The Overwatch League preseason is in full swing and so far on Day 1, the teams are not pulling any punches. Players from Florida Mayhem, San Francisco Shock, Los Angeles Valiant, Seoul Dynasty, and the Shanghai Dragons took the stage to give it their all. Though this is not the first time these teams have faced off, it is certainly one of the most exciting times to pay attention to these teams. Since it is only Day 1, and there are still six other teams who will play soon (the Philadelphia Fusion team will not play the Preseason), but let’s take a look at some of the highlights and strengths of a few teams from Day 1.
The Florida Mayhem started things with the first match of the preseason against the San Francisco Shock on Dorado. Dorado seemed to be working in their favor, as they easily took the first point with help from TVIQ’s Pharah. Of course, the Pharah-Mercy (aka Pharmercy) combo seemed to keep TVIQ going, as his teammate Zebbosai, kept a healthy stream of healing and damage boost on TVIQ’s Pharah. Strategically - and perhaps something you don’t see much outside of league play - TVIQ switched to Genji, likely in favor of some speed. However, despite their strong start, the Mayhem team simply couldn’t move the payload past the first point. Ultimately, Game 1 is not Florida Mayhem’s shining moment. While they attempt to contest the payload with a very smart use of Zuppeh’s Zenyatta Transcendence to give his teammates time to rush back to the point from respawn. In the end, Zuppeh’s attempts, while admirable, ultimately failed and the San Francisco Shock keep the Florida Mayhem from scoring another point.
Unfortunately, it seems that team Mayhem’s strength really lies in the first few moments of the game, as they are quickly able to take control of the situation - especially when attacking - but unable to fully maintain control as the game progresses. Though, they did come especially close in Game 2, on Anubis, where Florida seemed to nearly nudge the Shock players, but, after a tie-breaking game, the San Francisco Shock Team did come out triumphant. TVIQ is perhaps the team’s strongest and most versatile player, and I think should certainly be watched as the season goes on. Referencing his amazing use of Junkrat at the start of Eichenwalde in Game 3, as well as his ability to pick up and effectively play any hero, and switch mid-battle to aid his time, though his team lost this time, TVIQ is certainly a hero in his own right.
San Francisco Shock
While the Mayhem team seem strongest in the beginning of the games, it looks like San Francisco excels at taking the point and holding it. Likely the MVP of the evening was “BabyBay” on Widowmaker. In Game 1, BabyBay and the team used Widowmaker’s range as a means to focus on targets. Whenever BabyBay shot at a target, the rest of the team focused that target and quickly got rid of them to help the team advance. However, despite his skill, BabyBay’s clear highlight comes at the end of a round during Game 2, while Florida Mayhem tries hard to push, BabyBay switches to Genji in order to help keep the point for team Shock. During the hold, BabyBay gets amazing Dragonblade kills to send the game into a tiebreaker. Despite winning against the Florida Mayhem, 4 to 0, the Shock did meet their match during Match 2 against the Los Angeles Valiant. Likely a fitting battle versus two California-based teams. Once again, it seems that one of the most versatile players and someone worth keeping an eye on is BabyBay. Much like TVIQ, BabyBay is able to switch and play almost any character, which is crucial in some Overwatch matches. From Widowmaker to Genji, to Pharah, BabyBay truly shows how far his wings spread.
Los Angeles Valiant
Arguably one of the best teams during the preseason, the Valiant team consists of players who equal the cohesion of the San Francisco Shock. Each player seems to somehow pick up one the weaknesses of the other and come together to form this great team. The team fit into their roles with relative ease, but once again, the damage- dealers seem to shine the most, as Silkthread, who played Soldier 76 during the match on Numbani, helped to clear out the first hold quickly so that the team could capture the payload and begin the assault. Ultimately, the Valiant’s take a win on Numbani with 2:44 left on the clock - plenty of time to reserve and a hard time for San Francisco to try to contest. Los Angeles continued to contest against San Francisco and they kept a neck and neck score. Despite Silkthread’s dominating play style on Numbani, the Valiant seemed none too different from their Californian counterparts. They stuck together at all costs to keep the game going as much as they could in the favor. And even when they could not stick together, they did their best to hold out. To give some spotlight to a tank for once in this article, Envy, who played as Roadhog, held an incredible hold during Overtime on Ilios, using his ult to clear the point as much as he could secure the win as his team rushed back to the point. Though the Shock players were able to kill Roadhog, they were just a moment too late, as Envy’s backup had arrived, and taken the point to win that round. Ultimately, this time around, the Valiant players showed that their teamwork beats the Shock’s. After four games, both teams tied at 2 for 2 and a 5th match was played. Valiant won, 3-2.
Seoul Dynasty and Shanghai Dragons
These two teams went head-to-head in the final match of the evening and, much like their American competitors, brought their all into the game. Unfortunately, the Shanghai Dragons did not get to the playgrounds as early Dynasty and were unable to get any practice in, which may explain why they were unable to stop the Seoul Dynasty’s onslaught. Regardless, there are some considerable highlights from both teams worth mentioning. Arguably, however, the most prolific players this time around were Weeked and Bunny of the Dynasty team. Bunny played Tracer like his life depended on it, showing off some amazing positioning from above to tag an enemy Winston with Tracer’s Pulse Bomb. Where most people take a much more forward approach, Bunny’s cunning really showed. Additionally, Weeked’s incredible, next level ability to effectively shoot targets out of the sky as Pharah should be applauded. Never have I seen such accurate rockets hitting their targest as I’ve seen with Weeked’s Pharah play. Unfortunately, it was hard to focus on the Dragons, due to the Dynasty players simply being able to shut them out on each map. However, much like the Florida Mayhem players, the Shanghai players seem to be able to grab a point quickly, but not maintain control of their lead. On Anubis, during a tiebreaker, we see that the team is quick to capture point A, but ultimately is completely shut out by the Seoul Dynasty players. Diya’s quick sniping as Widowmaker, and Shomg’s aggressive plays as D.va were ultimately the defining moments for the team. Shomg plays D.va the way I believe you should play D.Va: Like you’ve had a terrible day and the enemy team is your punching bag. Despite the Shanghai Dragon’s considerably quick play style, they were unable to secure a victory today. Seoul Dynasty takes the win 4-0.
It seems as though league players rush quickly and ask questions later. Constant choices for characters are Tracer, Winston, and D.va, who are very quick rush down characters. Similarly, Widowmaker and Zenyatta, likely for the range on their attack and for Zenyatta’s Discord Orb and Heal over Time. Though, interestingly, Zebbosai, of the Florida Mayhem, showed us that an EMP blast from Sombra can - if only temporarily - change the tide of a game.
There is still a lot to learn and watch as these teams come forth. There’s still more time for these teams to show us what they’ve got.