Overwatch League 2021: Week 1 Reactions and Analysis

Overwatch League is back, and week 1 was a rather exciting one. It featured some upsets and a varying meta across all teams. For those that are unfamiliar with this series, I basically just look at all of the teams that played over the weekend and give my reaction and thoughts on their performances as well as keep track of whatever narratives are developing for them based on this.

Since it’s only week 1, I won’t have too much to say about every team as I want to keep things relatively short for now. With that said, let’s jump into it.

Houston Outlaws: Happy In Houston

I have to say, Houston impressed me with these first two games. Taking out a revamped Dallas squad before utterly upsetting the defending champs are some huge statement-makers this early in the season. Jjanggu and Piggy have easily shot to the top of my rookie of the year list after just that game against San Francisco. Those two played out of their freaking minds against some of the best tanks in the entire league. And let’s not forget Happy. He’s also just made himself a strong MVP case early on as well. It’s only one week, and the Overwatch League is no stranger to odd happenings, but Houston does look poised to make a lot of noise this year. At the very least, a lot more noise than last year.

Dallas Fuel: Holdin’ On

It’s pretty unfortunate that Dallas lost Xzi shortly before the season started. It was pretty obvious from the first game that they were a little hamstrung without a dedicated hitscan player. They made it work with Sp9rk1e and Doha, though. The game against Houston was a close 5-mapper, and taking the win off of the Gladiators is definitely going to be a big confidence booster for them going forward. It’ll be interesting to see how and when they will fix their little hitscan problem. Until that time comes, I suppose you can’t be too mad at this team’s results this weekend. The question is whether or not things will get better or worse for Dallas going forward.

Los Angeles Gladiators: Oh, Boy…

I’m pretty sure this isn’t at all the start to the season you want if you’re the Glads. Losing to the Shock is one thing. Losing to Dallas is another. Houston taking a win off of both of those teams also doesn’t help this team’s case either. It’s still early, but it already looks like this team is displaying the same problems they were having last season. I really hope that’s not the case though, and that this weekend was more of a mulligan for them, because if it is the case, then this is going to be a long season for the Glads…

San Francisco Shock: This’ll Be Interesting

So, the Shock take a pretty comfortable 3-1 over the Glads before going 6 maps and losing against Houston of all teams. Now, the Shock did have a rather slow start to the season last year as well, losing to the Glads and the Valiant on the same weekend. I didn’t think there was any real reason to worry about this team then, and I don’t think there is now either. Just like last season, it feels like the Shock are playing musical chairs with their roster, and they haven’t completely figured out which players they want to slot in where exactly.

What I will say, though, is that if teams like Houston are giving the Shock trouble now, then who knows what will happen down the line. It feels like the spread of talent across the Overwatch League has never been bigger. So, the Shock might actually have their work cut out for them for a change.

Guangzhou Charge: I Like What I’m Seeing

The Charge had a pretty rough weekend. 3-0’d by both Shanghai and Seoul. Even so, I’m seeing a lot of good things from this team. Choisewhan on the Tracer, in particular, gave me Xzi on McCree vibes from the beginning of last season. The impact he had on that hero against the Dragons gave Shanghai a whole lot of problems. The one thing I will say is that I’m worried about how he’ll contend against other top-tier Tracers. Both Fleta and Profit gave Choi some trouble when they played the hero mirror. He didn’t have the same kind of impact against Seoul because Profit took the Tracer mirror right at the start of the match. Still, Choisewhan has definitely put himself in the ROY conversation after this weekend and all things considered, I think this team has a lot to look forward to as the season goes on.

Shanghai Dragons: Déjà Vu?

So, the Dragons are basically starting their season the same way they started last season. A 3-0 over the Charge before getting 3-0’d by Chengdu. Similar to the Shock, I wouldn’t be too worried about this. Though, I think Shanghai has more to worry about than Shock overall. That Chengdu match was more or less a routing. Shanghai had their moments, but that match was mostly all Chengdu, which is something that I thought I’d never say about Shanghai in a match against Chengdu in this current era. Last season, you could probably blame it on the new roster still trying to get things together. This season though? All Shanghai has is a new tank line. Somehow all 6 players were routinely being outplayed by every member of Chengdu. Chengdu also just looked more coordinated than Shanghai, which is also crazy to me.

Like I said, I don’t think the Dragons need to worry too much about this loss, but that’s only if they can learn from it immediately.

Los Angeles Valiant: You Got A Map

Let’s be honest, most of us weren’t really sure what to expect from the Valiant after all of the off-season changes. They’ve gone full Korean, moved to the Eastern region, and have basically created a permanent rift between themselves and most of their fanbase. Still, I’m not here to necessarily talk about the public ire they’ve drawn upon themselves. A team’s number one priority in any competitive space is to win. Arguing about the scummy ways in which teams accomplish this goal is a topic for another day.

As far as this team’s performance on the field goes, it’s not bad. I’d say they’re like a considerably better version of the new-look Titans from last year. They gave Philly a respectable match and even took a map off of Chengdu. Considering Chengdu 3-0’d the Dragons the very next day, I’d say that’s a pretty big accomplishment. At this point, there’s nowhere to really go but up for the Valiant, or at least for its players anyway. Any small victories they can earn for themselves will only bring them closer to that coveted first ‘W’ in the Overwatch League.

Chengdu Hunters: Well…

I have to say, it’s a little weird watching this Hunters squad without Ameng in the lineup on Wrecking Ball. Ga9a seems to be a very good fit for them too though, so I can’t say any Hunters fan would be complaining. Especially not after this weekend’s results. Chengdu looked organized. There’s still that trademark chaotic style they have about them that’s always so fun to watch, but it’s actually a healthy mix of organization and chaos for a change. Organized chaos.

The match against the Dragons was so wonderfully played by all 6 players fielded at any point during the match. I especially want to give credit to Mmonk and Nisha. This new support line isn’t quite as nutty with the ballsy plays like Yveltal and Molly, but I really do appreciate the change of pace they bring to this team. I’m very interested to see how Chengdu will evolve as the season progresses.

Philadelphia Fusion: Pleasantly Surprised

The Fusion was another team I had a few question marks about. It’s just hard not to have a few questions considering what they gave up during the off-season. Still, I’m never one to put too much stock into teams until I actually see them play. This squad looks surprisingly strong. Mano and Hotba both looked really solid. I think the most surprising thing to me was Rascal playing Tracer. He had a good performance on that hero again Seoul. A little less so against Valiant, but his Mei and Echo looked as immaculate as ever in both games. I also like how Mano and Rascal were often put on objective duty together. With all of the visa issues currently happening, it’ll be interesting to see what this squad will do once they get all of their players to Korea.

Seoul Dynasty: Hmm…

Seoul is interesting. It’s hard to really pin this team down. The loss to Philadelphia didn’t look like the problems they were experiencing last season. It just looked like Profit refused to show up. He had a pretty awful game on Tracer against Fusion. There were so many fights where he would either straight up die or only participate in the clean-up. Rarely was he ever actually getting anything significant done for his team throughout the entire match on Tracer. It was mostly the other 5 guys making things happen. Profit did make up for that terrible Philly game by performing well against the Charge, and as much as I love the Charge, they aren’t really the team Seoul is expected to be competing with right now.

Still, I’m not going to be too hard on the Dynasty. It doesn’t look like they’ll have the same problems with consistency they had last season, which is a good sign. We’ll just have to see if they can turn that into a good season.

Toronto Defiant: Greener Pastures

Now, I have to say, I’m happy to see Sado and Heesu do well after having been released from the Fusion. I’m happy for Sado because even after his major glow-up last season, there was still always this looming factor that what made him so good was the incredible support line of FunnyAstro and Alarm. Well, now he’s playing with two totally different supports, and he still looks solid. I’m happy for Heesu because, outside of that Sombra, I do not think he meshed well with Carpe all the time, and it was pretty obvious last season that KDG preferred Heesu over Carpe anyway.

If Heesu had stayed in Philly, I’m pretty sure a Kyrie/Lebron-type situation would’ve started developing between him and Carpe, and that’s not a good thing for either player. Heesu’s a good enough player to be the superstar of his own team. And I’d build a team around him in a heartbeat given the chance as well. I don’t think he necessarily wants to be, quote, ‘The second coming of Carpe’. I think he wants to be the first coming of Heesu. If that’s the case, I can respect that. I’m mostly speculating here.

As for Toronto as a unit, they’re currently giving me heavy vibes of Guangzhou very early on last season. This is a good thing considering that I think this team is slightly better than Guangzhou was in these early stages last season. If there’s one team to keep your eye on as sort of a ‘black sheep’ in the west, it’s probably this one, currently.

Vancouver Titans: Oh, Vancouver…

There was one phrase I kept repeating when watching the match against Florida: “It’s just not enough.” There’s just not enough firepower on this squad to contend at a comfortable level. I mean, they CAN compete with other Overwatch League teams. They took two maps off of their opposition this weekend. The problem is that it just doesn’t feel like enough to earn them a series win. This squad is just too susceptible to being straight-up out-mechaniced by their opponents.

That was on display in both their matches this weekend, but it really kind of hurt to watch that Florida match. The respect level this team has garnered since its restructuring last season is still not very high. Florida just happens to be one of the more disrespectful teams in the league when they think they’re up against weak competition. That’s not the fault of the Mayhem, though. It’s the fault of the Titans not making the Mayhem respect them. I still like what I see from them, but I need to see a lot more, or else it’s going to be another long season for them.

Atlanta Reign: Classic Atlanta

And classic Atlanta is not a good thing in this context. After this weekend, this team is very much on its way to being mid-tier at best again this season. The Reign had a much better start against much worse teams at the time last season. Losing to much better teams already, two games in, is not what you want to see. It’s still early, but similar to the Glads, I’d like to see this team turn things around sooner rather than later.

Florida Mayhem: Classic Florida

Unlike Atlanta, classic Florida is, overall, a good thing. They’re still as disrespectful as ever, and they’re still kind of making the same sloppy mistake because of it. Even so, I think this squad is utilizing their newly acquired tank in OGE better than the Gladiators ever could so far. Sure, he may have a misplay every so often, as the entire team tends to have from time to time, but it doesn’t seem to get in the way too much. We’ll have to see whether or not that will change as the season progresses for this squad.

What did you think of this week’s Overwatch League matches? Leave your comments below!

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