Entering the first week of preseason, the competitive Overwatch landscape changed as the balance of power shifted to new teams and players. The 12 initial matchups gave fans a serious look at their new home teams and what to expect for this upcoming season. Here are five takeaways from the preseason:
1. The Widowmaker meta is here to stay
Widowmaker is becoming a standard pick in the Overwatch League, based off the preseason compositions. Pick-off potential and burst damage make her such a threat on the back-line. Clearly, the way in which teams positioned their Widow and how much emphasis attacking teams put on shutting her down shows her importance.
On nearly every hybrid, payload, assault and some control points, Widowmaker has good enough sight lines to be a nuisance. If teams don’t focus her down, each push will be staggered by a respawning support player that’s a quick one-shot.
It also helps that the players in the Overwatch League have unbelievable aim. Kim “Pine” Hyuk-do, Fleta, Taimou, Babybay, Tviq and many other players are too lethal to be left unaccounted for on the Widowmaker. It looks like she’ll be a mainstay in the meta game for the start of the regular season.
2. Korean teams aren’t unstoppable
Los Angeles Gladiators quickly thumped the myth with the first major upset over the London Spitfire. In a grueling 3-2 match, Lane “Surefour” and the DPS-heavy Gladiators lineup featuring both Asher and Hydration, held off the consensus favorite heading into week one.
In the end, they not only held them off, but won in rather impressive fashion. Gladiators were heavy underdogs in this fight, and despite not having as deep of a roster, still managed to take advantage of a Spitfire team still trying to find its bearings. A loss on Junkertown and Numbani sealed their fate with strong Genji and Tracer play.
However, the Korean-filled rosters still ended up victorious in every other match during the preseason. The important thing to remember is that these juggernaut Korean teams are mortal and these games proved it this weekend. As fans watched at the Overwatch World Cup, the rest of the world is catching up. It’ll take time but the foreign talent is there to be developed.
3. London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty still the favorites
At the end of the day, the two uber-talented rosters of the former Apex champion GC Busan and Lunatic-Hai will be tough to beat in season one. Despite one measly loss, the Spitefire went on to put a beating on the San Francisco Shock in their second game. The Dynasty struggled through a win over the Excelsior, but still flashed moments of brilliance throughout and won.
Each team has that building block player, who will be the centerpiece moving forward. Only the Dynasty and Spitfire have that at nearly every position. So, while the skill gap is closing, the Korean teams will start this season as heavy favorites to win it all. The preseason showed that it’s not going to be a walkover to the finals.
4. Uprising, Dragons and Mayhem need roster help
It’s hard to gather anything from the best teams during the preseason because they may not have been playing their hardest. The Dynasty looked suspect at times, but there’s instances where they’re forced to play Kuki over Miro or Weeked over Munchkin that muck up our understanding of this team. With the bottom three teams, it’s much more plain to see.
Continuity for the Mayhem roster seemed to be a strength, but just being familiar with your teammates doesn’t guarantee success. Mayhem ended the weekend with a 1-6 record, and despite strong play from Tviq and Logix, this team looked severely outmatched. The lack of real depth also reared its head as they had no answer for the Dallas Fuel’s conflicting styles or the Shock’s versatility.
As for the Uprising and Dragons, two teams that have flashes of strong play, didn’t play their best through the entire two preseason matches. Diya gave us a show against the Dynasty, but the support and tank lines were badly outplayed. Uprising had zero answers for NYXL’s Pine on Widowmaker and diving on Genji.
It’s too early to say these teams can’t turn it around, but the lack of big names on the bottom three rosters gives fans reason to question the roster decisions. If things stay this way, look for these teams to tryout new players.
5. Lesser known players showing talent
The most promising aspect of the preseason was the fact that it wasn’t just the superstar players impressing the crowd. It was a variety of lesser known players implementing lesser known strategies.
Los Angeles Valiant’s Silkthread was a player that showed plenty of explosive play capabilities. Hydration, of the Gladiators, out-dueled one of the world’s best Pharah’s in Rascal. Uprising’s Note showed his aggressive D.Va play to matchup with the rest of the league’s tank lines. The list goes on-and-on of lesser known players that showed up big this past week that could be a factor moving forward.
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Featured photo from OverwatchLeague.com