It’s finally here! After a long and eventful off season, opening night is just around the corner, and this year the Overwatch League is bigger than ever. The twelve original teams from the inaugural season are joined by eight expansion teams from around the globe bringing a jam-packed slate of games Thursday-Sunday every week during the regular season. With 16 matches to choose from each week, Player vs. All is here to help recommend the ones you should be paying particular attention to.*
*We know, we know! You’re going to watch them all. But just in case you’re busy, here are the three most notable match ups of Stage 1, Week 1.
1. Philadelphia Fusion vs. London Spitfire – February 14, 7pm EST
It may be cheating to pick the very first match of the 2019 season. It may be cheating to pick the 2018 Grand Finals rematch. It may be cheating to pick the game that features the player with the single best signature in the league.
Whether or not this is the obvious choice, there is a reason that the League felt this game was worthy of setting the pace for the 2019 season. These two teams only got better in the offseason, and both are hungry to prove themselves coming into year two. Philadelphia returns with their starting core from last season, and practicing some addition by subtraction to their bench, getting rid of Shadowburn, JoeMeister, and Dayfly while calling up Elk from Fusion University. They look to continue the slow, steady, and consistent play of last year behind one of the best and most aggressive DPS duos in the league, carpe and eqo.
Though London ended the 2018 season lifting the championship trophy, it’s hard to ignore how much of the offseason conversation has centered around NYXL’s chances of winning it all in 2019. It’s certain the Spitfire are coming into 2019 not only hoping to replicate the success of 2018, but hopefully do it with more consistency.
PvA’s Prediction: London defeats Philly 3-1
The match-up greatly favors the Spitfire, with tank play still having a much greater impact on the results of matches than the DPS. As good as Sado and Poko are in their respective roles, they still don’t come close to Gesture and Fury. While London won’t be able to silence all of the doubt and claim their place atop every fan’s power rankings with a win over Philly, it certainly isn’t a bad place to start.
2. Dallas Fuel vs. San Francisco Shock – February 15th, 10pm EST
The big question surrounding this match up is “How far have they come?” Both Dallas and San Francisco were arguably the most improved teams in the Overwatch League during stage 4 last season with the Shock finishing a deceptively good 5-5 and the Dallas Fuel making the stage playoffs at 6-4 then putting up a competitive effort against the NYXL. Now, coming into season two, these two squads look to pick up right where they left off.
Let’s start with the Shock. The general consensus around this team is that they are good. Like really good. Like “could contend for a title” good. And the sentiment is certainly warranted as San Francisco added some top-tier talent to their roster, headlined by former Boston Uprising star STRIKER.
The sky is certainly the limit for this team, but as the only roster carrying a full 12-man squad into the regular season there are still some rotations to figure out, especially considering some of the big personalities that make up this team. In the meantime, their sheer explosiveness and big-play potential will make them a must watch almost every time they take the stage.
Dallas, on the other hand, didn’t quite have the eventful and noteworthy offseason that their opening match opponent enjoyed. But nonetheless, if you take a step back, you will see that the team addressed some of the glaring questions from their 2018 season. Closer joins the team as one of the most prolific shot-callers in the league and rCk fills a large gap in the off-tank position. Projectile DPS acquisition, ZachaREEE will likely make his biggest impacts when he can escape the ironclad bars of Brigitte prison.
PvA’s Prediction: San Francisco defeats Dallas 3-2
Conventional wisdom would suggest the team best prepared to run a 3-3 comp would be favored to win this match-up, but there have been murmurs throughout the league teams are going to pull out some triple and even quad DPS lineups. The more DPS on the map for the Shock, the better. They’ll take this one on the back of some interesting compositions.
3. Shanghai Dragons vs. Hangzhou Spark – February 14th, 11:30pm EST
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include at least one expansion team in our list, and while there are plenty of great match-ups featuring brand new teams, no team has built a following without playing a game quite like the Hangzhou Spark.
The Spark made waves throughout the Overwatch League community when they revealed their cotton candy branding, but there is so much more to be excited about outside of their color scheme. With a roster comprised of some of the top available Korean talent this summer — GodsB, iDK, and Ria — alongside 2018 Chinese national team breakouts Guxue and Krystal (who will miss game 1 due to a suspension), this team is poised to take opponents by storm with their uniquely aggressive playstyle. Spark may very well be one of the most exciting teams to watch in OWL 2019.
After a much maligned 2018 season, the Shanghai Dragons decided to endure all of their offseason highs and lows across three different weeks of the break. In early September, the team announced that they were cutting virtually their entire 2018 roster, and then announced their new roster comprised mostly of Kongdoo Panthera alums. Earlier this week the team announced that starting main tank Fearless would be taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team to return to Korea for health reasons, then later acquired Boston Uprising main tank, Gamsu.
With these last minute roster shuffles, it’s a bit hard to assess exactly where the Dragons are coming into the season. The addition of Gamsu will likely be an upgrade in the long term, but replacing arguably the most important position on the team literal days before the season starts certainly creates a steep learning curve.
PvA’s Prediction: Hangzhou defeats Shanghai 4-0
Hangzhou will gain a convincing victory despite Krystal’s absence behind aggressive tank play that will take advantage of Gamsu’s late arrival. Hype for Spark will go from through the roof to the stratosphere and Dragons fans will have to wait for their 42nd game to possibly get their first win.
Seoul Dynasty vs. Los Angeles Gladiators – Fissure faces off against his old team and gets his revenge. Seoul defeats Los Angeles 3-1
Vancouver Titans vs. Shanghai Dragons – Runaway makes their much anticipated Overwatch League debut. Vancouver defeats Shanghai 3-1
Philadelphia Fusion vs. Atlanta Reign – Dafran runs Torb for an entire game? Philadelphia defeats Atlanta 3-2