Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment As was stated in the APAC edition, the future is foggy and uncertain, but not enough that we cannot look ahead […]
Featured image courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment
As was stated in the APAC edition, the future is foggy and uncertain, but not enough that we cannot look ahead and lock down the best matches to watch. In order of the standings, below are the best match-ups for each team in NA.
#13 – Boston Uprising
The Boston Uprising seems to be one of the only teams that can consistently meet expectations. Needless to say, this has been another shoddy season so far. Their only recent win has come from the deteriorating Gladiators in a close match. Although they played Paris to map five twice, they were not able to get themselves over the finish line, nor did this momentum carry through to their next matches. If they can stop themselves from falling into a quasi-nihilistic mindset for the rest of the season, we might see more promising results from this team. Their schedule offers a few openings to take shots at mid-table teams such as Atlanta (week 25) or the Gladiators (week 28), but key changes and improvements must happen now for this to be possible.
#12 – Washington Justice
This is a team that many had written off before their encouraging Summer Showdown performance. They looked comfortable using Genji and were more assertive with the meta on their side. If they can carry this momentum through to their next match against Toronto (week 24), it will be a defining showdown for both teams. Depending on whether we see the meta change, we could see how confident the Justice look without Genji, and whether their momentum and improved cohesion can sustain them.
#11 – Vancouver Titans
The Vancouver Titans are a team that could very easily start tussling with the mid-table teams after this break. Considering their circumstances, the improvement they have shown is remarkable. With their rookie spirit and the capable Second Wind staff at the helm, expect this team to only go up. This team has a drive that sets it apart from the rest of the bottom teams and they deserve to be dignified with a challenge. Their opening game against the Paris Eternal (week 24) will be an authentic test of what this team can do, given time. By no means do I expect the Titans to walk away with a win, but with some key takeaways from their last encounter, they have the capacity to put on a show.
#10 – Dallas Fuel
After an impressive Summer Showdown performance—even if it was abruptly cut short by the Paris Eternal—the Fuel have high expectations placed upon them. Although they can put on high level performances, it can all come crashing down in one match. However, with some consistency, they can start to challenge the top tier teams. They open their schedule with the Battle of Texas against a sturdy looking Houston (week 24). The clash of these two teams on the rise is one to watch, now more than ever. With Houston in top form, and Dallas’ adjustments settling in, this is shaping up to be one of the best battles of Texas so far.
#9 – Toronto Defiant
The Defiant certainly made an impression in their bracket busting Summer Showdown run. They managed to use Brady “Agilities” Girardi’s impressive Genji play and their improved teamwork to make it as far as top 4, but there was no stopping freight-train Philly on their road to the finals. They find themselves in a similar position to the Justice; the Genji meta went well for them, so can they keep up this momentum? As I said previously, their opening match against the Justice (week 24) will be defining for both teams. although I do think Toronto have a definite edge. Their schedule offers no promise of a more “winnable” challenge against middling teams until week 26 against the Titans. However, distance breeds uncertainty and although it would be a notable showdown now, the same cannot be promised for then.
#8 – Houston Outlaws
The Houston Outlaws are finally catching a break. After two years of mediocrity, the Outlaws have a chance to cement themselves as a top-level contender. With their DPS line on fire, their tank changes evolving every week and finally a reliable backbone, this squad is not to be taken lightly. The only concern is that João “Hydration” Telles no longer has Orisa available to him, prompting the question of whether we will see the prophesied return of Austin “Muma” Wilmot. Their match-up is, of course, the Battle of Texas (week 24). Can the Outlaws work around not having Orisa and can the Fuel put their inconsistency issues to rest?
#7 – Los Angeles Gladiators
The Gladiators are, to put it tactfully, a difficult team to watch. An ever-present amicable and vibrant outlook, as well as popular personalities, make this team friends to (almost) all. Their under-performance and overall sloppy games mean that a resurgence, both moral and physical, is crucial if this team wants to finish on a strong note. Their first match is against the rising Vancouver Titans (week 24); a call back to the start of the season. A win or loss here will determine whether the break has stopped the bleeding, or if this team remains in freefall. Vancouver, like before, hold the edge in this match-up, but if both teams have taken the right lessons from their Summer Showdown performances, expect another map 5.
#6 – Atlanta Reign
On paper, this line-up easily looks like a top five contender. A strong tank duo from contenders, talented DPS and proven supports; there is not much more you could ask for. If ever there was a time to show the full potential of this roster, it is now. Their first two matches are against the “losers” of the Summer Showdown: The Florida Mayhem (week 24) and Los Angeles Valiant (week 24). Both failed to find their footing in the showdown, so the Reign have a relatively gentle start to the rest of the season. Winning these will show that they are back in the driver’s seat and could rewrite their reputation from middling gatekeeper to top five contender.
#5 – Los Angeles Valiant
If I were a Valiant fan, I would only be mildly concerned now. Overwatch League teams are no stranger to internal issues, and with a mature roster and staff, they should be overcome easily. With Mike “Packing10” Szklanny leading the charge, and lessons learnt from the Summer Showdown, there should not be any doubt that this team will finish the regular season confidently. Their first match against the Atlanta Reign (week 24) should be a good indicator of how the team has been taking the break, and how worried we should be for the rest of their matches. If we see a step back from the previous version of the Valiant, alarm bells should be sounding as to what is happening with this roster.
#4 – Florida Mayhem
It seems that the Mayhem’s era of dominance has come and gone like a fleeting breeze. After their surprising May Melee performance, this team has slowly trended downwards, struggling in the meta and taking the wrong lessons away from previous encounters. Even so, head coach Dae-kuk “KuKi” Kim and the rest of the highly capable roster are not ones to let such critical mistakes happen again. With some rest and reflection, the Mayhem we saw at the May Melee can break through again. Luckily, they will again encounter the Shock for a real test of strength and a revenge match in week 25. However, this will be the least of their concerns if they do not manage to dismiss the Reign first.
#3 – Paris Eternal
After an incredible run to the Summer Showdown trophy, there is only one thing more I could ask of the Paris Eternal: to see them cross paths with Philadelphia one more time, in a different meta, before the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Fates at the scheduling department have decided against this, leaving Paris to feast on the teams unlucky enough to fall in their way to the playoffs. Across their entire match schedule, the only challenger to be seen, barely, on the horizon is their final match against the Dallas Fuel (week 29). Apart from that, we can always rely on the opening match to give us some insight into how badly their opponents are lose in the next matches.
#2 – San Francisco Shock
As is the case with Shanghai, expect this team to only get stronger after their semi-final loss. With a new player possibly on the way, and mistakes to learn from, there should not be any concerns about the Shock heading into the final stretch. They meet Philadelphia again in week 28, but a closer match to look to is the re-encounter with Florida (week 25). A chance to assert their dominance and put away another challenger is welcome, along with the chance for an entertaining series if Florida bring their best.
#1 – Philadelphia Fusion
Everyone in the league should be at least a little bit scared of facing this team. The sting of yet another loss that is close to the finish line is fresh, and you can be sure that this team ardently wants the trophy more than ever. This team will blaze through their schedule, leaving no room for mistakes. Their closest challengers are the Shock in the distant week 28, and the Fuel and Valiant in week 26. Any team that stands in the way of this now unquenchable thirst for a trophy is likely to be discarded to the side and forgotten just as quickly.