By Oliver Powell
The 2019 OWL Season is finally underway which means it’s time to watch some matches. With eight new teams, there’s a lot to be excited about but also a lot of unknowns right now. If you don’t have time to catch every Week 1 match, here are the five you should try and tune in for.
London Spitfire vs Philadelphia Fusion
The very first game of the 2019 season is a rematch of last year’s grand final, offering the Fusion an immediate chance for revenge against the team that easily dispatched them back in July. Both teams picked up minimal reinforcements over the offseason, but watch out for Spitfire’s Guard in particular. His Sombra is seriously impressive and if London chooses to run any anti-GOATs compositions, then he could play a big part. If the Spitfire can shutdown Carpe like they so successfully did in their last meeting, Fusion will struggle to come out on top.
Seoul Dynasty vs Los Angeles Gladiators
Plenty of stories circling in this one, with Fissure returning to face his old team being at the forefront. There’s also some potential bad blood between the two if the rumors surrounding last season’s playoffs are to believed. The question is, will he start though? There seems to be suggestions that Marve1 and Michelle, the tankline picked up from Lucky Future Zenith, could be in the driving seat to start for Seoul, as the Dynasty will be looking to open with a bang after last year’s disappointing season. One thing that could swing it in their favor is Decay’s absence from the Gladiators. Yet to turn 18, the DPS player is without a doubt the best Zarya on the team, and his pre-existing synergy with rOar on main tank could be a big miss for LA if they’re playing in a GOATs mirror match up.
Chengdu Hunters vs Guangzhou Charge
Our first game this season to feature two expansion teams facing off against each other, what makes this game interesting is how both these teams will play. Guangzhou, with their mix of Korean, Chinese and English speaking players, will be hoping to get Happy involved on Widowmaker as much as possible. The Korean hitscan player is nutty on the sniper, and could totally dominate games this season. With Chengdu, we could be seeing some weird comps come out of them. Jiqiren, their Winston player, is unavailable due to visa issues, so Ameng will be starting on main tank. His hero pool is unusual to say the least. Expect them to be playing a lot of Wrecking Ball in the opening weeks. The Hunters are very much an unknown quantity, so this could be a good litmus test for the full Chinese team.
Vancouver Titans vs Shanghai Dragons
A rematch of the famous 8 map Contenders season two final, both rosters, then with RunAway and Kongdoo Panthera, come into this season highly rated. While Vancouver will have an entire roster to pick from, Shanghai have a few problems, with Fearless missing and Gamsu a doubt after only just joining the team. Expect Youngjin then to fill in for now, as he has experience in the main tank role when he previously played in China, but that was well over a year ago. The Titans two biggest strengths are their synergy and versatility and have the flexibility to swap from GOATs to quad DPS at will, with Jjanu a fantastic Hammond player. While I don’t think this will be the Dragons first win, it’s not far away, and this is certain to be an entertaining game.
Los Angeles Valiant vs Hangzhou Spark
Old vs New. Tried and tested vs fresh blood. The Spark are one of the most hyped expansion teams coming into the 2019 season, with a lot expected of Guxue and Krystal especially after their explosive World Cup performances. The Valiant decided to trust in pre-existing synergy and in the talent that won them the stage 4 playoffs last year, but we’ll see how much SoOn will be missed. There are a few questions about this team to be answered though. Will Kariv play DPS? Who will start for them, KSF or Agilities? Will Izayaki play? The L.A. team still have one of the best tanklines in the league, but their inactivity in the offseason could definitely come to haunt them.