Overwatch League 2022 Midseason Madness Preview
The 2022 Midseason Madness tournament should be one of the most exciting events in the Overwatch League history. It’s the first international event for Overwatch 2 and the largest tournament bracket OWL has fielded. Add in the tremendously varied meta and the possibility of long-forgotten matchups and every OWL fan should be salivating. No, it’s not the LAN event everyone hoped for, but we saw in 2021 the value that international competition brings even online.
Big Bracket Brings Matchups New and Old
August 2nd, 2019. Nearly three years ago was the last time Shanghai and Toronto faced off in the Ovewatch League. On Monday, that drought breaks as the floodgates of international competition open fully. Teams that have been isolated by the COVID-19 pandemic will compete once more in the shared online arena. Sadly, international travel is still a serious impediment, but the league will again utilize Project Aloha to bring the two regions together.
Due to the seeding of the bracket, the Toronto-Shanghai matchup will be the only cross-region play in the opening round, but the sheer number of teams means that we’ll see a huge array of matchups that have been scarce or nonexistent in the past couple of seasons. Four of the qualifying teams – Houston, London, Toronto, and Hangzhou – didn’t play outside their region in 2020 or 2021. Now, they’ll have the chance to test themselves against the league’s elite contenders.
There are also some great chances for familiar matchups to resurface. Despite taking a step back from the apex of the league, the Dragons and Fuel remain contenders. If Shanghai can handle the Defiant, they will likely be the last choice when the top-four seeds select their matchups. That would set up another iteration of last year’s biggest international rivalry and an opportunity for Lee “Fearless” Eui-Seok to face his former team once more.
No Clear Favorite
The 2022 Midseason Madness bracket is, quite simply, one of the most difficult tournaments to predict in Overwatch League history. The sheer size of the bracket makes the possible outcomes incredibly numerous. On top of that, the lack of international play this year makes properly comparing teams a major challenge.
The obvious place to start is with the two teams that claimed wins in the Kickoff Clash. The Dynasty and Gladiators have both looked wildly versatile and mentally prepared for the big moments. They have veterans up and down their rosters and the confidence that comes with winning. LA and Seoul are stacked at every position, but especially when it comes to the superstar damage dealers that can truly dominate games in Overwatch 2. Park “Profit” Joon-yeong and Kevin “kevster” Persson might be the two best DPS in the league, and nothing short of a title will satisfy them.
Then we’ve got the San Francisco Shock, the first overall seed by virtue of their undefeated regular season record. No team has been more consistent across 2022, and no team can bring more young talent to the table. Players like Kim “Proper” Dong-hyun and Oh “FiNN” Se-jin are still looking to prove themselves on the OWL stage, but Midseason Madness will give them that shot. With new addition Michael “mikeyy” Konicki bolstering the tank position, the Shock are gunning to get back on top.
Finally, we have the two best teams of 2021 in Shanghai and Dallas. Their championship caliber is proven at this point, but both have suffered in the 5v5 world of Overwatch 2. Tank duo synergy propelled them to lofty heights last year, but now both teams must bench one of their best players at all times. The Fuel and Dragons have started to find their footing in recent weeks, but it’s not yet clear if they can return to the mountaintop.
Meta Uncertainty Makes for a Wild Ride
Every time we see international play in the Overwatch League, there’s an element of discovery. Teams come into the tournament with ideas of how they want to play the game, and slowly those ideas percolate via scrims and stage games. With a game as new as Overwatch 2, the learning process should be more important than ever.
Certain picks like Sojourn and Zenyatta are sure to be ubiquitous thanks to buffs they received after the Kickoff Clash, but much is still up in the air. The tank selection especially seems extremely varied. Wrecking Ball, Winston, and Doomfist are the most common picks, but it remains to be seen which will reign supreme. Reinhardt, Sigma, and even D.Va also have their place on specific maps for the right team.
It’s unlikely that the Midseason Madness champions roll through the bracket playing a single composition or even a general style. Some teams might play that way, but inevitably they’ll run up against an opponent that is flexible enough to play a counter. The best teams will be those that evolve with the meta and adjust based on their opposition.
The massive bracket will also give teams the chance to make mistakes and grow throughout the event. The best teams can warm up against the weaker competition and still have the luxury of a lower bracket run if they drop a match. The result should be a dynamic event where the best team might not have it all together on day one. Still, no one can take this lightly, so expect everyone on their A-game from the jump.
Dark Horses Galore
Between the size of the bracket and the volatility of the meta in international play, there really should be plenty of upsets over the next week. Someone is bound to go on an unexpected run and push the favorites to their limits at the very least. Picking that team ahead of time won’t be easy, but there are a few that could really make some noise during Midseason Madness.
First up is everyone’s favorite surprise of 2022, the London Spitfire. Some might call their no-brakes style of Overwatch predictable, but so far it’s simply been putting wins on the board. With Hadi “Hadi” Bleinagel leading the way on his smashmouth Reinhardt, they’ve rattled off eight wins already, including a 5-1 record since the Kickoff Clash. The step up in competition is pretty drastic here, but don’t be surprised if they catch a contender off-guard.
Houston and Hangzhou are two squads with very similar stories in 2022. They have serious talents, particularly in their respective DPS superstars Oh “Pelican” Se-hyun and Zheng “shy” Yangjie. They tend to take care of business against bottom teams, but can’t ever break through to elite status. Even a run to the top four of the Midseason Madness would be a huge step in the right direction.
The biggest wildcard here is definitely the Philadelphia Fusion. Despite tying for the worst record among qualified teams, the Fusion must be taken seriously. They’ve been exactly as inconsistent as you’d expect from a team of rookies, but they’ve also shown flashes of brilliance. They can’t be expected to suddenly solve all their problems, but that doesn’t mean they can’t catch lightning in a bottle for a few matches.
Finally, we have a team that probably thinks of themselves as more of a contender than a dark horse. Whether the Atlanta Reign’s confidence is earned or not, they have it and the experience to back it up. Across last season and this one, they’ve shown up for the big moments. With Kai “Kai” Collins on Sojourn, they have a chance to take down even the biggest fish.
The Overwatch League’s 2022 Midseason Madness Tournament starts on Monday, July 18th at 7 PM ET as the London Spitfire take on the Atlanta Reign. You can follow all of the action throughout the week on the Overwatch Leauge Youtube page.