Whether you’re new to Overwatch, new to watching competitive Overwatch, or a relapsed fan that wants to know what the heck is going on now with all the new teams, welcome! I hope this guide will be helpful.
I want to follow the team that’s going to win the first season
Everyone wants their team to win. There’s no shame in rooting for a team that you think is going to be successful, especially if you don’t have a local one to cheer for.
At or near the top of many lists is London Spitfire. The all-Korean team is a fusion of players from recent APEX and APAC Premier champions GC Busan, perennial APEX strong-finishers KongDoo Panthera, and two additional players. Their biggest challenge will be integrating all of their talent and balancing playtime. With birdring, Rascal, Profit, and Hooreg all on the same team, they’re always going to have a few world elite DPS players on the bench.
You’d be remiss not to consider Seoul Dynasty as well. Most of two-time APEX champions Lunatic Hai were picked up by Seoul, and their highly regard coach, alwaysoov, was brought on as well. Several talented players from other teams have been added to the mix, filling admittedly serious gaps in the former LH roster. With ample LAN experience, including against elite Western teams, the spotlight of the Overwatch League won’t faze them.
Finally, Dallas Fuel is considered by most to be the best team that’s not all-Korean (they do have one Korean, the immensely talented Effect). Formerly competing as EnVyUs, Fuel have proved themselves as elite competitors in every meta. When they won the inaugural season of APEX, they became the only Western team in any team-based esport to win a major tournament in Korea. With the addition of three new players, their vaunted flexibility will only increase.
I want to follow an American team
Even though three-fourths of the teams in OWL are based in the United States, there are no fully American teams, and that’s true whether you mean “American” as the country or the continent.
The Houston Outlaws gets you pretty close though; of their ten players, six are from the United States and one is from Canada. In Jake, coolmatt69, and Rawkus, Houston picked up half of the United States World Cup team. The organization’s branding – with a stylized Longhorn made out of revolvers, also feels the most “American” of any of the teams in the league.
San Francisco Shock also have a good number of Americans. Five of their nine are from the US and one is from Mexico (the only Mexican in the league). Two of those players, Sinatraa and super, won’t be old enough to play until mid-season. Sinatraa and dhaK, along with two members of the Shock coaching staff, are from the now-defunct Selfless Gaming, a team known for their extremely aggressive play.
I want to follow a European team
There’s only one team based in a European city, and it’s owned by an American organization, with an all-Korean roster and staff. So instead of them, let’s look at some teams with European rosters.
Florida Mayhem, formerly competing as Misfits, has an all-European roster with four Swedes, a Finn, and a Belgian. Although only one of Mayhem’s players – Zebbosai – was on Misfits when it they the Overwatch Open and DreamHack Winter LANs in 2016, this is a team of storied veterans. TviQ won several major LANs with Rogue. Zuppeh, Logix, and CWoosH have online tournament wins, Zuppeh with Ninjas in Pyjamas, and the others with Movistar Riders.
The next closest you’re going to get is Philadelphia Fusion. Of their 12 players, half are European, and one is Israeli (the nation competes in Europe in many region-based competitions). ShaDowBurn, the Russian Genji specialist, is probably the most high-profile European on the roster, but Fragi (Finnish) and Boombox (British) are also renowned. Snillo (Swedish) will be sitting out until he turns 18 in early March.
I want to follow a team with big streaming personalities
Seagull is one of the most popular streamers in Overwatch, and has become one of the faces of the game. He was recently picked up by Dallas Fuel. Fuel also picked up xQc, a tour de force of personality with a 5,000 subscriber community. Expect to see some of Fuel’s other stars, such as Taimou and Mickie, make appearances on stream as well.
The Houston Outlaws signed the popular streamer Mendokusaii (he calls his community “the Mendojo”). The org’s general manager, Flame, built his reputation with especially blunt match breakdowns, and has one of the larger Discord communities in Overwatch. Finally, while not one of the biggest names in streaming, Jake has recently started organizing and streaming pro pick-up games, and is known for his well-written Overwatch blog.
The owner of San Francisco Shock, NRG, was famous (or infamous) earlier in the year for signing a “Stream Dream Team” anchored around Seagull. While the rest of that team has departed, Swedish hitscan specialist IDDQD remains. He’s now joined by sinatraa, a popular streamer himself and star from the USA World Cup team.
I want to follow an underdog, but one that’s got a decent shot to surprise people
The consensus on both the Houston Outlaws and Florida Mayhem are that they’re middle of the pack teams. I have them fourth and sixth respectively, slightly higher than many analysts project.
Joining them in the middle of the pack is Los Angeles Valiant. The team is owned by Immortals, and many of the players carried over from one roster to the other. Immortals was in a slump when the changeover to Valiant happened, but Valiant has added several talented players since, including former Rogue players Unkoe and Soon. This is a strong roster with a high ceiling, and shows the potential to challenge the all-Korean teams and the Texas duo.
The consensus on Shanghai Dragons is that they’re a middle of the pack team as well, but also that they could have been much stronger. Not a single member of Overwatch Premier Series champions Miraculous Youngster is on the Dragons. There’s also not much overlap with the Chinese World Cup team. Still, while China is the region least known to Western fans, it’s had more high level competition than most other regions, and Dragons’ players are LAN veterans.
Finally, New York Excelsior is an underdog of a different kind. Expected to finish comfortably in the top half, they’re nonetheless considered the weakest of the three all-Korean teams. Many analysts have them fourth behind Fuel. I have them fifth behind Fuel and Outlaws. That being said, they have an incredibly talented roster, and Saebyeolbe is one of the top players in the world. If New York challenges for the title, it’s not going to be surprising.
I want to follow a real underdog – a team that people are projecting to be bottom of the table
There are two teams left that haven’t been mentioned. Grouping them together here feels almost wrong; there’s a lot of good things you can say about one, while the other has little going for it.
Los Angeles Gladiators have a lot of recognizable names, most prominent being former Cloud9 star Surefour. Both their tanks and their supports were respected duos before joining Gladiators. However, while this roster has the skill to challenge the mid-table, a lot of analysts are approaching it with trepidation. Gladiators is the latest in a long string of talented-looking teams built around Surefour, and none of the others have ever reached the expectations people had for them.
Most analysts, myself included, have Boston Uprising coming in last. In a league full of superstars, most of the players (and coaching staff) on Uprising are relative unknowns. While it’s possible that a few of them could surprise us, the fact is that there are a lot of better players that didn’t make it into the inaugural season of Overwatch League that Boston could have been picked up instead. It’s a puzzling collection, especially since (per ESPN) Boston was the first team to commit to OWL, and had longer to build than most.