A new patch seemed to fix the Fusion and break the Uprising while new (and returning) players reinvigorated teams like the Dallas Fuel and Los Angeles Gladiators. Each of last week’s games was a Week 5 rematch, but a shifting meta and new map pool meant different outcomes as 25% of the matches featured a new victor. With more dive and some multi-tank play, Mercy’s usage went down 80%, Lucio’s up 65%, and the standard dive comp of D.Va, Winston, Genji, Tracer, Lucio, and Zenyatta increased in usage by 6.5% — continuing to be the most-used (as noted by BenchMobDC). While the Outlaws managed to beat the Spitfire again, the Dynasty and Fusion got their revenge for being swept in Week 6 by 4-0’ing the Valiant and Uprising, respectively. About 50% of teams fielded a new starter while a different map pool and new meta increased opportunities for Zarya aficionados like Spree and supports like Boink and Tobi. Injury (ArK), sickness (chipshajen), and visa troubles (Shanghai, Florida) factor into this week’s ranks, but we should see some major shakeups following Week 7’s marquee matchups as the Fusion (3/1: Houston, 3/3: London), Fuel (2/28: Seoul, 3/2: LAV), and Outlaws (3/1: Philadelphia, 3/3: Excelsior) will face some especially steep competition. Unless noted, all statistics are pulled from Winston’s Lab or magtanggol’s data visualization.
12. Shanghai Dragons
It has been confirmed that Shanghai’s reinforcements might miss Stage 2 entirely, so a major jump in the standings is not likely for the Dragons. But, the team continues to improve. After averaging a paltry 32.4% win rate for fights in Stage 1, Shanghai averaged a 40.7% fight win rate in Week 6 while winning a map against the Fuel and drawing one against the Valiant. The Fuel and Valiant may have been experimenting by respectively starting Taimou on Winston and Kariv on DPS, but the Dragons found some success by experimenting themselves with a multi-tank attack on Hollywood (with an especially nice Zarya play by Diya). If Florida’s new additions do not arrive soon then they are in serious danger of replacing Shanghai at #12.
11. Florida Mayhem (-1)
The mystery of the Mayhem’s recruits continues as Sayaplayer and aWesomeGuy did not make the WWE-style entrance I hoped for last week. In the meantime, the Scandinavian team won just 14.7% of its maps against its Week 6 opponents after winning 33.3% against them the week before. On the plus side, CWoosH is looking more comfortable on Winston and TviQ showed promise with his diverse hero pool. Having faced the Excelsior and a red-hot Fusion squad last week, with matchups against the Spitfire and Uprising this week, the rest of Stage 2 should feel like a welcome breeze for the battle-tested Mayhem. Hopefully their new Korean teammates arrive soon enough to enjoy it with them.
10. San Francisco Shock (+1)
The San Francisco Shock continue their existence in limbo, but they did take a map off of Seoul and Danteh actually showed some major flashes of talent. At the end of Stage 1 the team struggled to adjust when opposing teams keyed in on their gameplan by focusing down the pocketed BabyBay. With Mercy gone, Dhak is free to play his preferred Lucio but the team’s issues continued without BabyBay’s pocketed carry potential. Control maps are generally the most chaotic so it is fitting that they were the only map type the Shock won 40+% of the time in Stage 1 (with 58%), unfortunately the team is just 1-7 on maps for Stage 2. Seeing Danteh put in work was an unexpected treat, but this week’s matches against the Valiant and Dragons will be telling.
9. Los Angeles Gladiators
Fissure is good at Overwatch. Doubts about the LA Gladiators DPS lineup and the team’s overall synergy aside, the Fissure/Bischu tank duo is looking beautiful alongside Shaz and BigGoose’s transition into the new support meta. Fissure played one of the week’s strongest tank games (just ask his fantasy owners) as Los Angeles followed up its -10 map differential for Stage 1 with a +2 start to Stage 2. While the team’s chemistry is still fairly sloppy and they struggle to clean up their DPS rotation, Fissure seems to be transitioning well. In a Reddit AMA he mentioned that “outside of game stuff, Gladiators are much better in terms of living and food,” and iterated that comms are “in English, but I still need to learn a lot of English.” As he learns, the LAG “in-game stuff” should smoothen out with a shot-caller that can bring what the team lacks. When asked what else he can bring the Gladiators, he reiterated: “Leadership. As soon as I can learn English better.”
8. Dallas Fuel
Speaking of Fissure, he was asked about the best main tanks and said: “Reinhardt is xQc.” Fittingly, xQc looked fantastic in his return, aKm and Rascal each look as deadly as Fuel fans hoped, and a relieved EFFECT finally returned to form. The matchups were fairly weak for Dallas, but the team was able to successfully demonstrate promise while trying out its new players and some new lineups. In Stage 1, the Fuel had a -11 map differential and the only map type they won more than 30% of their games on was Control. In Stage 2 so far, the Fuel are +4 and 100% on Assault and Escort maps (50% on Control and Hybrid). With Taimou and xQc on main tank (instead of Cocco) and Custa on support alongside Harryhook (instead of the sick chipshajen), the Fuel won 57.6% of their fights (they won 44.6% of fights in Stage 1). Seagull remains benched as he reportedly learns how to flex onto D.Va. Dallas seems potent in the new meta with their new players, but their opponents were accommodating and they will need to prove themselves this week against the Valiant and Dynasty before they move up the ranks.
7. LA Valiant (-4)
Big swing, bigger miss. Considering Kariv and Unkoe’s unenthused body language throughout Stage 1 when they had to play Mercy, I incorrectly assumed that the Stage 2 Mercy-less meta would be a boon to an already-strong Valiant team. On the back of sturdy tank play, Unkoe’s Zenyatta frags, SoOn’s pestering Tracer, and a flexible DPS lineup — the Valiant had beaten Seoul 3-0 at the end of Stage 1. This time around they got smacked 4-0 as SoOn got focused, the off-DPS faltered, and Verbo’s impact was negligible as a new starter. Then against Shanghai they tried Kariv out on DPS given his hero pool and the team’s lack of adept Widowmaker play. Former Mighty AOD Coach MBC joined the team (and his former players Kariv and Fate) in mid-February and the Valiant have struggled to adjust. It may have been Shanghai, but Kariv looked strong on DPS (playing Genji, Soldier, Widow, and an especially exciting Hanzo) while Verbo’s absolutely standard play earned him the uniquely lukewarm superlative “Most likely to Verbo” by new sponsors Ash vs. Evil Dead. Former pro Dogman took to twitter to decry LA’s decisions as “serious memeage,” but Valiant teammates Grimreality and Unkoe responded “gotta trust the process,” and “Cringie,” respectively. Level-headed, unperturbed responses from the Valiant suggest that the team is aware of its issues and will remain unshaken as they figure their lineup issues. Turns out head coaching changes can be messy.
6. Boston Uprising
The Boston Uprising climbed down into the well to begin Stage 2. One of Stage 1’s most potent dive teams, the Uprising won 53.8% of fights, 90% of Assault maps, and boasted a +10 map differential before walking out of Stage 2’s first week having won 43.6% of fights, 0% of any maps, and holding a -8 map differential. While their off-tanks (Kalios had a -2.7 K/D against Houston) and supports are struggling, the biggest cause for concern is the underperformance by Boston’s stalwart main tank and DPS. Dreamkazper and Striker have struggled, dying 15.4% more often than the opposing DPS — but most disturbingly, Gamsu died 42.9% more than opposing main tanks, as his 80 deaths in Week 6 easily eclipsed Muma and Fragi’s combined 56. The Uprising need to bounce back as soon and as strongly as possible, starting this week against an Excelsior team still lacking ArK and a Mayhem squad without its reinforcements.
5. Philadelphia Fusion (+2)
While everyone else practiced Mercy and anti-dive, the Philadelphia Fusion were in the lab cooking up their favorite dive strats as their super-aggro Israeli DPS Eqo was locked away in a hyperbolic time chamber. When asked about this meta, Boombox said: “it’s really the meta which we made our names on. We have a lot of experience so it’s going to do us really well.” On average, the Fusion’s teammates and coaches ran the pure dive comp 80% of the time during Contenders. Coupled with their coaching shifts, it’s no wonder that the dive-hungry team suffered in Stage 1 — especially their insatiable main tank Fragi who died at the third-highest rate of all 17 Winston players in Stage 1. After winning just 47% of fights in Stage 1 and holding a -4 map differential, Philly currently boasts a 63.6% fight win rate and a +8 differential. It’s a new world for the Philadelphia. Fragi even has one more kill than death. Eqo and Poko had top-five performances on DPS and D.Va, respectively, with Poko boasting a 2.1 K/D ratio so far (the only D.Va with a 2+ K/D at the end of Stage 1 was London’s Woohyal). But the Fusion show remains the big fish’s show. Carpe is an absolute stud and is forcing his way into MVP conversations. The uncontainable aquarium magnate dropped a casual 3.66 K/D ratio last week. Only five others had 2+ and the second highest was a full kill lower at 2.65. Against the Mayhem, Carpe and Eqo combined for 220-28 (a 7.9 K/D ratio) as the team nearly doubled the Mayhem’s eliminations (204 to 103) and won 70.2% of the fights. The Fusion are absolutely bubbling by the top of the ranks right now, but they will need to prove their worth against the Outlaws and Spitfire this week before they are considered for the top four.
4. Seoul Dynasty (+1)
Lucio is back and Tobi with him. This stage’s meta suits the traditional Lunatic Hai comp and the team has gotten its groove back alongside its stylish boop maestro. Meanwhile, Fleta and Ryujehong continue to dominate and Miro seems to have stabilized — but the Tracer questions remain for the Dynasty. It was a dominant 2-0 week for Seoul (7-1 on maps), but they actually struggled a little, even losing a map, against the San Francisco Shock as their Tracer tandem seemed outplayed by Danteh. Adding esteemed LW Blue Support Gambler led Coach Baek Kwang-jin to call this team “the perfect roster,” but he will not be playing until Stage 3 so it will be interesting to see what strats the Dynasty work on now that the meta is in their favor. Main tank Kuki had a strong Stage 1 and off-tank Xepher boasted a 60% win rate as D.Va on Stage 1 so one can imagine that the Dynasty will experiment with some multi-tank comps in Stage 2 as they figure out their Tracer rotation.
3. New York Excelsior (-2)
ArK was Stage 1’s best main support and his injury is a huge detriment to the team. Main tank Mano performed well substituting onto Ana and Lucio, but his replacement Janus seemed to struggle with consistency as the team’s primary Winston. The Excelsior have already matched their loss total from Stage 1, but it was a close 3-2 against the London Spitfire despite injury issues so the team certainly remains dangerous. When asked about his injury timeline while streaming CTF ArK explained “I don’t know actually, but it’s not healed yet.” People speculate that he is still a couple weeks away, so NYXL will remain downgraded until the new lineup stabilizes. Without rumored addition ANAMO (Mighty AOD and Ardeont Support) or former teammate Gambler, New York will likely struggle as they face the Uprising and Outlaws this week. Maybe they will look to their stacked Academy team XL2 for injury insurance down the line since its supports Adam and Goliath are both held in high regard.
2. Houston Outlaws (+2)
The Outlaws look dominant. Despite losing to the Spitfire in the Stage 1 playoffs, Houston has still beaten London twice in the past two weeks. The Outlaws have seamlessly transitioned into Stage 2 as Bani’s top-five Mercy (ran her 99.7% of the time, earning a 59.5% win rate) has given way to Boink’s Lucio and the team has addressed some map pool weaknesses while bolstering its already-formidable tank line by signing Team USA tank FCTFCTN. With Stage 2 featuring King’s Row, Zarya sub Spree has looked excellent for the Outlaws. And after they only won 46.2% of Control maps in Stage 1 (Houston’s only map type with a sub-70% win rate), the team has won 85.7% of Control rounds played so far in Stage 2 across Ilios, Lijiang, and Nepal. Despite improvements and a favorable map pool, London remains the #1 team to beat. As seen in Stage 1, teams with a marquee matchup as their second game of the week often lost their first matchup (with NYXL losing to the Fusion before beating Seoul in Week 3 and Seoul losing to London before beating Houston in Week 4). And as seen during the Stage 1 playoffs, an early-week win does not guarantee superiority (as the Outlaws lost 3-1 to the Spitfire after having beaten them 3-2 earlier in the week). The Spitfire split their preparation between the Outlaws and Excelsior, yet they still took the Outlaws to five maps and managed to win 54.7% of the team fights and get 10.1% more kills — suggesting that their sloppy misuse of substitute players likely caused their loss. Houston’s Week 7, facing the Fusion and Excelsior, is a major opportunity to prove they deserve the top spot in our ranks.
1. London Spitfire (+1)
The Stage 1 champions are following their Stage 1 process by using the early weeks to mess around with their lineups and substitutions. Yet, after a tough win over the Excelsior and a tight loss to the Outlaws where they still managed to win 54.7% of the fights and earn 10.1% more eliminations, London still looks like the League’s early favorites. Profit was Stage 1’s highest ranked DPS on Genji and Tracer, Birdring still looks like a top MVP candidate, Gesture is established as one of the top three main tanks, and the team’s support line is an extremely talented work-in-progress. London continues to play around with their support and off-tank lineups as Fury, Hagopeun, and Closer all got opportunities to demonstrate their value in Week 6 as replacements for Woohyal, Bdosin, and Nus. Bdosin is one of the League’s top Zenyatta players, but Nus has struggled to transition his dominant Mercy play to Lucio so Closer has tried his hand at it. Without any obvious drop-off by their main tank and DPS duo, the Spitfire remain the scariest team even as they figure out the rest of their lineup. When asked who his favorite players are, former teammate Fissure mentioned Birdring “because he is emotionally stable no matter win or lose. I think that amazes me.” That stability makes London the most worrying team to face and gives the Spitfire this week’s #1 spot.
Ranks developed by Théo Salaun aka Tepojama. You can argue with him or discuss the sources of his statistics on Twitter or on Discord (if you ask politely enough).
* Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment *