fusion has the same issues as London, where they had an up and down season and barely made it to the playoffs, yet made a deep run. The spotlight is on them to perform at a high level since they were the runners-up. And with most of the players who made Philadelphia such a powerhouse returning, the Fusion should continue to be so.
San Francisco Shock: How good can the Shock be?
The Shock made several high-quality additions with Rascal and Striker joining the DPS lineup, along with adding coach Crusty from Boston. Along with a stable core that got progressively better as the season went on, San Francisco looks to make a splash immediately in the new season. Hopefully, the team can live up to the hype they have been building up in the offseason.
Seoul Dynasty: Can the Dynasty live up to Korean standards?
With the arrival of Fissure, Seoul is looking like the promised superpower fans were promised in season one. But with the arrival of several unknown quantities from the Korean Contenders scene, the Dynasty is looking much more of an unknown than ever before. But the team must have a lot of confidence in their acquisitions and that they can perform at a high level.
Shanghai Dragons: Can the Dragons get a win?
In all honesty, nothing could be worse than the 2018 Dragons, who could not manage a single series win. Shanghai picked up some players from Kongdoo Panthera and their coach. And given the number of expansion teams with unproven synergy, the Dragons should get their first win some time in Stage 1.
Toronto Defiant: What will the league make of this team?
On paper, Toronto looks like an all-Korean version of the 2018 Uprising. They are made up of overlooked veterans and the core of O2 Ardeont, an often-overlooked Korean team. The Defiant does have Bishop, one of London’s coaches, leading the helm, but Toronto has a lot to prove to make their dark horse label worthy.
Vancouver Titans: Can Runaway survive in the Overwatch League?
There is no doubt the Runaway team is beloved by many fans of Korean Overwatch. But the one complaint I have seen people making about the Titans was that they only won their Contenders title after better teams moved on to the Overwatch League. I do not doubt the Titans can be competitive immediately, but I doubt they can be the best.
Washington Justice: Can Wizardhyeong pull off a miracle?
Washington’s cost-cutting has left many people wanting more out of this roster, and they are near the bottom of most people’s rankings. Wizardhyeong has done great work in New York, but that was with quality, proven players. What kind of tactics will come out in a quad of mostly unknown contenders players?
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