ESTNN names the Shanghai Dragons as 2021's Overwatch League Team of the Year.
The Shanghai Dragons had a stellar run in the Overwatch League this year, despite a rocky start in the competition.
2021 is coming to an end, and with it comes the time to look back at the performances of Overwatch teams this year. Unlike other esports, Overwatch revolves around a single yearly competition: the Overwatch League. The best teams battle in monthly tournaments, and their result throughout the year leads to qualifications for the Playoffs. The Grand Finals determine the Overwatch League Grand Champions of the year. While winning this competition technically means a team is the best, other factors also come into consideration. This year, one team checked all the boxes to become our Overwatch Team of the Year.
If there is one team that deserves Team of the Year, it is undoubtedly Shanghai Dragons. This team went from the worst score in Overwatch League history to winning the competition a little over a year later.
A redemption story in the Overwatch League
The Shanghai Dragons' history in the Overwatch League didn’t start the best way. Despite being one of the original teams announced in the League, the Shanghai Dragons struggled to find their rhythm in the Overwatch League.
The team lost 42 matches in a row, a record in the world of esports. The Shanghai Dragons ended the season with a 0–40 record and a -120 map differential. The team didn't win a single match in the entire Overwatch League Inaugural Season.
But as in all great redemption stories, this setback didn’t put an end to the Shanghai Dragons. The team tried several players and coaches before finding its balance. The Shanghai Dragons finally won games in the Overwatch League in 2019 but failed to qualify for the Grand Finals.
Led by Head Coach Byungchul “Moon” Moon, the Shanghai Dragons built a brand new roster to head into the Overwatch League 2020 Season. The team bounced back from its dark days, taking the lead in the Overwatch League 2020 Regular Season. However, they stumbled in the Grand Finals, losing to Seoul Dynasty and falling to third place on the podium.
The Dragon's 2021 Roster
The Shanghai Dragons headed into the Overwatch League 2021 Season with a solid roster. Most of the players have already been playing with the team in the 2020 Season, where the team began its redemption story. The Shanghai Dragons also added three additional players, who quickly found their place within the roster.
The Shanghai Dragons only have two tanks players, but they managed to balance each other and hold on throughout the season. Jun-woo "Void" Kang is the team captain and masters off-tank heroes. Pan-seung "Fate" Koo is a main tank player, creating space for his teammates.
To keep the tanks alive, the Shanghai Dragons can count on Min-chul "IZaYaKI" Kim, Jae-gon "LeeJaeGon" Lee, and He "Molly" Chengzhi. LeeJaeGon is the only main support player of the team, while IZaYaKI and Molly both play flex support heroes.
Dealing damage to the enemy team are Byung-sun "Fleta" Kim, Jae-won "LIP" Lee, and Seung-jun "WhoRU" Lee. Fleta is one of the most iconic DPS players in the entire Overwatch League, being able to flex on several heroes to give his team the upper hand. He was even awarded Overwatch League 2020 Season MVP, following the tracks of Sung-hyeon "JJoNak" Bang and Jay "sinatraa" Won.
Alongside Fleta on the DPS lineup is LIP, a hitscan specialist. The two played together last year, building a synergy as a DPS duo. Min-seong "diem" Bae and Joon "Erster" Jeong were also playing DPS heroes for the team at the beginning of the season, before both retiring from the Overwatch League. To fill in this gap, the Shanghai Dragons signed former NYXL player Seung-jun "WhoRU" Lee, most notably known for his incredible Genji plays.
Shanghai Dragons in the Overwatch League: from zero to heroes
If 2021 was the year of the Ox, it should really have been the year of Dragons. The team began the year by winning the NetEase Esports X Tournament with a whopping 4-1 victory against Seoul Dynasty.
The Overwatch League didn’t put much resistance either to the assault of the Shanghai Dragons. If they placed second in the May Melee tournament, the Dragons quickly found their rhythm and dominated the rest of the competition. The team won the June Joust and Summer Showdown tournaments, taking the lead in the Overwatch League 2021 Regular Season.
This time, the Shanghai Dragons didn’t let the trophy get away from them. In the Playoffs, the Shanghai Dragons met the Overwatch League back-to-back Champions of San Francisco Shock. The Dragons showed no mercy to the Overwatch League Champions, winning the match with a 3-0 score. They also wiped the Los Angeles Gladiators and Dallas Fuel, dropping a single map to both teams.
The Shanghai Dragons met with Atlanta Reign in the Grand Finals. The Dragons didn’t let their opponents take a single map, winning the match with an unforgiving 4-0 score. The Shanghai Dragons are now the Overwatch League 2021 Grand Champions.
Shanghai Dragons, the Overwatch League 2021 Team of the Year
Taking home the title of Grand Champions of the Overwatch League after holding the record of the worst result in this competition is a story worth telling in a manga. But until we can read the adventures of the Shanghai Dragons in the Weekly Shonen Jump, all eyes are on the team for the next season of the Overwatch League.