The fifth season of the Overwatch League is, at long last, finally here. After a seven-month offseason, fans of the league will once again be able to fill their weekends with high-octane Overwatch action. And for new viewers, the deal is even sweeter. The start of the new season is the perfect chance to get into the Overwatch League in 2022. New viewers won’t have to learn about game-defining moments on Twitter, or through Youtube. They’ll be able to see them as they happen, alongside thousands of other Overwatch League fans worldwide.
But a new year doesn’t wipe away four seasons and hundreds of matches worth of history. After all, the Overwatch League is nearly five years old. Each and every one of the League’s 20 teams have had countless opportunities to forge their own mythos and identities. This makes picking a team to root for incredibly difficult, especially for Overwatch League 2022 newbies. So which team should you be rooting for? What is there to know about them? And what can new viewers expect their performance to look like throughout the 2022 season?
The Atlanta Reign
Every league needs a bad boy- and the 2022 Overwatch League is no exception. Throughout their three-season history, the Atlanta Reign have established themselves as the heels of Overwatch, with flair, trash talk, and a never-care attitude typically reserved for WWE. The Reign, by their own admission, care more about having fun than winning- but that doesn’t mean they can’t win. The Reign, despite their reputation, do win. A lot. Despite being a solidly mid-table team in 2020, the Reign had a comeback year in 2021, with an aggressive playoff run (fueled primarily by their Rookie of the Year DPS player Se-hyun “Pelican” Oh) that took them all the way to the Grand Finals.
This year, the Atlanta Reign will be seeking to replicate their 2021 success- though they’ll be doing it with an incredibly different roster. Over the offseason, the Reign lost ROTY Pelican, alongside their star support line of Seung-hyun “Ir1s” Kim Petja and “Masaa” Kantanen. In exchange, they’ve bolstered their talent with highly sought after rookie talent from the legendary American Tornado team, which dominated Overwatch’s minor league, Contenders, throughout 2020 and 2021. Following A.T’s disbanding, the Reign have picked up three of their most well-known players. Flex support Benjamin “UltraViolet” David and Christian “Ojee” Han will make up the team’s new backline. Nicholas “Speedily” Zhou, meanwhile, will be replacing Pelican, and will be serving as the Reign’s star DPS player once he comes of age in August.
Though unproven, these rookie pickups have fans feeling hopeful for the Atlanta Reign’s chances of continuing their 2021 success. Many expect a strong playoff run to be in this team’s future- if not a championship or stage title. So if new viewers like bad boys and scrappy rookies with a history of success, Atlanta is the team for them.
The Boston Uprising
Oh, Boston Uprising. Poor, sweet Boston Uprising. They’ve had a hard few seasons, haven’t they? Ever since their incredibly strong 26-14 inaugural season, they’ve had nothing but trouble. They touted an 8-20 record in Season 2. A 2-19 record in Season 3. And a 7-9 record in Season 4. They’ve truly had a rough time. But could season 5 be their year?
After a disappointing three-year losing streak, the Boston Uprising are looking to harken back to their season 1 glory days with their season 5 roster. And they’ve made the signings to prove it. At the start of the offseason, the Uprising re-signed Nam-joo ‘Striker” Kwon, their inaugural season superstar who went on to win two seasons with the legendary San Francisco Shock. Striker, a Grand Finals MVP and solid candidate for one of the best players to ever grace the Overwatch League, brings the firepower that Boston needs to have what could be a bounceback year.
But Striker hasn’t been Boston’s only solid signing. The Uprising also picked up William “Crimzo” Hernandez, a fantastic Flex Support player whose strong performance on the 2021 Houston Outlaws caught the eye of many fans, and is arguably one of the greatest reasons for the team’s success. Crimzo will be joining Hong-gyu “Faith” Kim in the Uprisings backline, which is set to be one of the best in NA. They will, in turn, be joined by Jeong-ho “MCD” Lee, a controversial pickup who joined the Uprising with little fanfare. MCD was booted from the Hangzhou Spark in 2021 due to ethnically insensitive comments made on his stream.
Though the rest of the team isn’t anything special, there still are some shining pieces. Australian player Leyton “Punk” Gilchrist is a solid and well-liked off tank player. And flex DPS player Byeong-ju “Valentine” Kim is looking to prove himself in the League following a muted Rookie performance that clashed with the high expectations set upon him at the start of the year.
If new viewers like scrappy underdog teams with players fighting to rise above their stations, Boston is the team for them.
The Dallas Fuel
The Dallas Fuel are a truly exceptional team in nearly every way. After three years of mediocrity, the Fuel had a bounceback year in 2021. Their new, all-Korean roster made waves. They participated in three tournaments. Won one. And ended the season as the best team in NA. And the best part? They did it all with a significant handicap.
Thanks to injuries sustained by Ki-hyo “Xzi” Jung in the preseason, the Dallas Fuel spent the entire season without a DPS player who could reliably play snipers and other high-accuracy characters at the highest level. This meant that the Fuel had to get creative in the compositions they fielded throughout the season. But despite these challenges, and no point did the Fuel seem burnt by their empty DPS slot. In fact, it was when they were facing these challenges that the team seemed most lethal and alive.
While the Fuel’s starting lineup will remain largely the same (minus veteran main support Seung-soo “Jecse” Lee, who was released in favor of rookie prodigy Hyeon-seok “ChiYo” Han, whose minor league team, O2 Blast, dominated Korean Contenders for over two years), they’ll be adding two hungry DPS players to their roster in order to patch their hitscan hole. While Tae-Hoon “Edison’ Kim, an Atlanta Reign veteran who never really got a chance to prove himself as MVP talent, is the more well-known of the two, rookie Min-seo “Guriyo” Kang, who plays more traditional sniper characters and comes from the average contenders team Team Diamond, will have far more to prove in the Overwatch League 2022 season.
In conclusion, the Dallas Fuel are pretty much the same dominant team they were in 2021- just without the handicaps. So if new viewers like the scenes where Rock Lee takes his weights off, Dallas is the team for them.
The Florida Mayhem
The Florida Mayhem aren’t just scrappy underdogs. They’re the SCRAPPIEST underdogs. They’re a hodgepodge team of mixed talent with expectations on the floor and potential on the ceiling. And heading into 2022, they could be one of the most entertaining teams to watch in all of OWL history.
In 2021, Florida had an absolute powerhouse of a roster. A team with MVP caliber players in nearly every single position. And yet, after a strong early season, they still went 5-11, ending as the third-worst team in the west. Heading into season 5, it was clear that a total rework was in order. So the Mayhem released every single one of their players. And they hired the Billy Beane of Overwatch- Jordan “Gunba” Graham.
As a head coach, Gunba is well known for his near-supernatural ability to find diamonds in the rough. His 2020 Los Angeles Valiant roster was legendary for its low expectations and high success rate. And it was clear that, going into the offseason, Gunba would be continuing his 2002 Oakland A’s style approach to Overwatch with the Florida Mayhem.
Looking at the Mayhem’s 2022 roster, it’s clear that every single player has something to prove. Taesung “Anamo” Jung and Young-seo “KariV” Park are both veteran support players, fighting to prove they aren’t washed. Saudi Arabian flex support Majed “SirMajed’ Alrashied will be battling to represent a region that has become increasingly relevant in esports. Australian tank player Adam “Adam” Soong will be attempting to find his footing in the Overwatch League 2022 season after getting shafted by the Los Angeles Valiant’s collapse in the 2021 preseason. DPS player Isaiah “Hydron” Rodriguez and tank player Jeong-wan “SOMEONE” Ham will be fighting to prove themselves as potential ROTY candidates. And the aforementioned Ki-hyo “Xzi” Jung, an MVP candidate in 2020 who disappeared in 2021, will be battling to prove that he can still be an MVP in 2022.
It’s clear that this Mayhem roster has potential- but will they go far, or will they fall flat? If new viewers like the movie “Moneyball”, Florida is the team for them.
The Houston Outlaws
If the Florida Mayhem are playing Moneyball, then the Outlaws are playing… the opposite of Moneyball. Whatever that means.
Following a breakout 2021 performance that saw the Houston Outlaws dominate the early parts of the season with a nearly completely brand new roster but miss playoffs by a hair, the Outlaws are back to once again prove themselves at the Overwatch League level. And based on their signings, it’s clear that they aren’t playing around.
Over the course of the offseason, the Outlaws released every single one of their players, save for all-star DPS player Dante “Danteh” Cruz and incredible tank player Min-jun “PIGGY” Shin (alongside the team’s face, Jacob “Jake” Lyon, who moved to a full-time coaching role on the team). This was all to make room for some truly all-star talent that could win the Outlaws a trophy single-handedly. Their first two pickups of the offseason came via trades with the Atlanta Reign. The Outlaws signed ROTY DPS player Se-hyun “Pelican” Oh and Seung-hyun “Ir1s” Kim from the team- two incredibly lethal players who easily made the grand finals in 2021. They, in turn, signed Jung-won “Lastro” Mun, a skilled veteran flex support who never really found his footing, and Tae-min “MER1T” Choi, a skilled dps player (though not a full-time starter) from legendary Contenders team O2 Blast.
But some fans have doubts about this pure star power strategy. Despite their signings, the Outlaws aren’t a very flexible team, and some of their star players nearly perfectly overlap in their talents and skills. As such, a single bad meta or losing streak, no matter how minuscule, could leave these gunslingers dead before high noon.
So will the Outlaws rise above their struggles, and make a deep playoff run for the first time ever? Or will their lack of flexibility leave them in the dust? If viewers are from the South and love high-powered, all-star teams with Texas charm, the Outlaws are the team for them.
The London Spitfire
The London Spitfire are not a good team. Out of all the teams in the Overwatch League 2022 Season, the Spitfire are the most likely to repeatedly fail. This is a team that will go 3-0. This is a team that will go on 7 game losing streaks. And this is a team that will break fans’ hearts at every turn. But that isn’t why they’re rooting for them.
No, fans are rooting for them because they love the underdogs. They’re rooting for them because they adore EU talent. And they’re rooting for them because you find the mix of legendary veteran players and exciting rookie talent invigorating.
Despite porting over one of the best teams to ever touch contenders to their roster in 2021, the Spitfire had a miserable season. The Spitfire’s roster went 1-15 in the regular season, beating only the equally floundering Vancouver Titans in a 3-2 game. Going into the 2022 season, it was clear something needed to change. And we’ll give it to the Spitfire- they’ve moved to have a far better season than they did last year.
Over the offseason, the Spitfire signed legendary French tank Gael “Poko” Gouzerch, a Philadelphia Fusion icon who has won the hearts of friends and foes alike. They also signed main support Oliver “Admiral” Vahar, a member of their academy team and the first Estonian player in the League, as well as British DPS Jamie “Backbone” O’Neill and support player Landon “Landon” McGee, a collegiate player, three dark horse rookie picks who could enable the team’s existing frontline. Finally, they made the controversial signing of Hadi “Hadi” Bleinagel. Hadi played tank for the Spitfire last year, and… wasn’t very good. He had a poor rookie year, and became the butt of many jokes aimed at the floundering Spitfire. But following a reportedly impressive tryout, London have decided to give Hadi another chance- something that’s nearly unheard of in esports, and something that Hadi will be battling to prove he deserves.
So will the Spitfire soar? Or will they be shot down like everyone expects? If new viewers enjoy supporting the definitive underdogs or want to root for a European team, then London Spitfire is the team for them.
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