Head Honchos Established – Overwatch League Season 5 Week 1’s Dominators
Week 1 of the Overwatch League’s 5th season is in the books, and while there were quite a bit of technical difficulties and technical difficulties to go around, it’s safe to say that OWL and Overwatch 2 have had a solid start in its foray into a new era for the esport.
This week we saw highlights from every team, big winners, impressive showcases, but also some considerable lows from franchises in North America, making it an exciting and incredibly unpredictable opening weekend. Not even including how hype the first live event for Overwatch in over two years was, this first week of OWL was bombastic and exhilarating.
With the exception of a few matches, seemingly every series delivered on the promises of what the shift into Overwatch 2 would bring. We saw a standard meta forming, a Soldier: 76 variant of traditional dive with the Ana, Lucio, Winston, and a flex DPS. However, we saw a lot of different iterations and compositions from teams as well, keeping things fresh and different throughout the weekend. That flexibility and variance that has been desperately missing from the game for years, so it was great to see what was essentially, twelve different perspectives on how to play Overwatch.
But it specifically was the vision of three teams that led to them becoming the only squads to come out of the opening weekend with two wins. Here are some highlights and standout platers of the Overwatch League’s head honchos.
THE HEAD HONCHOS – SFS, ATL, LAG
This weekend was huge for the prospects of the Atlanta Reign, LA Gladiators, and San Francisco Shock. Both teams doing away with the dredges of the past and were coming into season 5 with new tools, new teammates, and startling firepower.
For Atlanta, they showcased how strong they were in a 3-1 win over the Florida Mayhem, but it was their clean sweep match against the New York Excelsior that really emphasized just how frightening the Reign could be. Xander "Hawk" Domecq and Benjamin "UltraViolet" David, were rightfully given MVP nods for their respective Doomfist and Ana masterclasses, but honestly, a lot of attention needs to be sent towards Charlie "nero" Zwarg’s way. He looked to be in top form after a whole season of decriers and doubters during his time on the 2021 San Francisco Shock. His Tracer and Echo in the sweep against New York were sublime and key in keeping the XL from ever having a footing in the series.
Another team that made a huge statement was the San Francisco Shock, who in a return to the performances of old, did not drop a single map in their first two games of the season. Going into OWL 2022, it seemed all eyes were on the Shock, looking to them to see how quickly they could recover from their playoffs loss last season, and if they could establish themselves at the top once again.
Safe to say, the Shock have once again struck gold with their squad, and are putting forth a team capable of annihilating their opponents. It’s hard to say which of their two matches encapsulates their strengths the best, because both were stomps against generally weaker opponents. What does really showcase their prowess, was the consistent pressure from Colin "Coluge" Arai and Dong-hyun "Proper" Kim.
Both were players with a lot of conversations surrounding them, for different reasons, but there was a lot of attention for these two coming in into 2022. After opening weekend, they’ve certainly added themselves to the list of eyebrow-raising rookies we’re keeping track of this season. Coluge brought an incredible amount of pressure and mechanical prowess as the team’s anchor, and it was Proper’s disgusting ability to maximize Soldier’s potential on flanks and with Nano-Visors, that shut down any and all attempts to play the game. Both players were stunning in their debuts, and both put in performances worthy of MVP nods respectively.
The last team to come out of the weekend 2-0 were the revamped LA Gladiators, who for the most part did look scary enough to grab strong wins against their opponents, but with a little more cracks in the armour than the Shock or Reign. Losing two maps might not seem like the worst thing in the world, but the competition at the top is incredibly narrow, taking as many dubs as you can, is key for maintaining your spot on the throne.
Overall, the Gladiators played well, Corey "Reiner" Scoda and Kevin "kevster" Persson were correctly given MVP nods for their play, but the all-star Gladiators backline is something to be admired. We know the individual power of Jin-seo "Shu" Kim and Daniel "FunnyAstro" Hathaway from previous seasons but put these two together, and you have a backline of nearly impenetrable fortitude.
The Gladiators, so far, are the only team that still needs a little refinement in their play. They have great pieces and insane potential, and still have more than enough time to truly reach the heights a squad like this is capable of. With enough focus and steam in the engine, this could finally be the Gladiator's squad that truly reaches the heights the franchise had always expected to reach.