Scrimbux - What Are They Good For And Who Got Some In NA?
Scrimbux were invented as a fun metaphor for approximated power levels of teams in the Overwatch League as they present themselves during practice hours. While drills like aim trainers and solo queue are part of the preparation, most esports can’t be practised effectively without competitors you will likely play in a real competition eventually. Moreover, scrims are usually taken seriously as no one wants to lose their privilege of practising against quality opposition or wants their team to lose confidence in themselves.
As the human element enters competition once it hits the stage some teams will either over or underperform expectations set by scrim results. The most notable outliers last season were the Dallas Fuel and the New York Excelsior, whose match performances deviated from their form in scrims significantly. Interestingly, once these patterns are established and factored in, scrimbux become a strong predictor of match performance. A team being more suited to a meta shows up in scrim results quickly, while the reasons for over or underperforming in live matches are usually persistent and become a tangible performance modifier. That said, the aforementioned irregularities some teams may show need to be demonstrated in live matches first to be considered. Therefore, the best scrimbux arrive around the start of stage 2.
Another massive factor worth considering is that quite a lot of teams have faced travel and visa-related delays to their pre-season, causing them to be behind in practice with some of them still not fully scrimming at full capacity. It stands to reason that these disadvantages won’t hold for long and that teams will rather quickly arrive at their appropriate power level. For the sake of categorising them here, we’ll find a middle ground between where they’ve been, where they are, and where they will likely be at the start of the season given the trajectory in the most recent weeks as their scrimbux level.
As all perfectly known futures have virtually already happened, this uncertainty adds an allure to the competition that for many is at the core of why they keep watching. May scrimbux forever be hit or miss!
North America - Challenger tier
Teams in this tier have shown potential to strike upwards depending on the meta but have also had off-reads, being slow to adapt to new metas as they emerged. Meta choice and time to adapt will be crucial for their season’s success.
If you were one of those being critical of the Defiant’s continuous rebuilding efforts this might just be the season you wake up with pie on your face. The team is doing well recently and is the most likely team to make it into the top 5 based on current projections. This franchise has invested serious resources into all parts of its team and has been a pain to deal with for other organisations in bidding wars for talent. While it allegedly missed out on Yaki, it made an irresistible offer to Ch0r0ng, who is seen as a support prodigy and given the strength of Lucio in the current beta build, appears like a wise investment. Tournament participation and top 4 finishes are definitely a possibility given their scrim performances.
There were times when the Houston Outlaws were probably part of the top group, but recent meta changes have knocked them down a peg. They’ve been described as a little late to the meta on occasion, but they usually come back swinging with some delay. In a season with many expected balance changes and content patches and subsequent meta changes, this might become a problem for the Outlaws. Many experts agree that the DPS line will be the most important aspect of roster strength in Overwatch 2. There, the Outlaws have significantly upgraded with ROTY Pelican who remains as stellar as he was last season. Despite reasonable concerns for Danteh’s career on an otherwise all Korean team, the Outlaws captain has continued to show his class. Not only uniquely capable of navigating this social situation, but he also remains an outstanding player in his fifth Overwatch League season.
North America - Middle tier
Teams in this tier are usually lacking in some aspect of their roster, either in the size of it or in the quality of certain positions. They are often vulnerable to meta volatility but can be very dangerous when met on their grounds are even splitting scrim blocks against top teams in some weeks. Some of these teams are outrunning their budget, so there is always a danger that their lack of resources eventually catches up to them.
The Florida Mayhem are one of the biggest surprises during this pre-season. Whether they are just ahead of the scrim curve by having played together for longer than other teams, especially on their in-house made 5vs5 custom map, or because they made the best of their limited resources and scouted extremely well remains to be seen. Tank player Someone has blown all expectations out of the water and is likely to enter the league as the best new tank coming into season 5. He’s proficient on a wide range of tanks and his English is also solid enough to work in a hybrid roster. Another overlooked variable is Checkmate who likely could’ve already made waves last season had he been able to play beyond his stints on tank. Some informants suggest that their value will eventually drop when their headstart fades. I have a feeling this team is uniquely capable of utilising dark spots in the talent market filling gaps as they become apparent.
It’s not an over-exaggeration to say that the Paris Eternal might be the most resource-restricted team in the league with likely only the Valiant coming close. Yet the underdogs of last season are once again doing decently in scrims interestingly both through Reinhardt and Doomfist compositions. Glister is once again shining in pre-season as an incredibly smart player. One small delight of mine this pre-season has been to be told by teams that they have an unusually low win rate against Paris but do well against other bottom-tier teams, without it clicking that the Eternal are not a bottom tier team again this year. No worries guys, they had spurts during which they are even splitting against the top dogs.
The Washington Justice were an odd team to get word off this off-season. Their tank selection showed irregular patterns of streakiness between Kalios and MAG that hadn’t shown up in other teams with a former off- and main tank split. On the DPS front, the Justice are stacked wide with even Assassin having a capable set of hit scan hands. Happy on Sojourn was a delight to watch and given the strength of hit scan heroes in the meta this year, it wouldn’t surprise if Happy was to finally have his time in the limelight.
North America - Bottom Tier
Many experts agree that it’s unlikely that we will have any absolute detritus teams this year who will be fighting for their first victory in the last few weeks of the season. Some of that is down to the new nature of the game in which a good day on a DPS player can make the mighty crumble. Most of all, there are virtually no outmatched teams anymore. When scanning through the names of the teams in this tier, there are no longer any head scratchers as even the perceived worst teams still field names like Shax, Striker, Yaki (season 3 role stars much), sHockWave, Aspire, Flora… you get the point. This “bottom tier” in season 5 is not comparable to last year.
Putting the New York Excelsior into this tier doesn’t feel quite right. Riddled by visa issues on an already tiny roster is likely to have ravaged the quality of their practice and with a late arrival to NA, they have hardly established a trackable trend that could give us a solid indication of things to come. On paper, the Excelsior have once again scored two highly contested pickups in Yaki and Kellan this off-season, so the potential is evident. However, there appears to be a wide style divide between how the former Mayhem and the rest of the team operates. Many have known Yaki to be a mad man, but if you can support his insanity he will win you matches.
The Boston Uprising are another team which are hard to judge by scrim results because they started later than other teams and thus had a rough start at it. Recently they have been doing better, and a snapshot now would have them significantly higher than a scrim average this list uses. Despite having got some info on who plays in their tank line, I can’t claim to have made out a pattern. What works in favour of the Uprising is that the meta appears to favour them at the moment. This team is capable of hitting a tournament playoff in stage 1 and if that causes enough momentum to keep them going they won’t be considered a bottom tier team for long.
Vancouver Titans and the London Spitfire are generally mentioned in the same breath, and it’s unfortunately not distinctly different from last season. Despite facelifts on both sides and map win rates ticking up, it’s unfortunately not enough to tell a different story than last season. The London Spitfire have also just started scrimming with everyone in one location and previous scrim results were not stellar, especially since their flex support switch.