It is Week 12, the second week of Stage 3, and we are halfway through the Overwatch League’s first season. Stage 2 saw New York win $100,000, Philadelphia $25,000, and some major ranking shakeups — but with a new map pool, new patch, and a whole new level of drama, Stage 3 is an entirely different beast. Junkertown and Oasis are back on the menu, Blizzard World has made its debut, and the Boston Uprising have officially parted ways with their flex DPS stalwart DreamKazper. Over their last five games, the Uprising were 5-0 (with a +8 map differential) and about to break into the top of the Stage 3 ranks. Now, they go back to square one and our rankings reflect that uncertainty. Aside from the consistently dominant Excelsior, the Overwatch League looks wide open right now as struggling teams improve and strong teams struggle. Week 12 features some marquee matchups (London v. Philadelphia, New York v. Houston) and should continue to test team reputations as the league adjusts to new players in the new meta.
12. Shanghai Dragons
The new-look Dragons are here. Ado, Fearless, Geguri, Sky, and Daemin already made their debuts — but star DPS Diya is officially back from China so the team can finally start gelling with its full roster (and coaching staff, as RUI and Creed have also arrived). It has not been pretty for Shanghai as the team won just 16.5% of its fights in Week 10 (against the Outlaws and Spitfire) and 28.5% in Week 11 (against the Fuel and Valiant). Ado legitimately impressed on Genji, Geguri looked strong on off-tank, but Daemin, Fearless, and Sky all underperformed. Shanghai should continue to struggle as they work through language barriers (the team’s native Korean and Mandarin speakers currently communicate in English, mirroring the Stage 1 Valiant’s trilingual communication issues), but this is an exciting, pivotal time for the team to lay a functional foundation. A positive sign? Diya returned on April 8th and was already duo-ing with Fearless on ladder the following day while Geguri and FreeFeel were seen trio-ing with a mystery player on April 10th.
11. Boston Uprising
In an unfortunate turn, the Boston Uprising have shifted from peak performance to peak drama (to the point where the team disabled chat on their official Discord server). Disregarding the details of DreamKazper’s situation and focusing on the team’s future, the Uprising should struggle in the next couple weeks as their DPS sub Mistakes and incoming support AimGod (listed as DPS on the Overwatch League website) try to replace Kazper’s output. After last month’s rough stretch with rumors of internal turmoil and the team’s issues with opposing Widowmakers, DreamKazper grinded the sniper and went from posting a 1.5 K/D in Week 8 to 1.6 in Week 9, 2.5 in Week 10, and finally a beastly 2.6 in Week 11 as the team dismantled both the Fusion and Outlaws while winning 66% of their fights. Striker continues to be one of the top Tracers in the Overwatch League and Boston’s tank/support lines are still top-tier, but the team’s problems were very real before Kazper perfected his Widowmaker. For the time being, expectations should remain very low for a team that needs to completely replace maybe their most impactful performer and communicator while trying to remain focused despite surrounding drama.
10. Dallas Fuel
The Dallas Fuel’s most recent semblance of consistency was born out of the unpredictability of Taimou’s bowel movements and ended just as spontaneously with their impromptu, communicative lineup (EFFECT, Rascal, Mickie, Seagull, Custa, Chipshajen) getting dismantled by Rascal’s trip to Korea and Custa’s sudden trade to the Valiant. Dallas has sacrificed short-term chemistry for long-term potential by prioritizing uNKOE’s mechanical skills (he once hit #1 on the NA ladder as Zenyatta), but the team can finally start laying a legitimate foundation for the future now that their Korean main tank OGE is in California and eligible to play. The team was perturbed by Custa’s departure, as Mickie expressed confusion on stream: “Custa was leading the team … I have no idea why Dallas traded him” and EFFECT expressed some serious concerns, echoing Rascal’s original clash with coach KyKy over the team’s lack of industrious culture: “Stage 3 will be cancer. Of course, if OGE comes things might be different. But we’re seeing no answers. ‘That culture’ is blocking Dallas’s growth.” Now, OGE’s arrival is at hand and, with the increased presence of Koreans (Rascal, OGE) and no-nonsense players (aKm, uNKOE), things might soon be different and the load might be lessened for EFFECT’s shoulders (who finished last week with a spooky 2.5 K/D and has only had one match with negative K/D in the past four weeks). After managing to win 41% of their fights against the Spitfire and Excelsior in Week 10, the Fuel won 51% of their fights against the Dragons and Gladiators in Week 11 as HarryHook returned to the lineup alongside their new fragyatta uNKOE. This week uNKOE gets his grudge match against the Valiant as the Fuel get a fresh start and move towards the ridiculously high ceiling their team should have.
9. Florida Mayhem
A tough schedule to start Stage 3 will likely keep Florida low in the standings, but this team is about to make some noise. Last week brought the misfortune of Excelsior and Fusion matchups, this week the Mayhem look to further incorporate their Korean recruits against two hungry teams: the Spitfire and Uprising. Florida won about 43% of their fights in Week 11, which is decent given their opponents and the difficulty of introducing a new player into their lineup. Despite those issues, Logix and Manneten continued to impress by each finishing the week with a positive K/D on Tracer and D.Va, respectively. The team’s supports may be a major question mark and CWoosH’s inconsistency continues, but TviQ’s Genji remains potent and new addition Sayaplayer was already dropping highlight plays as Widowmaker by the end of his debut week (finishing with a 2.1 K/D on Widow against the league’s two top teams). Look for Florida to improve and surprise teams as they figure out their new DPS rotation and begin involving their new main tank aWesomeGuy.
8. Los Angeles Gladiators
After seeming destined for the Stage 2 playoffs, Fissure and L.A.’s honeymoon ended and the Gladiators seem ready to hit the reset button. In Week 11 the team dropped a winnable match to the refurbished Shock before casually defeating the Rascal-less Fuel. Asher continues to make a case for himself as a top-tier Tracer (especially after out-dueling EFFECT), but the team’s flex-DPS rotation and off-tank play both remain iffy. While Surefour’s Widowmaker play has surged (finishing Week 11 with a 1.9 K/D on the hero), his other heroes have disappointed (posted a 0.1 K/D as Genji and Tracer on the week) and Hydration has just generally struggled (ending Week 11 with 37 eliminations on 47 deaths). The flex-DPS rotation should get even murkier now that Silkthread has been purchased from the Valiant (he finished the week with a 0.7 K/D), but his involvement and off-tank Void’s eventual arrival should allow the team to iron out their rotations and find some consistency.
7. San Francisco Shock
Super made his debut as main tank and the Shock proceeded to dismantle the Gladiators before getting spanked by the Dynasty. Nonetheless, Stage 3 remains San Francisco’s time to shine — their new main tank looks strong; Danteh’s Sombra is top-tier; new Korean DPS, projectile specialist Architect is in California; and new Korean off-tank ChoiHyoBin is en route. Meanwhile, Sinatraa looks more comfortable on Tracer every match and off-tank Nevix hasn’t had a negative K/D since the start of Week 9. Starting with the steady baseline of support play prompted by Moth’s arrival, the Shock have bolstered their performance each week and the meta’s timing seems to suit them specifically given Danteh’s experience running Sombra. The team obviously remains inconsistent, as a sweep by the Dynasty attests to, but if their DPS can step it up and give Sleepy more room to work (as in the Gladiators match, where he posted a bonkers 3.4 K/D as Moira) then this team’s record could eventually match their confidence.
6. Los Angeles Valiant
Yes — I know the Valiant’s only wins in the past few weeks came against the Dynasty’s B-Team and the Dragons — but I’m still drinking the Kool-Aid. The team was not struggling because of Envy and uNKOE’s play; they were struggling because of an inconsistent flex-DPS rotation, team toxicity, and a sweet, but weak main support player who seemed to have not earned his team’s respect. The Valiant addressed this by dropping some mechanical skill to make room for both communicatory and mechanical upgrades at off-tank and main support (with SPACE and Custa, respectively) and consistency on flex-DPS and flex-support (by giving Agilities and Kariv those respective starting roles). The team also added Bunny from the Seoul Dynasty (who has been compared by both Assistant Coach Grimreality and CEO Noah Whinston to the ever-goofy Kariv) as well as teenage prospects KSF and Finnsi, rounding out a locker-room with industrious talent to benefit practice time and some PMA leadership to complement Fate’s callouts. The competition was weak in Week 11, but the Valiant kept their foot on the pedal and won an average of 77% of their fights as SPACE posted 71 eliminations on just 19 deaths in his debut week, Kariv dropped a 1.5 K/D in his return to flex-support, and Agilities dominated (especially on Genji, finishing with 27 eliminations on just 3 deaths) in his return to flex-DPS.
5. Houston Outlaws
An unpredictable Stage 3 given the new meta and roster shakeups should play into the hands of the unconventional Houston Outlaws. All season the Outlaws have gone against the grain by underutilizing Tracer in favor of Junkrat and counter-dive play, prompting Spitfire main tank Gesture to credit the Outlaws’ ability to surprise teams ahead of Stage 3. Houston beat London 3-2 and Boston 4-0 in Stage 2 and last week they beat London 3-2 again before making a 180 and getting 4-0’d by Boston. Due to media work, the team barely practiced between stages and their inconsistencies will likely continue as they adapt to the new stage. Beating London’s A-Team is no small feat, losing to a red-hot Uprising is understandable, and a team that already depends on its teamwork and unconventional adaptability seems likely to adjust well to a new stage — as long as DiNkzr continues to exist and Rawkus is right about the team knowing how to play around their limited Tracer output.
4. Seoul Dynasty
Stage 2 was ugly for the Dynasty after a hot start so the team decided to get the ugly out of the way with a gross performance against the Valiant to start Stage 3. After running their B-Team (replacing Zunba, Tobi, and Ryujehong with Xepher, Gambler, and Gido) against the newly concocted Valiant roster and winning just about 26% of the fight’s matches en route to a 4-0 loss, Seoul went back to their full A-Team in a 4-0 walkabout against the improved Shock. Continuing Week 10’s trend of underperforming subs (when Kuki posted a 0.4 K/D against Houston), not a single Dynasty player had more kills than deaths against the Valiant. The sweep of the Shock is a good sign, but it is disheartening that the Dynasty’s A-Team trio (Munchkin, Fleta, and Miro) all had such rough games against the Valiant. When the London Spitfire play their B-Team alongside the Profit and Gesture lynchpin, the two typically finish with a positive K/D and carry the squad to some success. Seoul’s backups still need some work, but last week proves that their starters aren’t as coordinated as they should be either since Munchkin, Fleta, and Miro were unable to carry even a little against Los Angeles. On the bright side, Gambler has shown some flashes of impressive play and Wekeed has hit a stride on Genji and Junkrat so the team’s DPS rotation looks strong on maps like Anubis and Junkertown.
3. London Spitfire
The London Spitfire continue to be impossible to gauge within the first few weeks of the stage. After dropping to the Fusion in the Stage 2 playoffs, the Spitfire started Stage 3 with their A-Team narrowly losing to the Outlaws 3-2 before they decided to play almost their entire roster in a 4-0 stomp at the hands of the Excelsior. London actually got 3% more eliminations than Houston, but lost 1% more fights as their main tank and healer (Gesture and Nus) each got focused and were the team’s only two to finish with more deaths than eliminations. Profit was the team’s only player to finish with a positive K/D through the week as Birdring and Bdosin were each shut down by New York. The Spitfire continue to figure out roster rotations in each stage’s early weeks and this week’s matchup against the Fusion should be a true test of their progress as they look to exact revenge on the team that dashed their hopes for $100K in Stage 2.
2. Philadelphia Fusion
Eqo is still suspended, but it doesn’t really matter for Philadelphia. The first team to legitimize a DPS rotation, Philadelphia’s young Tracer Snillo and veteran Pharah/Genji ShadowBurn allow them to shift comps based on opponents, maps, and suspensions. Despite losing 3-2 to the Uprising in Week 11, Snillo still posted a nutty 3.3 K/D after getting 62 eliminations on just 19 deaths while Carpe continued his reign of dominance (61 eliminations on 29 deaths) and showed some impressive new-meta Sombra play (3.1 K/D). Philadelphia’s support-line is easily one of the league’s best, their DPS lineup gets even scarier once Eqo returns, and Poko is proving to be a legitimate off-tank (even without those absurd Stage 1 D.Va bombs), but the main tank situation is still delicate as the team needs to be in top form to compensate for Fragi’s oftentimes misplaced aggression.
1. New York Excelsior
Everyday the Overwatch League strays further from New York’s light. In their last three games, JJoNak has managed to notch an absurd 80 eliminations on 67 deaths — cementing himself as the league’s top Zenyatta and singlehandedly prompting Blizzard to nerf the hero in its latest patch. Meanwhile, main support ArK died 23 times total in Week 11 while the rest of the OWL’s main supports averaged 27 deaths per match. Saebyeolbe is likely the league’s top Tracer, Meko its best off-tank, and both Libero and Mano’s flexibility and coordination allow the team to strike a versatile balance that maintains space for their untouchable support duo. In week 11 the Excelsior even managed to successfully incorporate Janus and Pine. Oh, and there’s still room for improvement as NYXL has yet to give their new support Anamo any stage time and is yet to fully utilize Sombra, a hero that Libero pioneered with Meta Athena back in Korea.
* Featured image is credited to Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment Press *