Curses, rookies, and dreams - Five stories to watch in midseason madness
Narratives are what drive the Overwatch League. Tall tales of legends in the twilight of their career and outstanding rookies spearheading a new frontier. A Cinderella story too good to be true. Even an echo from the past made whole once more. Overwatch League’s Midseason Madness is brimming with exciting stories to heighten the coming week - and these are the top five narrative threads you should be watching.
The 2022 rookies class has persevered. Odds are the 2021 Overwatch League offseason was the most difficult time in the game’s history. With a future unclear and a game obscured by changes and delays, the prevailing assumption was that new talent couldn’t be properly tested and would be delayed. That new dose of talent we look forward to every season would come but staggered like a Grand Prix behind their pace car.
The mid-season agility still has come through for select teams, as they shuffle their decks to remain competitive, but by in large the rookies scouted, for a game they physically could not play, have landed exceptionally well.
Now it’s time to see who graduates and August Brinell will be proctoring the exam.
Like a firework, Corey "Reiner" Scoda has lit up the tank rankings in his rookie debut. Now measured along some of the legends of the game, will his determination bend under the superheat of the international lights?
Christian "Ojee" Han and Benjamin "UltraViolet" David are no strangers to high-pressure situations, but this is a whole new mettle to test. Can Atlanta Reign’s rookie backline remain bulletproof, or will they buckle?
Stepping in this stage for the San Francisco Shock, Michael "mikeyy" Konicki has looked stellar, but will the young star rise to the occasion to further their regular season blitz?
With the travel, the pressure of international competition and four league points on the line, will the 2022 rookie class live up to their expectations or crumble under pressure?
The Philadelphia Fusion are cursed.
If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Philly are the torch-bearers for RunAway’s second place curse.
For the majority of 2017 and the first half of 2018, the affable team in the pink sweaters could not break second place. Fans of Korean esports will rightly put them alongside the likes of StarCraft legends Hong "YellOw" Jin-Ho and Song "Stork" Byung Goo.
Perennial losers, the forever bridesmaids, the 'almost theres' - the "Kong Line" has found its new home within Overwatch and has been passed down to the Fusion.
Finishing second in the inaugural season grand final,
Is this the event where they kill their bloodline? Can the Midseason Madness title save them from a destiny of silver blood, or will they remain governed by second places?
The dream eater
Kim "Proper" Dong-hyun’s skill beggars belief.
Many heralded his coming, a boy-wonder from 02 Blast who seemingly can do it all, one that would usurp the North American hierarchy. In the preseason his expectations reached such a peak that many doubted that anyone could manage the entire DPS cast and then some.
While the world needs guides to climb Everest, Proper built his cottage on the summit.
What leaves us gobsmacked it this brilliance doesn’t seem diminished in a brand-new title. Not only are we roughly six years into competitive Overwatch, but we’re still producing world-class talent in a game that the league is having to learn as they go. One would expect that someone of this calibre should seem some setbacks stepping into a new title or that talent like this would emerge during the second or third year of its life cycle. That shouldn’t be possible and yet here Proper stands.
A win here for the Shock would anointment Proper as inarguable.
Hand him MVP, Rookie of the Year, and a role star while you’re at it.
People dream about rising to these highs, hoisting your championship, become the best in the world.
Proper is living it.
Spitfire before midnight
Will Reinhardt matter? Can the London Spitfire hold its form?
Will this Cinderella story end with a happy ending?
One of the biggest stylistic matchups Overwatch League fans across the globe are frothing at the mouth to see is how the London Spitfire’s brawling Reinhardt-centric composition pairs up with teams hailing from the east. After taking a chance on their academy team in 2021, the former British Hurricane core was left little in the way of success, a foreign taste when compared to their domestic dominance.
With structural changes, new additions, and Christopher "ChrisTFer" Graham’s experience within the league, the inaugural season champions have emerged from the gutters as a force to be reckoned with.
With victories over the Atlanta Reign, Florida Mayhem, and the Washington Justice, the Spitfire found creative solutions to their inherent limitations in resources, both budgets and players. Their style is bold and has twisted the metagame in their own way and that’s incredible. At the end of it all, wielding a style all their own, will the London Spitfire be able to race the clock or will midnight arrive a touch too early?
Will Reinhardt matter?
Who cares? Let’s enjoy the show.
Kevster’s triple crown
Kevin "kevster" Persson leads the Los Angeles Gladiators' bid at a triple crown.
Many seem to forget that the Countdown Cup title in 2021 was shipped to Los Angeles and obviously with their decisive victory over the Dallas Fuel just last month, the Midseason Madness title would be their third straight regular-season award. Measured as a gatekeeper team for the first few seasons, good but not great was not a distinction the Gladiators were happy with.
Granted this spans a season, Kevster and the Gladiators already join a shortlist including the 2018 New York Excelsior and the 2021 Shanghai Dragons as some of the only Overwatch League franchises to ever have repeat stage title success. A win here for Los Angeles would form a whole new list entirely.
We’ve found a golden stage, defending champions and statistical improbably losing streaks, but triples seem to be an elusive accolade in and of itself.
With their flexible style featuring the breadth of strategies in the current metagame, kevster the Los Angeles Gladiators stand as one of the most "full" teams attending the Midseason Madness.
As they say: good things do come in threes.