It is that time of the year again, and I am not talking about Christmas. It is time for another season of the Overwatch League. Previously, on the Overwatch League, New York Excelsior had a heartbreaking semifinal against Vancouver, the Titans had an extraordinary season until they met the San Francisco Shock in the grand finals, and the Shock is your new 2019 Overwatch League champions. Many emotions were felt in the Blizzard Arena from heartache, laughter, cries, and elation.
Since that memorable time at the Blizzard Arena, things changed. A lot of players migrated to other teams or retired, Overwatch League talent moved on to other ventures, and the games themselves are taking on a life of their own as they relocate to numerous cities around the world.
Before the newest season starts, how do the Overwatch League teams stack up against each other after all these changes during the offseason?
Starting from the bottom
#20 - London Spitfire
The Spitfire went through a remake of sorts during the offseason. They were the inaugural season champions and had the potential to repeat with their roster. After they were eliminated by NYXL during the quarterfinals of the postseason playoffs, they went through a renovation of their entire roster. The heart of the London Spitfire's roster, Seung-tae "Bdosin" Choi, Jae-hee "Gesture" Hong, and Joon-yeong "Profit" Park are now with Seoul. The rest of the roster moved to other teams, retired, or still looking for a new home. The remaining player left is Yung-hoon "Krillin" Jung.
With a new roster, it's hard to predict how things will pan out. There's always uncertainty for a new, revamped team to perform well. Factors like communication is a huge thing in a game like Overwatch. Most of the new London players have not played with each other previously. One advantage they do have going for them is that they do not have to deal with any language barriers. However, working together in a high-pressure, high-stressful environment is a different beast to conquer.
#19 - Boston Uprising
The Uprising had a subpar season in 2019 if you compare it to their first. You can say the level of play in Overwatch League increased significantly, but the Uprising were unable to adapt. They are coming into this season with up-and-coming stars like Cameron "Fusions" Bosworth and Kelsey "Colourhex" Birse that can potentially have a breakout season this year. Additionally, they have veteran player Sang-beom "Munchkin" Byeon and a plethora of new faces.
The only thing keeping the Uprising down is how well they can play into the meta this season, especially after an 0-7 Stage 4 performance last year. If you remember correctly, Stage 4 last year was the move to role lock. Some teams adapted well to role lock, but Boston did not. While this roster iteration can have potential to surprise fans this year, they need to address issues they had last season like communicating, especially with a lot of fresh faces.
#18 - Los Angeles Valiant
This season's Valiant is not going to be the same as last season's Valiant. The Valiant we knew from previous seasons is long gone. This year is a new era for the Valiant with a new attitude, new colors, and new players.
One thing that the Valiant can grow and learn from last season is their up-and-coming core of Kyle "KSF" Frandanisa, Johannes "Shax" Nielsen, and Caleb "McGravy" McGarvey. That core three is the future of the team moving forward. For KSF, he was a compliment to Brady "Agilities" Girardi during Stage 4. Shax impressed many fans and players during the 2019 Overwatch World Cup. Lastly, McGravy is a dependable tank that can perform whatever he is asked to. The only thing setting this team back is the lack of stars, plus leadership with Scott "Custa" Kennedy retiring in the offseason. This team is going to learn as they go this season.
#17 - Paris Eternal
The Eternal was a team that had so much potential last season. They had a team full of solid players, coincidentally from France, as well. However, it did not work out for them. They have gone back to the drawing board to reevaluate their style going into this season. They decided to keep quite a few players from last season but released George "ShaDowBurn" Gushcha.
To fill the empty roster spots, they signed Da-un "NoSmite" Jeong, formerly from Hangzhou Spark, and, one of the top prospects during the offseason, Yeong-han "Sp9rk1e" Kim. For the latter, Sp9rk1e will need to immediately put his stamp into the league once he is eligible to play at the end of May. Until Sp9rk1e is ready to play, the Eternal will struggle in the meantime but can pull some upsets against top teams and should get wins against low-tier teams.
#16 - Florida Mayhem
The Mayhem ended Stage 4 last season on a high note. With a much-needed change to role lock, they took advantage of having a top-tier DPS like Jung-woo "Sayaplayer" Ha. During the offseason, Mayhem added two key players Jun-ki "Yaki" Kim and Nam-jin "Gangnamjin" Gang, who are well-touted prospects from KR Contenders.
Now, with a full season ahead, the Mayhem can finally show their true potential. There is always that sense of doubt that Florida can perform on stage, based on past performances. But, they can surprise many people this season. Only time will tell whether this is the Florida of old or a new era.
#15 - Toronto Defiant
Last season's Toronto Defiant was a rollercoaster of sorts. They had potential throughout last season but always fell short. Then, drama ensued within the team. The team went through a revision during the offseason. In order to attract ticket sales, they went and got notable players like Brady "Agilities" Girardi, Young-seo "KariV" Park, and Lane "Surefour" Roberts. All three notable pickups are solid players going forward for the Defiant.
However, what weaknesses lie for the Defiant is their tank lineup. They will start the season with Andreas "Nevix" Karlsson and Adam "Beast" Denton. Nevix barely got any playing time last season for the Shock due to their deep lineup. As for Beast, he came from a successful Contenders team, Fusion University. However, the level of play in the Overwatch League is notches above Contenders. Beast needs to adapt quickly to ensure success for not only himself but for the team. If the meta swings towards a DPS meta, the Defiant can rely on Agilities and Surefour to carry them into a winning record.
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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