By: Ian McCafferty and Ollie Powell
Season 2 of OWL starts in just a few short weeks and with eight new teams, there’s a lot to digest before the games actually begin. We’ll start our 2019 preview in the Atlantic division which has the league’s best two teams, some intriguing middle of the pack squads and the majority of the Bottom 5 teams in OWL.
The new teams of Atlanta, Paris, Toronto and Washington range from possible wild card surprises to worst roster in the league. While the returning squads bring back essentially their entire rosters it’ll be a battle between NYXL and London for the top spot with Philadelphia as the only team who’s even sleeper material.
Let’s get it rolling:
Roster: Dafran, Erster, NlaaeR, Pokpo, Gator, DACO, Kodak, Masaa
Overview: One of the biggest question marks going into the season. There’s undoubted talent across the board here, especially in their tank line Pokpo and Daco, who were rated as one of the best outside of OWL last season. All eyes, however, will be on the volatile, but extremely talented, Dafran. Often described as one of the most talented people in the game according to coaches and fellow players, a happy and stable Dafran, aided by a meta shift, could see the Atlanta Reign surprise a few people, and sneak into the end of season playoffs.
Prediction: Fighting for a wildcard spot.
Roster: Blasé, Colourhex, NotE, Axxiom, Fusions, Gamsu, AimGod, alemao, Kellex
Overview: At one point last season Boston was the best team in all of OWL, but nine months and some roster turmoil later Uprising are no longer the 10-0 Stage 3 team they once were. The tank line returns and they add a new support in alemao, but lose Neko to Toronto. The biggest question mark this team has is at DPS as every damage player who Boston rostered last season is now gone. Blasé and Colourhex replace them. Both are solid DPS but unproven in OWL and with Colourhex suspended the first two games of the season Boston is going to have to make a signing or figure something out. All of this before we even talk about the reports of a toxic team culture that surfaced during the offseason. Overall Uprising was good in 2018 but should be prepared for a drop off with so much in house turmoil. The Atlantic is weak so Boston could ride some free wins to a wild card spot, but not much higher unless their DPS outperform expectations.
Prediction: Middle of the pack in the Atlantic, Maybe a Wild Card.
Roster: Sayaplaya, TviQ, BQB, Apply, SNT, Swon, Xepher, Hagopeun, Kris.
Overview: A poor first season saw the Mayhem drop the majority of their roster, bar Sayaplaya, Tviq and SNT (formerly Awesomeguy), promote Apply on a two-way contract, and sign several veteran Korean players to round out their squad. Their biggest acquisitions have been Hagopeun and Kris in the support positions; a major upgrade over their support lineup last season. There are doubts about their options at tank though. SNT and Swon have hardly set the world alight, and Xepher has been offered a second chance after several poor performances for Seoul Dynasty. Keeping faith in their existing coaching staff could also come back to bite them.
Prediction: Season one Deja vu, Bottom 5 Team.
Roster: ArHaN, JAKE, LiNkzr, Danteh, coolmatt, SPREE, Muma, Boink, Bani, Rawkus
Overview: This team is essentially the same exact squad that missed the playoffs in 2018 plus Danteh. Now Danteh finally fills the role of Tracer player on the roster but in a meta that doesn’t see as much Tracer it’s unclear how much that actually helps. The tank line remains the team’s strong point but Muma’s solo flank style might not translate as well to a triple tank heavy early meta. Meanwhile, the supports remain one of the weakest in all of OWL. It seemed obvious that Houston would make a signing or two at support after last season, but instead they’ll just be running back their 2018 line. Outlaws have to get out to a hot start on the back of their team synergy while other teams are still learning how to play together. If they struggle early it will be a very long season.
Prediction: Missing the Playoffs, 11 or 12 seed if everything breaks right.
Roster: Profit, Birdring, Guard, Gesture, Fury, Bdosin, Krillin, Nus.
Overview: The season one champions will be looking to build upon their title win. After an inconsistent regular season, not helped by an injury to Birdring, the Spitfire rolled through the playoffs, with Gesture, Fury and Profit solidifying themselves as the best at their positions. Guard is a smart pickup and will offer something different to their DPS line up, especially if Sombra remains useful, while Krillin is an unknown quantity. London will have their eyes firmly set on reclaiming their title.
Prediction: Top 3 Team, Another deep playoff run.
New York Excelsior
Roster: Saebyeolbe, Libero, Pine, Fl0w3R, Nenne, MekO, Mano, JJoNak, Ark, AMANO
Overview: NYXL somehow got an even more loaded roster this offseason. They bring back the entire roster and then add God Tier DPS Fl0W3R and Nenne to a lineup that already featured Saebyeolbe, Libero, and Pine. They have nearly three teams worth of top DPS talent on the squad, the only challenge is going to be figuring out who to play when. They also bring back one of the league’s best Tank duos and league MVP JJoNak. Just like last season there isn’t a hole on this roster and NYXL should be fantastic all year. The only issue is if one of their tanks is injured there’s no longer a security blanket. But as long as the meta doesn’t shift against them in the playoffs again they should be playing for the Season 2 Championship.
Prediction: Winners of the Atlantic Division, Playing for a Championship.
Roster: SoOn, ShaDowBurn, NiCOgdh, Danye, LhCloudy, BenBest, Finnsi, HyP, Greyy, Kruise.
Overview: One of only two teams heading into season two without a Korean player, Paris have instead decided to showcase the talent Europe has to offer. Eyes will certainly be drawn to their DPS with Shadowburn and SooN, poached from the LA Valiant, a mouthwatering proposition if dive makes a return. A weak tank line could be their undoing though; Benbest is a solid Reinhardt but a poor Winston, so expect to see the more mechanically skilled LHcloudy start. Eternal’s greatest strength lies in their coach set-up. Daemon has OWL experience, while Fefe and Seita have both led their teams to Contenders championships.
Prediction: Playing for a wildcard spot.
Roster: Carpe, Eqo, snillo, Poko, SADO, Fragi, Boombox, neptuNo, Elk
Overview: The Fusion are good, but also not consistent enough to pencil in as one of the league’s Top 5 teams. They’re getting a lot of love preseason due to their 2nd place finish last year, but a lot of this team’s success was based around Carpe and Eqo carrying the team. Also they got a little help from the meta and NYXL coaching staff in the playoffs. Fusion won so many matches in the fifth game last year, sometimes solely on the back of Carpe’s Widow. If either DPS misses a step this year there will be trouble. They don’t add anything outside of support Elk from their Contenders team and the SADO/Poko tank line is going to tank some time to synergize. They’re still talented, they’re just not 2nd in OWL talented.
Prediction: Playoff Team, possibly forced to play for a Wildcard.
Roster: Ivy, Stellar, Asher, Yakpung, Envy, Neko, Aid, RoKy
Overview: Picking up a full Korean roster, there’s talent here in places. Asher, Envy, and Neko offer OWL experience which could help the rest of the roster hit the ground running. However, questionable picks in Stellar and Yakpung are worrisome; neither showed a great deal in Contenders to justify their inclusion ahead of other players. Toronto fans will be hoping this is a case of coachable talent though, and they have the coaching team to do it.
Prediction: Won’t be competing in the postseason.
Roster: Ado, Stratus, Corey, SanSam, Janus, Fahzix, Gido, Hyeonu
Overview: This is one of the weirdest rosters in OWL and not in a good way. They have three players from S1 in Ado, Janus and Gido which gives them a great Genji, an inconsistent main tank and Gido. Stratus is solid on DPS but then the rest of the roster is…. not great! SanSam on off tank and the rest of the supports are a concern and if we learned anything from last season it’s that shaky supports can crater a team. 2018 Shanghai and Mayhem had two of the worst support lines in all of OWL and Justice appear to be following the same blueprint. Hopefully, they don’t copy Shanghai’s S1 performance too.
Prediction: Last Place in OWL.