Record: 7-0 | Map W/L/T: 22-6-1 | Map Diff: +16 | Change: --
In a stunning turn of events, the New York Excelsior are once again the best Overwatch League team in the world. After smashing through the regular season last year before getting upended by the Philadelphia Fusion in the playoff semifinals, the all-South Korean roster has come back to the Blizzard Arena studios with something to prove in 2019. Though the first few games of the season looked a bit rusty from NYXL, they've come into their own the past few weeks and are currently separating themselves from the rest of the competition.
Jeong "Nenne" Yeon-kwan is looking to win Rookie of the Year and MVP simultaneously, and the best player in the world, NYXL's talisman Bang "Jjonak" Sung-hyeon, is back to doing Jjonak things on his signature Zenyatta. This team knows its limits and where most of the other top teams in the league are putting on an offensive showcase, New York remains steadfast in its practical approach to teamfighting and cutting their losses. Already locking up the Atlantic Division crown for the first stage of the season and going a perfect 7-0, New York will now be looking towards the postseason where a date with Pacific kings and their antithesis in playstyle, Vancouver Titans, seems to be the most likely final.
Record: 6-0 | Map W/L/T: 20-6-0 | Map Diff: +14 | Change: --
We didn't envy the Vancouver Titans this past week. They had to prep for two wildly different teams in the Paris Eternal and Chengdu Hunters and that preparation included standard triple-tank, triple-support play for Paris and whatever it is that Chengdu is doing with their unique looks at the current meta. What was perhaps most impressive about Chengdu, and a bit of a worry for Vancouver, is how well Chengdu managed to play Vancouver in a standard triple-triple setup. Yet, even with a few bumps in the road against Chengdu, it's a bit surprising to see some of the community backlash against Vancouver main tank Park "Bumper" Sang-beom who has been nothing short of stellar in most of Vancouver's matches, and whose deaths following an aggressively-positioned Earthshatter are always followed by his team cleaning up their opponents. Bumper's playstyle wouldn't be for every team, but it's great for Vancouver, and they're still one of the best teams in the Overwatch League right now.
Record: 4-3 | Map W/L/T: 17-12-0 | Map Diff: +5 | Change: +1
San Francisco went through the ringer during Stage One, forced to face the Los Angeles Gladiators, Titans, and NYXL. Although they lost all three of those matches, they looked impressive. In the team's wins the Shock have reminded fans why their loaded roster was so highly praised in the offseason, and with an easier stretch of games ahead and the talented lineup finally finding some chemistry, a go at the Pacific division title should be in the Shock's future.
For the team's MVP in stage one, the nod should go to Jay "Sinatraa" Won, whose Zarya play, though brazen, has been one of the best in the league with teams needing to gameplan for the American specifically. If there is any team in the league right now that can keep us from a New York and Vancouver final, it's the boys in orange from Northern California.
Record: 5-2 | Map W/L/T: 16-11-2 | Map Diff: +5 | Change: +4
Going into this stage, the Toronto Defiant were one of many teams that had no small amount of individual talent on paper, but we weren't sure how well they would perform on the Overwatch League stage. As it turns out, they're Stage 1 playoff contenders with an explosive energy that accompanies players who are having the time of their lives. Even the team's default veteran player Lee "envy" Kang-jae seems to have caught the infectious energy of his juniors. Envy has been impressive on a variety of heroes, particularly the Sombra and, of course, D.Va. Toronto's lackluster statistics in comparison to the Hangzhou Spark on their first two maps only served to showcase how much support Park "RoKy" Joo-seong has grown in his position since Week 1. They might not play the cleanest Overwatch, but Toronto has evolved into one of the more fun teams to watch in this stage, right up next to the Chengdu Hunters.
Record: 3-2 | Map W/L/T: 13-8-0 | Map Diff: +5 | Change: -2
It was a rude awakening for the Reign when they were rolled by a rejuvenated Gladiators team in a one-sided sweep last week. The good news for Atlanta is that Los Angeles (the non-winless one) is shaping up to be one of the best teams in the league following a slow start, and these things should be expected from a squad that is still getting to know each other in a mixed-communication roster.
When the Reign look good, they know how to style on their opponents (example: Paris Eternal). At a 3-2 record, this weekend is a statement moment for the young team. The Chengdu Hunters and Houston Outlaws are both tricky teams, especially Chengdu, but if the Reign and their fanatical fans want to be considered a top-five team in the league, anything but a perfect weekend will send them tumbling down our rankings and out of the stage one playoffs.
Record: 4-2 | Map W/L/T: 14-11-1 | Map Diff: +3 | Change: +3
The Philadelphia Fusion have an odd asterisk next to their positioning that, unlike most asterisks, gives them the benefit of the doubt on their two losses in Week 2, which came without Isaac "Boombox" Charles' flex support play. This week, Philly had a close call against the Los Angeles Valiant (who we not-so-secretly think are a better team than their record shows, but that's another can of worms) and continued to play a bit fast and loose in a meta where better teams (NYXL, Vancouver) would punish them. Philly only have Paris Eternal left on their Stage 1 schedule. On the one hand, Paris are 0-2 across their past two matches. On the other hand, these matches were against two top teams in Vancouver and San Francisco and Paris shouldn't be underestimated. Given assistant coach Christopher "ChrisTFer" Graham's experience with many of the Paris players (either playing with them or against them) we're curious to see what Philly will throw at Paris en route to a likely playoff bid.
Record: 3-4 | Map W/L/T: 14-13-2 | Map Diff: +1 | Change: +8
At 3-4, this high ranking might be a bit surprising, but like San Francisco earlier in the season, the Gladiators might be underrated at only the No. 7 position. While the Los Angeles Valiant are struggling, the Gladiators have begun living up to their preseason expectations with rousing wins over two good teams in the Reign and Guangzhou Charge.
Why the sudden turnaround? Well, the tank and support lines seem to finally be in sync, but most importantly, the Gladiators finally have an ace. The team was very much by a committee on DPS last year when it made a run to the quarterfinals and gave eventual champions London Spitfire a tough fight in the quarterfinals, but 18-year-old South Korean rookie star Jang "Decay" Gui-un has entered the starting lineup to bring a true game changer on the offensive side. With Decay, the Gladiators have finally found the perfect final piece to a team that seemingly is set up in every other position with flexible role players across the board.
Record: 4-2 | Map W/L/T: 13-12-0 | Map Diff: +1 | Change: +3
The Dallas Fuel only have one more remaining match and it's against the Boston Uprising, a team that they should beat. Then again, Dallas haven't necessarily always done what they "should" have in certain matchups -- a rematch of last week's 3-2 nailbiter against the Shanghai Dragons turned into a Dallas 4-0 this week. When compared to fellow 4-2 team the Philadelphia Fusion, Dallas doesn't appear to be as consistent of a squad yet (yes, even with Philly's Week 2 Boombox-less loss to none other than the Fuel themselves). One player we would like to draw your attention to is main tank Son "OGE" Min-seok, who performed well against Shanghai's Noh "Gamsu" Young-jin the past week even with Fuel teammate Richard "Rck" Kanerva stealing the show on Sombra. Support Jeong "Closer" Won-sik is also quietly having a great stage.
Record: 3-3 | Map W/L/T: 15-12-0 | Map Diff: +3 | Change: -3
It's exciting we're even talking about the Charge this early in the season. This is the team that was expected to take the longest to come together. This melting pot has personalities from across and the world with three different main languages on the roster, and yet, here we are, the Charge one upset victory versus the Titans from making the stage one playoffs. The Titans should and will be favored, though there are few teams with a better chance of taking them down than the Charge, who already pushed Vancouver to five maps earlier in the season.
When we're talking about Rookie of the Year candidates, it's impossible to leave out the backbone of Guangzhou, Oh "Rio" Seung-pyo at the main tank role and Kim "Shu" Jin-seo at flex support. These two have already found themselves in the discussion for best players at their role in the league, and Shu, in particular, could be the closest we've seen a player come to Jjonak's dominance on Zenyatta.
Record: 3-3 | Map W/L/T: 12-13-1 | Map Diff: -1 | Change: -5
We're not sure where we stand with the London Spitfire. Much like a significant portion of the league right now, the Spitfire are inconsistent and unpredictable. The Shanghai Dragons team that they lost to was swept by the Dallas Fuel this past week, but had a stronger gameplan for London that included, among other things, Yang "DDing" Jin-hyeok's Pharah and Bae "diem" Min-seong's Widowmaker. This match came down to Ilios as a tiebreaker map five, and is highly recommended alongside Chengdu's near-upset of Vancouver as one of the best matches from last week. One fewer mistake from the side of London and we would be talking about how London fought off the Dragons in an important match with their playoff berth on the line. This week, they'll battle an equally inconsistent Seoul Dynasty likely for one of the final playoff spots.