Here we are at the final stretch of the power rankings. The top three teams should be obvious. But, who I placed fourth might be a surprise to some of you.
My final words before the season kicks off is that this year is going to be of epic proportions. We should expect the unexpected, especially with a lot of travel and meta shifts for all teams. We can see a low-tier team like Boston rise up and win it all. We can see the defending champs like San Francisco struggle for the first few weeks and everyone questioning this team. This is the type of excitement we all look forward to each year for the Overwatch League. Fans all over the world are going to witness the spectacle that's been enclosed in Burbank, CA for the past two seasons. Its glory and emotion are going to seep to fans in other cities who are looking forward to seeing esports. This is what esports needs for its' longevity. Let's get into the top four of the power rankings
Cream of the crop
#4 - Washington Justice
Hear me out. We all know the Justice did not have the strongest of starts last season. After all, in the first three stages, they started out with two wins and 19 losses. This team had no cohesion, lacked communication, and was utterly chaotic. Washington continued to play each match as if it were their last. Then, Stage 4 arrived.
Corey "Corey" Nigra, Ethan "Stratus" Yankel, and Yeonjoon "ArK" Hong was the focus on carrying the Justice into a 6-1 record in Stage 4. Watching Corey get three or four kills off Reaper's Death Blossom, Stratus cleaning up after Corey with his Doomfist, and ArK being the support he was when he helped New York Excelsior succeed in the inaugural season was a thing of beauty. If the stage playoffs were still going in Stage 4, they would heavy favorites alongside Atlanta Reign. A shift in focus and meta was what the Justice needed to have a fresh start in the Overwatch League.
During the offseason, the Justice bolstered their roster with Elliot "ELLIVOTE" Vaneryd and Lukas "LullSiSH" Wiklund, who come from Contenders and a tank duo that has played together since 2017 with Angry Titans. The Justice also picked up solid support, Minseok "AimGod" "Jeff" Kwon. His previous stint was with the Boston Uprising where he was not playing up to his potential. Like Min-seok "OGE" Son, AimGod is setting his sights on revitalizing his confidence.
The Justice has a deep roster with an all-star player like Corey who broke out during the 2019 Overwatch World Cup and could have been MVP for that tournament as well. They need to continue their momentum from Stage 4 last season and capitalize on their up and coming DPS players to succeed.
#3 - Vancouver Titans
The Titans came out last year guns blazing. After all, in the previous year, they dominated Contenders KR as RunAway winning multiple titles. You can say that last season was an "Attack on Titan." Every team in the league could not contend with the Titans, no matter what the meta was. They were well-coordinated on all sides throughout the GOATS meta and adapted well to the role lock meta. It is difficult to say that there is one player that stands out in that team because the whole squad is a behemoth. However, after failing to win the grand finals against the San Francisco Shock, the Titans disbanded with a few of their players.
Sang-beom "Bumper" Park and Jang-hyeon "TiZi" Hwang are two tanks that helped carry the Titans to a successful season last year. However, neither of them are returning this year. It's unknown to the general public why they are not with the Titans this season, nor why other teams haven't considered picking up either of these players. It is a mystery like "Why hero bans are not a thing?" or "Why are not there more heroes in Overwatch?" Getting back on track, the Titans kept the 2019 Rookie of the Year, Hyojong "Haksal" Kim, and picked up some key players.
Jehong "ryujehong" Ryu and Chan-hyung "Fissure" Baek are two players that can help Vancouver get back to the grand finals. ryujehong is a legend in Overwatch esports, dating back to Lunatic-Hai in Overwatch APEX and Seoul Dynasty for the past two seasons. He is well-known as an Ana specialist, but more so for his leadership. On the other hand, you have Fissure who was last seen with the Seoul Dynasty last season. However, he called it quits when he announced his retirement in the middle of the season. It is not the first time he quit in the middle of a run (ask London Spitfire or Los Angeles Gladiators). Nonetheless, he is a solid Reinhardt player, who can make plays for his team. In this season, Reinhardt will be critical after Orisa and Sigma were nerfed.
The Titans have everything going for them as long as they can stay composed, play around Haksal, and continue to stay confident in their play. One worry about the Titans is Fissure. He can be unpredictable in his behavior.
#2 - New York Excelsior
New York is synonymous with winning in the Overwatch League. They've had a stacked roster throughout the entirety of their existence. Last season, they continued to dominate and excelled at the game. NYXL has the 2018 MVP Sung-hyeon "JJoNak" Bang and one of the best captains in the league, Jong-ryeol "Saebyeolbe" Park. However, they let go of Tae-hong "MekO" Kim to the Houston Outlaws and 2017 Overwatch World Cup star Yeon-oh "Fl0w3R" Hwang.
Are there any worries about NYXL regressing? Nope. NYXL is still going to keep dominating this season, especially after picking up Hong-joon "HOTBA" Choi. HOTBA was with the Guangzhou Charge where he became one of the most commanding tanks during the playoffs with Sigma. If HOTBA can become an effective D.Va player to complement Dong-gyu "Mano" Kim, you can assure that NYXL can be the best team in the league.
There is not much to say about NYXL because this team almost has no flaws. They're a team that continues to play at a high level, assert control with confidence, and raise the skill ceiling in the league. Expect them to not fall below third place this season.
#1 - San Francisco Shock
Is anyone surprised at this point? The Shock went from a mediocre team in Season 1 to world champions last season. This is the definition of building a team. The Shock has a coach with Dae-hee "Crusty" Park that you can probably call the Phil Jackson of the Overwatch League if the Shock are repeating champions this season. Then, you have a player like Jay "sinatraa" Won, who is the current MVP of the league. Lastly, a deep roster of players you can rotate without worrying about the synergy of your team. That is something unseen and insane in esports.
San Francisco did not make massive roster moves during the offseason. Rather than focusing on buying a high-valued free agent, they want to build up-and-coming players. The organization picked up Seonchang "ANS" Lee, who is an unknown to Western fans. In South Korea, he made his mark as an exceptional Widowmaker and Hanzo player for BlossoM in 2018. ANS is one player that the Shock and Crusty can work with this year. If he develops into a solid DPS player, the Shock is going to have one hell of a DPS lineup with ANS, sinatraa, Minho "Architect" Park, Nam-joo "Striker" Kwon, and Dong-jun "Rascal" Kim.
Like NYXL, no one should be doubting San Francisco's skill. If you tell me the odds of the Shock going back to the grand finals, it is highly likely. The Shock is a team that every team should strive to be: scout high prospect players, develop their skills, build confidence, and win.
Images via Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
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