ESTNN's Cole Ricke is back with our Overwatch League Power Rankings for Week 1 of Stage 4.
1. Vancouver Titans
The Titans may have stumbled last stage during the playoffs, but they are still inarguably the best team in the league. Even in a 2-2-2 role lock, the Titans will make a splash with the return of DPS in the hands of players like Chunghee “Stitch” Lee and Hyojong “Haksal” Kim. Look for more explosive performances from this team instead of the methodical play they were known for last stage (minus the Bumper aggressiveness).
New York benefits the most out of the top three teams from role lock for many reasons, but the biggest one is the probable return of Jong-ryeol “Saebyeolbe” Park to the active line up. The star player was a shot caller for the team and led them through some difficult times, especially post-stage and post-season appearances. Expect this team to bare its fangs, and possibly reclaiming the number one spot if Vancouver isn’t careful.
3. San Francisco Shock
When a team begins to struggle, many people will question what it takes for them to come back. While the Shock were never in danger of falling into the middle tier, they were in danger of losing their top three status. However, it is extremely likely they will bounce back, considering they have one of the best DPS players in the league in their back pocket: Nam-joo “Striker” Kwon. Some still make the argument that he was the true MVP in the inaugural season, so seeing him come out would be a delight for Shock fans.
4. Shanghai Dragons
The Dragons are a team beloved by many, and with a stage victory finally under their belt they have proved that the team is worthy of a top-four spot. The incredible play from their DPS players gives hope to Dragons’ fans this stage, but the only question is whether or not they will be able to continue to perform with this new meta. Look for heavy use of Widowmaker and Pharah from this team, and whether or not they can adapt to these characters' counters.
5. Hangzhou Spark
With a disappointing stage playoff exit, the Hangzhou Spark should still hold their heads high. They may not have performed when they needed to, but their performance through Stage 3 was magnificent. If the tank lineup can continue being solid and make enough space for the rest of the team to shine, this team will not drop a single spot in our standings.
6. Seoul Dynasty
Two words: Lunatic Hai. The Seoul Dynasty was born in a 2-2-2 meta, with particular attention to the dive compositions of old. A combination of the world’s greatest talent in all roles is what this team's identity, and it seems like this upcoming meta will give them the needed setting for those players to pop off. The Seoul Dynasty have everything in front of them, but one question remains: Can they take advantage of it, or will they let it fall through their fingers?
7. L.A. Valiant
The Valiant have improved tremendously, not just over the course of the season, but also in maturity of lineups and players. The management finally seems to know when and how to utilize the full extent of their bench. With a multitude of talented DPS players on the roster, it will be exciting to see who the Valiant's starting six are when Stage 4 kicks off.
8. Houston Outlaws
This roster is in a little bit of a rough spot. Jacob “Jake” Lyon, the team's shotcaller, was in Brigitte jail last stage, but with only two DPS allowed, he is on the outside of the discussion of which DPS players to put in. The management and team will have to make a decision: Field a DPS lineup that is not as talented or flexible as it could be, or find a new shotcaller.
9. Chengdu Hunters
So, there’s one issue here. Ding “Ameng” Menghan has not played Winston in his professional career of Overwatch League. In the 2-2-2 role lock, Winston will be imperative in dive. While the team got around that need by fielding Wrecking Ball instead, at some point Winston will be necessary. Not all hope is lost, however. Ameng quickly picked up Reinhardt and played him well, who’s to say he hasn’t been practicing his Winston gameplay during the break? Right?
10. L.A. Gladiators
After fighting for top three for so long, the Gladiators still can’t prove they belong. Missing the last stage playoffs, the team looked middling at best, which is why we placed them at #10. This is another case of a hard decision between three talented DPS players, but this team is in dire need of improvement in the tank line, specifically the main tank position. The Reinhardt play was suboptimal at worst, and decent at best. Let’s hope the Gladiators can pull off the Hog-Orisa combo, for their sake.
11. London Spitfire
The Spitfire benefits massively from 2-2-2. Last stage, talented players had to play on tanks and supports, and London's potential and playmaking ability was reduced massively. But with all players in roles they are both comfortable on and perform well with, this team will shoot back up in the rankings. We just have to see it first.
12. Philadelphia Fusion
To be completely honest, the exact same argument for the London Spitfire can be used for the Fusion, so we’ll leave it at that.
13. Paris Eternal
The French representatives have all the right pieces and all the right players, but I don’t think they’ll be able to put it together. The team synergy has looked a little too off at times and communication just hasn’t been there in crucial moments. If somehow the Eternal brings it together and becomes top tier, I’ll be pleasantly surprised (with emphasis on "pleasantly").
14. Guangzhou Charge
This team hasn’t played great, but fans saw hope in their match against the Shanghai Dragons. Specifically, Jung-woo “Happy” Lee’s Widowmaker was amazing, and the team was led by that confidence in a huge upset victory. If the team can recreate that magic, they may be okay.
15. Dallas Fuel
Dallas should be scared. This team suffers the most from the 2-2-2 lock due to having next to no flexibility on their roster. Fans have had a difficult time predicting a decent line up that the team could come out with that could also adapt to situations on the fly. The simply don't have the wide hero pools to compete. This should be interesting for the Envyus fans.
16. Atlanta Reign
There isn’t a lot we can say about the Reign that hasn’t already been said. With Andrej "Babybay" Francisty back on DPS, he’ll need to put the days of mediocre performances on the San Francisco Shock behind him and play DPS against players of high caliber, especially the newer players from expansion teams. He will be the focus, and the team’s success or failure could realistically depend on him.
17. Boston Uprising
Boston’s leader in Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth has primarily played Reinhardt and Winston and lacks significant playtime on Orisa. With a prediction from many that Orisa will be heavily used for bunker compositions, it will be interesting to see how he performs. If he doesn’t, can we expect to see the return of Park “Axxiom” Min-seob? Probably not, but it’s a nice thought.
18. Washington Justice
The Justice have one last chance. This is the best time for them to prove they aren’t the absolute worst team in the league. The Justice has amazing DPS players (like Corey “Corey” Nivea), most of which never looked comfortable on tanks last stage. With DPS relevant again, the Justice need to take full advantage. Without doing so, they will never get rid of the stigma of being a laughing stock of the league.
19. Toronto Defiant
Toronto has made many trades and added players to their active roster to prepare for this stage, and it’s looking like things could be great. That said, I’m not entirely convinced it will be enough. We’ll have to see, but I think the team needs time to improve with this roster, and time is something they don’t have anymore.
20. Florida Mayhem
The Florida Mayhem are the best and most consistent bet for the worst team in the league, and this role lock will do nothing to change that. There still lack any team synergy and have no sense of direction. I expect nothing from this team, and I’ll probably still be disappointed.
Images VIA: Robert Paul and Stewart Volland for the Overwatch League