By: Dave Throop
With the inaugural season of the Overwatch League set to kick off today, many longtime fans will see their favorite players and teams compete under new banners while many people will tune into competitive Overwatch for their first time.
With that thought in mind it’s best to become acquainted with each team before the start of this season so you know what team you want to cheer for when the action gets underway tonight at 7PM EST/ 4PM PST.
The Boston Uprising went with one of the more unique approaches to selecting their initial roster. Instead of looking for big name players or a team that had already found success in the early days of competitive Overwatch, Boston has elected to emphasize how well players respond to coaching in their selection process. The team contains some players that are relatively unknown to fans while also containing a few names that people familiar with previous seasons of Contenders or APEX will recognize.
With teamwork and coaching being viewed as the most important factors by this team having players come from so many different teams means they will lack the natural chemistry of some of their rivals. Adding to this difficulty is the fact that players also represent three different regions: North America, Europe and Korea. This gives legitimate cause for concern over potential language, communication and cultural issues that could negatively impact the team’s performance.
Despite these potential weaknesses, the team contains many very skilled individual players at their positions that will be able to help them win games while the chemistry comes together. These include Mistakes, who represented Team Russia at the most recent World Cup and competed as a member of 123 during Overwatch Contenders Season 0 and Gamsu, a former professional league of legends player who played for Conbox during APEX Season 3.
The team was put together by Christopher “HuK” Loranger, a former Starcraft II professional player who also represented Canada as a player at the first Overwatch World Cup. With a long history in esports consulting and management the team is in good hands. If you are a fan of teamwork and want an underdog team to root for in the first season, Boston might just be the team for you. They are the final team to play their first match, beginning their season against the New York Excelsior at 9 PM EST/ 6 PM PST on Thursday January 11th.
If you want a “super-team” among the likes of the current Golden State Warriors or Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers look no further than the London Spitfires. This twelve man roster was put together by combining the six man rosters of GC Busan, the Season 4 APEX champions, and the Kongdoo / Cloud9 Pantheras – APEX Season 3 finalists who also finished in the top four in Season 4.
The preseason demonstrated that these two teams are being kept intact, with lineups appearing in full and no mixing of the players done so far. The preseason didn’t quite go as planned however suffering a 3-2 defeat to the LA Gladiators and more results like that could result in the lineups being mixed together.
This all Korean roster exemplifies the teamwork, hardwork and dedication the country is famed for in the esports world. These two rosters were able to find tremendous levels of success at home despite not having a single member of the South Korean World Cup team. You can expect very strategical game play and masterful execution from this group.
They won’t be the only all Korean roster in the Overwatch League this season but with the amount of success this team has found in the past, you can expect them to be competing for the top spot all season long. Their first match is against Florida Mayhem at 5PM EST / 2 PM PST on Thursday January 11th.
If you listen to the analysts, coaches and casters most involved with the professional Overwatch scene Seoul Dynasty enter the Overwatch League’s initial season as the favorite to win it all. The core of the team, the tanks and supports, all come from the Lunatic-Hai roster that was so strong in APEX. Emerging as the champions of the tournament in both Seasons 2 and 3, the only weakness experts could point to were the DPS positions. Seoul Dynasty has addressed those concerns by vastly upgrading these positions with the acquisition of Munchkin, Fleta, Bunny and Wekeed.
Adding these players to tobi – widely considered the world’s best Lucio – ZUNBA – the world’s best Zarya – ryujehong- the world’s best Ana – and Miro – the world’s best Winston – make this lineup the most terrifying list of individual names on paper in the entirety of the League. The year of experience the core of the roster already has competing together at APEX makes them even more threatening, as they will possess a level of chemistry in this first season few teams will have time to reach.
If you want a team that will make incredible individual plays at each and every position, and enjoy watching the absolute highest level of play possible, Seoul Dynasty is the team for you to watch. You can catch their first game tonight, Wednesday January 10th, at 11 PM EST / 8 PM PST when they take on the Dallas Fuel in what should be an incredible match to conclude the league’s first day of play.
The third all Korean roster New York Excelsior is another team with very high expectations entering the first season of the Overwatch League. The team contains some very notable names comprised around the old LW Blue core. They previously finished 3rd in Season 2 of OGN’s APEX and dominated the during the regular season of Season 3 before stumbling in the playoffs and failing to make it to the final four.
The team has tremendous talents such as support player Libero and DPS Saebyeolbe who was able to represent South Korea at the World Cup as a part of their winning roster. While not having quite the same level of star power as Seoul, it is still easily one of the most talented individual teams in the league and much like Seoul, has a vast wealth of experience playing together that gives them excellent chemistry in game.
Their absence from APEX Season 4 means they have taken some time off from competition however, and with only an eight-man roster they will lack the depth to make any significant changes if things go sour early. Despite this there is no reason to believe they won’t be near the top of the heap come year end, and play some very exciting games in the process. You can catch their debut Thursday January 11th at 9 PM EST / 6 PM PST when they square off against Boston Uprising, a rematch from the preseason in which New York emerged victorious.
Competing under the Team EnVyUs banner prior to the start of this season, this roster is the most legitimate contender for the title out of any of the teams featuring a lineup of Western players and is the roster that is most easily recognized by western fans. This team was the Season 1 Overwatch Contenders Champions in North America and also finished in the top four when invited to compete in Season 3 of APEX, proving they could compete with even the best Korean squads.
The core of this roster has essentially been together since the beginning of competitive Overwatch, giving them an incredible chemistry advantage over most other teams in the league. The individual skill of this lineup is also not in question with players such as Taimou and Effect who can easily be considered some of the DPS best players in the world on their respective heroes. The addition of Seagull, an incredibly talented fan favorite, will no doubt bolster the strength and popularity of this team even more throughout the season.
If are a Western fan there is a good chance this is already your favorite team, but if not and you want a western team to root for that is a legitimate threat to take it all you need look no further. You can watch their debut against Seoul Dynasty tonight, Wednesday January 10th, at 11 PM EST / 8 PM PST in what is one of the most anticipated matches in the first week of play.
Western fans will recognize the core of this lineup from the Immortals team that competed in North America during both seasons of Overwatch Contenders. After emerging as the Season 0 champions the group faltered during Season 1, severely under performing by not even making it to the playoffs. As a result there are definitely some questions about how this team can respond however there is a plethora of individual skill on the roster.. DPS players Agilities and Grimreality have long been considered elite players at their positions and some roster moves in the preseason helped bolster the supporting core.
Valiant will also have some additional motivation to perform this season as they will not be the sole representatives of Los Angeles. There has been much debate over which team will be the “Lakers” and which team will be the “Clippers” and the Valiant want to make sure they solidify their position as the Lakers in the inaugural season. Having existed as a popular team in the North American League of Legends Champion Series in the past it is likely they will have strong fan support from the jump and owner Noah Winston has placed on emphasis on keeping a primarily western roster.
If you are looking for a western team full of individual talents that look to be a bit of an underdog in this season then LA’s Valiant might be the team for you. They debut during the first ever official Overwatch League match against the San Francisco Shock today at 7 PM EST / 4 PM PST.
San Francisco Shock are a team of remarkable young talents that are going to significantly improve as the season progresses. The team comprises of talents from a variety of teams and countries meaning it will take a while for them to find their groove as a unit. Additionally, the two players widely considered to be the most talented on the roster, sinatraa and super, will not be able to compete until halfway through the season as they are still too young to meet the league’s minimum age requirement.
Until then fans will have to rely on BABYBAY, a phenominal DPS/ Flex player, and iddqd, another player known for his significant skill at the DPS position. The team certainly enters the season as an underdog, however the raw potential on this team is defintely there and as a result fans will want to make sure they keep an eye on their progression throughout the year. If you want to watch a team of young stars that are likely to be in the Overwatch League for years to come, this is the team for you. Catch their official debut in the first ever official Overwatch League game when they face off against LA Valiant later today at 7 PM EST / 4 PM PST.
The LA Gladiators are the other team representing Los Angeles and are already entering the league as the Clippers, especially after losing their encounter with Valiant in the preseason. This is despite the Gladiators forming a very solid team that could easily outperform Valiant in the initial season of the league.
Although the Gladiators have elected to take players from multiple teams instead of taking an entire successful team as a whole, the way in which they did so was very intelligent. Securing both the support players from European Contenders Season 1 Champions Team Gigantti while getting their tanks from Kungarna means that the core of the roster will have some preexisting synergy. DPS stars Asher, Hydration and Western fan favorite Surefour give them an incredibly high ceiling.
This was very apparent in their preseason series against London where they emerged victorious 3-2 against what is undoubtedly one of the most talented teams in the league. This team may take a while to iron out their communication and become consistent but these players have all found enough success in their previous homes to assume that this group will be able to find success on Overwatch’s largest stage as well.
They debut at 9 PM EST / 6PM PST tonight, Wednesday January 10th, in a showdown against the Shanghai Dragons.
Another team who’s core will no doubt be familiar to Western fans, the Philadelphia Fusion are another team with a predominantly western roster that has great potential. The team is built around the Faze Clan roster, which made it all the way to the North American Contenders Season 1 Finals. The team added a few extra pieces that look to make them even stronger making them a team that looks to be in the upper middle of the pack.
The superstar DPS duo of ShaDowBurn and carpe make it possible for this team to win any match, although it might take the squad a little while to figure out its play style with their new recruits. This is the only team we haven’t got a chance to see yet as they did not participate in the preseason. While missing those games might hurt them early on, expect some incredible individual performances and victories as the season goes on.
Their first match is against the Houston Outlaws on Thursday January 11th at 7 PM EST / 4 PM PST.
Another roster fans will recognize, Florida Mayhem decided to acquire the Misfits squad in its entirety. The team was able to make it to the finals of Season 1 Contenders in Europe and actually entered the playoffs and even the final series as the favorite to emerge as champions. This strong western lineup should get off to an excellent start in the preseason considering their history and chemistry, but the preseason didn’t go as expected losing to both Dallas and San Francisco 3-1. Fans shouldn’t worry too much about this however as the team hadn’t been able to practice on the most recent patch with the majority of their team being at the World Cup.
One legitimate cause for concern is their star DPS player Logix. While he has consistently proven to be one of the most talented players at his position in the world online, he has failed to live up to those expectations on the larger stages. These performance issues are the big question mark for this team as if he can play the way he has traditionally played online, there is no telling how well this group could do.
This mostly Swedish, and all European, lineup is one of only three teams to not have a single Korean player, and the only team to enter without a single substitute. This will certainly be a team that has Europe’s support. They kick off their season at 5PM EST / 2 PM PST on Thursday January 11th in a match-up against the all-Korean London Spitfires.
The Shanghai Dragons have composed themselves an all Chinese super team that is bound to have all of China behind them. While there has been some controversy about the final roster, and the unfortunate fact that some of China’s most talented players are currently over a full season away from being old enough to make their professional debut, this is still a very skilled team with great potential this season.
While most of the players will be relatively unknown to casual western fans this is definitely a team people will want to watch. Those unfamiliar with the region will want to keep their eye on Diya. He is a remarkable DPS talent who was accused of cheating in his earliest days of playing for being so incredibly skilled with McCree and Widowmaker; he can easily be considered one of the best players in the entire world on those heroes making him a consistent highlight reel.
Their first game is against the LA Gladiators at 9 PM EST / 6PM PST tonight, Wednesday January 10th.
The Houston Outlaws enter the Overwatch League with the benefit of being owned by OpTic Gaming. They are the largest most popular and successful console esports organization, providing them with a large initial fan base and a long history of esports success. The entirely western roster contains a mixture of players from a variety of successful contenders teams providing Overwatch fans unfamiliar with OpTic some ways to connect to the organization organically.
Many of the players have been around the game since its inception and the core roster was once a highly ranked Team Fortress 2 team, the game many people feel was the most similar to Overwatch. Having known and played competitively alongside each other for so long will provide them with additional chemistry which they can use to their advantage, especially in the early parts of the season.
While they were unable to secure a win in their preseason their performance in the games was remarkably strong, making that record potentially deceptive. If you are a member of the Greenwall this is obviously the team for you and if you aren’t yet, this roster could make you want to join. You can watch their first official League game against Philadelphia Fusion tomorrow night, Thursday January 11th, at 7 PM EST / 4 PM PST.
Now that you’ve become familiar with the teams the only thing left for you to do is sit back and enjoy the action in what should be an incredible first week of games. For more details on the Overwatch league format and schedule check out the official website or this short explanatory video by Overwatch League Caster, MonteCristo.