Fact or Fiction: Are the Korean rosters set to dominate the Overwatch League?
With the Overwatch League less than two weeks away, are the chances of a western outfit winning the tournament even possible with teams like London and Seoul partaking in the league?
Setting the tone
South Korea has been a region historically dominant across a variety of esports for quite some time now. As the inaugural season of Overwatch League gets set to commence, the top drawer Korean teams competing in this League face new challenges that haven’t been faced the same exact way with dominant Korean pros of the past. Living and regularly competing in a place that you don’t call home, for example, is a new challenge of sorts that has yet to be conquered by the elite esports nation.
Centering their lives in Los Angeles though, it won’t be difficult to assimilate lifestyle wise given the vast amount of Korean influence the city has already. When it comes to elite orgs like London Spitfire and Seoul Dynasty, the main component that makes them so cerebral in any situation, is their ability to adapt to the environment inside as well as outside the scope of the game.
Stacked rosters like London Spitfire have that threat of mystique and versatility with their two combined teams of specialists. Whether it’s a control point or payload map, London Spitfire’s vast array of threats from Gesture, Fissure, Profit and Rascal make them a complicated team to plan for given their ability to flex players at certain positions to exemplify a certain playstyle.
Seoul Dynasty (formerly known as Lunatic Hai) have been a dynamite roster since their early days in the scene competing in Apex. In an interview with ESPN esports, Head Coach Baek Kwang-Jin highlighted that every member of the team adds flavor and stability in their own right which lets them flourish at the highest level. When every player performs their function, it’s hard to deny the dazzling teamwork and concise gameplay of the Korean powerhouse. Going into the OWL this season, Seoul Dynasty will definitely have a target on their back as the vast array of western teams try to assess the threat.
Gunning for the throne
One of the new incoming western teams poised to make a splash in OWL this season is Dallas Fuel (formerly TeamEnvyUs). Being the only team ever in western history to win a regional tournament in Korea, there is a lot of precedent to their expectations of success. With an already stacked and potent roster featuring the likes of Taimou, cocco and HarryHook, their recent overseas acquisitions of EFFECT, Mickey and xQc make this team a flexible threat on a variety of roles.
Having 9 or 10 valuable players that can provide an above average niche role depending on the line up will be crucial to survival in this league format. The Houston Outlaws are another team that will be looked at with special care heading into the season as they possess a team with a lot of developing talent.
Crucial role players like JAKE, coolmatt and Clockwork will be especially watched due to their growing profile as stand-out players on their respective teams. JAKE has now been playing OW full-time for the better part of nine months now, and the growth seen in each Contender tournament was exponential with the time he’s put in.
Amongst the players and coaches participating in the league, many players are secretly looking at Boston Uprising as a team that can upset many coming into the OWL. Boston, led by veteran LoL and OW talent Gamsu, has always been the best player on rather mediocre teams when he competed in Korea and North America.
Former StarCraft pro turned Head Coach Chris ‘HuK’ Loranger built a team around players that are coachable rather than finding players to fill out an all-star type roster. The development seems to have been working quite well in scrims so far against all teams, but offline results can’t be taken into account when looking at the dynamism of on-stage play. Regardless of that fact, there are a healthy 6 to 8 teams that will be jostling for those playoff positions heading into the league looking to upset the balance of Korean dominance that has affected other esports before.