Overwatch League Power Rankings for the 2021 Season
The Overwatch League 2021 season is finally kicking off this week. Despite OWL season 4 starting later than usual, there has been roster instability even in the past couple of weeks due to visa issues related to COVID-19 travel restrictions. On top of that, for those who weren’t paying attention during the off-season, there were massive changes to many Overwatch rosters this year — far more than is usual.
So heading into the Overwatch League’s fourth season, the field looks very different from where we left off in the fall of 2021. To help catch everyone up, we put together power rankings for each region. Remember, all of these rankings are predictive and somewhat subjective, so it is okay to disagree about where the different teams should stand.
Overwatch League Power Rankings for the Western Division
The Overwatch League Power Rankings for the North American region, referred to as the Western Division, will feature 12 teams this year. Our Power Rankings are based on the team’s historical performances, how well the teams are reportedly doing in scrims, and the strength of each team’s off-season roster changes.
San Francisco Shock
The Shock won both the 2019 and 2020 Overwatch League titles. The team has a rock-solid roster filled with so much talent that they cut Dong-jun “Rascal” Kim, one of the most talented DPS players in the world, simply because he never got any playtime surrounded by such a stacked DPS lineup. Additionally, Shock is led by one of the best coaching staff in all of esports.
Some of the coaching staff left for other teams in the offseason, but they retained last year’s head coach Dae-hee “Crusty” Park. His unwavering leadership has made Shock into one of the most powerful dynasties in Overwatch, and esports more broadly. Coming into the 2021 season, there is no reason to bet against Shock, ever.
Dallas Fuel had a horrible season 3. It kicked off the season with an extended losing streak. When it finally put together a little momentum, its star player Gui-un “Decay” Jan left the team over disagreements with the leadership. After the season, Dallas dropped nearly everyone from its roster other than Dong-ha “Doha” Kim.
Shortly after dropping its old roster, Dallas set about signing many of the players who formerly competed with the Korean Contenders team Element Mystic, some of whom played with Dallas’ new head coach Hee-won “RUSH” Yun at Paris Eternal in 2020. Eternal’s 2020 roster showed a lot of promise, and it even won the NA Summer Showdown regional tournament after defeating both Shock and Fusion in the semifinals and finals.
Dallas Fuel in 2021 is essentially the Element Mystic reunion tour, and the team holds a lot of potential, with talent like Ki-hyo “Xzi” Jung, Eui-Seok “Fearless” Lee, and Yeong-han “SP9RK1E” Kim to rely on. It’s hard to say for sure, but we think this Dallas team could do quite well this season.
Atlanta is shaping up to be a strong team heading into the 2021 season. The organization is sticking with many of the same members from last year, with the addition of Se-hyun “Pelican” Oh and Kai “Kai” Collins, who should help fill the DPS hole left in the roster by the departure of esports legend Andrej “BabyBay” Francisty for VALORANT last year.
Every year, it feels like Reign ends up being a good, but not a great, team. They can soundly defeat the teams below them and upset the teams above them. However, when the chips are down, Reign always seems to fall just short of greatness. Maybe this will be the year where that changes.
Atlanta’s mixed roster is small but mighty, with only seven members. Based on rumors from the current scrimmages, Reign is dominating the current scrim meta, so that may mean we will see Reign come out of the gate swinging. After years of working together, perhaps this roster will finally see it all come together this season.
Washington Justice is on the come-up. It signed Decay late in 2020 for the playoffs, and he made a huge difference for the team almost immediately. In the offseason, the team has been building their talent base around Decay’s surprisingly influential performance in the 2020 playoffs.
They signed top talents like Tae-hee “Jerry Min, Hui-chang “BeBe” Yoon, Jun-ho “Fury” Kim, and more. This is a whole new Justice team, with a whole new vibe. They are looking very powerful coming into the 2021 season, and we expect them to be a top-tier team this year.
Los Angeles Gladiators
The LA Gladiators is another team that is rumored to be doing well in the high-level scrims, like Atlanta. Gladiators have several new talented members, including two-time OWL champion Grant “moth” Espe, who formerly competed with Shock.
Sporting its new support lineup and tried-and-true DPS and Tank players from the 2020 season, the Gladiators have the talent to go far this year. The question is, will the team be able to execute on their potential? We think Gladiators are definitely a team to watch, though we are not yet sold on the hype just yet.
The Houston Outlaws is getting a lot of attention in the pre-season. Led by Dante “Danteh” Cruz, many Overwatch analysts have highlighted the nearly entirely new roster as a potential powerhouse this season. The team is also reportedly doing well in scrimmages, so Outlaws seem like it could be a solid team this year.
Every year it seems like Outlaws is about to dominate in the preseason, only to fall well short of greatness once the season begins. Perhaps the new addition of former SF Shock Assistant coach Jaewon “Junkbuck” Choi in the Head Coach position will finally help Houston deliver on years of promises. If that happens, we will be pleasantly surprised.
Florida Mayhem had a decent 2020 season, but ultimately it struggled to find any momentum in the playoffs. In the offseason, the team lost Main Tank Pan-seung “Fate” Koo to Shanghai, but they did manage to pick up some solid talent like Main Tank Min-seok “OGE” Son and Sung-jun “SLIME” Kim, both of whom are considered top prospects.
The all-Korean lineup is filled with plenty of talent to find wins this season, but there are also definitely some questions about how well they will stack up against the other teams in North America. Mayhem is another dark horse like Gladiators and Outlaws, it could flop, or it could go far. Only time will tell which.
Spitfire is running with a whole new squad this season, after a disappointing 2020 season in the APAC division. Its new primarily European roster features the likes of Johannes “Shax” Nielsen, Kristian “Kellex” Killer, and Jeffery “Blase” Tsang.
The Spitfire roster currently only features seven players. Still, they are all strong players in their own right, and many of them played together with British Hurricane during their impressive Contenders winning streak in 2020. While we are placing Spitfire in C-Tier because of how untested this team is in top-tier competition, Spitfire could very well prove us wrong.
Titans saw its entire program fall apart in the midst of OWL Season 3. It was forced to rebuild its entire team after cutting every player and its coaching staff last year. Three of those last-minute replacements will be continuing this year — Dalton “Dalton” Bennyhoff, Abtin “ShRedLock” Shirvani, and Randal “Roolf” Stark. Joining them will be Jiri “Linkzr” and Anthony “Fire” King, among others.
This team is very untested, and it lost Niclas “sHockWave” Jensen, who was a key engine of success for them last season. LiNkzr is a worthy replacement, but as of now, it is hard to bet on Titans.
Boston had a pretty poor quality season last year, and it didn’t pick up enough notable talent in the off-season to turn that around this year. It did get Ji-won “Stand1” Seo from Shanghai, which was a good pick up, but It is doubtful that Stand1 alone can turn around this team’s fortunes.
Boston also originally signed Terence “SoOn” Tarlier, but it had to release him after running into visa issues. A combination of unambitious off-season moves and logistical challenges have left Uprising in my bottom tier for 2021. I don’t expect the team to impress fans in Overwatch League season 4.
Defiant made huge moves in the offseason, picking up an almost entirely Korean roster. It managed to sign some top-tier talent, including former Philly star Main Tank Su-min “SADO” Kim and Fusion star DPS Hee-su “Heesu” Jeong. The team also picked up former Fusion coach Dong-gun “KDG” Kim, who could definitely help turn this team around.
For now, though, Defiant will remain in D-Tier with the other untested, unproven teams. Toronto as an organization has failed to generate wins in the past, and we are not certain the fresh lineup and coach will be able to change that. Like with the other low-tier teams, I hope they prove me wrong.
Most of Paris’ 2020 roster is now playing for Dallas Fuel or is unsigned. Eternal had a great year on paper last year, but it reportedly ran into financial troubles due to several factors. So the organization is running with a young but hungry squad of players this year.
The European roster has some recognizable players, but none of the players were highly sought-after prospects since Paris couldn’t afford to pay for the very best. Eternal will be a fun underdog to watch, and we hope it can do well with this new roster, but I have my doubts.
Overwatch League Power Rankings for the Eastern Division
The OWL Asian Pacific region, referred to as the Eastern Division, will once again feature eight teams this year. New to the region are the L.A. Valiant, who will be competing with a Chinese roster this year, and the Philadelphia Fusion, who were a top prospect in North America last year.
Shanghai was the unquestioned hegemon of the APAC region last year. It won multiple regional titles and had the best overall record of any team in the entire Overwatch League. In the end, it fell short of the season 3 title last year, but that doesn’t in any way diminish its unprecedented season.
Coming into this season, the Dragons are looking strong. It was able to keep most of their most celebrated players and picked up some new talent like Joon “Erster” Jeong and Pan-seung “Fate” Koo. I expect another dominant performance from them this year.
After a lackluster season in 2020, Seoul put on a show at the 2020 playoffs with its Seoul Special composition. The strategy was so good that it eventually became the playoff meta. It was like the playoffs finally unleashed the unbridled potential of this team.
Led by the same core roster as last year, Dynasty is coming into this season with a lot of momentum and chemistry, as well as a huge chip on its shoulder. We’re excited to see what the team can do in the Eastern Division this year.
New York Excelsior
NYXL had a solid, if somewhat boring, year in the APAC division last season. The team started with its peak, hosting its very own homestand in New York. However, when COVID hit, the team was forced to relocate to South Korea, where it competed in APAC for the rest of the year. In APAC, it ranked around third most of the year.
This year, with the exception of Sung-hyeon “JJoNak” Bang, the entire Excelsior roster is new. There are some exciting pickups, including former star Fusion DPS player Seung-hyun “Ivy” Lee. With the right strategies, this team could do well, but considering how untested they currently are, it’s hard to say if this lineup will have legs.
Hangzhou was very average in 2020, and I expect it to remain pretty average in 2021. This season it has several new players, including some notable pick-ups like former Titans DPS Min-soo “SeoMinSoo” Seo and hungry Chinese Contenders star Jia “LiGe” Chengjie.
While this team is coming into the season with a fresh coat of paint, they haven’t made the sort of moves that could bring them to the top of the division. Spark is a good team, but it is doubtful whether it can dethrone Seoul and Shanghai.
Fusion had a great 2020 season, but 2021 sees the organization with a whole new lineup and a whole new division. Its roster took some devastating hits in the off-season, including losing Fury, SADO, Ivy, and Heesu (and ChipSa!). But the new talent that they signed is encouraging and includes the incredible DPS lineup of Dong-jun Rascal and sHockWave.
Fusion is reportedly having visa issues with some players and staff, which prompted it to sign Hong-Joon “HOTBA” Choi and Jin-mo “tobi” Yang last week last minute. There is a lot of instability with this organization right now and many questions about how its playstyle will fit into the Eastern Division’s meta. But Fusion has shown resilience in the past, so we won’t be counting them out just yet.
With only three returning members, the 2021 Charge roster is a complete wildcard. It has two new DPS players, a new tank, and two new support players. So while it had a great season last year, it’s hard to gauge whether this team will live up to those standards.
For now, we don’t have super high expectations for Charge. The retirement of the team’s IGL Jung-yeon “Chara” Kim and the other changes to their roster cast doubt on how Guangzhou will perform in OWL Season 4.
Chengdu Hunters is coming into Season 4 with a ridiculous twelve-person roster. Two of those players are two-way, but still, Hunters have signed a large number of players. But for all the players they have signed, there remain massive questions about the efficacy of Hunter’s play philosophy.
Hunters have been a lowly rated team ever since it first started competing in the Overwatch League. The organization brought on several new players in the offseason, but with so many players on the roster, it’s unclear if the new players will even be starters or not. As always, the Hunters promise to provide entertaining gameplay this season, but betting on them remains a bad idea.
L.A. Valiant made waves in the Overwatch scene at the end of January when it announced that it had dropped its entire NA-based roster and partnered with LGE to run the team in China instead. It announced an all-Chinese lineup in March, headlined by the controversial DPS player Cai “Krystal” Shilong.
The Valiant is in a similar situation to Titans last year, where it is dealing with a brand new roster who has had less than a month to practice before being sent to compete against the best Overwatch teams in the world. Maybe they will surprise us and excel, but the odds are that Valiant is in for a rough season.