Overwatch League 2022 Summer Showdown Preview
It’s time for the 2022 Summer Showdown, and Overwatch’s newest hero is making a splash. Junker Queen has completely upended the OWL meta and shaken up the standings in a big way. The Summer Showdown marks the first playoff appearances of 2022 for Guangzhou and Vancouver. The qualifiers also saw the LA Gladiators miss out on the playoffs and a chance to defend their back-to-back titles.
A new champion will lift the trophy in the West as Toronto plays host to the second LAN event of the season. San Francisco and Dallas have the inside track going into the event, but live events can be tough to predict these days. Meanwhile, Shanghai looks to regain its place atop the East. Seoul remains their obvious rival, but both Guangzhou and Philly have upset potential.
The Summer Showdown is the last chance to claim a title before the 2022 Playoffs. Many teams are hungry to return to glory. Others seek their first taste of true victory. The margin for error will be minuscule as teams try to separate from the pack before the season ends. As Junker Queen reigns supreme, who’s ready to take the crown?
Let’s start with last season’s champions who are finally coming into form. After an unbelievable 2021, they’ve been disturbingly mortal this year. The Junker Queen meta, however, has unleashed them. Lee “WhoRU” Seung-jun is turning back the clock to show everyone how Genji is meant to be played. With Lee “LIP” Jae-won dominating on Sojourn, it’s hard not to rate Shanghai as the best DPS duo in the league. Confidence should be at an all-time high after the Dragons swept Seoul in a potential Finals preview.
The Dynasty looked similarly dominant until the final week of qualifiers. The loss to the Dragons and a narrow five-map victory over Philly might mean they’re more vulnerable than previously thought. Still, they clearly have the tools to compete with Shanghai, but they’ll need their rookie, Jeong “Stalk3r” Hak-yong, to step up big time.
Over in the West, Dallas claimed the top seed after ending San Francisco’s undefeated regular season. The Fuel may have the league’s best Junker Queen in Choi “Hanbin” Han-been, and the meta suits their brawl style so well. Kim “Edison” Tae-hoon is playing the best Overwatch of his career, especially on Ashe, and Han “ChiYo” Hyeon-seok is coming into his own as a rookie. They need to keep up that level of performance for Dallas to compete for the title.
Finally, we have the Shock. Despite their regular season dominance and the explosive arrival of Kim “Proper” Dong-hyun, they haven’t been able to seal the deal in tournament play. Despite that loss to Dallas, it wouldn’t be crazy to see them as favorites before the action kicks off in Toronto. With a potential MVP carrying on Genji, they will always have a chance in this meta. Whether that’s enough, we’ll just have to wait and see.
The Dark Horses
A handful of teams definitely have to potential to finish near the top, but a lot will need to go right to knock off the top contenders. First and foremost is probably Houston. The Outlaws have been impressively consistent despite some roster turmoil this year. Still, their tournament performance hasn’t matched their talent level. With the Gladiators out, this is their chance to punch towards the top of the table.
Teams rarely get to play in front of a home crowd these days, so it’s hard to say how the Defiant will respond. It could be a massive buff that propels them to a deep run, or it could hike up the nerves for a team that hasn’t really shown up come tournament time. The backline of Sung “CH0R0NG” Yoo-min and Lee “Twilight” Joo-seok should be enough to keep them competitive, but the rest of the team will need to show up at LAN.
Over in the East, Guangzhou put together a pretty impressive stage given their starting point. After one win through twelve matches, they claimed four of six in the Summer Showdown round robin. The new additions of Lei “Jimmy” Yujia and Li “Xerneas” Xianyao have brought some much-needed experience and helped stabilize a floundering squad. The Charge are still a tier below Seoul and Shanghai, but they deserve some respect for rising above the rest of the East.
It might seem unfair to lump Guangzhou in with Philadelphia after the Fusion go 2-4 in the qualifiers. The Fusion have looked largely lost during the Summer Showdown, but they picked things up towards the end. A five-map affair with Seoul last week offered some measure of hope that Philly can hit their peak in the playoff bracket. This will be the third time this year they’ve qualified as the East’s fourth seed. They finished second in the Kickoff Clash and fourth overall in the Midseason Madness. They won’t win, but discount the Fusion at your own peril.
The Rest of the West
Our remaining teams all wind up in a pile at the bottom of the West. London, Vancouver, Washington, and Florida all finish with 3-3 qualifier records and modest map differentials. They all had their moments, but no one really emerged from the pack. All these teams could easily finish above Houston or Toronto, but a top two result is likely out of reach.
London was the top finisher of the four and the last team picked for a first-round matchup. Wins against Toronto and Houston suggest a team that can hang with more talented rosters, but they also drop winnable games against their direct competitors in this tier. William “SparkR” Andersson can definitely be their carry, but that will only go so far.
In similar fashion to Guangzhou, the Titans have lifted themselves from the depths of the standings. New Head Coach David “dpei” Pei deserves credit for coming in and having an immediate impact. Vancouver picked up their first three wins this stage and any tournament success would just be icing on the cake at this point. They’ll be playing with nothing to lose and the freedom that comes with that mentality.
Likewise, Washington might be unburdened by expectation. They saw multiple teammates traded during this stage and kept competing. They definitely lost some high-end talent in Kim “Mag” Tae-sung, Lee “Happy” Jung-woo, and Kim “vigilante” Jun, but they could still win a match or two in the Summer Showdown.
Finally, the Florida Mayhem find themselves in a bit of an awkward position. Majed “SirMajed” Alrashied won’t be able to attend the event due to a visa issue. His performance has been key for the Mayhem all year and in the Summer Showdown. They’re already the least threatening team in the tournament, and they’ll be severe underdogs without Majed.
Last Chance to Make a Statement
This is it. The Summer Showdown is the final tournament of the 2022 regular season. It’s the last chance to earn additional league points for playoff seeding. It’s the last chance to claim a stage title. Until playoffs roll around, it’s the last chance for the league’s top teams to test themselves at the highest level.
For many players, this will also be the final opportunity to put their stamp on the 2022 season. With the Gladiators gone, a new champion will raise the trophy and earn the showering of praise that comes with it. The races for MVP, Rookie of the Year, and Role Stars have been tight all year, so now is the time to seize the moment.
First and foremost, Proper could really make his claim on the MVP and ROY awards. He’s been unbelievable all year long, but the stage title has eluded this iteration of the Shock. A win and strong individual performance here might just seal the deal. A lackluster showing could keep the race wide open.
Meanwhile, players like Yoo “smurf” Myeong-hwan and Hanbin are making their cases off incredible tank play. After fading a bit during the Midseason Madness, they’ve both surged back to the top on Junker Queen. Dominant showings could vault them into contention, especially if smurf is able to claim another title.
The competition will surely be fierce in both regions so be sure to check out all the action as the tournament continues all weekend long. As the end of the regular season draws near, nothing is certain except that the Summer Showdown will deliver a spectacle worthy of the Junker Queen.
The Summer Showdown begins on Thursday, September 8th as the Dallas Fuel take on the Washington Justice at 2 PM ET. All matches can be viewed on the Overwatch League Youtube channel.