2020 preseason Overwatch League power rankings: #9-#5

▲ Houston Outlaws' fans look up to support their team.

 

The top 10 of the power rankings are here. There are going to be teams that you are not going to expect in the top 10, maybe not even in the top five. However, what was taken into account is how much change these teams went through during the offseason, their performances during Stage 4 and playoffs because of the implementation of role lock. Lastly, how are these teams going to adapt to a meta that is going to start as a double-shield meta, but divert into other team compositions, especially when hero pools starts. Without further ado, let's get into the list.

Threats to contend


#9 – Los Angeles Gladiators

The Gladiators have been a contending team since the Overwatch League started. They achieved success under star players like Lane "Surefour" Roberts and João Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles. With those players moving to new teams, this roster needed to rebound. Additionally, the Gladiators migrated management from the Sentinels to KSE Esports. For organizations that go through a remodel of this magnitude, it is usually difficult for those teams to find success in the following year. Under new management, the Gladiators continue to strive to be the best team in the Overwatch League.

▲ Gladiators' fans scream "SHIELDS UP!" for their team during a match.


They kept their support core, Jonas "Shaz" Suovaara and Benjamin "BigGoose" Isohanni, who are consistent players for the previous two seasons. The duo can give the support necessary for a win, whether it is a regular-season game or any high-pressure situation. Instead of rebuilding the team like the Los Angeles Valiant, the Gladiators decided to go all-in. They picked up Indy "SPACE" Halpern, who is known as a D.Va specialist for the past two seasons with the Valiant. Space is going to have a critical role on the team as D.Va is slowly creeping back into the current meta. They also picked up Min-seok "OGE" Son, who came from the Dallas Fuel. He was a solid Reinhardt for the Fuel last season during the GOATS meta. However, he struggled when Stage 4 came around and was not the same player he was when he had to adapt. A new home with the Gladiators will hopefully revitalize that spark lost in Stage 4 for OGE.

The Gladiators are looking towards a championship run this season. When they have their shields up, they have the potential to reach the top with this roster. The only thing stopping them is possibly New York Excelsior and San Francisco Shock.

#8 – Philadelphia Fusion

After reaching the grand finals in the inaugural season, the Fusion aimed to go back to the finals last season. Maybe it was due to the meta shift or lack of coordination, but the Fusion did not achieve the same success as the inaugural season. Instead, they continued to struggle even with an all-star player like Jae-hyeok "Carpe" Lee. The Fusion kept Carpe’s DPS partner, Josue "Eqo" Corona, who was an exceptional DPS with Hanzo in the inaugural season but was a ghost last season. He is one player that is looking to make a comeback this season.

▲ The Fusion celebrates as they came away with a win.


One glaring problem with the Fusion last year was their tank line. Gael "Poko" Gouzerch and Su-min "SADO" Kim are serviceable tanks on their own. But, in a meta that emphasized teamwork, there was a disconnect. During the offseason, the Fusion added a great off-tank player to their roster, Jun-ho "Fury" Kim. He was a world champion for the London Spitfire during the inaugural season and well-known for his D.Va bombs that can turn team fights around for his team. Fury can help coordinate skirmishes for the Fusion. Whether he is playing with Poko or SADO, he can help command the team with Carpe this season.

There is a lot of hope for Philadelphia to become the team they were in the inaugural season. The skill in the league rose, but you cannot count out a team like the Fusion. They have the Rocky spirit in them to climb those steps and rise to the top.

#7 – Houston Outlaws

With a massive fanbase throughout the United States, the Outlaws are the Overwatch League fan's favorite team. For the first two seasons, they comprised of Team USA members who made an impact during previous Overwatch World Cup tournaments. When the Overwatch League started in 2018, the Outlaws had a tumultuous time finding success. They finished 7th during the inaugural season, then dipped to 16th last season. While the Houston fanbase has not lost faith in their Outlaws, they want to see changes, especially this season.

Notable pickups by the Outlaws organization include João Pedro "Hydration" Goes Telles and Tae-hong "MekO" Kim. Hydration was a flexible player for the Los Angeles Gladiators last season. As evidenced in the playoffs last season, he can be a capable DPS player with Pharah or Doomfist in one game, then flex as a tank player with Sigma in the next. His flexibility almost carried the Gladiators past the unstoppable Titans in the playoffs.

▲ Shane "Rawkus" Flaherty takes out his finger guns after a win.


MekO, on the other hand, comes from the New York Excelsior who is one of the most dominant teams in the Overwatch League. MekO and his Dong-gyu "Mano" Kim was a one-two punch for NYXL that was hard to stop, no matter what team is playing against them. He is one of the most dependable tanks in the league, was pivotal to NYXL’s success in the playoffs with Sigma, and can flex to any off-tanks such as D.Va or Roadhog.

Houston made significant additions to their team when Jacob "JAKE" Lyon and Matt "coolmatt" Iorio retired this offseason. This team should not be underrated when this season starts. They have the potential to be the best team in the league if the stars align.

#6 – Atlanta Reign

The Reign is one team that made surprised many fans during Stage 4 last season. When role lock was implemented, the Atlanta Reign was unleashed. Blake "Gator" Scott was huge for the Reign that he became one of the best Sigmas during playoffs. Accompanying him to play an essential role for Atlanta is Joon "Erster" Jeong. In Stage 4 and playoffs, he made constant picks with his Doomfist and Mei that was ungodly. If Erster could not finish off his opponents, Andrej "babybay" Francisty was there to clean things up with his Reaper.

 


This team was a well-oiled machine when role lock came, and are looking to continue that dominance this season. One player that people should keep their eye on is Steven "Kodak" Rosenberger. Last season, he played a few games for the Reign before playing for ATL Academy for the remainder of the season. He is a Zenyatta specialist who makes the best impression of Sung-hyeon "JJoNak" Bang when he plays. There is a lot of hype from fans to see Kodak back in the main stage. Kodak can make a difference for the Reign if the time and opportunity allow it. The Reign has a team designed to go all the way to the grand finals. If they can overcome and adapt to all the meta shifts coming this season, they can be the San Francisco Shock of this season.
 

#5 – Hangzhou Spark

Hangzhou is one team that surprised me last season. They flew under a lot of radars, not having any expectations last season. Next thing you know, they are in the playoffs. During playoffs, the meta was definitely in their favor. The Spark has an all-star tank with Xu "guxue" Qiulin, who carried the team to the Stage 2 and 3 playoffs last season, and helped Team China to the grand finals in the past two Overwatch World Cup tournaments. Also, Hangzhou has a secret weapon in the name of Jun-Ki "Bazzi" Park. You can say his performance is MVP-like with the way he was flattening his opponents on Doomfist. His performance and elusive on Doomfist was unlike anything we have seen before. He is one player that needs to have attention if Doomfist is in the meta or if he has been practicing other heroes during the offseason.

▲ A fan holds up an Hangzhou Spark flag for support.


The Spark did not make any substantial offseason moves. They mainly kept the same players that took them to fourth place last season. At this point, it is going to sound cliche, but they are another team poised to spark a #bang this season. It would be misguided for teams to overlook the Sparks in 2020.


Images via Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment


Follow me on Twitter @itsjustchris for more coverage on Overwatch League and various games

 

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