It’s finally that time of year again. Yes, that’s right, it’s Power Rankings season. With the starting line of the 2020 Overwatch League season just under a month away, it’s finally time to lay it all out and see where each of the 20 teams stands in terms of overall power. Before we get started, however, I want to put a few caveats down about these particular rankings.
An in-depth analysis of these rankings, done by the author, can be seen below.
Quick Caveats and the Process of Ranking
First, these are my personal rankings and do not represent the rankings of The Game Haus or any others affiliated with the site. Those rankings will come later. Second, these rankings are aimed at predicting where teams will finish the 2020 season at, rather than their power at the start of the year. This is an important distinction and these rankings will contain projected final records for each team to further illustrate this point. Third, these are different than the rankings I put out in late-November, due to the remaining offseason moves that have happened since that time.
Last, here are some of the criteria I’ve used to rank these teams. There’s no exact formula for deciding one’s own power rankings, but I’ve found the following metrics to be what I deem valuable in deciding a team’s strength: Difficulty of schedule (including projected travel mileage, opponents faced and number of homestands), roster depth, amount of support staff, analysis of projected starters at each position and my overall impression of how the team will function as a whole. With all of this in mind, here are the bottom 10 teams in my Preseason 2020 OWL Power Rankings.
Projected 2020 Record: 7-21
2019 Regular Season Record: 12-16
Difference Maker for 2020: Tanks and Supports Stepping Up
The bottom two spots of these rankings were admittedly tough to decide between, hence the only one game separating their end-of-season projected records. But, in the end, the Valiant takes the spot as my bottom team of 2020. Between a tumultuous offseason of rebranding and letting go of nearly all of the 2019 roster, the Valiant enter 2020 as a serious underdog, albeit with the potential to surprise certain teams.
While the Valiant have an admittedly strong DPS line, the rest of the team does not inspire much confidence. They have a grab bag of assorted Korean and Western tank and support players, mostly coming from Contenders. While players from the OWL’s semi-pro scene have proven they can come in and have success right away (i.e. 2019 Vancouver Titans) I’m not sure this bunch gives the same impression.
Then, on top of all of this, the Valiant find themselves in one of the league’s toughest divisions, the Pacific West. They’ll be playing teams like Vancouver, the Shock and the Gladiators more frequently than others. However, the team does have a stretch from Week 17-19 where they play the Defiant, Eternal, Uprising and Spitfire. If they are going to increase their win total in 2020, those matches will be key.
#19 Boston Uprising
Projected 2020 Record: 8-20
2019 Regular Season Record: 8-20
Difference Maker for 2020: Inexperienced Roster and Immense Travel
The Uprising come into the 2020 season after a tough 2019 campaign, finishing in the league’s bottom third. And, if we’re being honest, it doesn’t appear that they have made that many improvements to turn their luck around. Because of that, I’m predicting an almost identical 2020 season for them, finishing at the same mark of 8-20.
As is customary. the Uprising let go of several players in the offseason and picked up mostly Contenders players to fill those slots. The team does, however, bring back both Cameron “Fusions” Bosworth and Kelsey “Colourhex” Birse from their 2019 roster, both of whom had their shining moments. On top of this, the team is lucky to be in the Atlantic North division, which features beatable teams like London, Paris and Toronto. They also have a fairly large coaching staff of some veteran talent.
However, even with this favorable division and all the rest going for them, the Uprising still have a very steep hill to climb. Of all 20 teams, they are set to travel the second most according to a table made by Eric Doerr for Upcomer back in August, clocking in a projected 71,000 miles of travel in 2020. Combine this with their relatively subpar roster and you’ve got a team that would shock the league with a playoff birth. The bottom third of the league is the only place I can see Boston finishing out 2020.
#18 Paris Eternal
Projected 2020 Record: 9-19
2019 Regular Season Record: 11-17
Difference Maker for 2020: Surviving Until Sp9rk1e is 18 and Communication
The Eternal come into the 2020 season with a new mixed-roster identity and a superstar player that will be forced to ride the bench for about four months in Yeong-han “Sp9rk1e” Kim. Because of these significant changes, it’s hard to tell whether or not the Eternal will be able to properly adapt. But, even if they are, I still don’t see them being a roster that can string together double-digit wins in 2020, leaving their projected record two games worse than their 2019 mark of 11-17.
This is, in part, due to the double-edged sword that is the Atlantic North. This division has some teams that are more beatable than others but at the cost of immense travel time and mileage. I think, for many of these teams (London, Paris and Boston) it will come down to winning the game’s versus one another, rather than beating anyone else in the league. I don’t see a dominant one of the three thus far, leading to the similar projected win totals.
All that being said, Paris has a high ceiling, especially later in the year. Once they get a feel for communication and traveling as a newly mixed roster and get Sp9rk1e into the starting six, Paris is one of the few teams in this bottom bunch that I could see stringing some wins together. In addition to their new acquisitions, look for the veteran leadership of players like Terence “SoOn” Tarlier and Harrison “Kruise” Pond to lead the Eternal in 2020.
#17 London Spitfire
Projected 2020 Record: 9-19
2019 Regular Season Record: 16-12
Difference Maker for 2020: Regular Season Consistency and Culture Change
The World Champions of 2018 were turned completely upside down this offseason, letting go of every player from that initial roster (Yung-hoon “Krillin” Jung is the only that remains, signed after 2018 season). Now, this collection of Korean former Contenders players must saddle up and travel the most of any OWL team at just over a projected 75,000 miles in 2020. This smells like disaster.
There are some positives for London, however, including their division and exciting (and also very deep) roster of 12 players. Former Gen.G layers like DPS-star Gil-seong “Glister” Lim and Kyu-min “SanGuiNar” Lim inspire a lot of confidence alongside former Fusion University tank Se-won “BERNAR” Shin. They have some players with some serious talent and no language barrier, which is why I felt I had to slot them over teams like Paris or Boston.
But, there’s no doubt the travel wear-and-tear will be immense for this young team. This, alongside the need to remove the existing culture of regular season malaise and boom-bust streaks that have plagued the Spitfire in its first two years, present problems for this team that they must overcome. With all of this in their way, I predict this will be London’s worst season yet and their first time to ever miss the playoffs as a team. I’d be happy to be proven wrong.
#16 Chengdu Hunters
Projected 2020 Record: 10-18
2019 Regular Season Record: 13-15
Difference Maker for 2020: Being More than Anti-Meta
The Hunters have yet to reveal their official 2020 roster at this point, but more news is expected about that soon, according to the team. However, even if they added the rumored pickups of Chen “ATing” Shao-Hua or Cai “Krystal” Shilong, I don’t think it would change my ranking of this team too much. For the most part, I expect much of the same for the Hunters in 2020, except without the early season surprise wins.
This team’s 2020 success, in large part, boils down to whether or not they’ll be able to become more than their goofy, off-meta picks of 2019. These were undoubtedly fun to watch and led to some amazing moments and memes, however, they didn’t do much for the Hunters in the win column in the end.
But, this team now has OWL experience at every position and a chance to live in China with middle-of-the-road total travel distance. This could lead them to being more than they were in 2019, but the lack of any serious moves in the offseason makes me feel like that won’t be the case. I’m predicting 10 wins for Chengdu this year who, in their first four games, have to play the Dragons, Spark, Valiant and Shock. To get on a good pace early, they’ll need to grab at least one of those games.
More on the way
The remainder of these rankings are set to come out over the next several days. Keep an eye out specifically for #15-#11 tomorrow, January 14, around 12:00 pm PST with an accompanying stream to break down the bottom 10. After that, expect the top 10 later in the week going into early next week with another live stream on-deck. In the meantime, let me know what you think of the rankings on Twitter!
Follow me on Twitter: @GoopyKnoopy I would love to dialogue with you about anything I’ve written!
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Featured Image Courtesy of Robert Paul Blizzard Entertainment
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