The London Spitfire are Stage 1 champions, the Mercy meta has ended, and Stage 2: Week 1 is upon us. Across the board, from community to media rankings and our own, team standings remain fairly consistent with some slight variance due to the new meta and roster additions. Teams with historically dominant Lucio players, like the Dallas Fuel and Seoul Dynasty, are expected to resurge while others, like the Los Angeles Gladiators and Florida Mayhem, are excited to show off their holiday transfer pickups. There is some obvious consensus when Looking at the three major community and media ranks available currently: r/CompetitiveOverwatch, ESPN, and the Daily Mail. While everyone has maintained New York at #1 and London at #2, the ESPN and Reddit ranks are completely identical while the Daily Mail and Overguard ranks differ. The most extreme point of contention is the LA Valiant (ranked #6 by ESPN and Reddit and #3 by the Daily Mail and Overguard), with minor differences surrounding the LA Gladiators (who the Daily Mail ranks #8) and the San Francisco Shock or Florida Mayhem (who we have ranked inversely than the others). Read on for some exploratory Stage 2: Week 1 Overwatch League ranks with some specific explanations for why our rankings differ from the others and address all positive feedback to the Overguard on Twitter and all trash-talk to our writer Tepojama.
12. Shanghai Dragons
This might be the last time we find the Dragons ranked #12. Rumored visa issues are delaying Shanghai’s reinforcements, but excellent pickups and a favorable meta shift have the skies looking bright and open for the Dragons. With the strongest transfer window performance by any team, Shanghai addressed its tank, support, and flexibility woes by recruiting a Korean cavalry of Lee “Fearless” Euiseok, Kim “Geguri” Seyeon, and Chon “Ado” Gihyeon alongside a long-awaited Chinese addition from the Miraculous Youngsters: He “Sky” Junjian. Fearless was Main Tank and shot-caller for Element Mystic (considered by many to be Korea’s best remaining team), Geguri is a renown Zarya (nicknamed “God Zarya”) and increasingly proficient D.Va from ROX Orcas, Ado is a talented Tracer and Flex DPS from MVP Space, and Sky was Miraculous Youngster’s prodigal teenage support. The Shanghai pickups specifically address their areas of concern by bolstering their tanks and supports while adding a Tracer specialist to fit the new meta more effectively. Sky’s preference for Ana and Zenyatta should mesh with Lucio aficionado Fiveking while Geguri’s Zarya and Fearless’s flexibility should mean some strong map adaptability, especially on King’s Row. Unfortunately, Shanghai will stay at #12 as long as their additions stay abroad.
11. San Francisco Shock
The mallet is coming down and judgment must be served. The San Francisco Shock are the only team in the “Under Construction” tier that made no moves during the transfer window as they continue waiting on their big-money Tracer Jay “Sinatraa” Won and their Flex-Tank Matthew ‘’super” DeLisi. Unfortunately, until those two turn 18 (Stage 2: Week 5 for Sinatraa, and Stage 3 for super), this team is stuck in a murky and unimpressive limbo. BabyBay’s emergence as an ace DPS was short-lived and San Francisco struggled to win once teams started focus him down. The new meta should make life even harder as Tracer’s viability shines a spotlight on co-DPS Danteh’s inconsistent play. If Danteh and the Shock’s tanks continue struggling to create space then San Francisco will remain stagnant and awaiting birthdays while their competition improves. Maybe they should just commit to double-hitscan with IDDQD given this stage’s map pool.
10. Florida Mayhem
Sayaplayer, Sayaplayer, Sayaplayer. While San Francisco waits on a concrete date for their new look, the Florida Mayhem awaiting government bureaucracy for their dose of mojo. We have heard nothing about Ha “Sayaplayer” Jung Woo or Kim “aWesomeGuy” Sung Hoon’s visas, so one can hope that they will mysteriously appear Week 1 and rain down judgment like the tardy Philadelphia Fusion did in Stage 1. After the most disappointing stage outside of Dallas, the Mayhem’s six-man squad added fellow Scandinavian Flex-Tank Zappis, and some diversity with Korean, former Meta Athena and LW Red Winston main aWesomeGuy, and star Meta Athena DPS, hitscan god Sayaplayer. Already a hitscan legend, Sayaplayer is expected to be one of OWL’s top Tracers by ESPN’s Tyler Erzberger and should bring some immediate, potentially bloodthirsty mojo to a Mayhem squad who had more entertaining entrances than match performances in Stage 1. Meanwhile, aWesomeGuy’s pioneering aggressive Winston play is a promising add that satisfies CWoosH’s wishes for another main tank. Last, but not least, Zappis is known as a cerebral player so his and former KongDoo Coach r2der’s additions should help blend Florida’s flashes of excellence with their new pieces for some sustained success. Prayers up to the visa deities.
9. Los Angeles Gladiators
As much as I love iRemiix’s patented arm-sleeves and stylings, stealing Fissure from the bloated London Spitfire roster is an immediate upgrade and makes Los Angeles and their potential for triple- and quad-tank compositions even scarier for the Stage 2 meta. With an impressive frontline and backline (Shaz and BigGoose have been dying for a less Mercy-centric meta), the question marks for the Gladiators remain their DPS lineup. Hydration and Surefour’s overlapping hero pools have shown potent Genji and Pharah play while Asher’s Widow has impressed, but they should be plagued by what holds back the Shock: inconsistent Tracer play. This meta works well for their projectile DPS and S4’s Zarya flexibility, but the value of a Tracer carry should reemerge and Asher will need to find consistency if the Gladiators are to improve this stage.
8. Dallas Fuel
Still the most mysterious and exciting telenovela in all of sports entertainment now that the Cleveland Cavaliers dust has settled, interesting roster additions and the Stage 2 meta have Dallas primed to surge back to their former glory. Joined by the London Spitfire’s former KongDoo Panthera star Dong-jun “Rascal” Kim, the French, former Rogue hitscan maestro Dylan “aKm” Bignet, and a reformed Felix “xQc” Lengyel, the Fuel have more talent than ever in a meta that suits them. Given the quality of HarryHook and Tobi’s Lucio play, Dallas and Seoul suffered most during the Mercy meta and should bounce back the strongest. While the DPS lineup is a mystery given the overlap between aKm’s hero pool with Taimou’s and Rascal’s with Seagull’s — the additions are nonetheless upgrades and inter-team competition should promote higher play. Rascal’s Pharah allows Seagull to prioritize his specialized heroes (e.g. Junkrat, Hanzo), aKm’s hitscan lets Taimou flex onto Roadhog when beset by confidence issues, xQc’s return gives a more fiery tank option than Cocco’s steady Reinhardt, and all of that coupled with CarryHook’s return to the mobile, damage-dealing Lucio means that superstar Tracer EFFECT can return to his days of dominant flanking without needing to worry about carrying the team on McCree or Widowmaker. Oh, and Custa should finally be able to show off his Moira. No wonder aKm said that Dallas still has “the potential to be the best team in this league.”
7. Philadelphia Fusion
The league’s best dive DPS duo and a support duo that has been dying to switch off of Mercy heals is moving into the meta of their dreams. Carpe and ShadowBurn are right there with London and New York’s DPS, but probably outrank them when it comes to Tracer and Genji. With Boombox and Neptuno’s prowess on Zenyatta and Lucio, respectively, the Fusion seem made for the Stage 2 meta. However, it remains to be seen if the team will finally find some consistency from their tanks. While Fragi’s aggressive Winston play seemed to steadily feed during Stage 1, the off-tank starter wavered between the Korean HOTBA and French Poko and Philadephia’s chemistry seemed shaky at best. If the team can find some balance between HOTBA’s peeling and Poko’s D.Va bomb prowess then the Fusion should rise in the ranks. Until then, they’ll stay in the middle of the pack.
6. Boston Uprising
Having the Uprising this low feels like a travesty and some Talon-level treason, but it is out of respect for the higher teams, uncertainty about the team’s transition into the new meta, and maybe slightly so they can continue living up their namesake in following weeks. Boston has become a top-tier fixture in the League with wins over the London Spitfire and the LA Valiant (missing Unkoe and SilkThread) and a narrow loss to the Houston Outlaws. Young-Jin “Gamsu” Noh has solidified himself as one of the strongest main tanks and captains while their DPS duo has welcomed and magnetized the spotlight with some stellar play. Jonathan “DreamKazper” Sanchez is an MVP prospect with a dazzling hero pool (even named best Western DPS by similar MVP prospect Profit) and Nam-Joo “Striker” Kwon has emerged as one of the best Tracer players. The new meta should favor Striker, Kazper, and Gamsu’s talents but it remains to be seen how their off-tank and supports will fare compared with some of the more established commodities of the higher-ranking teams.
5. Seoul Dynasty
Nearly everything should fall back into place for the Seoul Dynasty with this stage’s meta. Tobi is Overwatch’s greatest Lucio, Ryujehong its greatest Ana, and finally the two can return to their historically dominant duo. Kuki’s return from sickness should give the team its shotcaller and Reinhardt back while allowing Miro to find his form as an instinctive, aggressive Winston. Even Zunba should be able to swap onto his trademark Zarya on Stage 2 maps like King’s Row and Lijiang: Control Center. With a fluctuating meta and multi-tank possibilities, Seoul could hypothetically even play around with triple-tank, triple-support compositions that enable their former DPS Gido to lay in Zenyatta damage as Tobi and Ryujehong’s Lucio and Ana support an aggressive tank line of Kuki, Miro, and Zunba. The only way Seoul continues to slump this stage is if they fail to find DPS consistency alongside Fleta. Like the Shock and Gladiators, Seoul’s Tracer play has been inconsistent behind Munchkin and Bunny. The new map pool favors Fleta’s Pharah and Wekeed’s Junkrat, but if the Dynasty cannot create quality Tracer output (or even go back to wavering between Munchkin, Bunny, Wekeed, and Gido on the hero) then they will remain outside of the top contenders.
4. Houston Outlaws
The only team above .500 without a single Korean player has embraced their patriotism, picked up FCTFCTN, and now boasts four of Team USA’s World Cup members. Jake and Houston beat expectations by getting into the playoffs on the back of some steady, coordinated tank play by the top Western duo CoolMatt and Muma as well as some quality Junkrat by Jakerat himself and one of Stage 1’s best DPS: Finnish stud LiNkzr. The support trio of Rawkus, Bani, and Boink was definitely above-average, but the standouts for Houston were their tanks and DPS. The tank line improves even more for Stage 2 as Belgian Zarya SPREE and savvy Reinhardt FCTFCTN’s lend flexibility to a favorable map pool. Stage 1’s best Junkrat should be unfazed by the nerfs as Jake’s positioning and timing give Houston some of the OWL’s most consistent damage output, but the Outlaws might struggle if other teams can successfully dive him. Fortunately, LiNkzr is an absolutely absurd Widowmaker and a nutty McCree as well. The Outlaws are primed for tanky comps so their biggest test will be if Jake and LiNkzr can successfully flex heroes into dive strats (a question that led Valiant Coach Daemon to call them “more like specialists” and “not DPS monsters”) and how their supports will respond to this stage’s added pressure.
3. Los Angeles Valiant
The most controversial ranking of the week is a credit to the Valiant’s Tracer, tanks, and supports. Valiant supports Kariv and Unkoe, both known for their ridiculous DPS capacity, looked visibly annoyed by playing Mercy and took turns playing the hero throughout the stage before finally reaching a meta where they don’t have to. From Kariv’s history dominating as Widow to his Stage 1 Zenyatta antics and Unkoe’s Insane Stage 1 Zenyatta play and “Rank #1 on the Ladder” Zenyatta, perhaps no team other than the Seoul Dynasty have crazier support potential in this new meta. Unlike the Dynasty however, the Valiant also boast the best Western Tracer and craftiest Tracer overall in the OWL: French standout SoOn. With a flexible, impressive (albeit slightly inconsistent) Korean tank duo of Fate and Envy alongside a dangerous support duo and carry Tracer, the Valiant’s only question is their final DPS spot. However, the answers to that question happen to be pretty satisfying as Brady “Agilities” Girardi has proven to be a top-tier Genji and Pharah and Ted “SilkThread” Wang has shown impressive DPS flexibility. With DPS sub GrimReality lying in wait and supports itching to swap off of Mercy, the Valiant should have the tools to defend their place in the rankings.
2. London Spitfire
It feels odd having the Stage 1 winners ranked #2, but the Finals were incredibly close and over the course of the stage London felt outclassed by New York. The most stacked team in Overwatch lost their backup Tank Fissure to the LA Gladiators and backup DPS Rascal to the Dallas Fuel, but their other backups Fury and Hooreg are still top-tier replacements and the starting lineup is even scarier now that it is solidified. Gesture is playing like the best main tank in the OWL while Birdring is the League’s top DPS and Profit is right behind him, making them and their complementary, deep hero pools the most dangerous DPS tandem around. Bdosin has emerged as a top Zenyatta and Nus eventually got the hang of Mercy, but the support and off-tank (Woohyal) play of London seems slightly outmatched by New York so they sit at #2 despite Stage 1’s finale. It is obvious that London and New York are in a tier of their own right now, but some lapses during Stage 1 and some worries about consistency now that Fissure and Rascal are gone keeps the Spitfire centimeters away from #1.
1. New York Excelsior
The London Spitfire are Stage 1 champions, but NYXL is still the team to beat. The boys in blue played their last Stage 1 game on the Saturday morning before their Finals against the Spitfire that evening and spent their time between the games napping and twiddling their thumbs as the 12-man London roster was able to stay fresh and scrim amongst themselves (as told to Soe and recounted by Bren at 1:01 in the match VOD). New York’s consistency apart from the Finals and the closeness of the Finals match gives them the edge here, but keeping the #1 spot despite a new meta and an improved surrounding League will be a huge test. The most crucial elements to keep an eye on for New York going into Stage 2 will be their continued usage of super-sub Pine, their curious substitutions of Janus and Mano, and how well their superstar Mercy ArK transitions to Lucio. Now that Pine has come to terms with the difficulties that come with the pressure of being called the “Big Boss,” his play should become more consistent. After a rough Stage 1 Finals for Janus, hopefully the team will let him prioritize Reinhardt for maps like King’s Row (which the whole team has been amped to run Zarya/Reinhardt on for weeks now, as mentioned on Discord) while Mano handles Winston duties. And based on ArK’s role as a high-IQ shotcalling support, he should transition back to Lucio quite easily (as he has started to on ladder). At the heart of it all, Libero’s wide hero pool (possibly the most flexible in all of Overwatch) and Saebyoelbe’s Tracer prowess give NYXL an undeniable edge while the quintessential fragyatta JJoNak (and his ability to swap onto Ana) maintains New York’s superiority.