With the limited amount of games we’ve seen so far in this season, we find ourselves unable to reasonably argue for hard conclusions on all kinds of points. However, the sample size of matches is just large enough to ask interesting questions with some evidence which will lead us through the season.
Is Pavane and his team the best coaching staff in Overwatch?
NYXL have had another commanding performance in stage 1, finishing at a convincing 7-0. Its incredible roster that fields elite players on practically every position has shown that it can work together in a meta that doesn’t directly suit their highly skilled DPS. Because of his idiosyncratic public appearances, Wizardhyeong was assumed to be the genius behind New York’s success in season 1. Now that he is no longer part of the team, the organisation still enjoys continued success. It raises the question whether or not the consistently dominant system had been the brainchild of head coach Pavane all along.
If the NYXL can once again dominate the regular season through various metas and if Excelsior allows to look behind the curtain of their success a little more, it might very well be possible that we will come to consider Pavane the first super-star level coach.
Likely answerable by: Stage 4 at the latest
Is SoOn a gel player?
Paris Eternal’s SoOn has had one of the most impressive careers. He’s been part of some of the greatest teams in the game’s history. From Misfits to Rogue to the Valiant and now finally the Eternal, the common denominator has always been SoOn. Throughout his
It seems possible that SoOn brings more to the table than meets the eye, not least because after his departure, the Valiant seem to have lost the special quality that they had had during season 1 that made analysts unsure as to pinpoint their quality. Could SoOn be one of the fabled “gel players” and leadership figures who make teams work by intangible means?
Likely answerable by: The next significant meta switch or stage 3
Can a rotating roster work?
Season 1 champion, London Spitfire had to go through a rough patch during the mid-season during which the team had to focus on a core of six players. Shedding the rest, it allowed the team to focus and develop synergy, forming one of, if not the best pound for pound rosters in Overwatch history. It seemed that honing in on one solid starting six was the way to go.
During an interview with VPesports, San Francisco Shock main support moth shared that his team wasn’t going to follow that concept. According to Overwatch data analysis site, Winston’s Lab, the Shock indeed have had the highest amount of roster iterations so far in the league with 11 different line ups of players. Atlanta Reign follows with 8, and the team with the third place in this ranking, the Hangzhou Spark have only had 5 different roster combinations.
Likely answerable by: Stage 4
Can full team migration work in some cases?
Again considering the lessons of the journey of season 1 winners London Spitfire, one might think that even having the reigning Korean champions would not be enough to do well in the league. The Spitfire had been made up of a combination of the entirety of the roster of APEX Season 4 winners GC Busan as well as Kongdoo Panthera, plus two free agents in Fury and NUS.
At least for the moment, Vancouver Titans are defying these teachings. So far undefeated, the former RunAway squad, which had been wholesale bought by the Canucks OWL franchise, has been praised for their synergy and superb level of coordination. Admittedly, the Spitfire had also started off stage one of last year’s season with a stage playoff victory. During that time, they didn’t mainly field the GC Busan core though, lessing the strength of residual quality by some margins. Could the Vancouver Titans be the team that makes buying entire Contenders teams feasible again?
Likely answerable by: End of stage 3
Is Toronto an elite team?
In a tweet in reaction to Toronto Defiant being locked in for the stage 1 playoffs, color caster Wolf “Wolf” Schröder called for a change in community perception for the Canadian organisation. According to him, the Defiant should be welcomed as a “top all Korean roster with the other Korean greats like NYXL, Spitfire, and Vancouver.”
Looking at the makeup of the team and their individual career history, it does even seem fair to say that GOATS shouldn’t necessarily play to their strength. Were a dive meta to come along, their tank line as well as Ivy and Neko would be able to show their qualities even more than they do now. The fact that they are seeing success this early speaks to the quality of the staff around head coach Bishop. Granted, the Defiant didn’t have the hardest of stage opponents but did manage to beat other stage playoff contenders in Spark, Outlaws and Uprising.
It stands to reason that Toronto Defiant might grow further into a team that could turn heads. It remains to be seen how they fare under pressure and future meta situations, but the fact they are doing well this early does provide grounds to speculate.
Likely answerable by: Stage 1 playoffs
Are South Korean players just going to dominate from here?
The top 3 teams, currently the NYXL, Titans and Defiant are exclusively Korean teams. Hybrid teams with large amounts of South Korean players follow shortly after. Paris Eternal seems to be the last bastion of Western Overwatch without East Asian assistance. The increasing number of Korean players had been discussed during the pre-season roster formations.
It might be too early to proclaim South Korean dominance, especially after seeing the success of hybrid rosters such as the Fusion, Uprising and Gladiators last season, but it is equally possible that all Korean teams will just pull ahead from the pack. While roster building is a complex affair, it could lead to guiding principles for mid-season pickups and even season 3.
Likely answerable by: Season end.
Will Seoul continue to disappoint?
Despite the success of South Korean players across many teams, the only national franchise in the country has once again slid into mediocrity. While the Seoul Dynasty aren’t out of stage playoffs just yet, to even be in the position to once again miss them should not be a satisfactory situation for an organisation with Dynasty’s advantages. Especially looking towards season 3 where teams will spend much more time at home, it should be easy for the team to attract South Korean elite tier talent. Yes, the team has brought on runner-up to the last season’s MVP, Fissure on board. In this, however, we could suspect one of the many faults of Seoul’s scouting structure.
It appears reasonable to ascribe a proclivity to legacy names to the Dynasty. This inclination not only seems to produce teams made up of player who are past their prime, it also binds their brand to these players and they seem reluctant to rid themselves of them. Their scouting of up and coming South Korean talent has been equally mediocre.
Likely answerable by: End of stage 3
Is Atlantic really the weaker division?
Most power ranking lists had the Atlantic division as the clearly weaker one, despite the Spitfire and NYXL present in it. As it stands, the power level of both divisions seems to be fairly equal. Given the importance of divisional play, as teams face opponents from their own division twice as often, an imbalance could hurt the competitive structure
Likely answerable by: End of stage 3
Would Ameng stand out if everyone played Wrecking Ball?
Chengdu Hunters have entertained fans and experts alike with their unorthodox take on the meta. Given that their main tank Jiquiren still hasn’t received his visa, the team has had to fall back on their Wrecking Ball specialist Ameng. Given that they were the only team to consistently play around Hammond, it is possible that the team is only able to enjoy its relative success because of the challenge of practicing for their particular style.
If Wrecking Ball was to become a meta pick, it isn’t a given that Ameng would continue to be the best player on the hero. Likewise, it could very well be the case that Ameng’s headstart would last him a significant chunk of a season, establishing a similar reputation as for instance Miro did with Winston.
Will stage 1 performances have any indication towards season success?
Stage 1 was destined to be chaotic, given it’s many complications and uncertainties. GOATS as the commanding meta has been a very different archetype from the ones we had seen last season. Perhaps most importantly, the difference that world class DPS players can make is greatly diminished in a meta without DPS heroes.
It could all the same be possible however, that there is significant skill transition between this meta and the next. Key concepts like cooldown management in combination with teammates, adjustments of understanding in ultimate economy and tank line movement could very well carry over into whatever comes after GOATS, giving great 3-3 teams a sizeable advantage.
We also have to consider that teams might soon start recruiting, trading and letting go of players which might change the expected outcome again. The first
Likely answerable by: Stage 3
How valuable is season 1 experience?
Before the started, one of the most important factors that creators of power rankings had to consider is how important season 1 experience would be. By induction, it seemed reasonable to assume that given the strenuous nature of OWL, players and coaches who had gone through the motions before would have a significant advantage. By the same logic, stage 1 would see the biggest impact on rookie players as they acclimate towards the league.
Contrary to those expectations, rookie players are already doing a lot better than expected. Season 1 teams like the Valiant, the Outlaws and even the Spitfire have so far not convinced or shown that their experience is a significant advantage. Perhaps the long off-season and the contenders season’s GOATS training grounds have diminished the advantage too greatly. It could also be the case that playing only one match on average per stage took away much of the pressure that had occured in the previous season, making the lessons of season 1 players less needed.
While not impossible to turn around, it seems unlikely at this point that veteran status should be considered a significant advantage. It would take an entire new meta in stage 2 and very strong performances from veteran players to turn that argument around.
Likely answerable by: Mid-season or earlier
Is Gunba worth his weight in gold?
Are the Uprising doing it again? Despite selling off their star players from last season, losing their head coach Crusty to the Shock and Fusions’ contract issues the Uprising
One of the additions that the Bostonians had made was assistant-coach Gunba. Formerly of the L.A. Valiant, it might be more than a coincidence that the Valiant’s performance fell off as both him and Eternal’s daemoN left. Gunba has been described as an assistant only in name, acting in effect as head-coach.
Likely answerable by: Season play-off qualification or elimination
Featured picture courtesy of Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment