Stage 1 had many surprises in store that no one could have predicted, and Stage 2 will surely be the same. This time around, no one will count any team out of the running after teams like Boston proved that they are a top team, and Dallas did worse than anyone could have guessed.

Here are some of our thoughts after what we saw in Stage 1, and what we could expect to see in Stage 2. The biggest change in-game that will affect things is the end of the Mercy meta, a meta that allowed for extra aggressive play. What will take its place? We don’t know for sure but evidence suggests more tank-heavy lineups. Outside the game, a number of teams have picked up or traded for new players, and the world can’t wait to see what they can do.

Boston Uprising

Surprising everyone, including yours truly, the Boston Uprising impressed when they became the first Western team to defeat a Korean team, the London Spitfire during week 3. Once they tasted that blood, Boston didn’t lose a single series until their match against Houston in week 5, a loss that meant they wouldn’t be eligible for the Stage 1 playoffs. Uprising haven’t picked up any additional players, but they don’t need to as both Striker and DreamKazper are superstars that are strongly supported by the Boston roster.

boston.jpgPhoto credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Florida Mayhem

While Florida has some great players, and some great gangnam-style camaraderie, they struggled and ended with a map record only slightly better than the Shanghai Dragons, 9-31, leading many to question what’s up. Was the strategy of one coach and only six players what hurt them, or was it something else? Mayhem seem to know what it was and have picked up players from the former Meta Athena: r2der as an assistant coach, as well as aWesomeGuy (tank), Sayaplayer (DPS), one of the best Widowmaker players in the world, as well as Zappis (flex) from Team Gigantti. The larger, more diversified roster is sure to help them improve for Stage 2.

Dallas Fuel

The team that could have, but didn’t. Hopes were high for the Fuel going into Stage 1, but week after week they floundered. Losing xQc due to him running his mouth certainly didn’t help, but overall, the team struggled to capitalize on key moments during teamfights, if they could even get running at all. Stage 2 looks like we’ll see more and more tank-heavy team comps, something that favors Fuel’s strong tank line-up. Now that xQc will be returning, expect to see him in the arena once again. Looking to strengthen their DPS, Dallas has picked up Rascal from London Spitfire, and aKm who used to play for Rogue.

Houston Outlaws

It’s hard to find a weakness in Houston’s current roster after they took third place for Stage 1, the highest ranked Western team. Both Jake and LiNKzer were dominating forces on the battlefield, and the Outlaws already have one of the best D.Va players around in coolmatt, so what’s a top tier team to do? Pick up more tanks! coolmatt’s Team USA teammate and fellow tank, FCTFCTN, will be joining in the coming weeks.

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London Spitfire

Stage 1 champions, London are coming into Stage 2 looking stronger than ever but also have lots to prove to stay on top after they barely scraped together a win against NYXL in the finals. With the adaptability the team has proven to have, Spitfire should look pretty good, and losing Fissure (tank) and Rascal (DPS) to other teams should change little in how the team plays.

Los Angeles Gladiators

Throughout Stage 1, the Gladiators more or less performed as expected. There were exceptional moments, but those times were too few and far between, and that meant they ended the season in the middle of the pack. Surefour is the team’s go-to player for all-around skill, able to play any role well, and he works well with both Asher and Hydration in getting eliminations. If anything needs to improve, it’s Asher’s Widowmaker, which they’ll still need since Gibraltar and Hollywood are in Stage 2’s map pool. Having only iRemiix and Bischu as tanks, picking up Fissure from London will definitely give him some more playtime, something he was missing with the Spitfire.

Los Angeles Valiant

Valiant consistently proved themselves as one of the best Western teams out there, with much of it thanks to their strong DPS and support players. Some of the most enjoyable moments the entire season were those times SoOn backcapped either the payload or the point, such as this moment versus the Fusion. Valiant haven’t made any changes to their roster, however Head Coach Cuddles left without much notice a few days ago, and has been replaced with MBC, former coach for Mighty AOD. The Valiant hope that he’ll help the team synergize better together, something they obviously thought was lacking.

New York Excelsior

Without a doubt, NYXL has one of the strongest DPS lineups across the Overwatch League. Some of the most memorable moments from Stage 1 were the games where Pine was subbed in on Control maps such as Illios to clean house, shutting down team after team. If NYXL has any weakness, it’s their tanks, which could be a problem if the future is a tank-heavy meta.

Do-Hyeon_-Pine-_Kim_(Finals).jpgPhoto credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment

Philadelphia Fusion

Philadelphia spent most of the season working harder than anyone else, with the majority of their matches going into a fifth-round tiebreaker. Fusion excel at working in pairs, such as Fragi and Poko, Shadowburn and Carpe, and Joemeister and Boombox. Poko became known for his exceptional D.Va Self-Destruct placement, while Shadowburn and Carpe consistently cleaned up whatever was left. If the Fusion are going to have any troubles for the first few weeks, it’ll be adjusting to a meta without Mercy, a meta that worked well for Fragi and Poko’s highly aggressive playstyles. Joemeister is one of the best Lucio’s out there, so if the match slows down, he’ll be the one to help get everyone where they need to be quickly.

San Francisco Shock

The Shock underperformed for the majority of Stage 1. The coaches felt they allowed the players to stick to heroes they’re more comfortable with, trying to force them to work with the meta, rather than improving skills on more valuable heroes. The support meta also never worked all that great for sleepy and dhaK, who are much more comfortable with Ana, Zenyatta, and Lucio more than the angel. Also coming to the Shock in about a month are sinatraa and super, who both finally turn 18 and are able to play in OWL. Sinatraa hasn’t played much for high level Overwatch in the past few months since he was signed, but he’s still regarded as one of the best DPS players out there.

Seoul Dynasty

Starting out unstoppable, Dynasty’s record was slowly whittled away throughout Stage 1. They have some of the strongest supports in the business, Ryujehong and tobi, but they never quite got the hang of the Mercy meta as much as they should have, instead favoring Lucio/Zen or Lucio/Ana. Now that Mercy will be relegated to Pharmercy duos, we’ll get a chance to see Dynasty shine like the old days.

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Shanghai Dragons

With only winning 6 out of their 40 maps played, Shanghai ended Stage 1 in last place at 0-10. Early on their coordination just wasn’t there, but they did pull off some close matches when they almost won against the Fusion and Fuel. During the signing period, the Dragons picked up 4 new players from some top tier Chinese and Korean teams, Ado (DPS), Fearless (Tank), Geguri (Flex), and Sky (Support). These new players are top-notch and will help the existing roster improve dramatically. The only caveat for the new talent is that we don’t know when they’ll actually get to play while they wait for visas to play in the US. Once they do though, we’ll likely see that all this time, the dragon was only lying in wait to unleash its fury.

Cover photo credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard