The Overwatch League’s 2020 season is fast approaching. While fans worldwide are scouring the schedule to check when they will be able to see their favorite teams, supporters of the Atlanta Reign have some scrolling to do. Atlanta will not begin their season until the fourth week of matches, giving them the longest break in the League. The next closest teams opening this late are the Guangzhou Charge and the Boston Uprising, both starting a week prior. Will this extra time give the Reign an advantage going into this season or will the slow start be a hindrance?
The Reign will play their first game on February 29, after having an extra three weeks to prepare. The extended break could ensure crucial success out of the gate and allow that momentum to carry them until their next break. They open against the Toronto Defiant, who will have uphill matches in weeks one and three before facing Atlanta. During the 2019 season, Atlanta won both of their meetings with the Defiant, securing 3-1 victories for both encounters. The following day will pit the Reign against the Paris Eternal, another team against which they had a dominant showing last season. In both matches against the Eternal, Atlanta won with decisive 4-0 scores.
Given their track record against these teams, the Reign are expected to come out of their opening week with double wins. Then they will travel to Washington, D.C. to face the Boston Uprising, in their only game of the week. While Boston has a fairly unfavorable ranking among analysts, the Reign did lose an early Stage 2 match against them last season. However, any misgivings were crushed when Atlanta handed Boston a brutal 4-0 sweep, closing out their regular season.
Their first match against a highly ranked team won’t happen until week 6, when they face off against the NYXL. Atlanta has a somewhat distorted history with the NYXL. During the regular season, the NYXL suffered back to back losses at the hands of the Reign but met them again in the playoffs, knocking the Reign out of the winner’s bracket. This game will be the true test of whether the extra time off made them better prepared or enabled complacency.
The Possible Downside
Getting the bugs out during matches against teams they’ve beaten in the past seems like a boon, but it may turn out to be the opposite. Starting late in the season and going right into a relatively light opening schedule could be a false positive. If the Reign become arrogant or complacent, they might be in for a rough time later.
Atlanta has one of the lightest travel schedules in the League. They only visit Europe once, and will not head to Asia at all. Additionally, they will field a 12-man roster, making the burden of their road schedule slightly easier to manage. Using this to their advantage could result in a huge season for the Reign. Conversely, taking it for granted could become their downfall.
The Reign are a momentum-based team. Regardless of how the late start will affect them, they’ve proven how far they can carry the energy of their hometown crowd. Atlanta will be hosting two homestands in 2020, and should history repeat itself- their opponents have a lot to fear. The way the Atlanta homestands are spaced throughout the season, they should act as power-up boosts. If the Reign begin to falter, the hype from their homestands could give them the strength to pick themselves back up and move through the next several games. If they open strong and don’t stumble, it will make them unstoppable.
Check out Bradley’s Atlanta Reign 2020 Season Preview here!
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