Yiska has taken an in depth look in to who he thinks will finish in the top 5 next season!

18:00, 27 Dec 2019

After an intense countdown of our previous placement predictions, which can be found at the bottom of the article, we now have the final few teams building up to who we think will be crowned champions of the 2020 Overwatch League!

5. Atlanta Reign (8-4)

As an Atlantic South team, the Reign again are not terribly burdened by their travel schedule. They’ll only have to make one trip across the pond that unfortunately doesn’t come with a break on either end of travel. On the upside, their two matches in Europe are against the Eternal and the Uprising and I expect that they’ll barely have to get off the plane to get their wins there. Call it a fly-by. A nice 4-week spring holiday awaits them in April.

The Reign were one of the big surprises of last season, having close games and even victories against the big three. As a result, they grabbed the second place in an admittedly weak Atlantic Division. The roster has since improved, adding on promising rookie talent in Edison, SharP, and especially Hawk, who I consider to be one of the top prospects for rookie of the year.  The two unannounced support players are unlikely to start over Dogman and Masaa, so what we see is mostly what we can expect from the Reign. Their team structure allows for internal scrims which is a powerful tool to use when on the road. Otherwise teams are limited to the practice pool that resides in their workable in-game latency range. Both in the DPS and Tank role, I expect that the Reign will rotate players in and out depending on the meta requirements, having several serviceable options. Edison and SharP show impressive mechanical skill on hitscan and will surely be competing for a starting spot, putting Babybay’s continued employment in the “bring for intangibles” box. As it appears, the team will go into the season with only one projectile DPS in Erster, a circumstance that shouldn’t worry Atlanta fans too much. Erster was one of the most versatile players last year and has shown to be proficient on everything he picks up. He’s a player that has truly earned to be mentioned alongside elite performers like Rascal, Libero and even Haksal.

The team’s identity hasn’t changed considerably for me. I expect to see a Reign that can take games off the best teams in the league but also lose occasionally to opponents you wouldn’t expect them to. The Atlantic Division got stronger and it’s arguable if they’ll be able to feed of their weak opposition to the same degree. The more chaotic the season becomes, the more I see the Reign gaining from those circumstances due to their adaptability, their easy travel schedule and their relatively low internal combustion threat™.

4. Shanghai Dragons (8-3)

The Dragons start their third season with an 8-week-long China tour accompanied by a lengthy break before they fly out to Los Angeles. They touch ground in Seoul just briefly to play the Charge and return to China in mid-June, where they’ll have to play the Dynasty without either team enjoying a break week despite their grueling day-long travel.

With five new players, the Dragons have been one of the more active teams on the transfer market. The recruitment of Fleta will help the team’s flexibility especially in cases when the meta falls in a way that it requires either two hitscan or two projectile DPS, however unlikely that may be. Certain picks like Genji were also not reasonably covered by Shanghai’s former roster and Fleta will be able to assist here too. Their support line looks solid as long as the meta doesn’t sway outside the confines of Lucio. According to Korean insiders, the team should be concerned about LeeJaeGon’s Mercy and Moira as the South Korean newcomer is largely considered to be a one-trick pony. On the offtank side, Void hasn’t received the praises that he deserves for his last season’s performance, though admittedly his Sigma looked shaky in the playoffs. He should still be starting over Geguri and Envy and we can safely expect the other two to be largely inactive throughout the season, if they remain on the roster at all. At best, one of them will be repurposed to play main tank heroes like Orisa and Wreckingball.

Their newly signed and (so far) only main tank Stand1 is an uncertainty that is peculiar in a team which has invested so much in its improvement, to the point where we have to wonder if he will really remain their only main tank player all season long. He’s certainly a talent and held in high regards by contenders’ coaches, but for a team with implicitly high aspirations that the other transfer moves communicate, this move clearly stands out. If he was to crash, I’d hope the Dragons to land on a sturdy Bumper.

The Overwatch League Shanghai Dragons
Image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

3. Philadelphia Fusion (10-2)

As expected for one of the Atlantic South teams, the Fusion’s travel schedule is a cake walk. They only flight outside North America will be to Europe, though it should be noted that they won’t have a break week either before or after. By my measure, their opponents in the first half of the season are significantly weaker and the Fusion get to enjoy a three weeklong break after mid-season point unless they make it to the All-Stars event, which appears to be likely. With ever rotating patches and map pools in an interval of presumably six weeks, such a break that likely arrives right on time with these changes could mean a significant head start into the second half of the season. During this time, also two of their homestands will take place, improving their practice opportunities significantly, too.

Depending on the definition you may have for a “super team”, the Philadelphia Fusion did their best to get close to it. Arguably five out of their starting six players will be in contention for a top 3 spot in their role. Their newly formed backline in Alarm and Funnyastro is among the best to be promoted out of contenders and are looking to prove they are elite players no matter the opposition. The British main support has shown to be incredible on both Mercy and Lucio, also receiving high praises in terms of shot calling from his former coaches. Alarm has been an outstanding performer on Fusion University, consistently delivering on his reputation as a mechanical nutter with otherworldly clutch factor. New offtank acquisition Fury was one of the best players in 2019 despite being stuck in a middling team that could only hold that level in large parts due to his performances. Their DPS line shows incredible depth and will likely prove to be meta resilient. Truth be told, Eqo and Carpe did have an underwhelming second season. Much of it could be blamed on the meta but even in stage 4 and the play-ins they didn’t show much of their former unrelenting qualities from season 1. With Ivy and Heesu breathing down their necks, the competition for starting spots is on in both cases. Viewers from last year’s OWL may not have the impression that Ivy fits those expectations, but he too suffered from the meta-imposed slumps, having to play both Zarya and Brigitte for the Defiant.  For O2 in Korean contenders, Ivy was one of the brightest talents with an instinctual, yet surgical approach to projectile DPS. Lastly, Sado is not nearly as bad of a player as it is portrayed in the community these days. He’s generally serviceable on all the heroes he has shown and rarely ever completely blunders. It is therefore only mildly concerning that the Fusion hasn’t signed a backup for him as of now. Perhaps the open slot (due to the departure of Snillo) will be put to good use in the future. Bumper or a late addition of MAG come to mind.

Having blown all that magical powder up their rear, we still must look at the team and somberly notice that many players of the roster, which we’ve learned to be very inconsistent and thoroughly mediocre much of the time, are still part of this team. The Fusion are said to have had team-cultural issues and it’s on their new head coach KDG to resolve those interpersonal problems, either by mending fences or placing troublemakers on benches.

2. New York Excelsior (6-1)

An average travel schedule, with four weird one-game trips to Europe and only occasional breaks before or after them on top of a relatively short three-week trip to China, puts some strain on the Excelsior and adds a moderate amount of volatility to their season. Their dominance over the Atlantic Conference doesn’t look guaranteed this time, though they’ll more than likely remain one of the top teams in it.

It’s hard to gauge whether the Excelsior improved with their transfers and departures, but there is reason to believe that the team’s identity will change noticeably. Throughout the two seasons, the Excelsior were known as a methodical and passive team, playing on calculated engages and rotations dictated by their front line. With the departure of MekO and the signing of HOTBA, we have to wonder if they will continue in the same manner. WhoRU further adds to that impression. Does their new head coach imt want to switch it up? The NYXL certainly have become less predictable.

It might not feel this way, but Saebyeolbe barely played a fourth of the season for the Excelsior this year and I expect him to have his playtime decreased even further in 2020. Some of his Sombra was bordering on abysmal and at best average. How much can you build a playing career on intangibles until it becomes more beneficial to move into a coaching position for your team? How effective was his emotional in-game leadership really? For now, there is no pressure for him to retire as New York isn’t hurting for roster slots with only 10 signed players at this point.

Mandu could realistically develop into a starter specifically in metas in which both a flex support and Baptiste are played at the same time. Even on Lucio, he has shown that he deserves a shot in a top tier team. BiaNcA is a safe pick who should be able to deliver if HOTBA doesn’t turn out to fit the system, though he’d likely turn out to be a downgrade from MekO.

There is little reason to expect a significant drop of in performance from this team and they’re likely to make playoffs with relative ease. Their consistency as an organization is unrivalled.

The Overwatch League New York Excelsior
Image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

1. San Francisco Shock (4-1)

The Shock looks moderately burdened by their travel schedule. While their round tour in China is nicely embedded in break weeks, they’ll have to play the Spitfire at their own home stand without a week off in between. Their big break in the mid-season will most likely be broken up by their participation in the All-stars event.

Predicting the London Spitfire to be one of the top regular season teams for season 2, after their victory in the inaugural season, was admittedly stupid. It’s the exact opposite for the Shock. Not only did they win the season, they did so in impressive and at times sheer dominating fashion through different metas and with changing starting line ups. Their bench is deep where it needs to be and the pieces without a substitution like ChoiHyoBin and Moth are the best in their role. The flex support position is not as concerning because of Rascal’s wild flexibility notably on picks like Baptiste. The recruitment of Widowmaker specialist ANS allows Architect to fully commit to projectile DPS practice. Only sinatraa knows which hero he will learn to a world class level next. It’s hard to make out obvious flaws in this roster.

Impressively, the Shock held the best parts of the team together. It certainly wasn’t due to a lack of trying from their opposition, as many of Shock’s players and coaches received lucrative offers from several teams around the league. It speaks to the quality of the organization that this feat was accomplished.

Those who have followed traditional sports as well as esports will know that the season or tournament after a big victory inevitably put the champions into battle with themselves and their own expectations and desires. For some, there is a hole in themselves they worked tirelessly for to be filled, only wake up to the realization that a victory wasn’t the plug they so desperately craved for. These people often fall off or look for new challenges. Others find fulfilment in the process of improvement or the desire to keep winning. Some of them become the greatest of all time.

All of Shock’s competitors have a sense of uncertainty about them, stemming from their new signings or their internal wounds that were violently ripped open in the last season and have yet to heal. The San Francisco Shock therefore start into season 3 as the clear team to beat. Truthfully, their only opposition on eye-level currently remaining are they themselves.

You can see our rankings below for:

  1. The bottom 5 (20th – 16th)
  2. The middle tier (15th to 11th)
  3. Getting close to the top (10th to 6th)
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