The Overwatch League’s second season kicks off this Thursday, and with it comes the arrival of eight new expansion teams. With rosters full of new and returning Overwatch League players these squads are hungry to prove themselves and stake their claim atop the league rankings. Without further ado, here are CGMagazine’s rankings of the Overwatch League’s expansion teams.
8) Atlanta Reign
Representing the Atlanta area, the Reign is all about rebirth. Their branding features a phoenix, and fittingly, many of their players are looking to reinvent themselves heading into the season. The most notable reinvention candidates are Daniel “Dafran” Francesca and Illya “Nlaaer” Koppalov. Both of these players have been penalized in the past, with Dafran receiving a temporary ban for purposely throwing games and Nlaaer receiving a permanent ban from CSGO for cheating.
The Reign’s head coach has previously said that the team was looking for talent first and coachability second, and given how young many of the players are they could do some serious damage as the season moves on. However, cohesion is a big stumbling block that they will have to overcome. The Reign have players from five different nations on their rosters and Overwatch is an esport in which communication and teamwork are integral. Talent aside, Atlanta will most certainly have a slow start to the year as they work on catching up to more unified teams.
Player to watch: Dogman Comparable Season 1 Team: Dallas Fuel
7) Washington Justice
There are many people in the Overwatch community that are sceptical about the Washington Justice heading into the season, and it’s hard to blame them. After all, the team’s roster is comprised partly of players who were let go by other teams in the offseason and partly of new, mostly unproven talent. That being said, this team is better than most people give them credit for.
Washington is led by Gi-hyeon“Ado” Chon and Joon-hwa“Janus” Song, and even though they were both let go by their teams after season one, they still show top tier promise. Ado was one of the lone bright spots on the zero-win and 40-loss Shanghai Dragons squad, as he combined master Genji players with great game sense and coordination. As for Janus, he was a starter for the league-leading NYXL for most of the year and very much flew under the radar. They’re also led by former NYXL coach Hyeong-seok“WizardHyeong” Kim, who is either a transcendent genius or mediocre talent depending on who you ask. If Washington is going to succeed this season he is going to have to be near transcendent.
Player to watch: Ado Comparable S1 Team: Boston Uprising
6) Chengdu Hunters
The Chinese Overwatch scene got a bit of a bad wrap in the Overwatch League’s first season, thanks to the Shanghai Dragon’s zero-win and 40-loss record. Since then, however, Chinese teams and players have experienced a major boost, thanks to the nation’s second place finish at BlizzCon 2019. A major portion of that Chinese team is the duo of Li “Yveltal” Xianyao and Ma “Tianbin” Lateyoung and both of those players made the jump to the Chengdu Hunters for Overwatch League season two.
Yveltal is an exceptional support player and his chemistry with LateYoung’s and his off-tank heroics, gives the Hunters a solid foundation. The rest of the team isn’t all that impressive, but they are all Chinese speakers so communication could very well mask their deficiencies. At the same time, the Hunters will have to grapple with a lot of pressure due to their all Chinese roster and that combined with their adaptation to life in America could cause them to start slow. That being said, once they do get going they very much could put the league on notice and challenge for a playoff spot.
Player to watch: Yveltal Comparable Season 1 Team: Seoul Dynasty
5) Paris Eternal
The Paris Eternal is an interesting team as they are made up solely of European talent. Similarly to Chinese players, many European players never really got their chance to shine all that much in season one of the Overwatch League. One of the few exceptions was Terence “SoOn”Tarlier, who was arguably the star player on the semi-final reaching L.A. Valiant. Now, he is unquestionably the star player for the Paris Eternal, and the team is full of other rising stars.
French Main-tank player Benjamin “Benbest” Dieulafait, and British Support player Harrison “Kruise” Pond both impressed at the World Cup last year, and they should be able to carry their momentum. Add in George “Shadowburn” Gushcha, who is an all-star Genji and Pharah player, and this team has some real potential. The current GOATS meta isn’t ideal for Paris, as their greatest strength lies is in their DPS prowess. That being said, their raw skill and coaching are good enough to stay in the running, and if a more DPS centric meta pops up they could make some serious noise.
Player to watch: SoOn Comparable Season 1 Team: L.A. Gladiators
4) Guangzhou Charge
One of the most interesting teams heading into season two, the Guangzhou Charge has a great logo and a shrewdly crafted roster. Four of their players come from the stellar Korean Contenders team Meta Bellum, which has been one of the top Korean teams for the past three seasons. They also have a couple of Chinese players from LGD Gaming, in addition to World Cup standout, Finley “Kyb” Adisi and former Philadelphia Fusion off-tank Hong-joon“Hotba“ Choi.
At first glance, the Charge looks like a team with high skill but also a potential for communication problems that comes from having a mixed language team. However, The reason why they stand out compared to other mixed language teams is they have many players who have worked together before, as well as plug and play DPS talent that should integrate easily. It’s also worth noting that the Meta Bellum core is reportedly proficient in English, which should help team cohesion even more.
Player to watch:Hotba Comparable S1 Team: Philadelphia Fusion
3) Toronto Defiant
A team that hasn’t hidden their rather difficult start to scrims, the Toronto Defiant are currently reaping the rewards that come with a synchronized team. Their coaching staff, led by former London Spitfire head coach Beom-joon“Bishop” Lee, is arguably one of the most complete in the league, and their use of stats based scouting has helped them build a stellar squad.
Similarly to Washington, the Defiant has a trio of former Overwatch League pros in Junsung “Asher” Choi, Kangjae “Envy” Lee and Sehyun “Neko” Pak. Of the three, Neko is the standout as he is a true stud and in my mind one of the top three Zenyatta players in the league. Envy and Asher bring leadership and experience to the squad and Envy’s flexibility is especially impressive. The other parts of their team are made up mostly of O2 Ardeont players, an often overlooked Korean Contenders team that finished second in season one of Korean Contenders. Overall, the Defiant players are bonding well together which is integral to success and will surprise many as they contend for a playoff spot this season.
Player to Watch: Neko Comparable S1 Team: Houston Outlaws
2) Hangzhou Spark
Does this team spark joy? Their colours certainly do, and even if the Hangzhou Spark don’t win a game this season, they’ll still stand out thanks to their pink and blue colour scheme. Thankfully for fans of the team, that probably won’t happen as they have an impressive roster, and just like Chengdu it’s led by a pair of Chinese World Cup standouts.
These standouts are main tank player Xu “Guxue” Qiulin and DPS player Cai “Krystal” Shilong. Guxue was arguably the MVP for team China as he balanced aggressive tank play, with an impressive ability to stay alive. As for Krystal, his Mcree and Genji play ended many team fights before they started. The rest of the team is made up of Korean speaking players from X-6 gaming, the team that won Korean Contenders Season One. They have a history of winning and as long as the Korean and Chinese players can work through their language barrier, this team will be a top contender.
Player to watch:Guxue Comparable S1 Team: L.A Valiant
1) Vancouver Titans
As much as speaking the same language helps to grow cohesion, the best way to do so is to win championships and that’s exactly what the Vancouver Titans have done. The Titan’s carried over the full roster from RunAway, a team that has won back to back championships in the Korean Contenders scene, and proven all that they can at the tier two level.
The biggest obstacle that most expansion teams have to overcome is getting their players synced up. That is something that the Titans already have down pat and the main reason why they are the early favourites for top expansion team. They will almost certainly start the season strong as they are arguably one of the best teams in the world at the GOATS meta. That being said, should the meta shift and if the other teams around them begin to grow more cohesive the Titans could very well find themselves being closely contested.
Player to watch: Team Synergy Comparable S1 Team: London Spitfire
Which expansion team are you cheering for? And who do you think is going to surprise heading into season two? Let us know in the comments below!