One of the hottest topics right now in the scene is the power rankings of the Overwatch League teams. Everyone has their own criteria and tries to figure out how some of the newly formed rosters will fair against the perceived titans so far, but even then, the expected top teams have additional members coming in that can upset the balance. If we really want to set this discussion on some objective basis, where one should start?
Since the rosters are entirely reformed, apart from the Florida Mayhem who made not a single addition or replacement going into the League, we can’t use the Team Rankings to evaluate their potential power level. Combining team rankings is even worse. A way to properly evaluate teams is to look at the ratings of their players, individually, and see which team has the most highly rated players. This is basically what everyone does in their minds or with whatever method he uses, examining the players separately and then deciding a team score based on the components.
In the image below you can see the results of this process. The numbers are the averages of each team based on its players’ all-time ratings that one can get from Winston’s Lab. The reason one must use all-time ratings instead of a narrower and more recent sample size is because some of the players haven’t competed in months and therefore the process is rendered useless. Obviously, this decision is not simple and without problems. One of them is that many matches weren’t broadcast and therefore Winston’s Lab doesn’t have the stats from them for some of the players. Another one is that for a very few players (2-3) we have no rating since they haven’t competed officially, or their matches weren’t broadcast and that’s why I have ignored those few of them.
The very first thing one will notice is that Seoul Dynasty doesn’t have the highest average players’ rating, but it’s Dallas Fuel that holds the crown by a large margin (1095.2), while Florida Mayhem comes a close second (1091.8). Dynasty is actually 6th (1049.2) in this chart, with Philadelphia Fusion very close behind (1046). The explanation for this can provide lots of food for thought.
Dallas Fuel is a roster stacked with players that have all performed well recently and throughout their career. Even the additions like xQc and Custa had good performances. Seagull is the only one with a huge gap of data (almost a year absent from professional matches), but his recorded all-time rating (1028) is close to the average all-time player rating of OWL, which is 1047.9. On the other hand, Florida Mayhem’s rating is boosted by the fact that they have less members, compared to other rosters. This is the intriguing part, actually. Their lower numbers give them a better player rating on paper, but in reality this will seemingly be their downfall during the first half of the season, if they run out of tricks and they get hard-countered by other teams. As for Seoul Dynasty, their massive roster size (11 players) combined with the fact that the additions to the old Lunatic-Hai roster have lower average all-time ratings, since they were parts of teams that struggled (XepheR, Munchkin, Kuki, even Fleta), lower their team’s rating by a lot.
Moving on to the other teams, Excelsior and Spitfire are in the Top 5, as expected from their rosters and the players they have signed. Actually, for Spitfire to have such a high average player rating (1076.8), with 12 members is astonishing. Fury is their lowest rated player with a rating below 1000. Without him the team’s rating rises to 1085. Shanghai Dragons are the ones showing big in the list, with the third highest team rating. The catch in their case is that they haven’t competed a lot internationally, or against Western teams, so their rating could be inflated. Either way, excluding the order, 5 out of 6 of the teams at the top of this list are what many have as the strongest teams in the Overwatch League right now. Florida Mayhem is the team placed lower by many, but their average player rating could indicate their true upset potential.
For the bottom six teams in these rankings, Philadelphia Fusion is the team with the most players highly rated (not taking into account Sado, whose rating is unknown and hopefully will be not participating in the first season of the League). Not surprisingly, actually. Half of the latest Faze Clan roster (Joemeister, Carpe, Shadowburn) is in that team, alongside many top players from other regions (Snillo, Boombox, Fragi, to name a few). Excluding some arguably weird choices like Eqo and Hotba, their rating rises to 1068, which is, in my opinion, more representative of their true strength. LA Gladiators follow next, the team of Surefour. Their roster is relative small and will probably have the same problems as Florida Mayhem, not to mention that some of their players have been off the radar for quite some time with not the greatest results previously.
Now it’s time for the biggest surprise of all! Because, before San Francisco Shock’s and Boston Uprising’s rosters, that most would expect to be at the bottom (not necessarily the two bottom teams), come Houston Outlaws. Most people would rage at the bare sight of their ranking, but, before people start cursing and distrusting the numbers, there is an explanation for this. The players on this roster have shown recently what’s their worth and how good they are. The only question mark is Mendokusaii, whose last professional match was back in APEX S2, with Cloud9. However, their performance throughout these 1,5 years of Overwatch esports is actually what the numbers show. Going into OWL, obviously the most recent results weight more, but keep in mind that this league is unlike any other; the competition level at the top is the highest possible and will last for quite a while. Consistency will be the key in this league.
A few more things to highlight before I present my own rankings of teams’ strengths. The further away one is from an event, his memories will be a lot more compressed and sometimes highly deceptive. Stats, which never forget and constantly remain the same, can actually challenge one’s evaluating process and introduce more variables in his equations. During this process, I have deliberately ignored that these teams will probably not field all their players for the same amount of time, which means that a team’s true strength should be actually calculated based on which players will form their core and how strong that core will be. One more thing one can relatively see from such a ranking, based on player ratings, is also how strong the team’s bench is; how strong the additions are and how they have adjusted the overall rating. I did this previously, where I calculated the team’s rating excluding some players. After mid-season’s signing window, this process, with the new season ratings, could really help us evaluate the additions to the already established cores.
All in all, with this experiment I wanted to enrich the perspectives one can have when entering this discussion of ranking teams based on their strengths. In some cases people refrain from stating their thought process behind their rankings or maybe overweight some aspects while neglecting others, but I always prefer to do it, so that a discussion can be started on something a bit more objective.
Closing this piece, my own personal rankings, in tiers, are:
1-4 London Spitfire, Seoul Dynasty, Dallas Fuel, New York Excelsior
5-8 Houston Outlaws, Los Angeles Valiant, Shanghai Dragons, Florida Mayhem
9-12 San Francisco Shock, Philadelphia Fusion, Los Angeles Gladiators, Boston Uprising